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Rend Your Hearts!

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Ash Wednesday                                              Trinity Lutheran Church

26 February 2020                                           Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Joel 2:12-19

 

The Christian life that is lived in and from holy baptism is repentance – turning from sin — dying to sin and then turning to Jesus in FAITH – trusting that His Good Friday forgiveness is FOR YOU.

 

The Lord, through His prophet Joel preaches it this way: “Return to me with all your heart … rend your hearts … return to the LORD your God for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

 

I beseech you:  use Jesus properly.  Have good use of Jesus.  In what way?  For the forgiveness of all your sins.

 

Don’t you dare exclude yourself from Joel’s call to rip your heart from your sin and return with all your heart in faith to the Lord your God.  Don’t you dare say that everyone else is a sinner but that you’re the exception.  You’re not.  All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.

 

This really is the “heart” of the matter!  Sin and sinning are a matter of the heart.  Jesus says so in Matthew 15.  “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

 

Sinners need their hearts broken.  Their hearts rended.  Split.  Hearts that no longer cling to sin.  Hearts divorced from sin.   Hearts that cling to Jesus the Savior of sinners.  Hearts that hang on to His Good Friday forgiveness for salvation.

 

In the OT ashes were a symbol of mourning, especially for sin.  So too sackcloth. Yes, that’s right, scratchy, itchy burlap. “Sackcloth and ashes.”  Torn garments were another sign of mourning your sin.

But here is what God really wants.  “Rend your hearts.” He desires your crushed and broken hearts.  Hearts that feel the hammer blows of the Law. Hearts that are plowed under. Hearts that recognize there is nothing in us that would put God in some kind of full nelson to make Him answerable to us.   Empty, broken, and crushed hearts are what the Lord seeks.  This is precisely why we examined our lives according to the Ten Commandments at the beginning of the divine service tonight.

 “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.”  So Jesus wants your heart to trust in Him tonight and always.  Trust that He died FOR YOU.  Trust that He atoned for all your sin by His Good Friday death on the cross.  Trust that all your sins are forgiven because He shed His divine blood sacrificially FOR YOU on the cross.  That is putting Him to good use.  Salvific good use!

Jesus is gracious and merciful.  Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He has the Good Friday wounds to prove it.  He gives you His body and blood tonight in the Supper as even more evidence.  The new heart spelled F-A-I-T-H says:  “Thank you Jesus.  I believe in you.  You are my Savior.”  What joy!

In the Name of Jesus.

 

Jesus is True God and True Man

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The Transfiguration of Our Lord                           Trinity Lutheran Church

23 February 2020                                                    Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Matthew 17:1-9

 

On the mountain three eyewitnesses, Peter, James and John, see  Jesus’ appearance change. Metamorphosized! Transfigured! His face shines like the sun; His clothes gleam white as pure light. No wonder the Nicene says of Jesus:  God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God!  Jesus is true God and true Man all in the same Person.  And on the mountain His Body shines with the glory of God.

The divine glory of the Lord once concealed is now revealed. The glory that once filled the Tent of Meeting and Solomon’s temple, the glory that departed from Israel is now seen in the body of Jesus. Let there be no doubt!  It is true!  God is with us. Jesus is Immanuel. To be God FOR US AND FOR OUR SALVATION! The Bible isn’t about how humans become divinities.  The Bible is about how the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son, becomes man and yet still retains the fulness of His divine glory. Nothing compromised. Jesus is full blast divinity, the one God, in human flesh. And the sight is glorious!

Old Testament Moses and Elijah are there too. Moses gave us the Torah (the first five books of the OT). Elijah is the foremost of the OT prophets. Mr. Torah Moses and Mr. Prophesy Elijah, stand with transfigured Jesus.  They  talk with Him the way one speaks to an old friend. On a side note:  here we are shown a foretaste of the resurrection when all believers will stand in the glory of Jesus – raised bodily from death and the grave. In other words, if you’re picking up what I’m throwing down, this is a sneak preview of what is in store for Peter, James, John and for you, the baptized believer on the Last Day’s resurrection.

