Sermons

May 13, 2018 - Not Chosen and Yet Chosen!

Author: Glenn A. Nielsen, Edited by Pastor Schultz
Text: Acts 1:12-26


  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds with the gifts offered here today, Amen.  

 

  • Joseph was so close but Matthias was chosen.
    • Both men were put forward to take the spot vacated by Judas.
    • Both men were qualified.
    • The lots were cast, Matthias was chosen.
    • Joseph was so close but not the one.
  • He could have been the one.
    • He had followed Jesus from the time John baptized Jesus in the Jordan.
    • When Jesus had done a miracle, Joseph was there and saw it.
    • When Jesus taught the crowds about the Kingdom of God, he listened.
    • When He prayed, Joseph watched.
    • When the Pharisees attacked Jesus, Joseph got angry.
    • When He was arrested, Joseph was scared.
    • When He was crucified, Joseph cried.
    • When Jesus rose from the dead, he saw Him and even ate with Him.
  • Joseph could have been chosen; he could have been.
    • Those are discouraging words, aren’t they, “Could have been”?
    • I could have been this. I could have done that. Most of us have said things like this with a disappointed tone in our voice.
    • You would think that Joseph would have had similar feelings.
      • Disappointed. Left out. Wishful about what might have been.
      • When Jesus chose His twelve disciples, Joseph wasn’t chosen. He was there, he was ready and willing, but it wasn’t to be.
      • He wasn’t chosen then and wasn’t chosen to replace Judas. He was once again left out of the inner circle.
      • Disappointment would have been understandable.
  • Joseph wasn’t disappointed, at least not for very long. He was privileged to see many wonderful things.
    • He was there at Jesus’ baptism.
      • He saw the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus.
      • He heard the Father’s voice from heaven, “This is my beloved Son...”
    • He followed Jesus, trusting that He was the Messiah, and saw all kinds of good works.
      • People who were blind or lame or sick and with a simple touch or word, they were healed.
      • He saw a boy’s lunch of bread and fish feed thousands.
    • He heard Jesus’ words of hope and comfort.
      • He assured His followers when they needed it.
      • He challenged them when their thinking was a little off.
      • He forgave them too!
  • What Joseph saw was not always wonderful and a cause for rejoicing. Jesus had His enemies. He was threatened and so were those who followed Him.
    • The night Jesus was arrested was a trying time for his followers.
      • Later they would learn of Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, the disciples’ desertion, the made up charges of the high priest, the trial before Pilate, the beating that Jesus received, and His death on the cross.
    • Even this turned out for the good.
      • Joseph came to understand that salvation was a reality because of Jesus’ blood shed for us.
      • The Messiah was killed and rose again for our eternal life.
      • Prophesy was fulfilled during that deadly weekend.
      • Joseph too saw the risen Jesus, His hands, His side, His feet. He saw Jesus eat and drink.
  • Joseph didn’t feel left out! He saw so many amazing things. He is a redeemed child of the Father, who could ever ask for anything more? He couldn’t and neither can you.
    • So many of us have had disappointing times in our lives.
      • Maybe it was at work. You were up for that promotion but you weren’t chosen.
      • Maybe you wanted to be friends with a certain group of people. Their inner circle looked so attractive but it didn’t happen. You’re not chosen.
      • Most everyone wonders sometime, “what could have been”?
      • 1. Why did God take me down this path and not another?
      • 2. What might have happened if I had been chosen for this position, this honor, this opportunity, or this challenge? We wonder how our life would be changed.
      • 3. Maybe you felt left out from something that would have been really special in your life.
      • 4. Being not chosen hurts!
    • You and I, like Joseph, are not chosen and yet chosen.
      • Right from the beginning with baptism, your baptism.
      • 1. There, in the water combined with God’s Word, Jesus came with His loving, welcoming embrace.
      • 2. He called you into His kingdom, brought you into His Church.
      • 3. You belong! You’re not left out but rather part of the most special group of all time. You have been chosen to be a member of God’s family. Nothing is more wonderful than that.
      • And you have seen Jesus too. Oh, not face to face but at His table you have received His body and blood.
      • 1. You’ve been joined together with all those who have ever followed Jesus – and will follow Him, in a meal that will last into eternity.
      • 2. His table is an incredible time with Him as He is truly present for us.
      • And you’ve heard Jesus speak, seen Him perform miracles. Oh, not right before your eyes but through the eyes and the witness of the four Gospel writers.
      • 1. They share the scene: you see Jesus heal the lepers – the outcasts of their day, you see Jesus turn water into wine, you see Jesus raise a young man back to life and given to his mother for her support.
      • 2. They share the scene as Jesus teaches on the mount: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy…You are the light of the world…Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…Pray then like this – Our Father in heaven…Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…Do not be anxious about your life.
      • During this Easter season we have sung hallelujahs because death, even our death, has been defeated. Life eternal is ours because Jesus rose from the dead. He has now ascended into heaven, sitting at the Father’s right hand where he guides your life and prays for you.
  • Conclusion: This is not a day to feel left out or disappointed but rather this is a day to rejoice, to sing praises to our God. This is the day to hear once again the wonders of Jesus, the incredible love He has for you. This is the day to eat with Him at His table. This is the day to celebrate His resurrection, a resurrection that declares loud and clear that you are His forever, never to be left out. This is the day to celebrate His ascension for He sits at the Father’s right hand ruling over this world, guiding your life until that day when He will open His arms and personally welcome you into His heavenly and eternal kingdom. Amen.

