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The Sweet Salvational Swap – The Lord’s Supper

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Wednesday of Lent 1                                Trinity Lutheran Church

21 February 2018                                      Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

The Passion of Our Lord: The Lord’s Supper

Lenten Theme: The Sweet Salvational Swap!

 

Notice the EXCHANGE or the SWAP that takes place between Jesus and sinners. Everything that sinners are and everything that sinners have – sin and all its hellacious conseqences – Christ takes!   And everything that Jesus is and all that Jesus has – His holiness, perfection and sinlessness –He gives to sinners! What Jesus takes – sin and its damnation – and what Jesus gives in return – His holiness and perfection — is what Jesus does FOR YOU and for your salvation. This is His cup of tea. It is the sweet salvational swap!

 

First, check out all the sinners and all their sin. It’s like we are watching the CBS TV series Criminal Minds! And Jesus is smack dab in the midst of it. It’s like He’s swimming in it. Getting drowned in it. As THE VICTIM of sickening crimes! The chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people gather at the palace of the high priest. A back room deal is made. Craftily they make plans to murder innocent Jesus. Judas Iscariot – an apostle – becomes antichrist – in league with Satan – to betray innocent Jesus for some quick cash – thirty pieces of silver. At the Passover Meal in which Jesus institutes the divine gift of the Lord’s Supper the apostles wrangle and bicker about who is the greatest. Ignoring Jesus – His gracious words and service – completely – as they pitifully argue about who is the big dog among them.

 

Loads of sinners and depraved, hellish sin. The religious hot shots plot murder. Premeditated homicide. Judas schemes treachery. His gang of twelve think egotistically about themselves. So curved in on themselves they don’t even notice what Jesus is doing and giving them.

 

In the midst of such sordid sin, catastrophic criminality and the full horror of these sinners, you’d think Jesus should high tail it out of there. Skidaddle. PDQ.

 

Instead, He stays put. Firmly. Resolutely. He, their Lord is their Servant. He serves them. “I am among you as a servant.” He pulls a divine service among sinner! And what a divine service it is! He’s taking all their sin and all its eternal hellish consequences in Himself in order to carry it to the cross. There He will offer Himself as the one and only Sacrifice that atones and answers for all sin and for every sinner. In exchange for all the rot and gunk of the sin Jesus gives or serves up a hefty salvational slice of His innocence and perfection with these words at the Lord’s Supper: “Drink of it, all of you; this my blood of the new testament, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Then Jesus gets up from the supper, pours water in a basin and begins to wash and dry His disciples’ feet. In exchange for the toxic pollution of their sin Jesus gives them purification. Decontamination. Cleansing. His! With His service of Suffering Servant washing Jesus gives Himself with all that He is and all that He has: the total and complete fellowship and sharing of His perfection, holiness – SALVATION!

 

Peter is shocked. Jesus would do not only such a menial but also scandalous thing? Holy One Jesus would fellowship with Peter’s filth, take Peter’s filth and in return bathe Peter His purity? Unthinkable! So, at first, Peter dares to refuse it. He won’t be given to! The refusal point.  Imagine that! An apostle that will not believe and receive the salvation the Lord is giving Him!  “Lord, do you wash my feet? … You shall never wash my feet.”

 

Jesus lays it on the line with Peter. “If I do not wash you, you have no part with me.” In other words, “If you refuse my sweet salvational swapping of your sin for my holiness, then you won’t be saved! This is how salvation works Peter! Your sin is mine. My perfection and sinlessness is yours! Heaven depends on Me taking all your sin and answering for it.”  

