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Gift Jesus!

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Third Sunday after Pentecost                           Trinity Lutheran Church

25 June 2017                                                        Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Romans 6:23

 

“The wages of sin is death.” Really? The apostle went there? Indeed, he did. Obviously, Paul didn’t get the memo from HQ. After all, every expert and each guru on kingdom multiplication never go there. Not even on the radar screen. The wages of sin is death? We’re told that we can’t grow a church with that kind of preaching. We’re warned that no one will get up on a Sunday morning to go to church hear such nonsense. We’re lectured that people in the pews can’t reach their potential with preachers like that. Sin? Death? Never!

 

But there stands the text. “The wages of sin is death.” It is what it is. It is the truth. The God’s honest truth. All of us are sinners. Stop denying it or soft peddling it! None of us are exceptions to the truth that we are sinners. “The wages of sin is death.” Sin earns a paycheck. A salary. An income. A payday. Sin earns a wage. Not a living wage but one that ends in a hellacious, damnable eternal death.

 

“The wages of sin is death.” If you don’t believe that, then who don’t you need? Who’s not on your radar screen? Yes, that’s right, Jesus! You don’t need nor do you want Him as the Good Friday Dead on the Cross Savior of you the sinner. A Jesus-less, Good Friday-less sinner is in hellacious trouble. Whoever has no use of Savior of Sinners Jesus is in a never ending-ly hellish mess. Jesus puts it this way in Matthew 10: “Whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” It doesn’t get any worse than that! Really it doesn’t.

 

So let’s not go there! Let’s turn in a different direction. The way of the text. “The wages of sin is death.” The apostle is spot-on. He learned and believed it from the Lord. Do you believe it too? Do you? Good! Now we’re getting somewhere. Now your baptism is bearing fruit. Loads of baptismal living. The Holy Spirit is rolling up His sleeves and having His way with you. Showing you your sin and its deadly, lethal and forevermore hellish wage. Why? So that the Holy Spirit, using the preacher, can deliver … Jesus … THE SAVIOR OF SINNERS to you and FOR YOU. Sinners need the Savior. You can’t save yourself. Only Jesus does that.

 

So: “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

There you have it. That’s the salvational clincher! Jesus is the gift of God. Gift of God in the flesh FOR YOU. He gives Himself as servant. Suffering Servant. On the cross. Bearing all your sin. In His crucified body. He Good Friday-ly steps up to the plate. He insists on taking all your sin away from you and applying it to Himself.

 

In addition, (and this is really quite salvationally delicious), He purposely takes the wage, the paycheck, the payment of eternal damnation in your place as the apostle preaches elsewhere in Galatians 3:13, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law having become a curse for us.” Or as the prophet Isaiah prophetically predicted: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him … for He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken” (Is 53:4-5, 8).

 

You are a sinner. I am a sinner. The text declares what sinners deserve. It’s sin’s paycheck: death. Eternal death. Hell. There’s nothing you and I can do to escape, evade, elude, dodge or avoid it.

 

So, your salvation, my salvation and the world’s salvation depends on Jesus! He gives Himself TO YOU as gift. Gift Jesus on the cross for your salvation. Eternal life. Heaven. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

This is precisely why Jesus, in the gospel for today, sends out preachers. Preachers sent by the Lord Jesus proclaim the very good — Good Friday news that God Jesus reigns on the earth. He wears the crown of thorns. The cross is His throne. Royally reigning as the Savior of sinners. He gave Himself into death and hell FOR YOU. He hasn’t stopped sending preachers. Still does. I’m one of them. The Lord Jesus Christ has sent me to tell you that He died FOR YOU. That all your sin is forgiven. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

 

I am also here to tell you that you have died and that your life is now hidden with Christ in God. After all, you are baptized into Christ’s death. Buried with Him through baptism into death in order to live a new life. The new life of the new creation that’s spelled: F-A-I-T-H! Faith only in Jesus. In you, the baptized, sin “shall not have dominion over you.” The gifted-ness of Christ’s cross and the “therefore” of your baptism into Jesus is that Gift Savior Jesus, not sin, reigns over you. Sin is not your lord. Jesus is! There is no sin too big for Jesus. FOR YOU Jesus is the salvific gift of eternal life!

 

Your baptism and the Lord’s Supper prove it! All gift. All grace. Nothing earned or deserved when it comes to salvation’s achievement or salvation’s delivery. Jesus says so. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16). “Given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sins.” Where there is forgiveness of sins there is life and salvation. Gift Jesus. On the cross. In your baptism and in the Supper. Reigning and ruling as the Savior. Savior FOR YOU.     Keeping you aware of His daily mercies so that you may live securely and content in His eternal love.