May 20, 2018 - A Vision of Hope.

Author: Pastor Schultz
Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14

  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds with the gifts offered here today, Amen.  

     

Introduction: Ezekiel was an exile and did all of his prophetic work as an exile. At the age of 30 the Lord called him to be a prophet to His people; interestingly he would have begun his priestly duties at this very age if he had remained in Jerusalem. His book can be separated into three major parts. He begins with the threats of judgment on God’s impenitent people and predicts the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. The middle section contains oracles against the nations who were hostile to God’s people. The last section contains God’s promises of restoration for his people, the city and the temple. The book of Ezekiel contains numerous visions from the Lord. In chapters 8 through 11 Ezekiel sees a vision of the corruption taking place in the temple. In our text for today Ezekiel sees the vision of the valley of dry bones. This vision comes in the section which promises restoration.

  • Ezekiel’s Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones
    • The Lord sets Ezekiel in a valley full of bones.
    • The Lord led him around the valley and Ezekiel notices that there are many bones which were very dry.
    • The Lord asked him if these bones could live and Ezekiel’s reply was simply, “O Lord you know.”
    • The Lord called him to prophesy over the bones saying, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”
    • Ezekiel did as he was commanded and behold there was a great commotion as the bones came together. Flesh began to cover them and skin covered the flesh. But yet there was no breath in them.
    • The Lord commanded Ezekiel to prophesy to the breath causing the breath to come into the slain so that they might live.
    • Ezekiel again did as was commanded and the breath came into them and they lived, an exceedingly great army.
  • The Lord explains the vision
    • The bones are the whole house of Israel who say, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, we are clean cut off.”
    • The Lord commands Ezekiel to prophesy to them with these words: Thus says the Lord God:
      • I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people.
      • I will bring you into the land of Israel and you shall know that I am the Lord.
      • I will put my spirit within you and you shall live.
      • I will place you in your own land and you shall know that I am the Lord.
  • These words brought hope to God’s people.
    • Those who lived in exile lived an average life. They weren’t rich but also not poor, some even owned their homes.
    • God’s word gave them hope that they would one day return to their homeland.
    • It gave them hope for a life back in Jerusalem where they might be able to once again worship the Lord in His temple.
    • It gave them hope in a life restored.
  • This vision and these words also bring God’s people hope today.
    • Spiritually you and I were just like those dry bones in the valley.
      • St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians; And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… (Ephesians 2:1-2, ESV)
      • He wrote a few verses later; But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ… (Ephesians 2:4-5, ESV)
      • Before we were brought to the waters of Holy Baptism we were spiritually dead. We were like those very dry bones in the valley. But just as the breath came into those dry bones so also the breath or Spirit of the Lord came into us at our baptism.
      • In that lavish washing away of sin, we were restored to the Father’s kingdom. We were made fellow heirs with Christ. We were marked as those redeemed by Christ. We were given faith that leads to eternal life.
    • Our text is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people.
      • God’s people were exiled into Babylon because of their sin and unwillingness to repent of those sins.
      • The political leaders, the priests, the people, all were guilty of sin. What was most appalling to me is their worship of other gods, even in the Lord’s temple. 
      • Not even this great sin against the Lord could cause Him to become unfaithful.
      • He promised His people a restoration of their homeland. He promised them a new life.
      • We too can trust in the faithfulness of the Lord. We may not sin in the same ways as the people of Israel but we still sin and in the eyes of the Lord all sin grieves his heart.
      • We trust that when we hear a pastor say the words of absolution that in those words our sins are truly forgiven.
      • We trust that our baptism wasn’t a onetime washing away of sin but rather a continue renewal of our hearts as we live each day as a redeemed child of the Lord.
      • We trust His words which tell us that Christ’s body and blood are truly present in the sacrament and that in them we have the forgiveness of our sins.
      • Our God has been and always will be faithful to His people.
    • Lastly, our text gives us hope for Judgment Day.
      • Our text gives us a wonderful picture of the power of God.
      • He took heaps of dry, lifeless bones, brought them together, put flesh upon them and covered that flesh with skin.
      • Then God made the breath come from the four winds and into them and they were made alive.
      • 1. This vision is similar to the Lord’s creative power revealed in Genesis 2 where we are told that the Lord formed man from the dust of the ground. And then breathed into him the breath of life.
      • A similar thing will happen on Judgment Day.
      • 1. Our lifeless bodies will once again receive the breath of life. We, being dead, will be made alive again to never die, to never again feel the effects of sin. No pain, no sorrow, no disease, no illness, no death, only eternal life, eternal joy, eternal peace with the Lord.

