lcms-logo
Web Design

Midweek of Oculi

03/22/17

659:1-2, 659:3-4, 934

Jeremiah 26:1–15, Revelations 2:19-3:6, St. Luke 11:14–28

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.

The sermon text is the Epistle appointed, the St. John's Epistle, Revelation, the 2nd and 3rd chapters, with particular focus on these words, Christ's Word:

I know your works.”

The text in part, please be seated.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

We live in a wicked, fallen world, yet we, creatures of this sin fallen world, born dead in trespass and sin, have been made alive through the Word of God in Holy Baptism, Holy Absolution, Holy Preaching/teaching, Holy Communion, and that Holy Consolation that you, the Baptized, give each other.

This evening St. John gives us a glance not just at the 1st century Church on earth, and their faith, works, and sins, but also, as Solomon said so long ago, “there's nothing new under the sun,” so also Christ's words of praise, encouragement, admonition, and saving Gospel are meant for the Church today, and especially for you.

It should echo in our ears, Christ's Word this day! Words both that should remind us of our sins, and also our Baptism, our adoption into grace, through Christ Jesus our Lord, and Savior Who became man, lived, suffered, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of all the sins of the world and especially your sins.

On this day, hear this Word of your Lord in all it's clarity, omniscience, admonition, and grace.

I KNOW YOUR WORKS.”

  • The Churches at Thyatira and Sardis.
  • This Church, this congregation.
  • T T T

1. The Churches at Thyatira and Sardis.

a. To the Bishop at the Church of Thy/a/tira,

Christ says: “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.”

This congregation is different from that first Church two weeks ago, the Church at Ephesus, in that while Ephesus had abandoned the love they had at first, in this congregation at Thyatira, Christian works had actually grown in the Spirit.

Yet, this congregation “tolerate[s] that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”

Ephesus had fought the false doctrine in their midst with such vigor that they had forgotten to love one another as Christ had first loved them. Their dislike of false teaching was beginning to weigh on how they felt toward one another.

But the ways of the world, false teaching, must be identified, disassociated from, because we love our neighbor as oursleves. This congregation is ignoring their brother's plight, letting them persist in the false and evil, and thereby enabling their brothers and sisters to persist in their sins to their eternal harm.

Love forgives, aids, helps, comforts, and befriends. Therefore, love also points out to manifest, open sin, “this is wrong, you are sinning against God!”

In John's letter, Christ is speaking, and says this of Jezebel, “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.” And Christ precedes to explain how He will punish her unrepentant heart.

But, of “those who commit adultery with her [Christ] will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works.” Jesus is giving those that sin with Jezebel a chance to repent.

And in love, the congregation needs to help them with God's Word to see their sin.

b. To the Bishop at the Church of Sardis,

Christ says: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.”

Christ, through St. John, tells them, “I have not found your works complete.” But, He tells them, “Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments.”

Their lack of works stem from their soiled garments. This word for soiled is often associated with unclean acts of immorality in the New Testament. They too are imbroiled with the sins of the pagan world around them.

Those under Jezebel's spell shouldn't be trying to fit in. They are not of the world. Jesus says,

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn 15:19).

Being of the world that was Jezebel's sin, the Church's at Thyatira, and also here at Sardis. Somehow being part of the world, by doing those things of the world, but sadly not the things of Christ. They sinned themselves, and against those among them, that they didn't try to help in love, leave the things of the world.

And now we must consider:

2. This Church, this congregation.

First we must remove the beam from our own eye. Sunday's Epistle said,

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place” (Eph. 5:3-4b).

  • Have you looked upon another person, not your spouse, with lustful thoughts, or desires?
  • Have you ever told or laughed at jokes of sexually crude, or an adulterous nature?
  • Have you ever had sexual relations outside of marriage?
  • To all your answers, even the ones you try to hide, Jesus says, “I know your works.”

Repent, and turn from your sinful ways!

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

Christ forgives you all your sins against Him by disobeying the 6th Commandment, “You shall not commit adultery.” You are forgiven.

And now for that speck in your neighbor's eye.

We live in a very sinful world. Everyone from Medical science, society, peer pressure, all from the world's view, tells us marriage is out-dated, and now that sexual orientation isn't biological, but emotional, optional, interchangeable, and subject to whim.

The world believes in personal satisfaction, no matter what, and almost at any consequence. And the world with tolerate almost anything but Divinely given morality, or Divinely given prohibitations.

The world wants to leave right and wrong to the indivual and their sensibilities. Of course there are a few exceptions to establish at least some order in society, and hence the ever changing law of the land.

The Christian, for the sake of the eternal well-being of their neighbor, can't say what God says is wrong, is right.