 

No wonder then that Jesus makes this magnificent promise in Matthew 10: “Therefore whoever confesses me before me [as Savior], him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven.”   That promise is especially FOR YOU.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

Colossians and Ephesians Part Twelve

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Eleven

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The Gift of Fatherhood

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Second Sunday after Pentecost / Trinity Lutheran Church

18 June 2017                                     Murdock, NE

 

Ephesians 6:1-4

 “Children, obey your fathers in the Lord for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother … Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

 

The Lord is the giver of gifts. He is a categorical Giver! He gives gifts through His creatures. Creatures are the hands, channels and means through which God bestows all blessings (Large Catechism).  He provides you with daily bread through the farmer, the baker, the chef and the grocer. He protects you by means of police officers, fire fighters, and the armed forces. He creates beauty through artists, sculptors, actors, musicians and singers. He heals you by way of doctors, surgeons, nurses and others in the medical professions. He proclaims His Word and spiritually cares for you through the men put into the office of the holy ministry. He is the source of physical life and He creates life – the most amazing miraculous gift of all – by means of parents.

 

Your father is God’s mask. God hides Himself in your father to give you gifts. Fatherhood is one of God’s hiding places. Remarkably, as He hides within the office of father, God also at the same time reveals Himself to you. Concretely. Objectively. You’ve all been euchred into believing that you have to have some kind of mystical experience, see some kind of spectacular miracle or extraordinary act to see God at work. Wrong! One of the ways God is found at work in your life is through fatherhood! In the everyday and down to earth vocation of father God is very close to you, personally with you, and He providentially deals with you. God gave you your life through your creaturely father. You are not the source of your life. God is – THROUGH YOUR FATHER! Behind Dad looms God Himself – providing life and care FOR YOU.

 

That’s why you, children, are to honor and obey your father. As God’s representative. As God’s hand. As God’s mouth. As God’s instrument. Again, God created you through your Dad. God takes care of you through your father. “Yeah, but my Dad is so weird! He’s so quirky! He’s such a geek! A goob! A doofus!   He smells. He belches He passes gas all the time! He’s so creepy! So gross!” I know. I know. But that’s how God rolls. HE USES ordinary, dull, commonplace and odd dudes to be fathers. Get used to it! It is what it is!

 

Now, fathers, (listen carefully) your office or vocation as father, like every vocation that God has instituted, has been given authority. It is the authority to … LOVE and SERVE your children. God doesn’t need your love. God doesn’t need your service. Your children do! Desperately. They crave your affection and attention. They hanker for your help.

 

Fathers, one of the most important ways you love and serve your children is to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This is God’s will. Categorical. This is holy work. You are to bring them for holy baptism. Teach them the Commandments and the Creed. To pray the Lord’s Prayer. Bring them to Sunday School and the divine service.   Make sure they eat and drink the Lord’s body and blood which is given and shed for them for the forgiveness of sins. To be one of the Lord’s hangers on. To trust only in Jesus for salvation. Fathers, you are the Lord’s instrument to do that. That is your authority as father. And you have God’s promise from Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

 

Now, gentlemen, we need to have a heart to heart. A sit down. Let’s be honest. It’s a no brainer but we’re all in denial. Fathers sin in their vocation of fatherhood. Fathers insist on being served rather than serving – loving themselves rather than their children. Fathers misuse, waste, abuse and squander the gifts and the calling God Himself has given. We fathers have “exasperated” our children. “Provoked them to anger.” As if they can’t do anything right. Everything they do is wrong in our sight. We father like tyrants and bullies instead of fathering with service and love. It’s no wonder that many adult children speak of their father in this way: “I hate that man! I couldn’t do anything right! Nothing I did could please him!” That’s why Father’s Day is a double-edged sword for many people.

 

So, today is a day for repentance. Fathers, you are not called to hurt, use or harm your children. You are called to the life of self-sacrifice so that you care for them. Today is the day to confess our failings in fatherhood, especially when we do not “bring up [our children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” and when we “provoke them to anger.”  We haven’t lived up to our God-given vocation of fatherhood. We frustrated our kids. Disciplined out of anger, not love. Acted selfishly.

 

We’ve put our own power and prestige ahead of our kids. We’ve farmed out the teaching of the faith to Mom. We sleep in, fish, hunt, do yard work, home improvement projects, yada, yada, yada while Mom takes the kids to Sunday School and church. We act as if the text from Ephesians is a nothing. We hear it but then we speak our own words that contradict it or oppose it. Like we have better words than the Lord. Like we are little divinities that speak infallibly even when our words are completely contrary to today’s text. As if we are exceptions to the text today. What is even worse is this: our apathy, our rebellion doesn’t bother us one little iota! That, gentlemen, without some honest repentance, will result in an everlasting, hellacious disaster. It will be your fault. No one else’s. Certainly not God’s!

