Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Where Are We to Buy Bread?"

Today we see that the kingdom of heaven which Jesus is always bringing to earth and opening up for believers, is about our flesh and blood bodies now, just as well as it is about spiritual things and an eternity that begins sometime after our death. The kingdom of heaven is not some haloed, cloud-hopping karaoke party in the sky—or in the pews.

It is where our Father in heaven gives us our daily bread without fail—for our bodies as well as our souls. It is where God lives and where everything, not just bread, proceeds from the mouth of the Lord and is provided by His Word, and Him made flesh in Jesus.

So Jesus answers the question by demonstrating in flesh and blood, that “Where Are We to Buy Bread?” is the wrong question. Ultimately, daily bread—whether for body or soul, flesh or spirit—is from the Lord alone.

To hear the entire sermon preached for Laetare, "Where Are We to Buy Bread?" click on this link.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Feeding of the 5000 and the Sacrament of the Altar

The 5000 who were listening to the preaching of Jesus all day grew hungry and faint at the end of the day. Just as Jesus miraculously provided bread and fish to strengthen them for the journey home, so too does our Lord miraculously provide His very body and blood for us in the Sacrament to strengthen us in body and soul for our journey home through this cursed world to Him.


22] … Christ asks me to eat and drink, so that this treasure may be my own and may benefit me as a sure pledge and token. In fact, it is the very same treasure that is appointed for me against my sins, death, and every disaster.

23] On this account it is indeed called a food of souls, which nourishes and strengthens the new man. For by Baptism we are first born anew (John 3:5). But, as we said before, there still remains the old vicious nature of flesh and blood in mankind. There are so many hindrances and temptations of the devil and of the world that we often become weary and faint, and sometimes also stumble (Hebrews 12:3).

24] Therefore, the Sacrament is given as a daily pasture and sustenance, that faith may refresh and strengthen itself (Psalm 23:1-3) so that it will not fall back in such a battle, but become ever stronger and stronger. 25] The new life must be guided so that it continually increases and progresses. 26] But it must suffer much opposition. For the devil is such a furious enemy. When he sees that we oppose him and attack the old man, and that he cannot topple us over by force, he prowls and moves about on all sides (1 Peter 5:8). He tries every trick and does not stop until he finally wears us out, so that we either renounce our faith or throw up our hands and put up our feet, becoming indifferent or impatient. 27] Now to this purpose the comfort of the Sacrament is given when the heart feels that the burden is becoming too heavy, so that it may gain here new power and refreshment.

Condensed quotations from the Lutheran Confessions from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lord grant you faith in His grace alone
for your salvation unto eternal life.

[Graphic: Giovanni Lanfranco, "Multiplication of the Loaves"]

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beloved Children and the Kingdom of God

In [Baptism] Jesus both conquers the devil and takes care of God's children who, by imitating Him, join in this work of God’s kingdom.

This new life casts out the old and fills up the new. How does God’s kingdom come? God’s kingdom comes ...when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and there in eternity.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Oculi, "Beloved Children and the Kingdom of God," click on this link.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"The Constancy of the Martyrs"

Irenæus wrote: "Wherefore, brethren, we do not commend those who give themselves up [to suffering], seeing the Gospel does not teach us so to do." As we heard, Jesus Himself said to His disciples,"When they persecute you in one town, flee t...o the next,..." [Matthew 10:23a] For martyrdom is not an end of itself. Martyrdom doesn't save anybody. But it is a witness to the Gospel, thus the word, "martyr." It is not called sacrifice, but martyrdom, a witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus who is faithful unto death.

There is, you see, no virtue in pursuing martyrdom. And there is no shame in avoiding it. But if it comes upon us, God will support us and will deliver us, giving us the proper words to speak in that day as well.

To hear the entire sermon, and/or read the sermon outline preached for Reminiscere Wednesday, "The Constancy of the Martyrs," click on this link.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lord, Help Me

“Lord, help me.”

These words of the Canaanite woman may well be the most difficult words in the entire English language. “Lord, help me.”

Her approach is in stark contrast to most of what has come to be known as Christianity today—at le...ast the Christianity that gets the most publicity, filling our post-modern day coliseums and ministry bank accounts.

To hear and or read the entire sermon preached for Reminiscere Sunday, "Lord, Help Me," click on this link.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Martyrdom Means WItness

Martyrdom means witness, and this unto death, as we heard in our opening from Rev. 2: “Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.” We can well imagine that these words of our Lord rang in the ears of Polycarp during his own martyrdom.

And we do see in the martyrdom of Polycarp, and indeed of all the saints, that this is not just for one’s own salvation—for one is not saved by his own death, but Christ’s. But holding fast to this confession of the truth of the crucified and risen Christ, even unto death, this a witness, a martyrdom, of love to those who follow in the footsteps of the martyrs—indeed the footsteps of each and every saint of God in His Christian Church. This is the greatest of love.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Invocavit, "Tempted As We Are," click on this link.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Tempted As We Are

Temptation isn’t so much a matter of what it places before us as it is a matter of what it has us leave behind, what it has us ignore, Who it makes us forget and forsake. We see this in the first temptation in the garden in our OT reading today. “Did God actually say,…”

Then, in our Gospel reading of His temptation in the wilderness, we see that Jesus takes us back to where we need to be and places before us that which temptation would have us leave behind.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Invocavit, "Tempted As We Are," click on this link.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Up from the Ashes

We have been spoiled and grown soft. Any hint of hardship in the church or her congregations is treated as an indication of something wrong with her ministry and ministers.

Scripture and the history of the Church tell a different story. A story of the growth of the church and the spread of Christianity through suffering and, yes, even death. And we would do well to take a lesson and be emboldened by this story, for it is the story of our Lord Jesus Himself, the story into which we have been baptized, and the story which cup of suffering we partake with Him unto eternal life and are joined with the saints who have gone before us from ashes to ashes and await the day when they, with us, will be raised from the ashes.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Ash Wednesday, "Up from the Ashes," click on this link.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Where Jesus Goes

In going up to Jerusalem and the cross, Jesus never loses sight of those He meets on His way. And neither should we—either in how we treat our neighbor, or in regard to the faith that he provides for us and our loved ones in our times of need here.

That is something for us not only to keep in mind for our comfort and confidence, but for our daily, work-a-day lives as well--lest we go through life like the rich man who had no time for Lazarus.

You see, as His baptized children, you are each members of the body of Christ today. And that means where you go, Jesus goes to save and heal.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Quniquagesima, "Where Jesus Goes," click on this link.