Sermon for July 21. 2024

O Lord God, our constant Companion, we are eternally grateful for Your presence with us as we travel the road of life on earth. Our burdens are lightened; the colors are brightened when we feel You near. The darkness is less threatening, and our fears are less frightening when we remember You are with us. Our joy is multiplied, and our praise is magnified with You by our side. Please remind us that You are always near so that we might find blessing and glorify Your name. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.


5000 is a lot of people. and if it were 5000 men plus their families, the number would be much greater. But that many or even more-- did not show up. Many did not run around the lake. Many were on the right side of the lake and didn’t care. Many had a low opinion of Jesus so they didn’t go.


Jesus wants everyone to receive His gifts. and in one sense, everyone does. For everything that is, is a gift from God. The rain that falls on the just and the unjust. Divine blessings are given to believers and unbelievers. The Lord is good and generous to all.


As we pray the 4th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer…give us this day our daily bread… not so that God will give it - He already does - but so that we will realize it all as gift from Him and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. The eyes of all look to You, O Lord, and You give them their food at the proper time; You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145:15-16).


Sin, of course, affects the gifts of God. Creation is not as it was originally created. Greedy people horde while others go hungry. One life is destroyed so that another may prosper. Competition is more likely than compassion, lust not love, pride not humility, power not service, me not you … We must admit we take the gifts of God meant for everyone and not share them.


If there are only five loaves of bread and two fish, then I’m going to make sure I’m at the front of the line to get my fish sandwich . . .

Or if there’s a gas shortage, I’m going to make sure my gas tank is topped off . . .

During covid toilet paper was in short supply because people were hoarding.


So when Jesus told His disciples to give this flock of thousands something to eat, He knew they couldn’t do it. But rather than send them away, He wanted His disciples to turn to Him, the Giver of all gifts, to provide what was needed. To repent of our selfish nature, turn away from ourselves, look to Jesus, and stop relying on ourselves. From Ps. 145, The eyes of all look to You, O Lord . . . Or, at least, we should.


Because in this world filled with problems and division and it’s only getting worse--what can we do with our two hands and two feet? The evil one wants us to think we can do so little in the scope of the world, so why even bother? Forgetting--that when we do what we can, God will do the rest.


Remember whose two hands and two feet saved every single person who ever lived and ever will live? It was those same hands that took that bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it for all to eat, that were nailed to a cross. Never again would He take, bless, thank, break, and give. But risen from the dead, He provided for us forever. He provides for us today—here and now. That miracle of feeding the flock continues as the divine and human Jesus, the dead and risen Good Shepherd gives all that He has.


His voice is still heard in the faithful preaching of His Word. Children of 0 are still being brought into His flock through the washing of Holy Baptism.


The eyes of our bodies should look to Him for the food we need, so the eyes of our souls may look to Him for the forgiveness we need. All these gifts become our daily bread, and we receive these gifts, we do so with thanksgiving.


No one in the crowd by the Sea of Galilee that day left hungry. There were even leftovers, because the Lord is never stingy with His gifts.


But we must not forget, there were people who remained hungry - those who did not bother, or thought it was a waste of time, to be with Jesus. Jesus was there for them, Jesus would have fed them, but they would not.


But that’s not the end of the story. Just as Jesus gave His disciples the food to give to the flock, so He gives His Church today the gifts to give. Just as Jesus sent out the disciples, He sends His Church—you and I to give these gifts to all. Not all will come, not all will receive, not all will be bothered, so we continue to pray. So each week gathered in front of the Baptismal Font—front and center, we receive the gift of His forgiveness. We hear God’s word being taught, and we realize how blessed we are to be in the flock of the Good Shepherd. and thus we bless the Lord!


Then we take this blessing out into the world, to others, which will be more than enough. There is always more than enough in the hands of Jesus. More than enough in His merciful and mighty hands. More than enough in His compassionate hands of blessing. More than enough in his feeding, tending, gracious hands. Until they be hands raised up, on the Last Day, as we enter our Promised Land. To be with our Shepherd, receiving gifts not deserved, but freely given. Thanks be to God! Amen


7-7-24 Sermon

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, You have come among us in the person of Your Son. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, open our hearts and minds to receive Jesus as Lord. Please pour out Your redeeming grace upon each person here today and enable us to call upon You for our salvation. This we ask, thru Jesus Christ our savior and redeemer. Amen.

The Gospel of Mark gives us two accounts that might seem unrelated to each other. First, we hear about Jesus returning to Nazareth and meeting some resistance. We might think Jesus should have had a home field advantage, but he didn’t. When Jesus started teaching with authority in the synagogue, people thought this hometown boy had gotten too big for his britches.

There is even a hint of scandal as the people of Nazareth questioned His lineage. We all accept Jesus’ virgin birth, but in that time and place it bordered on an insult to skip over naming the father as head of the household. The implication was: Jesus was an illegitimate child, bringing shame to his family and the whole community.

When Jesus had the audacity to claim the honor of a prophet someone needed to put Him in his place. He was a common builder, nothing more.

Prior to all this, Jesus had been busy healing people in Capernaum and across the Sea of Galilee, but now Jesus was amazed by the lack of faith He saw in His hometown. Mark writes, “and he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.”

But the question is not about whether Jesus chose to do miracles or was He prevented from doing them? Many theologians have been caught up in arguments about God’s omnipotence and grace. ’s focus on what happened in Nazareth.

Jesus did heal a few people. There were some who sought him out in faith, just as Jairus did on behalf of his dying daughter, or the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.

It’s quite interesting that Jesus responded when Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman fell at His feet and asked for His mercy. Jesus’ limited ability to do great things in Nazareth was because nobody bothered to ask – except for a few, and they were healed. So how does our faith affect the way God works?

Mark is simply pointing out that we have an important role to play in the manifestation of the kingdom. This isn’t just about salvation, it’s about the role each one of us has in making God known in the world.”

How intentional are we when it comes to God working in our lives?

If we continue to nurture some hurt –typically stemming from the lack of forgiveness, or if there is a regret or maybe it’s a grudge or anger that continues to burn inside you, we prevent God from working in and through us.

We all know people who have allowed addiction to define their identity. Others hang on to a problem so they get more attention. They really don’t want God to solve their problem. So how many of us prevent God from doing the work He wants to perform in us?