 

We know better! So we need to do better with fatherhood! So it is time for us fathers to repent. To confess our sin to Jesus and to our children and to ask them for forgiveness. And children, because Jesus died FOR YOU, you can forgive your father. In Jesus’ Name. Just like you pray: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgiven those who trespass against us.” This is using Jesus properly – as the Mediator / Savior of sinners. As you bestow His forgiveness to you father there will be renewal in fatherhood with your Dad. He will learn all the more what it means then to be God’s instrument to take care of you. To love you. To serve you. And to forgive you too. As you have forgiven him.

 

Now it’s the kid’s turn. I’m talking to you kids. Let’s be honest. You too have sinned against your father. You haven’t honored him like you should. You rebel against his authority to serve and love you. Especially when Dad says “we’re going to church today” or “it’s time to go to Sunday School or youth catechesis.” Especially when Dad says, “Let’s pray.” I could go on and on. But you get the point.

 

So, confess your sin to your father. Dad, be the mouth of Christ, and because Jesus died FOR YOU too, forgive your child in Christ’s name. Kids, Jesus is the perfect son of His Father. He obeyed His Father perfectly even to death on the cross. He covers you with His perfect obedience. Fathers, the forgiveness that you speak to your children for the sake of Good Friday Jesus will bear much fruit. Your children will honor you as the Lord’s instrument to serve and love them. Families will be built up and edified in their faith of Jesus who is the Savior of sinners. Your family will hunger to hear Christ’s Word all the more and to receive even more of His forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper.

 

Yes, Father’s Day is a day to forgive each other as God in Christ has forgiven you of everything. Father’s Day is learning how to receive anew the gift of fatherhood and then rejoicing in the father God has given you.

 

Father’s Day begins and ends with Jesus.  He is the faithful Son who brings you into the loving family of His Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus “turns the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,” (Mal 4:6).  Or the way the text says it:  “Children, obey your fathers in the Lord for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother … Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

Colossians and Ephesians Part Ten

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Colossians and Ephesians Part Nine

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Holy Trinity / Mission Festival

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Holy Trinity                                      Zion St. John Lutheran Church

11 June 2017                                     Wisner, NE

Mission Festival

 

Matthew 28:16-20

 

In 1861, at least to the best of my knowledge, the first Bataks in Sumatra were baptized. Then in 1862 the missionary pastor Ludwig Nommensen (1834-1918) arrived from the Rhenish Mission Society. Putting his life in enormous jeopardy he baptized and taught. Humanly speaking, making disciples of hardcore unbelievers (even cannibals) is dicey work. Can you imagine? I can’t. Mission work is not just dicey but it looks to be impossible at least from our perspective.

 

Nonetheless, the Lord had good use of Pastor Nommensen. Just as He did with the eleven. And with many more over the centuries and even today until the end of time. Jesus makes disciples of all nations. He does that gargantuan task through the church and through His ministers that serve in the church. Those He sends to make disciples of all nations are nothing but His instruments. Not much confidence in them. Can’t rely on them. They’re sinners. Remember, among the eleven were worshipers who also doubted. Remember Thomas (Jn 20)?

 

But with he Lord Jesus – that’s a whole different matter, isn’t it? Of course! After all, He is the One who defeated death and the devil – who shed His Blood to atone for all sin. All-Authority-In-Heaven-And-On-Earth-Jesus gives His promise: “Lo I am with you.” What He mandates to be done He does. He’s doing it. Most certainly. Most surely. So, based on the divine promise of “Lo, I am with you,” the eleven, Nommensen and all preachers like a Mayes or a Kuhlman do what they’ve been given to do and leave the rest up to the Lord Jesus. Some plant. Some water. But God gives the growth. When and where it pleases Him in those who hear the gospel.

 

So Pastor Nommensen did the Lord’s work. And when Nommensen died in 1918 the Batak church had 34 pastors, 788 teacher/preachers and 180,000 members in more than 500 congregations. Now there are over 4.5 million baptized Christians in Indonesia. What the Lord Jesus started with the eleven there over 2 billion Christians in the world. The baptizing and teaching continues until Judgment Day. All according to the Lord’s bidding in Matthew 28. All done according to the Lord’s “all authority in heaven and on earth” given to Him.