We do know what God forbids, and condemns. We certainly can't join in either. Besides adding to our own sins, our participating behavior sinfully declares their sinful actions OK. And thus you and I sin against our neighbor, right beside him.

And as we are their Christian example, our particaption sinfully becomes a condoning approval. And then, their sin is on us too. Jesus says, “I know your works.”

And for not removing the speck in our neighbor's eye, or even telling him he has one, our sin is upon us as well as theirs. Jesus says, “I know your works.”

And still, again there is a beam in our eye! Repent, and turn from your sinful ways!

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

Christ says, “I know your works.”

Therefore, repent for Christ has lived, suffered, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of al your sins. Repent and love your neighbor as Christ first loved you.

But when you fail in loving your neighbor, when you sin against God and neighbor, again, repent and believe in Christ's sacrifice for all your sins.

The Father forgives you for Christ's sake. And you are given to live in Christ.

Jesus says, “I know your works.” And those works now are Christ's works in you. Christ's righeousness is applied to you.

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Rejoice in Christ and His righteousness! You are the white robed ones in Christ, for you are forgiven, you are saved, and you have already begun to live forever, (point to the font). For Jesus' most holy Passion's sake. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Please stand.

The Peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Midweek of Reminiscere

03/15/17

615:1-3, 615:4-6, 934

Psalm 121:1-8, 1 Revelations 2:8-17, St. Matthew 15:21–28

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.

The sermon text is the Epistle appointed, the St. John's Epistle, Revelation, the 2nd chapter, with particular focus on these words:

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”

The text in part, please be seated.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Two little Epistles written by St. John the Evangelist, and Apostle. Indeed written by John the Divine, dictated by Christ, and blessed and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Two little letters, sent to two different churches, Smyrna and Pergamum.

There is much in these letters that should be considered and meditated on. The short midweek sermons are not meant to exhaust all knowledge from these letters, but rather to spark an interest while gleaming our Lord's teachings to our eternal benefit.

First let's consider the Church at Smyrna.

Faithful Polycarp was most likely the bishop of Smyrna at the time of St. John's writing. In around 150 AD Polycarp was martyred after serving as bisphop for 86 years. Before his death he is reported as saying,

Eighty-six years I have served Christ and he has never done me wrong. How can I blaspheme my king who saved me?”1

His 86 year service as Bishop would mean that Polycarp began serving Smyrna around 64 AD. John's authorship of Revelation is credited to around 94 AD. Polycarp served our Lord under the Apostleship of John.

This faithful Church is comforted by their Savior Christ Jesus for what they have suffered and are about to suffer. Christ encourages them to remain faithful unto death and they will receive the crown of life.

Christ has John write to this congregation,

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

This is a far cry from the prosperity teachings of some of today's Protestants. Yet, certainly in par with Christ's teachings, “take up your cross and follow Me.”

Eternity is at stake! And the warning of sufferings to come is followed by the promise, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

By the way, Lenski records in his commentary,

Smyrna, the modern İzmir, is the only one of the seven cities in which the church has continued to exist through the centuries to the present.”2

A faithful congregation and messenger, that is pastor, and they were given trials to help them cling to the Lord and Savior all the tighter. Our trials aren't to punish us, Christ took all our punishment. Trials are to help us understand our need for a Savior.

In Acts, Peter and John, after being whipped for confessing Christ, gave songs of joy and thanks for the opportunity to suffer for the name of Jesus. Smyrna isn't going to suffer anything that as an Apostle and through exile St. John hadn't experienced for Christ's sake.

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Suffering Christians rescued by death through our Lord Jesus Christ, awaiting the resurrection of the flesh take their comfort knowing that Jesus is with them always!

Let's consider the Church at Pergamum.

There aren't any secular testimonies to add information as to who the Bishop of Pergamum might be. As wonderful as the Gospel message in opening to Smyrna was,

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.’”

The opening to the Church at Pergamum is more ominous with the division of Law and Gospel about to be unpacked.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.’”

The sharp two-edged sword, that which divides God's Holy Word, Law and Gospel, the revealing of sin and the gifting of forgiveness is certainly implied with this greeting.

Apparently the Lord has a bone to pick with this congregation. Yet, still, Christ has John begin with some encouragement in what they are doing faithfully.

John writes, “Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.”

While Antipas refused to deny Christ in their midst, so did they! And Christ encourages and commends them for it.

But then comes the Law's exhortation:

But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. 15So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.”

Balak, an inteesting Old Testament figure, after being ordered by an enemy king to curse the children of Israel, he blesses them instead. Yet, eventually Balak entices and persaudes them into eating for worship the meat offered to idols and sleeping with temple prostitutes.

This informs you as to the sins of the Nicolaitans, modern day Balaks. Some in the midst of the congregation taught unionistic practices with pagans denying that the sins of the flesh affect the soul. This false doctrine allowed them to “fit in” with society easier.

