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December 10, 2017 Bible Class

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What A Preacher! He Preaches the “S” Words!

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Second Sunday in Advent                 Trinity Lutheran Church

10 December 2017                              Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

Mark 1:1-8

 

Oh my! Somebody call the church authorities! Who let this preacher named John preach? Seriously! How did he slip through the cracks? No seminary in the world would certify him for the ministry. After all, this preacher breaks all the rules when it comes to pastoral care and doing church. It’s like he’s some kind of … well … bully! Lording it over people!

 

First off, instead of a strip mall or a movie theatre, he selfishly sets up a pulpit in the wilderness of all places. You can’t create a thriving community of families in a sandy desert wasteland. There’s no coffee bar. No greeters. No stage for the rock band. No big screens for the multi-media presentations. He doesn’t attend community events or ball games. He insists that everyone come to him. I know. I know. Major blunders in how you do church! But it gets worse! Horrific!

 

This bareknuckle brawler of a preacher doesn’t know people’s stories. He operates with a faulty presupposition. He actually believes that the Israelites are sinners. So, he expects them to “confess their sins.” That’s a really big no-no! It’s just socially and ecclesiastically unacceptable. An Israelite pastor should know better. Only Gentiles are unclean sinners. The assumption that Israelites are sinners is the ground for removal from the pulpit. You never ever dare say that an Israelite is a … S-I-N-N-E-R who deserves God’s wrath. But not this preacher! He’s quite bullish about it. He won’t stop. In every sermon he uses …. well … the “S” word.

 

That’s why he stubbornly continues to insist that these same people get baptized with a baptism of … oh, I hesitate to say the “R” word because it’s forbidden for preachers of every generation to say. Honestly. I fear that if I venture to speak what has been strictly forbidden, the ecclesiastical swat police will smash in the parsonage doors later today, lob the tear gas grenades, put me in handcuffs and shackles and haul me off into preacher-without-a-call-exile forever. It is true. The churchly authorities of all times forbid the “R” word from being spoken. But John does. He insists that the Israelites and not just the Gentiles receive – “a baptism of … REPENTANCE for the forgiveness of sins.”

 

Oh, but there’s more to add to the list of charges against preacher John to have his call rescinded. These indictments will surely send him packing. Look how he dresses and what he eats! It’s shameful. Embarrassing. A laughingstock. He’s the butt of all the jokes around town. Shabby camel’s hair shirt and pants. Dried up leather belt around his waist. Locust legs are stuck in his teeth. Locust guts are on his whiskers. The wild honey diet has rotted his teeth and he’s pre-diabetic. His hair is a disaster. Snot is running down his nose. Greasy fingernails. Hasn’t bathed or shaved in months. His body reeks. A total misfit! A freak show!

 

Didn’t you hear me? Somebody call the church authorities! Hurry! Calling religious people sinners. Expecting them to confess their sins and receive a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. This is just too much! Ridiculous! Right?

 

Well. No. No it’s not. It’s precisely what Israel needed. It’s exactly what we need. Put down your I-phones. No need to call Seward or St. Louis. John the Baptist is just the kind of pastor for the likes of all of us Lutherans too. He is the “voice” that prepares Lutheran sinners, not just non-Lutherans to receive the promised Messiah properly. After all, we are sinners. Full blown ones. Malignant with it.

 

It’s about time we admit it. Confess it. Tell the truth. John’s right. Categorically correct. We too are sinners. We sin. The “S” word belongs to us as well. All of us. We are not the exception. The shoe fits. Wear it.

 

So, like all faithful preachers that the Lord sends, John the Baptist calls us Lutherans to repentance. To turn away from our sins and then to turn to Jesus in faith to be given His Good Friday forgiveness. In the Epistle today you heard that loud and clear from St. Peter: “The Lord … is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

 

There’s that “R” word again. It is the vocabulary of Scripture. It is to be preached! Proclaimed even into our ears. Not just others but WE are to be repented in order that we may be … and here’s another word, the blessed “F” word … in order that we may be FAITHED! In order for us to be FAITHED another “S” word – capital “S” word must be proclaimed from the mouth of the preacher. Yes, that’s right, the preaching of SAVIOR Jesus! SAVIOR OF SINNERS Jesus. Born in Bethlehem. Dead on the cross. To atone for all your sin with His divine blood. His blood cleanses you from all sin. The sin you commit against God and others. The sin that others commit against God and against you.