 

Jesus’ words have their way with Peter. He believes in Jesus who does the sweet salvational swap for Peter and for his salvation. “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”

 

So it is with you too! Your sin does not belong to you any more. All your sin belongs to Jesus. He took it. In His crucified Body on the cross. Your sin and all its damnation is answered for. And more. He has bathed you with His holiness. Washed you with His Good Friday divine and saving Blood. Clothed you with His own righteousness. It’s holy baptism! Baptized into His death. Buried with Christ. Raised with Him for a new life spelled: F-A-I-T-H. Faith that receives the sweet salvational swap especially in the Lord’s Supper every Sunday according to Jesus’ categorical promise: “Drink of it, all of you; this my blood of the new testament, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus has swapped out your sin for His forgiveness. How sweet!

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

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February 18, 2018 Bible Class

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You Will Be Tested

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First Sunday in Lent                                   Trinity Lutheran Church

18 February 2018                                       Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Genesis 22:1-18

 

You want to talk about getting your faith tested? Ever had your faith tested by God? Maybe you have and didn’t even realize it! Sometimes when it happens it’s quite unpleasant. Quite unnerving. Unthinkable. Stretches your faith to the breaking point. The testing sometimes appears to be contrary to God’s nature and His Word. Just ask Abraham.

 

Abraham trusted God. Childless Abraham trusted God’s promise that he would be the father of many nations. Then God gave Abraham and Sarah a son, an only son, Isaac. They loved him deeply. Through this boy the promised Savior of the world would come.

 

Now God tests Abraham’s faith. I’ll say it again: God tests faith! He refines faith in the furnace of suffering and hardship. Like gold in a refiner’s fire. Like steel tempered in a blast furnace. God closes up His hand of blessing tightly and leaves Abraham in the wilderness alone with His naked Word. God dares Abraham to believe that His Word is certain and sure by asking Abraham to do the unthinkable: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

 

Just in case you weren’t listening or fell asleep earlier I’m going to say it again: God tests faith. He tests the faith He creates in you. He shapes and forms it like a master potter at the wheel. Turning a lump of clay into a beautiful vase or bowl. God hardens and strengthens faith the way a coach prepares his team for the championship game. Like a commander prepares his troops for battle. God tests and tempers faith through … SUFFERING AND CROSS. Suffering and cross are written across all three readings today. Jesus is sent into the wilderness to confront Satan. James says that you are blessed as you “remain steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.” Abraham is asked by God to make a sacrifice of his only son.

 

A God who tests the very faith He creates, as He did with Abraham, as He does with you, is a troubling God. Unpredictable. Can’t be tamed. Can’t put Him under your control on your agenda. You can’t make Him do things your way. Your way is the way of the easy life. A microwave generation life. No waiting. No pain. No suffering. No sacrifice. No ambiguity. NO TESTING!

 

Incredibly, even when God appears to be Abraham’s worst enemy, the ready-for-the-nursing-home-old-man gets up early in the morning, saddles up the donkeys, takes two of his servants, chops the wood, gets sleepyhead Isaac out of bed and sets out for the mountain! A three-day journey! Probably the longest three days in Abraham’s life! I can’t imagine the agony! It must have been unbearable as he turned over and over in his mind what God said. Was God really asking him to do such a thing? How would God keep His promise that he would be the father of many nations and that through Isaac the Savior of the world would come if he sacrifices Isaac?

 

When they finally come to the mountain did you notice what Abraham said to his servants? “We will worship and then WE will come back to you.” Really? Did he mean that? Or was he just saying that? When he and Isaac get to the top of the mountain the boy asks the obvious question: “The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

 

And then comes one of the greatest statements of faith ever recorded in the Bible: “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering my son.” That is absolutely marvelous! How God would do that Abraham didn’t know. However, he believed that God would provide the lamb. He risked everything – trusting that God must be true to His promise. That God doesn’t break His promise. That God doesn’t lie! That His Word is sure. That God Himself would provide the sacrifice. Abraham was certain of it.

 

And Abraham was right. He was faithful. He trusted God’s Word even when God appeared to go against His own Word. Even when all he could see was the wood, the altar, the fire and Isaac!