Or maybe God is calling you to some commitment that you want to ignore, some ministry opportunity you are afraid to accept, some challenge to grow but you think it’s too difficult.

This isn’t only about accepting God’s grace to save us it’s inviting Jesus into our hearts. It’s about our willingness to be true disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It’s about trusting God enough to ask Him to change us and really mean it.

The disciples who followed Jesus to Nazareth didn’t abandon Him when the town rejected His message. As Jesus kept on with his ministry of preaching good news and healing the sick, casting out demons and giving hope to the poor, the disciples were learning what it meant to be a true follower of Christ.

And that brings us to the second part of this Gospel.

Sometimes rejection and persecution are the springboard for further ministry. Jesus commissioned his disciples just moments before He ascended into heaven. He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus gave some very specific directions to His disciples as they went out in His name. He told them what to take, and what not to take. He wanted the disciples then and now to depend on God to provide for their needs. Jesus knew that they would face rejection at some point.

They saw the way He left Nazareth and went into the nearby villages to keep preaching and healing. Now He told them to shake the dust off their feet as they left any place that did not receive them or their message.

So they went – and their ministry was fruitful. No doubt they ran into some opposition from time to time. We know that Jesus faced growing resistance from those who felt threatened by His message. But that didn’t stop Him from seeing it through, from dying on the cross for you and for me, from rising on the third day to defeat death and sin once and for all.

Sometimes I wonder if we fear rejection so much that it prevents us from experiencing God’s power at work in our lives. When we shrink back from stepping out on faith, we shortchange ourselves, and Christ can do no work in us.

Following Jesus means putting it all on the line. We may find that some don’t want to hear our message of hope. That doesn’t mean we should stop sharing it. Some may ridicule us or walk away. There are others who will respond to the good news that God loves them. When we put our full faith in Christ, living in the assurance that He will act, He can change our brokenness into fruitfulness. Amen.


Sermon June 16, 2024

Lord God & Father, please keep Your household the Church in Your steadfast faith and love, that through Your grace we may proclaim Your truth with boldness, and minister with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Children are great for asking questions. They ask one question and, having received an answer, they ask another. As children grow into adolescence, they begin to ask more probing questions about deeper issues of life. In time, they may come to realize that clear answers are not always to be found to life’s more profound questions. As adults we often have to reconcile ourselves to living with many unanswered questions. We discover that all our searching will never exhaust the many mysteries of life. We take great delight in making new discoveries, but we also realize that coming to terms with ‘not knowing’ is an important part of life’s journey.

In this morning’s gospel reading, Jesus speaks a parable which acknowledges the mystery that is at the heart of the most everyday experiences of life. A farmer scatters seed on the good soil of Galilee. Having done the sowing, all he can do is to go about his other business, while the seed takes over and does its own work, producing first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear, until the crop is ready for harvest. In the parable it is said of the farmer that ‘he does not know’ how all this happens. Between his actions of sowing the seed and harvesting the crop, a great deal of activity goes on, which is invisible to him and which he does not fully understand. There is a great deal in our world which we do not fully understand, in spite of the great expertise that has developed over the centuries on all aspects of our universe.

Jesus begins the parable with the statement, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like’. Jesus seems to be saying that if the farmer does not know the ways of the humble seed, how can any of us fully know the ways of God? If natural growth is mysterious, how much more mysterious must be the growth of God’s kingdom

With this parable of the seed growing secretly Jesus appears to be saying that the kingdom of God can be growing among us in ways that we do not fully understand, just as the seed the farmer sows in the ground grows towards harvest in ways he does not understand. There is a reassuring, hopeful message here for all of us who may be tempted to discouragement by the slow progress that the ways of God appear to be making in the world. The spreading of God’s reign is ultimately God’s work and that work is always under way, even when we do not see it or understand it. We have a part to play in the coming of God’s way of doing things among us, just as the farmer has a role to play in the coming of the final harvest. However, that first parable in the gospel reading warns us against overestimating our role. St Paul expresses this perspective well in his first letter to the Corinthians, ‘Neither the one who plants, nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth’.

The second of the two parables that Jesus speaks in today’s gospel reading reminds us that God can be at work in situations and in places that seem very unpromising to us. There is a stark contrast between the tiny mustard seed, ‘the smallest of all the seeds on earth’, and the large shrub whose branches become homes for the birds of the air.

Insignificant beginnings can lead to a wonderful result. Jesus says that the kingdom of God is like that; it often finds expression initially in what is small and seemingly insignificant. We can feel at times that our own faith is insignificant, as small as a mustard seed. parable assures us that the Lord is working in and through such faith. Our hope can appear to diminish to the size of a mustard seed. The parable assures us that such hope is enough for the Lord to work with. Our various worthwhile endeavors can appear to bear very insignificant results. The parable assures us that the Lord will see to it that the final harvest from those endeavors will be abundant.

Sometimes we have to learn to be content with the small seeds that we can sow, trusting that they can bear fruit in ways that will surprise us.

The kingdom of God is something very humble and modest in its origins. We need to learn to appreciate little things and small gestures. We may not feel called to be heroes or martyrs every day, but we are called to put a little dignity into each corner of our little world. There are little seeds of the kingdom that all of us can sow, a friendly gesture towards someone in trouble, a welcoming smile for someone who is alone, a sign of closeness for someone who is in despair, a little ray of joy for a heart full of distress. God’s reign comes in power through the seemingly insignificant actions of each one of us. Amen



Sermon 6-9-24

Heavenly Father, You are the way and yet we wander, looking for fulfillment elsewhere. Please help us to surrender ourselves to You and to listen for Your direction. Please guide us to Your holy word so that we may live lives pleasing to You, always hoping in Christ Jesus, our Lord, in whose name, we pray. Amen.

Security checks now days are very common. We’ve come to expect them at every airport or border crossing. The reason for a security check is to make proper identification of who you say you are.

There is one person in particular that we will want to identify correctly: Jesus. Get His identity wrong and you’ll be more than embarrassed come Judgment Day.

Some in our Gospel text thought Jesus was a madman. Others said He was a double agent! Still others considered Him family.

The first people who should have known Jesus the best were His mother and siblings. However, when they heard that Jesus was so busy teaching and healing that He didn’t take time to eat, they said Jesus was out of His mind. Mary called Jesus a madman. We might tsk our tongues and shake our heads at that statement, but maybe that’s not as surprising as we might think.