 

John the Baptist was preparing sinners for the Bethlehem coming of Savior Jesus in his day. Today John the Baptist’s preaching from Mark 1 prepares us here at Trinity for the Savior’s coming on the Last Day. The day that “will” as St. Peter teaches, “come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

 

Peter and John are the same kind of preachers. It’s all about repentance and faith. Turning you from your sin and then turning you in faith to capital “S” Savior Jesus. Furthermore John the Baptist would agree with what else Peter preaches: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” LIVES OF HOLINESS AND GODLINESS. John the Baptist preached it this way: “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” (Luke 3:8)

 

The sort of people that we are is a bunch of sinners who live in and from our baptism into Christ’s death and resurrection by being repented and faithed daily. The old Adam in us daily being drowned and put to death with all its sin and evil desires. And the new man – the new creation – spelled

F-A-I-T-H emerging and arising to live before God in righteousness and purity. The life of faith in Jesus gives birth to love. Faith for salvation in Jesus. Love, not to get saved, but simply to help those in need while you live as His Good Friday-ed people before Judgment Day happens.

 

Faith toward God and love for the neighbor. That’s the summary of the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments deal with our FAITH relationship with God. Trusting only in Him. Using His holy name properly with blessing, prayer, praise and thanksgiving. Hold His Word sacred and gladly hearing and learning it. Commandments Four through Ten have to do with our LOVE relationship to others as we serve and help them. Honoring authority – parental and civil. Protecting life, not harming or destroying it. Living in holy marriage honorably and faithfully. Protecting our neighbor’s stuff and reputation. Being satisfied with what we have. That’s the life of “holiness and godliness” as you wait for the “new heavens and a new earth.” It’s what you want to do as a Good Friday-ed and baptized Christian. Many Sundays at the beginning of the service you ask God to “forgive, renew and lead [you] so that [you] may delight in [God’s] will and walk in [His] ways to the glory of [His] holy name.” (LSB p. 151)

 

Faith in Jesus as capital “S” Savior of sinners is what Peter is after when he says: “Therefore beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him [the LORD] without spot or blemish and at peace.” And you are. In Jesus! Especially today when He Himself tells you as He comes to you in the Lord’s Supper: “My Body. My Blood. Given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sins.” His promise does and gives what He says even to the Last Day and forevermore.

 

In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

The Pastoral Epistles Part Two

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The Pastoral Epistles Part One

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Wonder of a Counselor!

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Wednesday of Advent 1                            Trinity Lutheran Church

6 December 2017                                       Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

 

Isaiah 9:1-7

 

Baby Jesus is God’s gift to you. The prophet Isaiah preached it. Isaiah handed out the birth announcement centuries before Baby Jesus was born. Isaiah’s birth announcement gives you the Baby’s titles. They tell you who He is FOR YOU.

 

Check out the titles: Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Incredible and lofty titles for Baby Jesus. But it’s really a no brainer since the Baby Jesus is the Lord of all.

 

Over the next few weeks we will focus on the titles. Tonight: “Wonderful Counselor.” Literally the Hebrew is: “Wonder of a Counselor.” Which means that His councils are wondrous because they are the councils of God Himself. Unlike other kings or rulers who surround themselves with capable advisors or counselors, this Child needs no counselors to advise Him. He is the Wonder of a Counselor.

 

Now, let’s back up a little. When you hear the word “counselor” you think of someone who is a confidant, an advisor, a therapist, a trusted person. This Child is all that and more. The word counselor carries with it the idea of someone who is at your side through all things. Or as we say: “someone who is there for you.” Well, Baby Jesus is precisely that kind of counselor. He is there FOR YOU. Totally! Completely!

