Sunday, February 23, 2014

Just Dirt

Without God's Word, man is just dirt—only dirt. But with His Word, man is a living, breathing, productive being—the very image of His creator. As such, he was created to know only good, to eat only good, to breathe only good, to live only good, to produce only good.

Enter the father of all lies. He tempts the man, whom God has formed out of the dust of the ground to receive only His Word and the seed of life that He continually sows. How?By placing before him that which God did not create for man to eat--or even know.

The result? Man surely dies....

... Without the life bearing seed of the Word of God, everything else of this created earth--man included--is just dirt. Man goes back to being only a bunch of lifeless dust.

... Enter the Son of God, the Word made flesh to dwell among us—the Word of God Himself--becomes dirt. He takes on human flesh formed out of the dust of the ground and gives it life again....

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Sexagesima, "Just Dirt," click on this link.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Vineyard of Our LORD

The kingdom of God, like the vineyard, is not a work of man, but a gift of God.

The sin isn’t in not working hard enough or long enough.

It is in despising the gift. That goes back to the beginning. And it even continues with us. We all want what is coming to us. The trouble is, like Adam and Eve in the garden, we think we ought to have everything.

We all want to be treated fairly. Like the first hired laborers, we think we deserve more than the next guy.

Thanks be to G...od, He doesn’t give us what is coming to us. He has mercy on us and graciously doesn’t treat us fairly. That treatment, that just dessert was laid upon Jesus on the cross of Calvary. So let the world be about some sort of fairness.

Luther says of this Gospel parable: “As far as civil, public life is concerned,… you are unequal; whether you are a better man or work harder than someone else is not the point. But no one has a better Christ than the next man.”

And that is what the kingdom of heaven is about—life in and with Christ Jesus, the Son of God.

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for Septuagesima, "The Vineyard of Our LORD," click on this link.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Biblical Confession of the Faith That Saves

The following is from a study prepared for the Bible Class at Zion Lutheran Church, Lawrenceville, GA by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew.

The Augsburg Confession

The Augsburg Confession is probably the most familiar and most widely used of all the particular confessions of the Lutheran Church. It can be found printed in the front of many Lutheran hymnals along with the three Creeds and Luther’s Small Catechism. It is not very long (not much longer than Luther’s Small Catechism) and contains 28 separate articles which set forth statements of faith concerning God; Man; Jesus; Salvation; the Church; the Means of Grace; the Public Ministry; Church Orders and Customs; Civil Affairs; and more.    

Almost 500 years have passed since this document was written, and we might wonder about its application for us today. The statements of faith found in the Augsburg Confession are of great value to us in that they remind us of where we have come from. They demonstrate the work of the LORD Who preserved His Church on earth and the truth of His Word against the intrusion of false teaching and error. Also, like the Creeds of the early church, the statements of faith in this document can serve as a short summary of our faith in some of the basic teachings of Scripture. Of course, we need to understand the historical reason for this confession to begin with – why it was written and to whom – in order to properly understand what is and, at times, what is not stated in each article.

The entire study follows in the comments. Here is a link to this and biblical studies of the entire Lutheran Book of Concord.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"It Is Good That We Are"

It is good that we are here—very good indeed. For just  as God opened up the kingdom of heaven to give Peter, James, and John a glimpse of its glory and what was waiting for them—what awaits all of us at the Resurrection--on the mountain of ...Transfiguration, He opens heaven to us in the Divine Service. In the name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit you were baptized into the kingdom of heaven. Every time you hear those words, God’s very name given to you and indelibly stamped upon you, God is declaring again that in His infinite mercy He has opened the kingdom of heaven to you and all who believe and share the same Baptism. What is more, you have a seat in those heavenly realms with Jesus at His banquet table—even now—eating and drinking with Him and of Him in the Sacrament of the Altar.

Yes, it indeed very good that we are here. But by here, that is not to say 74 N. Fort Lane Blvd. in Layton, Utah. There is not anything special about these coordinates of the map, this section of the plat book, or even the interior of this building with our pews, organ, lectern, altar, font, banners, paraments, and even crosses and crucifixes. These could all just as easily be used for ill as for good.

What makes it good that we are here, is that here God has chosen to gather us to speak to us—not with a disembodied voice booming from a cloud of overshadowing light, but with the voice of one of the countless ministers of the Word He has sent into the world and will continue to send until Jesus comes again in all His glory to judge the living and he dead.

To hear and or read the entire sermon preached for the Transfiguration of Our Lord, "It Is Good That We Are," click on this link.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Cost of Faithfulness

Luke 14:25-33 Now great crowds accompanied [Jesus], and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 
saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple."

In his recent blog article, a Missouri Synod pastor, the Rev. Michael Schuermann writes:
[Thrivent has recently] ruled any organization that is in some way connected to abortion (both pro-abortion and pro-life) ineligible to receive any Thrivent money. To see the effect of this, let’s consider the year 2011, which is the most recent year where all of Thrivent’s financial records are public:
◾Thrivent has defunded pro-abortion organizations (who are doing decidedly non-Christian work) to the tune of $1,373. This is good.
◾Thrivent has defunded pro-life organizations, who have been doing the mercy work that is indisputably good and expected of every Christian, to the tune of $878,569.
For Lutherans of the LC-MS to say and do nothing about the fraternal organization that funds so many of our projects when they also fund something that is clearly contrary to the Christian life and an abomination unto the Lord, is simply not an option.

However, as the Word of the Lord tells us, there is a cost to faithfulness.

Here is a good, real life illustration of that. The question for us, however, goes far beyond Thrivent. Are we willing to become "poorer" for following our Lord by actually living the confession of our faith to which we have subscribed?

Or, like the rich young ruler of Luke 18:18-30, have we reached the point where we sadly keep going our own way because we simply have too much to lose?

Monday, February 3, 2014

"My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation"

... not to make light, but every Sunday is the ultimate Ground Hog Day—the 8th Day of our Baptism by water and the Word, through which we are even daily born into the kingdom of heaven. And weekly, here in the Divine Service we remember and... even relive the life of Christ with all His people—from Creation, to Redemption, to Sanctification—as it is poured over us and even into our very mouths.

The truth is, the LORD our God has been ordering it to be so from even before the foundations of the world, because His Son has been our Savior from even before the foundations of the world. Christ, "like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God." 1 Peter 1:19-21

To hear and/or read the entire sermon preached for The Presentation of Our Lord at Trinity Lutheran Church of Layton, Utah [], "My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation," click on this link.