Now, on another note, the Savior Jesus does not to abolish Moses and the Prophets. He fulfils them! He brings them to their conclusion and purpose. That’s why Moses and Elijah surround Jesus.  They do what they always do best: point or give witness to Jesus as the Savior of the world! In St. Luke’s account he tells us they were conversing about Jesus’ “exodus,” His departure, that is, His coming death and resurrection by which Moses and the prophets are fulfilled.

Peter sincerely offers to build three shrines, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah. Can you blame him?  It’s what religious people do.  They always want to enshrine “spiritual” events.  Contain them. Box them up. Tame them. There are “shrines” all over the world. Shrines to alleged appearances of the Virgin Mary in Lourdes, France and Guadeloupe, Mexico. There’s the Holy Family Shrine outside of Gretna by the interstate.  An Orthodox monastery built on Mt. Tabor, the alleged site of the Transfiguration. Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know.  If you want to take a trip to Israel and visit certain sites like where Jesus was born, lived, died and rose, transfigured, you’re free to do so.   I might even want to do that someday.

However, I’m here to tell you that the power of God to save you does not reside in visiting places where Jesus was transfigured or crucified or rose. The point I’m making is this.  You don’t go to God. Instead, God comes to you!  You don’t need to go on some pilgrimage to the Middle East to be closer to God. God has drawn closest to you in Jesus, who manifests Himself for you personally in the water of your Baptism, in the bread and wine of the Supper, in the spoken Word of forgiveness, the gathering of even as few as two or three gathered in His name. That’s your mountain. That’s the place where Jesus meets you.  It’s called the Divine Service held every Sunday here at Trinity.

In his second epistle Peter, one of the honored three eyewitnesses to Jesus’ Transfiguration wrote this: we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts….” (2 Peter 1)!

Did you hear that?  Isn’t that incredible?  Peter, who saw this vision with his own eyes and testified to it, points you to the Word, the Bible, as something “more sure” than this great vision. More sure. In other words, it is more sure to hear the divine WORD of forgiveness given in the Bible and spoken by your pastor or a fellow Christian than to see shining Jesus on a mountaintop. It is more sure to remember Jesus’ WORD of promise that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mark 16:16) than to see Moses and Elijah standing next to Jesus in His glory. It is more sure you hear Christ’s unthwartable Lord’s Supper’s PROMISSORY WORD of “given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of your sins” than to see His face shining like the sun and His clothes beam brighter than anything on earth. It is more sure to read and hear of Christ in the prophetic and apostolic Scriptures than to stand on the mountain where the Transfiguration happened.

Before Peter could enshrine the event, a thick cloud covers the mountain. It is the same cloud that covered Sinai and filled the tabernacle and temple. Same pillar of cloud that guided Israel. And from the cloud comes the voice of the Father, echoing Jesus’ baptism. “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.”

Hear His words. Exactly!  Because His are the WORDS of eternal life. Moses and Elijah can’t save you.  But they both point you to the One who does! Only Jesus saves you! Only Jesus bears your sin, your death, the punishments and curse of the law. Only Jesus mediates between God and man because He is both God and Man. Moses and Elijah reflected the glory of God, but only Jesus shines WITH the glory of God. Moses and Elijah were like the moon reflecting the sun. But only Jesus shines like the sun with His own light. Moses and Elijah reflected the light; only Jesus is the Light of the world.

And in the end that’s what the three disciples saw. Only Jesus. He came and picked them up off the ground, raised them up out of their fear. They saw no one but Jesus. He’s all they need. He’s all you need too.

And then one of the most curious things I’ve ever read in the New Testament. Weren’t you stunned to hear it too?  As they hiked down  the mountain, Jesus commanded them:  “Do not to tell anyone about this vision until I’ve been raised from the dead.” Not even to the other nine disciples?  Nope!  Tell no one!   How do you refrain from telling anyone that you’ve seen the Transfigured Jesus?

Here is how.  Shining Mount of Transfiguration Jesus without crucified Mount Calvary Dead On The Cross Jesus leaves all the wrong impressions. Here is what I mean. Which Jesus would you rather have witnessed? His glorious transfiguration or His brutal and bestial crucifixion? Which would you want to see with your own eyes – shining Jesus or dead Jesus? I don’t think I need to take a poll. Shining Transfigured Jesus wins hands down. Doesn’t He?  Of course!