Isn’t that what we think when scripture tells us to tithe 10% of our income? Or to be in worship every week and then attend Bible class too? You want me to honor my parents who are the most un-cool people in the world? You expect me to keep my body for my spouse alone? Really, Jesus? You’ve got to be insane!”

Well in one sense Jesus is out of His mind. He’s crazy about you and doesn’t want to lose you to satan and to eternal damnation. That was the point in the parable about the shepherd who left the 99 perfectly good sheep to go looking for the one loser. Why didn’t He just cut His losses? Why did spend His time and effort looking for an animal that had caused trouble before?

Or the parable of the woman who looked for the lost coin; the parable of the prodigal son. These illustrations show how Jesus rescued each one of us from sin and the high price He was willing to pay: namely a painful death and rejection by His heavenly Father.

So for Jesus to skip meals to help sinners is no surprise. He seemed out of His mind because He did what no one else was willing to do and without Him we’d be eternally lost.

The religious leaders claimed Jesus cast out demons by satan’s power – only to gain people’s confidence and later mislead them. I think the Pharisees had watched too many spy movies to come up with that explanation.

Jesus was no double agent working for satan. Instead He compared Himself to a strongman who had come to bind satan so that He could rescue those who had been taken hostage by the prince of darkness. Jesus did that by preaching the truth of God’s Word urging us to put our faith in Him. Because anyone who believes this truth, is no longer held hostage to satan’s lies. What lies has satan convinced you to believe?

Jesus ministry on earth was one of focused intensity. Jesus told His disciples that night was coming when no more work could be done. Therefore it was imperative for them (and for us) to share God’s Word with those who otherwise would be eternally lost.

Jesus came to save everyone – even those religious leaders who rejected Him, and so He issued a serious warning. Jesus said that anyone who rejects His witness—calling His activities “satanic,” would be guilty of the sin against the Holy Spirit for which there is no forgiveness. Jesus died and paid for every sin. Forgiveness is granted when we trust in Him. It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to bring us to saving faith. So if we reject Jesus, we’ll never come to faith and never benefit from the forgiveness that Jesus won for us. Here’s an example.

A person out hiking strays off the trail, gets lost and cannot find his way back. You’d think that person should be glad when the rescue party arrives to take him to safety. However, if that person rejects the rescue attempt, there is nothing the rescuers can do but leave the stranded person to fend for himself, and of course, eventually die. The foolish person would perish, because he refused those who had come to rescue him. That’s the nature of the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Whenever we ignore God’s Word or even think it’s boring we’re telling the Holy Spirit to buzz off. The result being, we’ll lose our faith, and without faith in Jesus there is no salvation – only eternal wrath.

So far, we’ve heard Jesus identified as a mad man and as a double agent. But here’s how Jesus identified Himself: When word reached Jesus that His mother and brothers were looking for Him, Jesus identified Himself as family to all who do God’s will--to repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus for salvation. Jesus considers such people His own flesh and blood. He is the one to whom we can go, with every prayer, of any kind, at any time. Anyone who puts their faith in Him, are His family! Meaning we can go to Him directly and share with Him whatever is on our heart.

Of course this doesn’t mean that Jesus will give you whatever you want. Jesus knows what we need and when we need it. And we trust that He knows what is best—even in some of the greatest struggles we face.

Who is Jesus to you? A madman when He insists that you follow His Word?

Do you treat Jesus as an agent of satan –someone out to get you?

Do you stay away from His Word because you don’t like what it says?

Jesus extends His hand of forgiveness and assures us that He has paid for every sin, and those who believe in Him, He calls family.

Jesus is saying that about you and me and all of us who are gathered here to listen to His voice. Jesus good and gracious will is simple this: that we come to Jesus to hear and believe and be saved! For He has the words of eternal life. Amen


6-2-24 sermon

Almighty and Holy God, You call us out of our dark places, offering us Your grace of new life. When we only see hopelessness, You surprise us with the breath of Your spirit. Please call us out of our complacency and our dead ended routines. Please set us free from our self-imposed bonds, and fill us with Your spirit of life, compassion, and peace. In the name of Jesus, we pray these and all prayers. Amen.

The Bible describes perfect worship as being around the throne of God-- a place where there is no pain, or sadness; A place where there is light and warmth; A place where there is no distinction made among people. All are equal before the throne of God.

But we aren’t around the Throne of God yet. We are here in this world where worship is sometimes problematic. Oftentimes, we believe that we “have to” go to church to please God. Sometimes we think that worship is about us measuring up. Sometimes we think that worship will impress God to give us what we want. worship is about much more than these.

How can we worship God in a real and authentic way? In today’s Gospel it says: One Sabbath day-- a day of worship Jesus was going through the grainfields. As the disciples walked along, they began to pick the heads of grain. The Pharisees asked him, “Look! Why are Your disciples doing something that is not permitted on the day of worship—the day of rest?”

Jesus’ disciples were engaged in activity that wasn’t permitted by the religious rules and regulations of the time. They were picking grain because they were hungry. Now the Pharisees criticized Jesus because of what the disciples were doing because worship had become a series of do’s and don’ts. The Sabbath was a day when certain activities were permitted and others weren’t. Pleasing God had been reduced to a formula. God will be happy if you walk no more than 30 paces but He will be displeased if you walk 31.

God will honor your worship if you give your tithe but He will be angry if all you can bring only a widow’s penny. Honoring God had been reduced to rules and regulations.

The Lord says in Isaiah 29: "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” Somehow, we think we can make up the rules and requirements for God. When worship is reduced to rules and laws that have to be obeyed, it’s easy to take our eyes off God – the One to Whom we are worshiping.

I think it’s important for us to understand who God is and who we are. We know that our God is almighty and all knowing. He is the Creator through whose Word everything came to be. He needs nothing from us and yet the creation depends entirely on Him.

Worship is not only a time to praise our God--worship is also about what God does for us and that’s the key to Jesus’ response to the religious leaders who criticized Him. Jesus said to them: “Haven’t you ever read what David did when he and his men were in need and were hungry? How he went into the house of God and ate the bread of the presence? He had no right to eat those loaves. Only the priests have that right. Haven’t you ever read how he also gave some of it to his men? Then he added, “The day of worship was made for people, not people for the day of worship.”