 

Abraham was certain that God would provide the lamb of sacrifice even to the point of tying up his son, placing him on the altar and raising the knife above his head. This must have been terrifying moment. A moment when faith, doubt and perhaps unbelief are locked in an epic struggle – when heaven and hell look indistinguishable from one another.

 

As the knife was raised the angel of the Lord’s voice called out: “Abraham! Abraham!” Abraham’s faith was tested. Isaac was spared. In a thicket there was a ram caught by its horns. The LORD provided the substitute, the sacrifice for Isaac, Abraham’s only beloved son.

 

Now, let’s get right to the point. It’s taken me too long. I’ve been too long-winded. I beg your forgiveness. I know you’ve been getting antsy. So here it is. The story of Abraham and Isaac gives you a picture of your own salvation and what God has done so that you are His. In Abraham we see the love that God the Father has for you. Abraham experienced in his own soul the sorrow and agony of a father who is asked to give up his only beloved son. If there was ever a man who felt in some small measure what went on in the heart of God the Father when He sent His Son into the world to be crucified, it was Abraham.

 

God the Father gave up His only beloved Son FOR YOU! “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all,” (Rom 8). The Father placed His Son Jesus on the wood of the cross. He made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin, to be THE sin offering, THE whole burnt offering, consumed if the fire of God’s wrath against your sin and His burning desire to save you from the hell that your sins deserve.

 

Are you picking up what I’m throwing down? Let me put it this way. As the ram was the substitute for Isaac – Jesus is the substitute FOR YOU. The knife doesn’t go into you. It goes into Jesus! Jesus takes the law’s punishments in your place. Jesus is the Lamb caught on the wood of the cross – pinned there by your sin. God the Father provided the Lamb for sacrifice – His own beloved Son!

 

Follow my finger as I play John the Baptist this morning (as I point to the crucifix) and hear what I preach: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus is the Substitute Sacrifice for sinners. “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” On the mountain of Calvary the Lamb of God slain for sinners was provided – FOR YOU! On the LORD’S mountain, the church, the benefits of His Good Friday death are provided. Given in baptism, absolution and the Lamb’s body and blood in the Supper. The Lord provides. More than you ever expected. More than you ever realized. More than you would ever dare to ask.

 

Finally, as I bring this to a close, I will say it one more time. Nic, Brenda, Michelle, and all the baptized — you will be tested. God will test you. If He’s letting you have a breather at the moment, rejoice and give thanks. However, remember it’s only a breather. The time of testing will come. Count on it. It’s a no-brainer. What the testing will be I can’t say for sure. It may come as a financial hardship or a gargantuan emotional distress.

 

I think that in the near future it’s safe to say that it will be a form of persecution for confessing Jesus as Lord. After all, one of the pretend almighty divinities on the TV show The View recently infallibly called Vice President’s Christianity “a mental illness.” Remember, these are the self-proclaimed most loving and tolerant people.

 

By the way folks – Jesus does talk to you. Every time you read or study the Bible He’s speaking to you. When you go the Sacrament He’s speaking to you. He categorically says: Eat. Drink. It’s my body and my blood. Truly. It is one thing for you to talk to Jesus. It is another thing for Jesus to talk to you. HE DOES! For example, in the Sacrament He says: “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” That’s salvational by the way! Many other pretend divinities on TV, social media and capital hill contend that Christianity should be criminalized and outlawed.

 

The testing may come with a serious illness, a difficult marriage, a loss of income, of reputation or of opportunity. It could be the betrayal of a spouse, a child, a friend, or the death of a loved one. It will not be pleasant. Testing never is. It isn’t supposed to be!