We prefer the glory to the cross. We prefer the stories of miraculous healings to the stories of incredible suffering. We prefer the power and the majesty of a Jesus who shines with unearthly glory than a beaten and bloodied Jesus who hangs dead and defeated. But here’s the rub: only Good Friday dead on the cross Jesus saves you. Only crucified Jesus bears your sin. You see, brothers and sisters, If all we have is the Transfigured Jesus without the cross you’d still be condemned by the Law, dead in your sins, and the final result would be, as the Bible clearly states: hellacious!

Well, I better wrap up this sermon.  It’s getting quite long.  How you put up with such a Wyoming windbag like me is beyond me.  But here goes. The Transfiguration tells you who Jesus is.  He is true God and true Man. Divinity in human flesh.  But His death and resurrection tell you who He is FOR YOU – your Good Friday Lord, your  Good Friday Redeemer, your Good Friday Savior, God’s Lamb of God one and only sacrifice who takes away the sin of the world.

On the Last Day you will see the shining Jesus when He comes to judge the living and the dead. He has promised to appear again in full blown glory in order to raise you from the dead and give you eternal life. In addition, you will see Moses and Elijah, all the saints, and all your loved ones who have died in the Christian faith. And there won’t be any need to build a shrine to preserve the moment, because the moment will be everlasting — eternal. The sight of Last Day Judge Savior Jesus will be absolutely glorious!

But for now, the mountain of a glorious transfiguration gives way to the mountain of the torture and grisliness of the cross. Shining Jesus gives way to the suffering and crucified Jesus. The Sunday of Transfiguration gives way to Ash Wednesday and the somber season of a repentant Lent in which you learn even more to die to your sin so that the new man F-A-I-T-H may with great joy rise to live in Jesus’ forgiveness. It’s always the same Jesus – shining, dead, risen, reigning. It’s always the same Jesus – true God and true Man – who comes to save you.  And He has!  Thanks be to God!

Have a happy Transfiguration Sunday, Ash Wednesday and Lent.

In the name of Jesus. Amen

 

1 Timothy 2 Jesus Is the Mediator Part Two

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End Times: Antichrist and antichrists Part Two

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End Times: Antichrist and antichrists Part One

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1 Timothy 2 Jesus is the Mediator!

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The Gift of God’s Name

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Epiphany 6                                                       Trinity Lutheran Church

16 February 2020                                           Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Matthew 28:19 “Make disciples of all nations baptizing them IN THE NAME of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Baptism of Cami, Ali and Mark Dieter

 

What joy today!  The joy isn’t about what Cami, Ali and Mark did.  They were essentially do nothings today.  Oh, yes, they confessed their faith in the Triune God and renounced the devil, the devils’ works and all his ways.  Thanks be to God!  However, essentially, these three were simply given to.  Receivers.  Passively.  The delight today is in what they were GIVEN!  What was GIFTED them!  What was delivered to them!  By the Triune God!

 

This really is the essence of Christianity.  Namely, that God is a GIVER and that we are passive recipients of His bountiful giving and gifts.  I can’t emphasize this enough.  The true God gives and does not receive.  He helps and is not helped.  He teaches and rules and is not taught and ruled.  He does and gives everything! He has need of no one.  He does all things freely out of pure grace without merit or worthiness on our part.

 

For example, God the Father created you. He GAVE you your body and soul, eyes, ears and all your members, your reason and all your senses.  And still takes care of them.  He GIVES you everything you need to support your body and life.  In addition, God the Son GAVE His life into death on the cross to atone for all your sin.  And the Holy Spirit GIVES you the miracle of faith in Jesus through the gospel preached as well as through holy baptism that the Dieter siblings received.  You are little ones that believe in Jesus!

 

Now, back to Matthew 28:19!  What precisely did God give Cami, Alli and Mark according to this text?  God’s Name!  And to be baptized in God’s Name is to be baptized by God Himself. When holy baptism is done in the Triune Name, the Triune God is doing it and giving it.  “In every place where I cause my NAME to be remembered I will COME to you and BLESS you,” God promises in Exodus 20:24.  Jesus promises in Matthew 18:20, “Where two or three are gathered in my NAME there I am among them.”        