The true worship of God begins in the heart. David, king of Israel was a man after God’s own heart and learned it the hard way. He had strayed. He had done repulsive things and was trying to cover it all up. But when God called him on his hypocrisy, David said in Ps. 51: “you do not delight in sacrifice or burnt offerings. The true sacrifice is a broken and contrite heart, O God, which you will not despise.”

Worship is about recognizing our great need before God. It is about approaching our Creator with a heart that is fully aware that our life depends wholly on God’s grace and mercy. It is about coming in humility before the One that is able to restore and heal and forgive.

We can recover the true sense of the sabbath as a gift when we remember that Jesus is Lord of everyday and commands us to remember the Sabbath day. We can also use the sabbath as a day for doing good. Jesus asked the rhetorical question, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” The answer is obvious – the sabbath is a day to do good and to save life.

So a day of rest is not necessarily a day to do nothing. Visiting with others, helping out a neighbor, going to see someone in the hospital—some Christians observe the sabbath as a day free from electronic devices, are all good ways of keeping the sabbath holy.

The sabbath day is a gift from God. It was given as a blessing for us, that brings refreshment, rest, and reconnection with God and the people we love. It’s a day to worship, to put God at the center of our lives, no matter where we might be. It’s a day to follow Jesus in living lives of love for others and doing what we can to bless to them.

The gift of sabbath might just be one of the best things Jews and Christians have to offer. But it has to start with living it ourselves.

The central thought for us to remember is that the will of Jesus—the authoritative Son of God, is that of compassion and love are to be the hallmark of the Christian life. Amen


Sermon 5-26-24

Dear Heavenly Father, Thru the power of Your Holy Spirit, please open our hearts to Your Holy Word, that we might come to true repentance, and embrace with deepened faith the gift of life that You make available to us through the cross which Christ endured for us. This we ask in His holy name. Amen.

John’s Gospel introduces us to Nicodemus a Pharisee, a ruler of the Jews, who recognizes Jesus as a special teacher. Nicodemus tells Jesus that He must have come from God because no one could do the signs and miracles that He is doing unless God was with Him. Based on Jesus’ response, Nicodemus probably asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God. Nevertheless, Jesus tells him, “Truly, truly, I say to You, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

The Greek word for “born again” can mean two things. It can literally mean born again, and it can also mean born from above. Nicodemus, by his remarks, seems to understand it as meaning reborn like a baby. Nicodemus didn’t really understand what Jesus was saying. So Jesus clarified what He meant.

First Jesus says to him: Unless one is born again, born from above, born of God, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Often people have the tendency to make God fit our needs, putting ourselves above God or at least on equal footing. That would result in as many gods in this world as there are people, each with their own expectations of God. Which, when You think about it, is not far from where our world is today.

Nicodemus seemed to know something about Jesus. So Jesus taught him about God – who is good and trustworthy. Nicodemus may not have gotten all the answers he was looking for, but he got what he needed - the gift of faith in the God who was sitting right in front of him.

Nicodemus was truly confused. He could not fit what Jesus said into his own thinking. Jesus’ teaching didn’t fit his earthly categories. He knew something of birth. So based on his own knowledge being born again just wasn’t possible. Jesus wanted him to think of God differently. Not as a God he served, but as a God that served him and cared for him. That he would be a child of God not just like the lives of his children at home, but as a child of God the Father—born of water and the Spirit.

Jesus then started talking about the work of God the Spirit being like the wind—which no could control, so no one could control almighty God. God cannot be tamed to fit how we want Him to be.

Jesus went on to explain how the wind doesn’t always blow where You want it to. A sudden gust of wind messes up Your perfectly combed hair. The wind blows the leaves You worked so hard raking into a pile all back over Your yard. There are the hard and devastating winds of hurricanes, and terrible and unpredictable winds of tornadoes. But the wind also brings the cool breeze on a hot summer day.

The work of God is like that... Not according to our thoughts, wishes, and desires. Sometimes He comes and messes up things in Your life, because sometimes things in Your life need messing up! Sometimes He needs to grab our attention and turn us back to Him. But there are also times when He will be that refreshing, cooling breeze to give us the relief we need.

Well Nicodemus didn’t know what to think! His finite, limited mind was blown open by an infinite, limitless God. But the hardest for Nicodemus to comprehend was that God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. God would trade His life for yours and mine. God loves a world that doesn’t love Him back.

That’s what God does. He’s a fathering, caring, and saving God. I wonder what Nicodemus said next? Maybe nothing… maybe he was just in awe. But we know that Nicodemus saw Jesus on the cross, and that he helped to take Him down and bury Him. Maybe he was born again by water and the Spirit, born from above, born of God, without having to climb back into the womb of his mother!

And so it is with us. The Spirit, who like the wind, works when and where God wills, has worked in you; in His Word combined with the water of Baptism, and in His Word combined with the bread and wine of the Holy Communion. How that works is beyond our understanding - like the wind. How the Word and Spirit works in hearts, how the Word and Spirit works as we proclaim the Gospel and the forgiveness of sins, how the Word and Spirit works in the sacraments - but work He does. Claiming each one of us as a child of God, sustaining us with His life and forgiveness, and keeping us in His care.

While we cannot tame or control God, we can trust Him and His Word—in every part of our lives. Following His ways, loving, forgiving, and serving, and giving sacrificially and confidently. For if He sent His only begotten Son to die for us - if He would do that for us, will He not also give us everything else we need (Rom. 8:32)?

So that’s what we proclaim this day as we celebrate the Holy Trinity. It is the essence of what we live, trust and believe.

This is our joy! Worshiping a good God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who works and gives His goodness to us. So this day blessed be the Holy Trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us. Amen


Sermon 5-19-24

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, on this day we humbly give you thanks for the gift of your HOLY SPIRIT, poured out upon the church to empower us to proclaim the Gospel of Christ’s victory over sin and death. Through the same Spirit, enable us to come to deeper faith in your gift of redemption, kindle in us the fire of your love, and strengthen our lives for service in your kingdom. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen.

There has been a debate among Biblical scholars as to just when the outpouring of the HOLY SPIRIT upon the disciples historically occurred. According to John’s Gospel, it occurred on the evening of his resurrection, when Jesus first appeared to his disciples huddled behind locked doors, fearing for their lives.

