Isaiah 11:1-10 Where's Your Escape Place?

Where’s Your Paradise?

Read Isaiah 11:1-10

Hi Family!

This is the 2nd week of Advent. We’re counting down to Christmas and we can’t wait to have you out here with us. Here’s the sermon for the radio show. If you can’t make it to church, then listen to this.

Where’s Your Escape Place? December 8, 2019

I love you! Dad

A Little Luther: Joy Is a Result of Faith

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. PHILIPPIANS 4:4

Joy Is a Result of Faith

This joy is a fruit and result of faith…. It is impossible for a heart to rejoice in God which does not first believe in Him. Where there is no faith, there is only fear, flight, timidity, and sorrow as soon as God is even thought of or named; indeed, there is hatred and enmity toward God in such hearts. The reason for this is that the heart finds itself guilty in its conscience and has no confidence that God is gracious and favorable, since it knows that God is the enemy of sin and horribly punishes it…. Therefore, this Epistle was not written for sinners, but for saints. The sinners must first be told how to be freed from their sins and receive a gracious God; then the joy will follow of itself when they are freed from their evil conscience…. St. Paul is here speaking about that kind of joy. There is no sin there, no fear of death or hell, but rather a glad and all-powerful confidence in God and His kindness.

From the Church Postil, sermon for Advent 4 on Philippians 4:4–7 (Luther’s Works 75:157–58) December 7

Luther, Martin. Day by Day:365 Devotional Readings with Martin Luther . Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

A Little Luther: All Wrath Is Laid Aside

 

“Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your king is coming to you.’”
MATTHEW 21:5

All Wrath Is Laid Aside

Do not flee, and do not be afraid, for He does not now come as He came to Adam, to Cain, to the flood, to Babylon, to Sodom and Gomorrah, nor as He came to the people of Israel on Mount Sinai. He does not come in wrath; He does not want to call you to account nor to affix blame. All wrath is laid aside; nothing but gentleness and kindness remain. He indeed wants to deal with you in such a way that your heart will have pleasure, love, and full confidence in Him, that from now on you will cling to Him and find refuge in Him much more than you before were terrified and fled from Him. See, He is nothing but gentleness toward you. He is a different man completely. He acts as if He were sorry ever to have terrified you and to have caused you to flee by His punishment and wrath. For that reason He wants to make you bold again and to comfort you and kindly bring you to Himself.

From the Church Postil, sermon for Advent 1 on Matthew 21:1–9 (Luther’s Works 75:36–37)

Luther, Martin. Day by Day:365 Devotional Readings with Martin Luther . Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

Psalm 24:7 How’s Your Neck Muscles Doing?

Read Psalm 24:7

Hello Family!

Cell phones. Everyone’s using them, and everyone’s looking at them all the time. Me included. Dr. Dale Meyer (president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis), our old neighbor, regularly comments on how these tools of technology has affected society. Lots of people these days are too busy looking down at their cell phones and not looking at and acknowledging the people around them. We can get so focused on ourselves and forget the people around us. I wonder if we’re going to develop droopy neck muscles?

There’s actually a term and disease for droopy muscles. Here’s something from the Mayo Clinic:

Myasthenia gravis (my-us-THEE-nee-uh GRAY-vis) is characterized by weakness and rapid fatigue of any of the muscles under your voluntary control. It’s caused by a breakdown in the normal communication between nerves and muscles.

There’s no cure for myasthenia gravis, but treatment can help relieve signs and symptoms, such as weakness of arm or leg muscles, double vision, drooping eyelids, and difficulties with speech, chewing, swallowing and breathing. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/myasthenia-gravis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352036)

There’s something more serious than this. It’s myasthenia gravis of faith. The effects and consequences of sin in this world can cause people to live droopy faith lives. We can get to caught up in the day-to-day issues and problems of this world and forget about the joys and promises that King Jesus has done, and continues to do today.