 

Nic, Brenda and Michelle, at times God may seem very distant, perhaps even to be against you. You will feel isolated and alone in your time of testing. Even your best friends and family members may avoid you. But I am here to tell you that you have this promise from the Lord through preacher James: “remain steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”

 

Trust in Jesus and His promise of salvation in the time of testing. Abraham believed it. God provides. He has given His only beloved Son into that Good Friday death for your salvation. He has given you His divine and saving name in baptism. In absolution and preaching He speaks His divine Good Friday forgiveness to you and FOR YOU. So too in the Lord’s Supper – “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” The LORD provides. He does it FOR YOU! Trust Him because “he who believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16) or as Jesus promised it at the beginning of the service today to Nic, Brenda and Michelle, “whoever confesses me before men I will also confess before my Father in heaven.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

James and Hebrews Part Five

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James and Hebrews Part Four

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Ash Wednesday / The Sweet Salvational Swap

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Ash Wednesday                                          Trinity Lutheran Church

14 February 2018                                       Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

 

Tonight, and throughout this Lenten season we begin to learn, extol, rejoice and believe in the sweet salvational swap. Or as it is sometimes called: the blessed exchange. I warn you: “do not receive the grace of God” that I preach to you tonight “in vain.” I beg you not to squander or waste this salvific opportunity you have before you. Sadly, many do. The preaching of the gospel of salvation is blown off. Treated as a nothing. Puny cares become hindrances to come to church to hear God’s Word. Not just during Lent but all throughout the year. I want you to have ears that hear. I want you to believe what I preach to you tonight with all your heart. After all, tonight “is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” as I preach to you and give you the sweet salvational swap.

 

The first part of the sweet salvational swap is that your salvation depends on Jesus taking your sin and answering for all of it by His Good Friday death on the cross. Seriously! After all, in the end, either your sin will be on you or Jesus. If Good Friday Jesus doesn’t carry your sins in His divine Body on the tree, then someone else will have to carry them and answer for them? And who would that be? Well… you! If you have to carry and atone for your own sin, then you will die and be damned with them. So, if your picking up what I’m throwing down tonight – your sin must be Christ’s own or you will perish eternally.

 

Heaven depends on Jesus taking your sin totally and completely in His crucified and hanging-dead-on-the-cross-Body. It doesn’t depend on you. That is good news! Salvific best news!

 

Paul preaches it this way to and FOR YOU: “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.” THERE IS THE SWEET SALVATIONAL SWAP! Holy One, sinless and never-sinned Jesus bears the sin of the world in His body on the cross. All sin, yours, mine and the world’s Jesus takes. Bodily. He is, as Paul says, “made to be sin.” Crucified with all sin in His Body Jesus is now counted as THE SINNER. MAXIMUM SINNER before God. Jesus takes what is yours – your sin and all its damnation. He does it FOR YOU! Again, let’s not forget: your salvation depends on Jesus taking all your sin and answering for it by His Good Friday death on the cross.

 

In exchange, Jesus gives you the sinner all His “righteousness”“the righteousness of God,” as Paul says in the text. This is the second part of the sweet salvational swap. It means that in exchange for your sin and all its hellacious damnation Jesus has given you His holiness and perfection. He gives you His sinlessness to wear in your baptism. He gives you His holiness to eat and drink in the Lord’s Supper. He gives you His absolute and total flawlessness in the absolution and preaching of the gospel.

 

Listen to the sweet salvational swap. It’s FOR YOU! It was done for your sake. “For our sake [God] made [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God.”

 

So, the Lord sent me as His ambassador to tell you the most important message you could ever hear. It is this: all your sin, rot, filth and gunk belongs to Jesus. Not you! All the hellish damnation your sin earned Jesus took. His Good Friday blood cleanses you from all sin. He has given His holiness and perfection. You are saved. You are reconciled to God. Forgiven. Heaven is yours. What joy!

 

Have a blessed and happy Lent.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

Lloyd Vogler Funeral

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Monday after Transfiguration                           Trinity Lutheran Church

12 February 2018                                                 Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Isaiah 25:6-9

Funeral of Lloyd H. Vogler

 

What a preacher Isaiah is! Thank God for preacher Isaiah! What he preaches is … well … delicious! His sermon is salvationally scrumptious! Salvifically delish! Isaiah preaches the banquet or feast of heaven. Heaven prepared, achieved and won for sinners only by the Good Friday Mountain death of the I-AM-THE-RESURRECTION-AND-THE-LIFE Lord Jesus who has “swallowed up death forever” in the might of His Easter Sunday resurrection.