Christ had John write, “I have a few things against you.” Yet my no means a small thing for unless they repent, that is stop and turn away, Christ says He will come soon and war against them with the sword of His mouth.

Christ's warning is followed by these words,

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.”

Told it was sinful to partake in the pagan practices that surround them, includung fornication and eating the sacrifice to the idols as participants, Christ offers the “hidden manna” figurative food suggesting the wedding banquet feast with the Bridegroom in heaven.

To those who repent and believe they will be gifted to dine with Lord forever.

I can't tell you what the white stone means, but we can ask Christ when we get to heaven ourselves.

But we aren't left to ourselves to assure that we conquer. No! Christ gives His salvation with these words, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Christ's word spoken into the ear made to hear, gives what Christ offers. And faith is given, preserved, and strengthened.

Both letters start with ways pertaining to the messeage that Christ indentifies Himself to them.

  • And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.”
  • And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.”
  • To Smyrna Christ calling Himself the first and the last seems to remind them that He is the Alpha and Omega, the Christ, Who became man, lived, suffered, died, and rose again for the forgiveness of all their sins, and your sins. And that He will return for the faithful!

To Pergamum, who seem in danger of falling away, Christ says, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: ‘The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.”

Christ keeps the Gospel at the ready, but first wants to address them about their sins. The two-edged sword divides, and cuts open so that the Gospel seed may be planted in a divinely law prepared soil.

And now for the application: the how this applies to you.

There is much you will suffer for the goal of being saved. Our flesh is engaged in a war with our new man. And world and Satan try to aid the wicked inclinations of the flesh.

Christ allows troubles to be your companions as well. Not for spite, or punishment, but so that we are reminded of our depravity, weakness, and inabilities and cling ever tighter to our Savior, our only hope.

Sadly, we sin against God and neighbor by worshipping the things of this world, Christ sends His messenger to show us our sins, that we might be crushed by them, so that the Gospel raises up repentent hearts in us that we too might remain in Christ's name.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”

The Father does forgive you all your sins – sins against God by having other gods, and sins against your neighbor by not loving him. All your sins are forgiven for the sake Of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Savior of all sins, especially yours.

Repent and believe dear ones! “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” You are forgiven, you are saved, and you have already begun to live forever, (point to the font). For Jesus' most holy Passion's sake. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Please stand.

The Peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

 

1 Krodel, G. A. (1989). Revelation (p. 112). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

2 Krodel, G. A. (1989). Revelation (p. 110). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

 

Midweek of Invocavit

02/17/16

1 Samuel 17:40-51, Hebrews 4:14-16, & St. Matthew 4:1–11

418, 424, 718

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you, from God the Father and Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.

The sermon text is the Epistle appointed, Hebrews, the 4th chapter, with particular focus on these words:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

The text in part. Please be seated.

In the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Sunday's sermon showed us the folly, and irony of believing that you, and I, would've fared better than Adam and Eve at the Tempter's attack. Even before the wilderness exile, Adam and Eve fell to temptation. Having everything, they wanted more.

With death now on the plate along with all it's baggage – illness, sweat, hard work, violence, and even natural calamities – life in the wilderness shows us even less able than pre-fall humans to live God-pleasing lives by our own power or strength.

Life in the wilderness is serious business. The devil seemed to win as we are thrush out of the garden into that sin-infested wilderness. Yet the promise of God gave men hope, real hope, in a Messiah, Who would crush and defeat Satan, and restore sinful men to a righteous standing once again before God.

Life in the wilderness though, has its ups and downs. God showers rain on all men, even the wicked. The earth still gives up her fruits most of the time. Seeds sprout and mature, vegetables and fruit are harvested, livestock provides eggs, meats, milk, and even other products.

Creation may be damaged by the fall into sin, yet still, for the most part you receive your daily bread. Thanks be to God! Yet, in the world there is also famine, drought, earthquakes, flood, hurricanes, violent storms, and so on.

In your lives, there are times that illness, strife, violence, economic troubles, domestic troubles, and death loom so large and menacing that our sin-confused minds begin to doubt the Father's love.

The Invocavit texts given to us for consideration by Mother Church are meant to comfort, and console you in spirit and in body especially in this penitential season.

And so, with our feet dirtied, our bodies wearied, and our minds worn out by life in the wilderness, the Holy Spirit gathers us once more to Christ's Word to give, strengthen, and preserve you, and me in God-given faith in our dear Savior.

Consider the Epistle text:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our

weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are,

yet without sin.”

  • For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,
  • but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
  • T T T

We'll consider this in it's two parts.

1. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”

Christ knows what life in the wilderness is like. He endured 40 days, and 40 nights without food or water. By the way, that type of fast would kill you, or me. But of course He is also true God. He alone takes His live up, and He alone lays it down, and He alone will take it back up. He is God Almighty!

Yet along with His Divinity, He is also true man, with His fast so also comes hunger pains, thirst, dehydration, and physical weakness. He endured the gambit of wilderness fast induced torments.

And add to the mix the Devil's tempting nagging the entire time, not just the highlighted three temptations, but the entire 40 days and 40 nights.

Lest you think, Jesus only had the 40 days of wilderness, He lived His 33 short years in the same world as you, with all life's trials and temptations, and yes the devil on His back too.

  • You have colds? So did He.
  • You have fevers? So did He.
  • You've lost loved ones? So did He.
  • You suffered attacks on your character? So did He.
  • He has lived as a true human with all the same trials and experiences you have.

You've been falsely arrested? So was He.

You've been scourged? So was He.

You've been crucified? So was He.

Oh, wait, …, perhaps His wilderness experience, and His life's trials even exceeded yours and mine. Although some martyrs have been crucified, burned at the stack, boiled in water, torn asunder with a saw, fed to animals, and beheaded even in our day.

My point is, the point of Hebrew's author, and indeed the point of the Holy Spirit is that Jesus knows what your life in this wilderness of sin feels like, besides that, He is now with you always, and He has lived it Himself already.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” Indeed, He can, and does sympathize with our weaknesses! And He does so much more!

T T T

Our consideration of the Epistle and sermon text also includes this second part.

2. “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Sunday's Introit gave us the prayer of the Baptized. It is a prayer of confidence in forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life that faith in the Savior delivers.

When he calls to me, I will | answer him;* I will rescue him and | honor him. With long life I will sat- | isfy him* and show him my sal- | vation.”

God gives us these words proclaimed into our made to hear ears. And then we get to confess them back to Him in faith, in prayer, in every confidence. But where does such confidence find its anchor upon which to latch on so tight, and not let go?

The old testament's sacrificial system required that the animals to be sacrifice be without blemish. They had to be perfect. Yet the blood of animals did not provide or gift forgiveness, but they looked forward to a greater sacrifice that gave forgiveness.

Christ was true God, indeed very God of very God, and He was also true man in every way. One Christ, both God and man, He lived a sinless life even as a child. He grew in wisdom and stature before God and man.

At His Baptism, Jesus consecrated all the waters of the earth for the Baptisms to come, namely yours, mine, and all believers. His Baptism took on all the sins of all the world upon His own shoulders. And all sins were carried by Him all the way to Calvary.

Those sins were freshly delivered to Him prior to His forty day fast with the Devil's torments heaped upon Him for good measure. Yet with only the Word of God to defend Himself with, He warded off the Devil, finally showing His Divinity by commanding creature Satan to be gone.

His three year continued victories over devil, world, and flesh demonstrated His loving determined mission to fulfill the Father's desire that all men might be saved. Jesus delivered on Holy Week the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, His own flesh and blood life.

Jesus alone as man, and because of His Divinity could be the perfect sacrifice for all sins.

Signed, sealed, and delivered – Christ on a cross – the King of the Jews, the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, He suffered, died, and was sealed and even guarded in the tomb.

But gracious, glorious Truth, Jesus is Risen! Sins are paid for. Sinners are redeemed. The Baptized are given glorious new realities.

Jesus, the perfect and complete sacrifice, “but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin,” that Jesus, suffered, died and rose again for the forgiveness of all sins, especially yours. And that sacrifice, because Jesus was without any blemish of sin paid the bill, your bill in full.

Lent shows you your sins against God and neighbor. Lent shows you your desperate weakness in this wilderness of sin. But graciously, thankfully, and indeed, mercifully, Lent shows you your Savior, the sinless, all sufficient sacrifice, once and all, for all sin.

When Lent exposes your grievous sins against God and those sins for not loving your neighbor as yourself, flee to your relief, your comfort, your salvation. Flee to the place that Christ is to be found by His Baptized, in His Word, in His Church, by the gathering of the Holy Spirit.

And this Sunday, come running, yes, hungering and thirsting as true nomads living in the wilderness, come to the life-giving waters, come to hear Christ's word proclaimed, pronounced, and given. Come to receive His body and blood for the forgiveness of all your sins.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Yes, until this Sunday's feast then, still, take all comfort, as Christ's Baptized, for you are forgiven, you are saved, and you have already begun to live forever (point to the fount). For Jesus' most Holy Passion's sake. Amen.

In the name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Please stand.

The Peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

[Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church UAC] [Sermons] [Archived Sermons] [Midweek Sermons] [Special Sermons] [Directions] [Links] [Pictures]

Web Site: Designed by WCO Sales & Supply Unltd