 

So I always ask:  According to Matthew 28:19 what particular gift does God give to the sinner in holy baptism?  I hope you aren’t tired of me asking. And I sure hope you are still eager to give the answer.  The answer is?  GOD’S DIVINE NAME!  So, in holy baptism the Triune God gave Cami, Ali, and Mark His divine Name.

 

This is a really big deal.  Really it is.  The big deal is salvational!  Salvific!  God’s Name is never a nothing.  One of the greatest gifts God gives is His NAME.  With His Name God gives Himself and the very salvation that Jesus won on the cross for the baptized sinner.  In, with and under His Name God SAVES lost and condemned sinners.

 

Scripture teaches this.  Psalm 54:1, “O God, save me [How?] by your NAME.”  In Acts 2:21 Peter quotes Joel 2:32, “Everyone who calls upon the NAME of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13 says the same.   Matthew 1:21, “You shall call his NAME Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.”  The name Jesus literally means:  “God saves, and in holy baptism Jesus gives you His saving Name – Matthew 28:19!

 

Here are some more passages regarding Jesus’ saving Name.  John 20:31, “and that be believing you may have life in his [Jesus’] NAME.”  Acts 4:12, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”  Acts 10:43, “To him [Jesus] all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his NAME.”   One more for good measure, 1 Corinthians 6:11, “But you were washed [baptized], you were sanctified, you were justified in the NAME of the Lord Jesus Christ.”  So, if you’re picking up what Scripture is throwing down, God’s NAME is one of the greatest gifts anyone can be given.  His Name saves!  That saving divine NAME – Father, Son and Holy Spirit — is what God gave to Cami, Ali and Mark.

 

This is exactly why Jesus promises in Mark 16:16 that “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.”  It is why Peter told the hearers of his Pentecost sermon:  “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This promise is FOR YOU and for your children and for all,” (Acts 2:38-39).  Don’t forget:  “FOR YOU” TALK IS GIFT TALK!  Peter also said in his first epistle that just as God saved Noah and his family through the flood water so also the water of baptism [hooked with God’s Triune Name] NOW SAVES YOU through the resurrection of Jesus.  It’s why Paul wrote in Titus 3 that God “saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  And why Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again of “water and the Spirit,” (John 3).

 

Let’s have some more joy and we’ll call it good for this sermon.  I’ll put it this way.  Just as the Trinity was completely present and active in the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River – the Father speaking, the Spirit descending and the Son being baptized – so the same Triune God is present and active in today’s baptisms and the day you all received God’s Name in holy baptism.  I repeat.  In holy baptism God gives you His divine and saving NAME!  And to be given His Name is to have God as your God.  Or to have God’s unthwartable promise that He is God FOR YOU in Jesus!

 

Cami, Ali and Mark:  I’m here to tell you that God is God FOR YOU!  Because He has given you His Name today He promises to always be God for you.  “Lo I am with you always to the end of the age.”  He will at all times be with you and for you in your life.  He pledges to help you in all walks of your life, your death, your entry in heaven and then the resurrection of your body on the Last Day.

As you grow up and slug through grade school, junior high, high school, college, marriage, family, various jobs, etc.  there will be lots of bumps and bruises along the way.  Breakups, heartaches, sadness, pains, and illnesses.  You will sin much and people will sin much against you.  But there will also be loads and loads of gladness, delight and enjoyment.  You’re not on your own.  God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit will always be there FOR YOU.  He promises.  He gave you His divine and saving Name.  He will always be faithful to you.  Guiding you.  Leading you.  To trust in Him.  For everything!  In everything!

Which also means that when you blow it in life, i.e. as you sin daily, you can always call upon God’s Name and boldly ask for complete and total forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.  You can confidently pray “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.”   You can daringly and daily ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit to help you live holy lives according to God’s Word and to live a sacrificial life of love in service to others.

Cami, Ali and Mark, happy living in and from Holy Baptism!  Dittos to the rest of you baptized children of God.

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