 

Baby Jesus is FOR YOU in this way: GOD FOR YOU! With all that His is and everything He has. Taking on your flesh and blood, going to the cross and dying FOR YOU with all your sin and all its hellacious damnation. He is there FOR YOU with His Word of peace to comfort and console you. To give you the eternal comfort of His forgiveness won FOR YOU in His Good Friday dying.

 

So, when the world troubles or persecutes you because you do not conform to its agenda, Baby Jesus is there FOR YOU. He is there to comfort you with His Good Friday words of peace and mercy. He is there to guide you in holy living according to His Word. So that you are a light and salt in the world for the sake of others. Showing them who this Baby Jesus is: Savior of sinners of whom you are the chief.

 

When the devil would lead you to doubt God’s goodness and your salvation won by Baby Jesus – when the devil would accuse you with his miserable lies that say you can’t possibly be a Christian because of your sin — this Baby Jesus is there NEXT TO YOU to bring you counsel. Counselor Baby Jesus is there FOR YOU in His Word, holy baptism, absolution and the Supper to categorically and He speaks otherwise. He declares: “You are mine. I put my name on you. You have the Holy Spirit. All my Good Friday benefits are yours: forgiveness, life and salvation.”

 

When your sin threatens to swallow you up / take over your life / and would lead you to despair, Baby Counselor Jesus is there to console you with His saving death and resurrection. His words are divine. His words count. His words matter. His words TO YOU and FOR YOU are: “even though your sins be red as scarlet, they are made white as snow by my Good Friday blood.”

 

Yes, this Baby’s wonderful council is wise because He is the infinite wisdom of God in the flesh. God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His ways are greater than our wisdom. His council is not what we would expect. He says: “Bless are you,” when you are persecuted and suffer for His sake. “Blessed are you” when you are called a fool or something worse because you trust in Jesus for salvation and not in yourself.

 

This is precisely why you need this Baby Wonder of a Counselor Jesus! The world tells you: “look to yourself for all the answers. Don’t take up your cross and follow Jesus. Save yourself. Don’t trust Jesus.” The world holds out money, the glory of sports, the accumulation of endless stuff, glory and power as the solution to everything. However, Baby Wonder of a Counselor Jesus comes to you as your wisest Friend and Advisor to say: “Don’t fall for it! That’s not what you need. Money, sports, stuff, etc. can’t save you. They are false gods. You need my Good Friday forgiveness that gives life and salvation. You need my church, my baptism, my Body and my Blood in the Lord’s Supper.”

 

Well, such is the wonderful council that you can get only from Baby Jesus announced by the prophet Isaiah as: WONDER OF A COUNSELOR.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

Kim Jones Funeral

 

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Kim Jones Funeral                                     Trinity Lutheran Church

4 December 2017                                        Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

John 11:25; 1 Corinthians 15:51-57

 

Incredible isn’t it? You’d think that Jesus would come ASAP! PDQ! Mary and Martha prayed. Like they’ve never prayed before. They put out the 911 Pastoral Emergency Call, “Lord, your best friend Lazarus is very, very sick. We don’t think he will last long. Maybe not even through the day.” (John 11:3) Common sense and proper pastoral etiquette demand that you drop everything in order to go visit a close friend when the end is near. Instead, Jesus dares to show up after Lazarus has died and has been buried. Days have gone by and THEN Jesus arrives.

 

Can you trust that kind of Jesus? A too-late-to-help kind of Jesus? Who doesn’t-seem-to-care Jesus?

 

Of course you can! Even when Jesus stretches your faith muscles to the breaking point! Nothing – I tell you nothing – can separate you, Lazarus, Kim or anyone else who believe in Jesus from the love of God that is revealed and given in Good Friday and Easter Sunday Jesus! Not even death or the grave. Such love brings Jesus to the grieving family and friends of Bethany. First thing Jesus gives is what He does best. He preaches a sermon.

 

Wasting no time Jesus goes right to the point. “Your brother will rise again.” Then a little more. A clincher. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”  And then the real biggie: “Do you believe this?”