John tells us that Jesus, whom the disciples had seen die on a cross and buried in a rock-hewn tomb, suddenly appeared among them, saying “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

But according to Luke, as we read in our first lesson for this morning, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit occurred on the Jewish festival of Pentecost. Again, the disciples were huddled together in one place, still trying to come to terms with Christ’s death and resurrection, when the Spirit of God came upon them.

And what a difference there is between these two accounts. John tells us that the risen Jesus simply breathed on his disciples, giving them the Spirit. Luke uses a little more dramatic description, telling us that the Spirit came upon the disciples like the rush of mighty wind, and visibly appeared like tongues of fire.

But regardless of when God poured out his Spirit upon the disciples, or how the event took place, God’s Spirit profoundly enabled those frightened disciples to comprehend God’s gift of redemption thru Jesus death and resurrection. Each of them were empowered to go out into the street to proclaim the Gospel.

Just think of the irony. Peter on the night our Lord was betrayed, arrested, was so afraid for his own life that he denied Jesus three times. Now through the power of the Holy Spirit, this same man became the first person to publicly proclaim Christ’s death and resurrection. He told how God had acted to redeem the world from sin and death. As a result of the inspiration Peter had received from God’s Spirit, the Christian church was born.

The importance of the day of Pentecost is that the gift of God’s Spirit is not relegated only to the past, but it is an ongoing process that continues to inspire and bring people to faith.

Wherever Jesus is preached, the HOLY SPIRIT is working. Wherever the water of Baptism is poured out in the name of the triune God, the HOLY SPIRIT is working. Lives are changed. Faith in Jesus takes root and grows. Sins are forgiven.

Today we celebrate with our confirmands the work of the HOLY SPIRIT in them that they might have life with God Himself.

God the Father created you. God the Son redeemed you and God the HOLY SPIRIT sanctifies you. The Father sent Jesus His Son and the Son sent the HOLY SPIRIT, and the HOLY SPIRIT takes you to the Son, who takes you to the Father. God has made His home with you that your home might be with Him.

Confirmation helps us to recognize the new life in Christ that is ours. We all must admit, we don’t always live the new life we’ve been given. We allow many things to pull us away from our life in Christ. We listen to the lies and seduction of the evil one. We think we can live our lives on our terms and then expect God to bless our immorality. The evil one wants us to forget who we really are.

In our world today, it’s not “cool” to be a Christian or even be religious, so many people choose to keep their faith to themselves. It takes courage to admit that you believe in God, that you are a Christian, and that you go to church. But we are not left alone. We received the HOLY SPIRIT in our baptism, and if we open our hearts to the presence of God within us, we will have the courage to speak the Gospel. God’s Spirit knows what is in each of our hearts, and his Spirit takes each prayer to God the Father. It is God’s Spirit that guides us into faithfulness.

Countless people who call themselves Christians are not living a Christian life--and to some degree we’re all guilty. But that’s the very reason we need to be in worship together. We need to refocus on God’s word and God’s will. We need to be reminded who we are and ask the HOLY SPIRIT to help us live as children of God--that we might love Him and our neighbor.

The assurance that we’re not on your own in this world but have the Helper Jesus sent to us, should be life changing. Knowing you have a Father in heaven who loves you and Jesus the Savior who died for you, should be life-changing? Knowing you have a faithful God in an unfaithful world, should be life-changing? If so, the gift of the Holy Spirit will sustain you regardless of what life may bring.

Come, HOLY SPIRIT! Fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love so that we may live and be God’s very own children. The HOLY SPIRIT continues to forgive us and feed us, that we might live in Christ and He in us, keeping us faithful to the very end. Amen.


Sermon April 28, 2024

Life giving, nourishing God, You give us everything we need to sustain our lives. But we can live as Your desire only by the power of Your redeeming grace. As You have grafted us into Christ, please help us to grow branches of love and compassion, that Your love might flow from us to those we meet in our daily lives. This we ask in the name of Christ, the true vine. Amen.

All over the world, there is a great obsession to stay connected. We have cell phones for calling or texting, the internet provides email and streaming, and technology has given us GPS tracking. We all need to stay in touch.

Today’s text deals with being connected. Jesus describes the divine connection between his followers and himself as similar to that of a vine and branches. Connected to Jesus, we have life.

When we hear these verses of the gospel, many people, maybe most people, hear them as a command to bear fruit or be cut off from the vine!

There is an imperative, a command, in these verses, but the command is: to abide in Jesus. Abide is used seven times in those eight verses. The most common definitions for abide are: to remain, to stay, to accept. The command is to remain in Jesus. To be connected to Jesus. To accept Jesus as the source from which you have life…and then you will bear fruit. That’s the reality.

Jesus has a vision for your life. He has a vision for your happiness. He shares with us today his vision with this picture of the vine and the branches. Not only does he want your life to be truly productive and fruitful, but he also says your life is to bring glory to God!

God is the one who has grafted us onto the vine of His son Jesus. God the Father is the vinedresser, which means He is the one takes care of the branches so that they bear fruit. It is because of the Father’s care that fruit is produced. Good vine, good nourishment, good branches, good fruit. Pretty simple--or, at least, it should be.

But we are all tempted to receive our nourishment from other sources which do not produce good fruit. Adam and Eve drank in the serpent’s lies. Joseph’s brothers ate the food of bitterness and revenge and sold their brother into slavery. King David thirsted for his neighbor’s wife and drank from that well of adultery. The people of Israel—on more than one occasion, became like the faithless nations around them. Judas feasted on the 30 pieces of silver and betrayed Jesus. So when Jesus said abide in Me seven times, He knew it would be pretty difficult.

He knew the trials, temptations, struggles, and threats those eleven were about to face. Christianity isn’t for sissies. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now.

Jesus said, abide in My word because My Word will not mislead you. My Word will give you the strength and nourishment you need… and the joy that will extend right into eternity.

Adam and Eve, Joseph’s brothers, King David, Israel, and Judas all had one thing in common: they didn’t have the joy of the Lord. Maybe they had a degree of happiness for a fleeting moment. But in the end, there was only regret, fear, and resentment.

So think about what and who you are listening to. Is what you hear leading you deeper into God’s Word or away from it? Does what you hear cause confusion or fear? Doubt or certainty?