 

The Lord’s “all authority” emerges in the full light of His resurrection from the grave. It is the same authority by which He was sent to “save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21) and to forgive sin — Matthew 9. To the paralytic Jesus audaciously declared: “Take heart my son; your sins are forgiven.” Remember that? Everyone was amazed at that authority to forgive sins on earth. Then there’s Matthew 16 and Matthew 18 – the authority of the office of the keys – “whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven!” Christ’s authority is the authority to save. To save sinners! You. Me. The Batak people. The world. So He goes and does a Good Friday. He who knew no sin was made to be sin (2 Cor 5). The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Is 53). In His crucified Body He carried the sin of all. No sin or no sinner left out. Can you name a sinner He didn’t die for? Can you give me a sin He left out of His Good Friday on the cross death? Of course not!

 

There at Calvary Jesus, the divine Son of the Father and human son of the Virgin Mary gets numbered with the transgressors. He bears the full hellacious penalty of damnation incurred by the sin of the world. Made to be a curse (Gal 3:13)! Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world as He crucifixion-ly offers His divine Body and Blood as the only atoning sacrifice that purifies or cleanses sinners from their sin.

 

Risen from the dead – on the third day – and the first day of the week a new creation dawned. The resurrection of Jesus marks the beginning of a new creation. Just as light first shone into the darkness on the first day of the old creation, so the Light – the light of Christ breaks through the darkness of the world’s death. In the resurrection of Jesus a new creation has broken through even as the old is passing away. Consequently, the risen Lord Jesus sees to it that what He won on the cross gets delivered, bestowed, given to those for whom He died.

 

So, the eleven meet the Lord as He instructed. He comes to them. In Matthew 28 All-Authority-In-Heaven-and-On-Earth-Jesus mandates baptizing and teaching. It’s for the delivery of His Good Friday salvation. It’s how disciples from all nations are made. Baptizing and teaching is how the Lord Jesus has a church. It’s how He does missions. It’s how He churches! He gathers sinners gathered around Himself through the preaching office they believe in Him. Hang on only to Him. Trust in Him for salvation.

 

Now, let me finish this sermon with a flurry on this Trinity / Mission Festival Sunday. Just a few more minutes regarding these words of the Lord: “baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Of course, all you see is a man’s hand splashing the water or the man’s voice speaking the words. Nevertheless, it is God’s hand that is baptizing. It is God’s voice that you hear. “Lo I am with you.” With the giving of the Triune Name in baptism the Holy Trinity is there. After all, as the Large Catechism teaches: To be baptized in the Triune Name of God is to be baptized by God Himself.

 

But this is not just a generic or static presence of God. With the bestowing of His divine Name in baptism the Holy Trinity rolls up His sleeves and acts and promises to be GOD FOR YOU. The Triune God does not live for Himself. He does not exist for Himself. He lives outside of Himself and He exists FOR YOU.

 

Consequently, anyone baptized in the Name of the Father has God as His Father. Anyone baptized in the Name of the Son receives all the benefits of the Son’s Good Friday redeeming death. Anyone baptized in the Name of the Holy Spirit receives the life-giving, life-sustaining power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Again, in Holy Baptism the Triune God is God FOR YOU! FOR YOUR SALVATION. Jesus promises: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16). His divine name is never a nothing! The divine Triune name saves. Saves sinners. Saves you.

 

Holy Baptism, then, is the gospel! The gospel of the Holy Trinity – three eternal Persons in one eternal Being – one Being in three Persons. The Holy Trinity gives. Gives salvation with His Divine Name.

 

Check it out. In the beginning the Father creates. The Spirit of God broods over the water. The Word of God, Jesus, speaks. The Father creates through the Word – Jesus – and through the Holy Spirit who is joined to the water. Now, get a load of this: creation and baptism are intimately connected with one another. Both are beginnings. The first Genesis – creation. The second, baptism – new creation. Both the work and gift of God the Father through the Son in the Spirit with the water.

 

This is precisely why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that in order to be born from above or born again once must be born of water and of the Spirit – holy baptism! Therefore, St. Paul categorically writes in Titus 3: God saved you through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit! That’s holy baptism! Baptism done in the Triune Name – Matthew 28!

 

So 2 Corinthians 5 teaches: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”

 

To be baptized in the Triune Name is to be brought to a new beginning. A very good miraculous and astonishing new creation spelled F-A-I-T-H. This is what is means to be a human being. The righteous live by faith (Rom 1:16)! Like Adam and Eve before the fall into sin. Faith in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who forgives you, cleanses you, feeds you, brings you order and peace until that day when He raises you from your graves and the Holy Trinity will once again say just like in the beginning: “very good.”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.