 

Well, do you? That’s the salvific question! Martha does! “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Beautiful! Jesus has brought her to the faith point. Faith in Him. She trusts Jesus with everything and in everything. Even with her brother’s death. So too with all of you gathered here today. Jesus would have you trust only in Him. Even in the midst of death – especially with Kim’s death.

 

Resurrection and Life Jesus marches straight to the cemetery. The gravesite. Where his good friend Lazarus has been entombed; tucked into bed – waiting for the resurrection of the body on the Last Day when Jesus will shout: “Time to get up everyone!” However, there are a few doubters doubting. Scoffers scoffing. Mockers mocking. Haters hating. Unbelief. “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”

 

Such doubting, unbelief, mocking and scoffing cause Jesus to be deeply moved to tears and to blast off one last prayer: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said that I am the Resurrection and the Life on account of the people standing around THAT THEY MAY BELIEVE THAT YOU SENT ME.” Now Jesus will illustrate or show that He is the resurrection and the life.

 

He barks out another sermon. “Lazarus, come out.” His words do what they say. “The man who died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips and his face wrapped with a cloth.” And then in verse 45 we are told that, “many of the Jews … believed in him.”

 

You too! Thanks be to God! All because Good Friday Jesus has risen from the grave. Death could not hold Him. He is “the first fruits of those that sleep” including Kim. Her resurrection is certain and sure because Jesus has risen from the dead. He is the Lord! Over everything! Over your sin, death, hell and Satan. He is the resurrection and the life! FOR YOU! For Kim!

 

Now, many of you were surprised or perhaps quite shocked at how fast Kim died. Yes, it was quick. But now let’s hear once again the apostle’s comforting words of the promise of the bodily resurrection that he learned from Jesus. “Behold! I tell you a mystery,” Paul declares. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” And notice how fast it will happen. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we all shall be changed.” I’m telling you, your minds will be blown at how fast the resurrection of the body will take place on the day when Jesus reveals Himself in glory to judge the living and the dead.

 

Just like at the grave of Lazarus so too at our graves, at Kim’s grave, Resurrection and Life Jesus will preach another sermon. “Time to wake up sleepy heads! Time to get up out of your beds! It’s resurrection day!” And His words will do and give what they say!

 

Jesus always has the say so. He gets the last word. Death doesn’t. Nor does the grave. After all, Jesus is the Lord who destroyed death and rose from the grave on the third day. On the Last Day and at the Lord’s command Kim’s mortal and perishable body will put on immortality and imperishability. Talk about quick! What joy!

 

I have one more pastoral goodie to give you today. It’s this. Because of what Jesus promises in John 11 and what his apostle promises in 1 Corinthians 15 today, all our prayers for Kim’s recovery and bodily healing were not a colossal waste. Many of you, especially Tom, JaNelle, Doug, Kristi and Brad prayed fervently for that. I know you did. So did I. And so did our brothers and sisters in Christ here at Trinity. Jesus heard our prayers – our 911 emergency call for Kim’s help.

 

On the Last Day, resurrection day, you will delightfully see with your eyes that your prayers for her bodily healing are answered. At last! “For the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall all be changed.” Resurrection and Life Jesus will wake Kim from the sleep of death and give her a new resurrection body for eternal life. Kim, no doubt, will probably be just as joyfully surprised as all of us by saying: “That was sure quick. Didn’t I just fall asleep? Thanks Jesus!”

 

All right. Tom and JaNelle, in faith’s confidence that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life and that He keeps His promises, we’ll join you in one last act of parental love for your dear daughter Kim. Like you did when she was a little girl at home when it was time to go to bed at night, we’ll tuck her into the bed of her grave to await the resurrection of her body on the Last Day. Tell her, “We’ll see you in the morning Honey! Resurrection morning!” And you will! Jesus says so! Again, when that happens – what joy – and how swiftly – “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” Happy believing and trusting in Jesus.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

December 3, 2017 Bible Class

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