 

Yes, Jesus did the salvation job for all, FOR YOU and for Lloyd. The Lord Jesus answered for all of Lloyd’s sin by shedding His divine blood on the cross. The Lord Jesus called Lloyd to faith through holy baptism and sustained that faith through the preaching of the gospel and the gift of the Lord’s Supper. Consequently, through faith in Savior-of-Sinners-Jesus, Lloyd now enjoys heaven as he waits for the resurrection of the body on the Last Day. Heaven is pure gift. From the Lord Jesus! On His resurrected body Jesus still has the Good Friday scars to prove it.

 

People always ask me what heaven is like. It’s probably the most asked question a pastor gets. Pastor/preacher Isaiah gives an answer. Heaven is a feast! A blow out banquet. A FEAST OF FAT THINGS! In the New Testament Jesus spoke about heaven as a magnificent wedding reception.

 

Rosalyn and Lloyd always enjoyed throwing a party and serving outstanding meals to folks for various occasions over the years. Today’s food police would no doubt associate the Vogler shindigs with words like: “excess,” “gluttony,” “too-muchness” or “irresponsibility.” Lloyd and Rosalyn didn’t care. They threw calories, cholesterol, carbohydrates, fat grams and waste lines to the wind. It was all about the joy and fellowship of the feast.

 

So Isaiah’s preaching the promise of heaven as a feast is quite fitting. Listen to it again. “On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines.”

 

At heaven’s feast Good Friday Lord Jesus is the host just like He is in the Lord’s Supper every Sunday. Heaven is the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9)! He has Good Friday-ly prepared it and He has spared no expense. The finest of marbled meats and rare vintage wines! The KJV puts it like this: “A feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees.” That’s comparable to the Vogler prepared premium prime rib with all the trimmings accompanied by a 1984 Mondavi Cabernet or perhaps a good pour of Crown Royal.

 

In chapter 55 the prophet Isaiah gives the invitation to heaven’s banquet of salvation prepared by Jesus. “Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, your soul will delight in the richest of fare.”

 

Of course, all this talk of premium meat and first-class wine is Isaiah’s way of preaching the abundant, joyful and nourishing spiritual benefits and spiritual refreshment of salvation that Jesus Good Friday-ly won for all, FOR YOU and for Lloyd.

 

Now, a foretaste of the heavenly feast is the Lord’s Supper. When Jesus gives you His body and His Blood with the bread and wine together with His unthwartable promise, “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin,” you know that He died for you. You know that His Good Friday forgiveness, life and salvation are yours. You know that heaven is yours already now! After all, Jesus says in the Sacrament: “given for you.” “Shed for you.” Lloyd knew that. He trusted Jesus and His Word of promise in the Lord’s Supper. In addition, he believed and trusted that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He believed the Lord’s promise, “he who believes in me will life, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

 

Jesus doesn’t lie. He keeps His promises. Consequently, because of Resurrection-and-the-Life-Jesus, Lloyd now enjoys the heavenly banquet with all the company of heaven – fellow believers in Jesus. On the Last Day he and all buried believers will be “raised imperishable.” After all, the spiritual blessings of salvation climax in the resurrection of the body. Death, the cause of such great lament, will be no more. Remember how Isaiah preached it? He said: “The LORD God will wipe away tears from all faces and the reproach of his people He will take away from all the earth.” This is really good news. Salvational good news!

 

So, today and the rest of our lives we will say: “[This Jesus!] Surely He is our God; we trusted in Him and He saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation” He Good Friday-ly won for all, FOR YOU, and for Lloyd.

 

In the Name of Jesus.