Hi Family! Here’s a little Luther for you today. Enjoy!
And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ISAIAH 9:6
The kingdom of Christ is beyond grasp, reason, and experience. Here the flesh must be put to death with all its wisdom and judgment, and it must be grasped only by faith. We must believe that Christ’s righteousness is ours…. Lest we come short in the matter of faith He gives us counsel, that is, the Word, so that we may abide in so wonderful a government of His kingdom…. [“God,”] that is, strong, Power. Here it is not the person or nature of this king that is depicted but only His wonderful government of the kingdom. Therefore, He has counsel, He has full power, He can come to the aid of the weary and those spent by trials…. He gives the strength to triumph through the Word and the Holy Spirit…. This [“Everlasting Father”], then, indicates the work and business of this King, not His person. This name fits no one else. He always increases His reign, He always begets children and rules over them, He always remains the Father, He does not assume the role of tyrant, His children are always His beloved. This is beyond question the most delightful kingdom. From Lectures on Isaiah (Luther’s Works 16:100–101)
Luther, Martin. Day by Day: 365 Devotional Readings with Martin Luther . Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.
I hope you’re having a GREAT day today! Hey, which one of yous guys doesn’t like a surprise? We all love surprises–if they’re good ones. There are bad surprises too. But let’s stay with the good ones. It’s really fun to watch kids at Christmas time because their faces are full of surprises. When you guys were little, it was so much fun watching you open up your gifts and see the surprises on your faces.
You’ve probably been involved in staring contests before. Haven’t you? It’s 1-2-3——-GO! and then you stare the other guy in the eyes until one of you blinks. Whoever blinks, laughs, or turns away first loses. Simple. Fun.
John the Baptist is setting things up here for a staring contest. The contest is between Jesus and sinners. His preaching calls all people to repentance. In other words, turn to God. But not just any god. There’s a specific person the Baptist turns people toward, and that person is his relative–Jesus. When he says, “the kingdom of heaven is near!”, he’s not talking about a place or geographical location. John is saying that the rule and reign of God is right here among you and He’s staring you right in the face.
At Christmas time the Christian remembers that God needed to have a showdown with Satan, Sin and Death. He needed to have a stare down with them in order to save you! But the stakes were a lot higher than claiming a victory in a game. This was no game. Eternities were on the line–your eternity!
On the cross, the Babe born in Bethlehem’s manger had a knockout, drag-down staring contest with the unholy trinity. Jesus stared the power of Sin in the face. He stared Death and damnation in the face. And He stared Satan himself in the face. Whoever blinked first lost.
Jesus never blinked. He continued through the suffering, beatings, crucifixion and ultimately death. In His death, the Christ-child demonstrated His victory. It’s weird to think of it like that–that death is victory. But in God’s plan of salvation, that’s what it is and that’s how it works. Through the Christ-child’s death you now have life. That’s God’s GIFT to you!
The Kingdom of God is staring you in the face right now. He calls you, and all people, to repentance. In other words, turning to Jesus and follow Him. This is a staring contest that God WANTS us to lose! He wants us to blink and turn to Him because in doing so, we really win! In repentance, God opens our hearts to let Jesus the King enter into your lives. There He rules with love and mercy, not fire and judgment. And it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or who you are. He’s stared down your pasts, presents and futures for you–AND WON!
It was October 20, 1982. It was Game 7 of the World Series. The relatively new Milwaukee Brewers had finally arrived on the scene as they made it to the World Series as the American League Champs. Their rivals were the National League Champs, the St. Louis Cardinals (the Brewers were in the American League @ that time). This was the big game, and this was for the whole enchilada. Harvey’s Wall Bangers, as they were known then, were just one game away. Everyone hoped they would win. But hope led to disappointment in the 6-3 loss to the Cardinals.
Growing up in Sheboygan I remember being surrounded by monarch butterflies. I love them. And they’re one of the most beautiful butterflies out there. I always assumed, growing up, that monarchs were everywhere. But I found out that they’re not. You see, monarchs (as with each individual type of butterfly) need the right environment. It’s a unique environment. They live only where there is milkweed. If there’s no milkweed, then there are no monarchs. They need it for food, for laying their eggs, for eating the leaves once the eggs hatch, for growing into caterpillars, to go into their chrysalis stage, and then to emerge once again to repeat the whole cycle over again.
Hey. You know how much Mom LOVES old movies. In fact, she’s the reason I love old movies. Mom’s the one who introduced me to It’s A Wonderful Life after all (BTW, when you’re all out here for Christmas, you KNOW we’re gonna watch it!). Mom loves the old black & whites from Hollywood’s days of yore (days gone by). They just don’t make movies like they used to. And the actors and actresses just aren’t quite the same as they were in the past. There was something classy about them; there was something elegant and the actors and actresses of the past seem to set the standard, which no longer seems to be able to attain or replicate.
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.