So the emphasis Jesus places on abiding in Him, is that we might have discernment—so we don’t go down the same path like Adam and Eve, Joseph’s brothers, King David, Israel, and Judas.

Abide in Me, Jesus says, to us who - like the apostles - live lives in this world where trials, temptations, and threats are great and many. The world we live in is filled with anti-Christ’s constantly trying to get us to listen to them - if not by worldly logic and wisdom, then by sheer repetition to wear you down. The evil one will use what even seems to be a good cause to distract us from worshiping Jesus. That’s why Jesus says abide in Me and you will have life.

Jesus taught in Matt. 6 that you cannot serve 2 masters. To put that same teaching into the words of Jesus that we heard today: You cannot be grafted into two different vines. You can only get your life and nourishment from one. Drinking from the world’s vine, you will bear the world’s fruit. Drinking from Christ, you will bear His good fruit.

How many faith based charitable organizations have started out with the best intentions only to end up seeking self-glorification? It happens to individuals as well. Sadly enough, that’s what happens when we invite the enemy to sit at our table.

Abide in me Jesus says. That you are not just a person, like any other person, but a forgiven child of God.

Only when we can see the Scriptures not just as rules or laws, but Christ and His life. Only when we hear the glorious truths of forgiveness, resurrection, goodness, mercy, can we live each day in Christ, and finding a joy that lasts.

Abide in Me, Jesus saysyou who live in a world that is often confusing, filled with contradiction and division; …a world quick to accuse and persecute, not always right but never wrong, …ready to dive headfirst into the latest sinful fad. How do you exist in such a world? On what foundation do you stand? What do you uphold as truth?

Abide in Me, Jesus says. To get you through such a world. To get you through death to life. To forgive your sin. To raise you up. To strengthen you.

Allow the vine of Christ to grow in your house, in your life, bearing good fruit, His fruit. Abide in Me, Jesus said. That’s the command. Remember we are a resurrection people--remember your baptism. Drink deeply of God’s Word. Rejoice in His forgiveness. Come to the Lord’s table for the food that nourishes you for eternity. As He abides in you, your faith will grow in Him.

For only Christ is risen!


Sermon 4-21-24

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, since You have awakened from the dead, the Shepherd of Your Sheep, please help us to hear our Shepherd’s voice, and follow Him away from temptation and live in newness of life, now and forever. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, enable each one of us to experience Your love, and empowered us to witness. We ask this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

When Jesus taught and preached, people didn’t always understand Him. Sometimes it was because He spoke in parables, but even when He didn’t, what Jesus said was so different than what their teachers were saying, that people just didn’t understand—at least not at first. Our Gospel for today is one of those times.

We who live on this side of Jesus’ resurrection have all the teachings of Jesus in the Bible at our fingertips, and we know what the Apostles said. So what Jesus said today that He is the Good Shepherd, is well-known and deeply loved. So much so that in the hospital or at funerals or other difficult times, we want to hear about the comfort of the 23rd Psalm.

But the thinking in first century Israel, about a shepherd who died for his sheep would not have been a good shepherd, but a stupid one!

Sheep were a commodity. They were sheared for their wool. They were eaten, they were sacrificed for the Passover. So when sheep were in danger, a shepherd would do his or her best to defend the flock, but not die for them. Using extreme efforts to save one sheep would have placed him or herself and the rest of the flock in danger. It would have been better to go home with a few less sheep than not to go home at all.

A sheep farmer was tending his flock when a city slicker drove up in his BMW, hopped out and asked, "Mr. if I tell you exactly how many sheep you have, can I take one?"

The farmer nodded, so the city slicker opened his laptop, took some satellite photos, ran some algorithms, and announced, "You have 1,432 sheep."

Impressed, the farmer said, "You're right. Go ahead and take one." So the city slicker thanked the farmer and loaded one of the animals into the backseat of the car. "Now," said the farmer, "You might know a lot about computers, but you don’t know much about my business. So give back my dog.”

So when Jesus talked about being the good shepherd, rescuing those that went astray, laying down his life for the flock some people weren’t sure Jesus really knew what he was talking about.

In the preceding verses of this Gospel text Jesus had healed a man blind from birth. To heal someone who had lost their vision was one thing; but to give sight to someone who never had it . . . that was unprecedented. That’s why the Pharisees thought Jesus was demon possessed and made them even more determined in their opposition. If anyone dared to say that Jesus was the Christ, they would be expelled from the synagogue.

The Pharisees were treating people like commodities. Shearing them for their own profit. Devouring the property of widows. They didn’t care about the people but for themselves. They were like wolves in sheep’s clothing.

What if there was a God who didn’t treat people not like commodities, or servants, or peons? What if there was a God who would lay down his life for all people? What would such a God look like?

It looks like Jesus on the cross.

Jesus treated people like family, because when the satanic wolf came for His children, He did not flee. When the satanic wolf came and insisted that the wages of sin is death said: Take me instead. It was an offer satan couldn’t refuse. Devour the shepherd and the flock would be left without protection.

But the evil one never guessed that Christ would be raised from the dead! Christ the Good Shepherd doesn’t just have the authorization to lay down His life, but HE also was able to take it up again - to rise from the dead. Satan was right: the wages of sin is death. Jesus atoned for our sin and death lost its power. Death is no longer a threat for those in Christ and because Jesus lives, we too shall live. Because Jesus rose from death to life again, we know that we will, too. It is the promise of forgiveness and life given to us in Holy Baptism. He applies His death and life to us; we die and rise with Him; we are sheep in His flock and children of God.

The resurrection of Jesus isn’t something that just happened some 2,000 years ago, the resurrection is our reality now. It is evident in the fact that God has forgiven us and has given us life that not even death can take away. Easter is a new reality--a new life to live.

In the reading from first John: By this we know love, that Jesus laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. We treat each other as sisters and brothers in Christ. People valued as children of God. People who need to know that salvation comes only thru Jesus. People who are forgiven just as we are forgiven.

Jesus‘ blood set us free to be people of God living under the reign of Christ.

That’s our new reality: that we might see every person as someone for whom Christ died and rose again. The awareness of God’s love leads to love and hold us together giving us a secure future. Being IN Christ is all that matters.