This verse from Psalm 24 reminds us that we are to be looking up! We’re to lift our heads up as the King approaches in victory (Advent means approaching, or coming)! Christmas is more than simply the birth of Jesus in the manger. It’s more than simply a time of the year when most people have a change of attitude toward others. And it’s way more than simply a time of the year to feel good and live in the Christmas spirit. This is the time of year that the Chrisrtian lifts up his or her head (though the Christian does this throughout the entire year). Our neck muscles of faith are strengthened. Our eyes of faith are looking forward. And our faith sees the King, Jesus, ever approaching! The gates of our hearts have been opened by God and King Jesus comes in–not as the Babe born in Bethlehem, but rather as the victorious King. He brings you the spoils of His war on the cross and the empty Easter tomb. He brings you salvation, forgiveness of all your sins, and He brings you eternal life–RIGHT NOW! There’s no better gift you can receive.

King Jesus brings you this gift again and again and again, every time you read the Bible, and everytime you go to Church and received the King’s Body & Blood in communion. This is why it’s important for you to go to Church on a regular basis. All of us need our neck muscles strengthened. And even though there’s no known cure for myasthenia gravis, there is a known cure for sin and death. That cure and gift is Jesus!

So, get off your cell phones once in a while. Look up! Lift up your heads and see the King of Glory today! He’s a wonderful sight this time of year, and throughout the year!

Love, Dad

 

Phenomenal Cosmic Power–In An Itty-Bitty Living Space

Read Matthew 21:1-11 & Zechariah 9:9 

Hello Family!

I think you know me when it comes to movies, remakes and prequels. I like the originals. No. I LOVE the originals! I don’t like what “they” did with Star Wars (whoever “they” is) with all the renumbering of the movies, etc. Star Wars came out in 1977; The Empire Strikes Back came out in 1980; The Return of the Jedi came out in 1983. These are facts grounded in history’s timeline. For me, these will always be episodes one, two and three. I wish people would stop messing with me half-way through my life.

Dittos goes with Disney’s Aladdin. I love the 1992 animated version with Robin Williams as the Genie. One of the lines in the film was when Genie was telling about how powerful he was, yet he was still enslaved to the master and owner of the lamp; “Phenomenal cosmic power; in an itty-bitty living space.”

That sums up what’s going on in this passage from Zechariah 9:9 quoted in Matthew 21:5. Jesus has just entered His last week of His ministry and mission here on earth. It’s Palm Sunday and by the end of the week He’ll be hanging on a cross. He has work to do that only He can do. He needs to release all of God’s phenomenal cosmic power–breaking Satan’s, Death’s & Sin’s grip on humanity–in an itty-bitty living space, namely, through Jesus Christ alone.

The phrase daughter of Zion means ‘one who needs protection’. I know this isn’t politically correct today, but God wasn’t dealing with political correctness in the days of Zechariah and Jesus. Daughters needed protection and security from their fathers. This points to those who need protection and security–the marginalized of society; sinners looking for hope, confidence and security–to what God the Father will do, and still does today. This passage in the Bible points all people to Jesus. God confined all His phenomenal power in the itty-bitty living space called Jesus. He was born the Christ-child in Bethlehem’s manger. From there, the Christ-child grew up living the perfect life for you and all humanity. And at the end of His rescue mission, there was a cross with your name on it. But Jesus climbed aboard that cross for you.

Jesus then paid the penalty and the penalty phase for your sins and mine too. Upon His last breath, the Christ-child broke the powers and curse of sin that held you. Upon His resurrection on Easter, the Christ-child broke the powers of physical and eternal death in hell that bound you too. Jesus released all God’s phenomenal cosmic power on Easter. Now, He’s no longer bound to the itty-bitty living space here on earth. He’s taken His rightful place once again on God’s throne. And the Babe born in Bethlehem is returning on an unannounced day.

This Jesus is your Jesus! God’s phenomenal, cosmic power over sin, Death (eternal death in hell) and death (physical death) was delivered to each of you in your baptisms. And this Jesus, who entered Jerusalem in humility, is returning again for you. But this time He will come, not humbly in a manger, but rather in His full majesty, glory and power. Are you ready for Him? You are, through trusting in Jesus the Christ-child alone as the Savior of your life. There are no strings attached. It’s a free gift to you–not only at Christmas, but everyday of your life.

Love, Dad

Romans 13:8-14 Wear Your Christmas Clothing!

  

Read Romans 13:8-14

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Hello Family!

