When one goes to war, he will take with him the best weapons in his arsenal. But when Christ comes to do battle, the Bible says he "emptied" himself. On this glorious Palm Sunday, we celebrate. But what do we celebrate? A man riding on a donkey? To humble himself was the only way that Christ go undergo death. He came perfectly prepared. We prepare for what comes - not only his death, but his grave. It is empty!
Death can be a time of chaos and confusion. Where do we go? Do not put your trust in men, even godly men. The prophet doesn't know what to do when a woman's son dies. God reminds us that it is he who has the power over death. He cuts through death's confusion.
We are thrilled by the word "free!" but it is even more so in certain situations. A free item is nice, but freedom from prison is even better. What about freedom from condemnation? As we see the depths of sin from which Christ saved us and how he did it, we see our new freedom in new light.
Darkness cannot create light. No more can a sinner create faith. But God, who created light, has given us faith through his Word that we might believe in him. Now that we are light in the Lord, we leave behind the ways of darkness, refusing to run back to it. Though it is often difficult, doing so exposes the deeds of darkness around us. But learning what pleases the Lord, with our eyes fixed on him, we joyfully and thankfully live in his wonderful light.
We get so used to things, they become like second nature. They're just a part of what we do. Sins are the same way. A woman was in a cycle of sexual sins, yet didn't feel ashamed to shun a thirsty stranger. The empty well of our soul runs deep, and is drier than we think. But the well of God's mercy will never run dry, forgives those sins, and fills us with living waters that bubble up to eternal life.
Who can we trust? What words are reliable? The first temptation undermined the reality and truthfulness of God's spoken word. The consequences of failing to trust that word plunged us all into ruin and destruction. Still today, people wonder, "Has God really said...?" The ruin and destruction continue. Yet God had said something else. There is a plan of rescue, the descendant of a woman. Could God really mean it? Has God really said...?
This sermon is from a series called, "Repent: Turn to Jesus." Judas followed the slippery slope of sin as greed gripped his heart. What seems so harmless to many became the snare that led to the betrayal of Jesus Himself. We must learn this lesson well: turning toward sin is turning away from Jesus. Do not turn away! Turn toward Him for the forgiveness and solution that sin can never give.
If you know what the Transfiguration of Jesus is all about, you might envy Peter and the others who saw it. Jesus' very appearance changed into a dazzling display, proving He is the Son of God. This appearance came from God. But Peter does not want us to be jealous. We have something just as good. The eyewitness says we have our own light - the Word of God. Look to it, and see the light of Christ!
The world thinks love is a tool to serve one's own goals. Not real love. Not God's love. Do you want proof? God wants us to love our enemies. To see that love in action, watch God. He sends sun and rain on everyone, even those who hate Him. He wants to draw them to Himself. Our love is shown in this way: to draw others to the Father as well by how we treat them, so that we may share the Gospel with them. This doesn't serve ourselves. This serves other - even our enemies.
Sometimes, it may seem like you're never doing anything right. But look! The Apostle Paul praises the Thessalonians for loving their brothers and sisters and serving the Lord. Now he encourages them to do it even more. So with us. We are blessed to live for God. But are we getting stale and comfortable where we are at? You're doing it! Now do it even more.
This Sunday was a special day. We took a blessings that our congregation has seen with our area Lutheran high school in nearby Onalaska, WI. One of those blessings seems a bit strange - to be a witness. Do we see what a gift it is to be able to introduce others to the God whom we love, and who loved us? Luther High helps young Christians grow in doing this. May God bless our Luther High School.
Daniel's three friends had their lives on the line. What would they say? They did not go out of their way to make a fuss, but when pressed, they would not worship the king or his idol. How could they do it? Because they knew their God exists, that He loved them, and even if He wouldn't save them from the fire, He had certainly saved them from their sins.
What makes a religion a good and true religion? There are many who think that it can be reduced to teaching people how to be nice. But salvation must first be about salvation - and there is no salvation apart from Christ. God is quite clear: every other religion without Christ is darkness. Though it may look like Christianity in some ways, but they leave all their followers in darkness.