Conclusion: What a vision of hope! For the people of Israel hope in life restored in the promised land. Hope for Jerusalem and the Lord’s temple. Hope for a restored nation of God’s people. For us a vision of hope that we have in the Lord’s faithfulness to forgive our sins. A wonderful vision of hope for life in the Lord’s eternal kingdom. For we who were spiritually dead have been made alive in and through Christ Jesus our Lord by the working of the Holy Spirit. This truly is a day full of grace. Amen.

May 27, 2018 - The Blessed Mystery of Trinity in Unity.

Author: Pastor Schultz
Text: Acts 2:14a, 22-36


    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds with the gifts offered here today, Amen.      

    

Introduction: I would like to begin our meditation for today with these words from Edward Koehler which he wrote in his book “A Summary of Christian Doctrine”, he writes in his section on the Triune God: [God] is incomprehensible in His essence; we do not know what His essence is, and of what it consists. He is incomprehensible also in His attributes. According to the Scriptures we, indeed, distinguish between essence and attributes. Still, God’s attributes are not qualities inherent in a divine substance, but as God is an absolutely simple and indivisible Being, His essence and His attributes are one. God is incomprehensible in His Trinity in Unity. There is no analogy, no simile, no illustration in the wide realm of human thought which could clarify for us this profound mystery.

It is futile and foolish for man to try to penetrate deeper into the mystery of God than it is revealed to us in the Bible. The finite mind of man simply cannot comprehend the infinite God. He transcends conceptual thought and eludes intellectual grasp. For the present let us be content with what we read in the Bible. (P.32)

  • Both the oneness of God and the trinity are spoken of in the Bible.
    • Moses, in his farewell words to the Children of Israel, says to them; “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4, ESV) 
    • The prophet Zechariah proclaimed; And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9, ESV) 
    • The Bible begins with these words; In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2, ESV) 
    • Jesus said in John’s Gospel; “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30, ESV) 
    • Jesus’ words close the book of Matthew; Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19, ESV) 
    • This idea of Trinity in Unity, which is proclaimed in the Bible, is simply a concept that our human minds will never fully understand.
  • Let us then be content to simply learn today about our God as our text informs us. Our text is part of Peter’s Pentecost sermon from Acts 2.
    • The focus of Peter’s sermon is simply that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. He proclaims that:
      • Jesus was crucified at the hands of lawless men.
      • He was raised from the dead, the disciples were witnesses of this fact.
      • He is exalted at the right hand of the Father.
    • Peter also proclaims the work of the Father.
      • He did the mighty works and wonders and signs in and through His Son.
      • The Father raised Jesus from the dead.
      • All of Jesus’ work was done according to the Father’s definite plan to bring salvation to His creation which was and is tainted by sin.
    • Even though the focus of the sermon is Jesus, it is also an explanation of the miraculous activity which the people witnessed.
      • The sound of the Holy Spirit caused the people in Jerusalem to gather and as they did they heard the disciples speaking in various languages.
      • This speaking was indeed the work of the Holy Spirit which Jesus had poured out on His disciples. This speaking allowed the Gospel to be shared to many in their own native language.
  • That same Triune God who was active on the Day of Pentecost is still active today!
    • The Father is still active in His creation.
      • The birth of a child is a glorious sign of the Father’s creative power at work. And what a blessing children are in our lives.
      • The return of life to grass and trees and plants in the spring is a sign of the Father’s creative power at work.
      • It’s simply amazing how seeds planted in soil which are blessed with sun and rain sprout, grow, and are harvested to give us food. This too is another sign of the Father’s creative power.
      • And yes, only His creative power can fix the broken world in which we live. Man has not been the wise steward of the creation and yet even our sinful abuse of the world the Father will fix.
    • Jesus’ death and resurrection still brings salvation to believers today.
      • The gruesome death of Jesus on a cross placed on a hill far away and many, many years ago was the once for all sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
      • His blood washes away our sins and it will cleanse all who believe in Him; those in the past, those gathered here today, and those who are not yet born.
      • His resurrection shows us that Jesus was the firstborn of many from death’s dark grave. His resurrection assures our very own resurrection on the last day when Jesus will come with a trumpet blast, with a shout of acclamation and raise all the dead from their graves and will separate the believers from the non-believers.
    • The Holy Spirit is still mighty and active today.
      • The Spirit works through God’s Word to bestow faith and to strengthen faith.
      • The Spirit works through baptism to bestow faith and to claim us as the very Children of God. Even this onetime action supports us all throughout our lives as we recall the work that God has done in us.
      • The Spirit works through the Lord’s Supper where once again we are strengthened for the spiritual battles that we face.
      • The Spirit works through many organizations who labor tirelessly to share the Gospel message in the many languages of this world.

Conclusion: Today, as we celebrate the Trinity in Unity, we recognize our inability to fully grasp the essence and nature of our God. Instead of lamenting over our inability we praise God for what He shares with us in His Word. We praise Him for the wonderful creation in which we dwell and in which He is still active. We praise Him, for in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we have the forgiveness of sins and the sure hope of eternal life. We praise Him because His Spirit is still active in our lives, bringing many to faith and sustaining our ever so weak faith. We praise Him with the wonderful words of a most cherished hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, merciful and mighty! God in three persons, blessed Trinity! (LSB 507)Amen.