Jesus has given us His Spirit. He is our Good Shepherd risen from the dead, He is still feeding us, He is still leading us, He is still guiding us, and forgiving us--making His reality our reality, and His life our life.

For Christ is risen! Amen



Sermon March 17, 2024

Let us pray: Gracious Lord God, we live in a competitive, self-seeking world. Yet Jesus modeled servanthood with a basin and a towel. His faithfulness was demonstrated in suffering service, and Your forgiving grace. Please O God, help each of us to follow our Lord’s example, serve those in need, and witness to Your saving grace. We seek to be Your faithful disciples. We pray in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

There is a question many Americans are asking: “Where are the leaders we need who are not selfish or self-serving?”

Many voters, especially in a presidential election, do not vote for someone, but against someone. Maybe there should be a box on the ballot that says: none of the above. The people of this world love power and that’s what satan offers, the very same temptation he offered Jesus in the wilderness -- power and glory.

Today’s Gospel is about a mother who loved her sons. She was proud of them. She had great dreams for them. She wanted only the best for them. That’s why she made the audacious request of Jesus: when You come into Your Kingdom, have my sons seated on Your right and the other seated on Your left. She wanted her sons to have the places of highest honor. She felt like her boys deserved it. If that meant asking the Lord for a favor, she was glad to do it.

We live in a world that is about winning and losing. In the great game of life, we all want to come out ahead. That’s why we keep score and truly, ambition itself is not evil. In Galatians, Paul reminds Christians that ambition is not wrong, but selfish ambition is not a character trait of Christians. (Gal. 5:2God)

On His journey to Jerusalem, Jesus grappled with His upcoming arrest and execution. James and John as well as the other disciples, missed the point of God’s ultimate plan.

They were seeking power and glory. were angling for better seats in the Kingdom when Jesus would remove the Romans.

They fancied themselves in place of prestige. They were dreaming of goblets filled with wine, not cups of suffering. The fishing business would be history for them.

James and John like all the Jews, knew the prophecy in Daniel which stated that the Son of Man, would be given power so all nations would serve Him. In this moment on the road to Jerusalem, “Jesus claimed the title” “Son of Man” but the prophecy of Daniel referred to his second coming. In his first advent Jesus came to serve—not be served.

The mission of Jesus was to take the judgment and penalty for the sins of every person in the world. Jesus was the replacement for the Old Testament sacrificial Lamb—just as John the Baptist declared in the Jordan River: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

Earthly empires are built upon force. Jesus’ empire is built upon love; and to this very day millions of believers would die for him. Out of love Jesus came to serve others. True authority, true leadership, develops out of servanthood. The whole Christian message is simple. Jesus said: “I came not to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus knew what awaited Him in Jerusalem. He was well aware of His final fate. He knew how much the religious leaders hated Him.

Jesus’ complete knowledge of upcoming events showed that He was not a political pawn being pushed across the game board of ancient politics. Jesus said: “I lay down my life so I can take it up again….and on the third day I will rise again.” He was in control.

But the disciples didn’t understand “the culture of God’s kingdom” even when Jesus was washing their dirty feet. How well do we understand the culture of God’s kingdom? We all struggle with this sin of self-centeredness.

Only after the resurrection did the disciples understand “kingdom culture. “Kingdom culture” is imitating Jesus to your unchurched friends. It is trusting that Jesus is always in control of this the world. It is believing that when love is combined with humble service people will experience a change of heart.

Jesus saw his time on earth as a means to bless people. He did that through healing them, feeding them, forgiving them, serving them.

His eyes were not on Himself but on the people in his life. Isn't it amazing, that the one who is pure and holy serves sinners like you and me? Jesus has taken away our sin, our selfishness and paid for our redemption on the cross. I don’t think we will ever experience a greater act of service than what Jesus has done for us. We must be intentional about teaching the culture of gratitude.

We'll always struggle with a sinful nature that wants to be selfish. That will never go away. And at times we will get tired of serving others - it can be exhausting, serving selfish people. Sometimes you feel drained, you wonder if it’s making any difference – Look for the face of Jesus in other people. Look into the face of Jesus and see how he loves you and serves you. See how he forgives you and blesses you. Listen to him as he calls you to go and serve others. Let’s all pray that our Lord will enable us to give people the greatest help of all—the opportunity for forgiveness in Jesus’ name.

Loving Father, You sent Your son to rescue and forgive us. Please equip each one of us to be an agent of Your good news that forgiveness and freedom are available to whoever will receive Jesus by faith. Thank You dear God for Jesus, our suffering servant. Please help us to focus on serving others and not ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


Sermon 3-10-24

Let us pray: Gracious and loving God, as we draw closer to our remembrance of Your Son’s passion, please help us to gain a deeper appreciation of his sacrifice for our redemption. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, please open our hearts to Your word, that we might come to true repentance, and embrace with deepened faith the gift of life that You make available to us through the cross which Christ bore for us. This we ask in His holy name. Amen.

The writer of John’s Gospel starts by introducing us to Nicodemus. Nicodemus is a Pharisee, and a leader of the Jews. He saw and viewed Jesus as a special teacher, which was more than his peers did. Nicodemus told Jesus that he must have come from God because no one could do the signs and miracles that He was doing unless God was with Him. So based on the response Jesus gave, it’s likely that Nicodemus asked Jesus about the Kingdom of God, with the underlying questions: How can I be saved? Therefore Jesus told him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Jesus says that if you wanted to be saved, you have to be born again. In the Greek, what Jesus said, can mean two different things: It can mean literally born again, and it can also mean born from above.

Nicodemus understand it to mean as to be born again. “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Nicodemus can’t quite comprehend a literal, physical rebirth to enter into God’s Kingdom.

So Jesus clarifies what He means. He says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’” When He says, “You must be born again,” it’s plural! It is not singular. Not just Nicodemus, not just the disciples, or the Gentiles. Everyone who enters God’s kingdom must be born again. Jesus goes on to explain: Flesh gives birth to flesh.

An apple tree will only produce apples and not oranges, so sinful flesh only gives birth to sinful flesh, which is, corrupted, dead, blind, alienated, and hostile to God. We cannot go to Him or please Him. We all begin in the same boat. We all need to be born from above-- born from water and the Spirit.

Titus 3:5 Jesus points us to our baptism with His Words, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Baptism is where we are born of water and the Spirit thus giving us the ability to do what pleases Him.