We may not think of lambs as the most comforting image to defend us against all of our foes. But when we see the importance of a lamb in the worship life of ancient Israel, then John's words bring us great joy. He says, "Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!" Only a Lamb could be our sacrifice. Yet He did not come for Israel alone. Jesus, the Lamb of God, came to take away the sins of all people.
Look how carefully both Herod and the Wise Men are to find Jesus. Though they have different reasons for finding Him, we should search for Him just as carefully. And when we find Him, may we approach Him with joy! That joy showed itself from the Wise Men as they opened their treasures to Jesus. Let us do the same, not out of obligation to a church budget or a bottom line, but in worship to God.
People focus on gifts around Christmas. Of course, we think of the Son, whom the Father sent when the time had fully come. He sent His Son to make us sons and heirs. But let us not also forget that the Father sends us the Holy Spirit, which makes our spirits shout out a precious prayer.
At New Year's, people resolve to be better, to improve themselves. The hope is that we will be happier this year than last. But God has made a new creation in Christians. It's a new you. The focus is not so much on our own happiness. God wants you to focus outward, to love others deeply and from the heart. If we do this, what a blessed new year it will be!
Can you imagine Christmas without the angels? It would be strange, indeed. Oh, how we love the angels, in our decorations, in our songs, and for what they did for Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the world. But don't get hung up on them. The real question is this: Can you imagine Christmas without Christ? They are the messengers, but Christ is the Message. Let our focus be on Him!
It was a strange sign, wasn't it? God promises to rescue an ancient, godless king of Judah from his enemies. God then invites the king to ask for a sign. When he refuses, God gives His own sign, one that would not happen until long after the rescue would be complete. A virgin will give birth to a son. Who would ever believe such a sign? Joseph receives a sign from an angel for himself, but by that same sign, the greatest promise ever made is fulfilled.
If we could push a button and have the Lord return in an instant, would we push it? But there is no button. Until then, we must be patient, for the Lord's return cannot be rush. How can we be patient? Learn from the farmer, who waits for the rains and waits for his crops. Be patient with one another, encouraging each other as we wait and watch for the Lord.
We often treat repentance as something to fear. Peter leads us to the end, though, and shows us that it brings refreshing times to us. Repentance is one of the only places where I can be completely honest with myself, and then our Savior lifts us up in forgiveness.
The difference from where we were headed (hell) and where Christ now takes us (heaven) is as different as night and day. Should our lives be any different? Let's wake up, and put the deeds of darkness behind us.
Ten lepers are cleansed. Only one returns to give glory to God. Does it matter where these things are done? Consider our Savior's disappointment that nine did not return, and what it means for where and how we worship God.
At the celebration of Saints Triumphant, what is it like for them in heaven? The last chapter of the Bible draws our minds back to the very beginning of the Bible. How many echoes of Eden do you hear in this description of heaven?
End Times 2 - This is a special sermon with the election coming up
Has this year's election cycle given you grief? What is a Christian to do? We are being told that everything hinges on voting for this candidate or not voting for that one. But trust in mortal human beings is misplaced. God is forever the one whom we can trust, no matter who is in the leadership positions of our nation.
What does it mean to be a Lutheran? We proclaim that we are saved by grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone. (In Latin, it is sola gratia, sola fide, and sola scriptura.) What does that really mean? Paul puts it in terms without ever needing to use the word "alone" as he proves that this righteousness we need comes from God alone.
*Note: There was no sermon last week, October 23, due to a special presentation by the Jesus Cares Ministries.
We might like to believe that our prayer life should be easy, with God simply answering everything we ask exactly as we ask it, the first time, every time. Instead, God invites us to pray persistently. Yet at the same time, we are confident that He hears us. Follow along with this sermon to see why we have this confidence.
You've heard it said, "God will give you more than you can handle." Is it true? That's not what Paul says. Listen to the sermon that has everyone at St. Michael's talking, that has rung true with them, and will ring true with you.
How ironic! What we earn, we do not want. What is given as a gift, we want to believe we have earned. Yet God is clear. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. So we have been freed from what we earned, from sin. We are freed, not so we can live for ourselves, but to thank and honor God who saves us.