Have you ever watched little kids when they dress up and make believe? You kids did this yourself, and I’ve done it too! For instance girls, you would dress up in a magical little dress and we would then travel to a magical land with unicorns and castles. Boys, we would set up the train tracks going all through the house, and you guys would become train conductors.

This is what Paul tells us here in Romans. You are what you wear. In the English translations, however, it sounds as if we are the ones who have to bring about this loving to our neighbor. It sounds as if it is by our power and initiative that we serve our neighbor. But if this is really the meaning here, then how do we know when we have done it correctly? How do we know if we have done enough? Well, the answer is we can’t and we don’t.

But this isn’t up to us as individuals. It all is centered in God and His power and His initiative. God, in the person of the Christ-child, has already fulfilled all the demands of His own law! He subjected Himself to His own standards and carried them all out to perfect satisfaction in Jesus.

In Baptism, each of you received a very special and priceless gift. You each received God’s Holy Spirit when you were baptized into Jesus. That means you have Jesus, the Christ-child, dwelling within you through faith alone. And that’s pretty cool because now God has changed your identity! You are a Christian! It’s more than just a label we wear. It’s a whole change in your person. You have a new identity. You are already and right now a new being. You are a new creation right now, as the Bible says (Galatians 6:15 and 2 Corinthians 5:17).

So, what’s this mean for you? Well, this “loving one another” is no longer a command for the Christian where he or she has to make sure that they’re doing something. Rather, it’s Christ in you that’s simply being lived out in the Christian’s life. Why? Well, it’s because Jesus lives in and through you by His indwelling Spirit.

Jesus is coming again for His final Advent. The time is closer than we think, and every person should think about this too. In the meantime, God says that we are to simply live in the Christmas clothes He has given to you. God has made you one of His dear and precious children in Baptism.

I love you guys! Dad

 

Psalm 122 Coming Home For Christmas

Read Psalm 122

Psalm 122:1  I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the LORD!”

I think you kids know that Dad really loves Wisconsin. That’s because there is where my roots are. I grew up in Sheboygan, met your Mom in Milwaukee, and lived there until 1991.

When we moved away from Wisconsin, I always looked forward to getting back there for Thanksgiving and Christmas–especially for Christmas! This was the time of the year when we would pack all you kids up in the van and car and make our way “back home.” On the journey to Wisconsin–be it from St. Louis or Lexington–it brought a sense of anticipation, excitement and joy. We would all be back together with family, the lights, the decorations, and familiarity (at least for Mom & me). It was a time to leave all the cares and worries behind for a time. And I knew we were getting close when we crossed the Wisconsin border and saw the sign “Welcome to Wisconsin.”

This is what Psalm 122 is about, and that’s what verse 1 says. God’s people would recite this Psalm and others as they would travel up to Jerusalem for the festivals. The journey would be long, and sometimes dangerous for some. But there it was–Jerusalem–off in the distance. They could see it. Their journey was almost over–for a time. They would see people they hadn’t seen in a while. But more importantly, they would be in Jerusalem where the Temple was–God’s dwelling place. They could worship God in thanksgiving and praise for all that He’s done for them, and continues to do.

During Advent we remember that God put flesh on Himself and caused Himself to be born in Bethlehem’s manger. God has come to us. There’s no need to journey to Jerusalem because He now dwells among us in His Spirit from Jesus. God has brought Jerusalem to us in the Christ-child born in Bethlehem. He brings the festival of joy and hope and confidence to you as you journey through this life. One day Jesus will return visibly for His final Advent. At that time He will take all His people who believe and worship Him to the New Jerusalem–the eternal City of God–to live with Him forever.

During this time of Advent, pray for Peace within the Christian Church. It’s not perfect because it’s made up of sinners–but forgiven sinners. Maybe God will use you to help bring about peace within your local congregation or situation where there may be some disturbances. Remember, no church or congregation is perfect. Don’t let that hinder or keep you away from Church. God is good, and He’s always in charge despite our foibles and failures.

You’re on your way to the Eternal Jerusalem. Your roots are in Jesus and His heaven. He brought you into His New Jerusalem in your baptisms. You’re on your way to your real Home, and Jesus the Christ-child leads you there. Follow Him.

Love, Dad