Just as your conception and physical birth, was a passive experience and it is the same for your spiritual one. Being born from above is something that we cannot do. No one can will themselves into heaven. This rebirth is God’s work and gift. Jesus tells Nicodemus that He is not making this up. The Old Testament Scriptures bear witness to these truths. We all need to be born from above.

Jesus told him, “and as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” Jesus compared His upcoming death on the cross and its benefits with the lifting up of the bronze serpent in the desert. In the desert, the people complained against, you guessed it, Moses, and God and they complained about, food and drink. So God sent fiery serpents among the people that bit them, and many died from the snake bites. The people begged Moses to pray for them, and he did. God told Moses to make a bronze serpent and to set it on a pole, so that whoever looked upon it would live.

Jesus says that the same will happen with Him. All who look upon the crucified Lord in faith will be saved from sin, death, and the devil. They will live eternally. This promise is for whoever believes in Him. It was for Nicodemus, the disciples, you, and me. It is for all people, regardless of race, culture, rich, poor, healthy, sick, young, and old. It’s for every person who bleeds red blood. All who look upon Jesus in faith will be saved from sin and death. Eternal life is and will be theirs. But how can Jesus make such a great promise?

Our text says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God didn’t send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” Jesus did it for every person in the whole world! No one is left out. God did so out of love. Interestingly enough Lent began on Valentine’s Day this year.

God's love was more than a feeling, it was an action. It wasn’t a dream, but an intentional plan.

God gave because we needed it. It was not a self-serving love, but a sacrificial one that we might have what we need to be saved from sin and brought back to God.

This was the only option, and God didn’t bat an eye. Through faith in Christ, we escape condemnation, and have eternal life. Salvation is for every person that believes in Him. AMEN.



March 3, 2024 Sermon

Dear Heaven Father, You sent Your Son, Jesus the Christ, to reveal Your kingdom and to redeem us from sin and death. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, increase our awareness in the significance of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, and deepen our faith and trust in the saving grace his cross offers to us. This we ask in Christ’s holy name. Amen

The Disciples who had watched the normally mild-mannered Jesus, saw Him flipping over tables, driving out merchants and animals from the temple court. He must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.

Jesus and his disciples had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, to make the appropriate animal sacrifice and pay a temple tax. For those people who had traveled long distances to Jerusalem, a booming business had developed selling animals for sacrifice and exchanging foreign currency for shekels so visitors from out of country could pay the temple tax.

What started out to be a service with good intentions, depreciated into a scheme by the merchants to cheat the visitors. Even the priests were in on the action. They would often disqualify animals the visitors brought for sacrifice on some technicality which then forced the visitor to buy one of the priest “approved” animals at an inflated price. To make matters even worse, this shady business went on in the confines of the temple courts where the sounds of singing, praying, the reading of scripture were to be heard. Instead it was a marketplace atmosphere of shouting, bargaining, clinking coins, the stench and noise of animals.

When Jesus came upon the scene he said: “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” He used a rope as a whip and lashed out at merchants and animals alike. When he came to the money changers, he flipped their tables sending their neatly stacked coins rolling in every direction.

Jesus with whip in hand is usually not the image that comes to mind, is it? I wonder if the disciples felt embarrassed as they watched Jesus making a scene in a public place? Why was Jesus so upset?

In the 9th verse of Psalm 69 it reads: “Zeal for Your house will consume me”. That was the issue for Jesus – His intense love, for God’s house-- a place of prayer, a place of worship, a place where sinners came to repent and be forgiven. Not a place where priests took advantage of sinners looking for solace. God’s house had been turned into a den of robbers and Jesus would not allow it.

Is there the same passion for the Lord’s house today? When we settle in for worship does our mind focus on what God has to say to us? Or do our minds wander thinking about what needs to be done at work or at home? Do we drive away from God’s house with a clear understanding of the church’s mission?

After you leave church, do you say, “I didn’t get much out of that service. None of the hymns were my favorites. The organist played too slow/too fast. There was too much noise in church. Pastor’s sermon was too long.”

I’m guessing all of us have been guilty of critiquing the worship service. But if that’s the view of worship, is God at the center of our thoughts? Or “What’s in it for me?” That’s one of the points Jesus condemns in our text. These merchants were not at the temple to worship the Lord God.

What needs to be overturned in our hearts to help us focus on what is really important in worship?

When we are in God’s house we are to glorify God in our worship; we are to receive God’s grace as we concentrate on the message from God’s Word.

Jesus acted the way He did in the temple because He was concerned for lost souls. Jesus shook up the lives of those merchants because He wanted them to know that their continued activity would have no good outcome eternally. Is ignoring sinful activity for fear of hurting someone’s feelings the loving thing to do? could have ignored all that was going on—but that would not have been the loving thing to do.

But the Jewish leaders didn’t like what Jesus had done-- so instead of thanking Jesus, they challenged him: “What miraculous sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do all this?” Jesus must have really been frustrated with them at that point for questioning his authority and not appreciating what he had done for them.

Instead Jesus gave them a sign of grace. Jesus answered: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days”. The leaders thought He was speaking about the temple King Herod had just spent 46 years repairing. But Jesus was talking about His body. In a sign of grace Jesus offered His own body to pay for their sins and be raised from the dead to give them eternal life!

Jesus still responds to us with grace when we deserve His judgment for our lack of faith.

When we grasp the fact that Jesus has saved our souls, what kind of response should we make? How can we act as if truth is relative when Jesus has said that He alone is the way the truth and the life and that no one gets to heaven except through faith in Him?

In a response to Jesus’ love for us we should obey, love, and serve Him by being more intentional about sharing the Gospel. As disciples we should be motivated by love for God and love for lost souls. As baptized believers we should live a transformed life, rejoicing in the God of our salvation. Living in the covenant of our baptism we should always be ready to share the Gospel.

Jesus put an end to all sacrifices needed to set people right with God, once and for all time, when He offered Himself on the cross in atonement for the sins of the world.

The day of making sacrifices--the day of our trying to make ourselves right with God is over. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God has declared, “The only sacrifice needed to atone for Your sins, has been made. Accept my Son in faith, trust in my redeeming grace, and set Your hearts and minds at peace. Jesus’ death on the cross is all the sacrifice needed to redeem you, from sin and death. Thanks be to God! Amen