Happenings

Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.





23 October 2016

Trinity 22 Sermon: The Cup of Salvation

Preached on Psalm 116:12-19 and Matthew 18:35
The Twenty-second Sunday after Trinity
23 October AD 2016

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Cup of Salvation.

Gill: Crucifix, Chalice & Host Summary: At the close of today’s Gospel, Jesus warns us of the consequences of not heartily forgiving those who sin against us. There’s no limit on how often: God calls us to forgive as we have been forgiven or risk forfeiting the forgiveness that is ours in Christ.

How, then, do we dare “lift up the cup of salvation”? What gives us the right to assemble “in the presence of all His people”? To do so in the “courts of the house of the Lord”?

We dare because Christ dared drink His cup of suffering and death. He drained the bitter dregs and refilled it with heaven’s most precious wine, His own blood shed for us. His cup, our salvation. In it comes full remission of our own sins.

On the cross, Jesus forgave the very people who were torturing Him to death. And not only them, He forgave everyone for whose sins He was dying—including us. As we truly grasp exactly how much He forgave, His spirit then leads us to respond by forgiving others.

Each of us stands as indebted as the servant who owed ten thousand talents, and when we realize this, the size of the debts owed to us by others appear tiny by comparison. Just as we owe God no restitution, so none of our debtors owes us.

Freed from the burdens of either paying (to God) or collecting (from others) any debts, we joyfully seek out His presence and the company of our fellow redeemed. We celebrate this freedom as we lift the cup of Christ's salvation in Christ’s Church among Christ’s people.

Italian Glass Chalice Texts: What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds.

I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord! Psalm 116:12-19

[Jesus said,] “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Cup of Salvation

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Micah 6:6-8; Philippians 1:3-11; Matthew 18:21-35

Illustrations: Unknown Italian Master; Chalice (c. 1550); Web Gallery of Art. Eric Gill; Crucifix, Chalice & Host (1915); © Tate 1979, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported).

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09 October 2016

Pentecost 21 Sermon: Unbent, Unbroken, Unbounded Love

Preached on Ruth 1:1-20
The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 23C
9 October AD 2016

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Unbent, Unbroken, Unbounded Love.

Ruth 1:16-17 Summary: Aliens. Strangers. Foreigners. Outcasts. In the minds of most Israelites, Moabites were all of these and more. Israel’s cousins were familial fallout, along with the Ammonites heirs of the incest of Lot and his daughters. Worse, instead of welcoming their kin home hundreds of years later, Moab hired Balaam to curse the God’s people as Israel journeyed to the Promised Land.

In response to their treachery, the Lord cursed Moab, pronouncing them unable to rejoin full worship fellowship with their family. Even if they married into Israel and lived in their midst, their men were barred from the tabernacle “even to the tenth generation. (Deuteronomy 23:3; see also vv. 4-8)”

Yet the Lord loved these outcasts and wanted them back as His own. And when an Israelite widow and her Moabite daughter-in-law found themselves impoverished and alone, He acted. Through the love shared by Ruth and Naomi — a love flowing from His own boundless mercy and grace — He received rejected Moab into His chosen people. Ruth of Moab found herself fully accepted into the clan of Ephrathah of the tribe of Judah.

More than merely showing that He cared even for oft-despised Gentiles, the Lord included Moab in the line of the coming Davidic kingship and thus into the earthly family of the coming Savior. An heir to Adam’s rebellion, Lot’s incest, Jacob’s deceit, David’s adultery and murder — Jesus was the righteous fruit who grew from a dead and decaying family tree. He not only claimed kinship with them but He also claimed their sins as His own and took them to the cross.

However, as the Lord said of His promised Son, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)” Therefore, Jesus claimed the sins of all people throughout all time — even yours and mine. We, the once-rejected, join all of the rescued, ransomed, redeemed, and restored people of God in rejoicing forevermore.

Jesus' Family Tree Text: In the days when the judges ruled there was a famine in the land, and a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah.

They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband.

Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the Lord had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah.

But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go, return each of you to her mother's house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. The Lord grant that you may find rest, each of you in the house of her husband!” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

And they said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.”

But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters; why will you go with me? Have I yet sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? Turn back, my daughters; go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say I have hope, even if I should have a husband this night and should bear sons, would you therefore wait till they were grown? Would you therefore refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me.”

Then they lifted up their voices and wept again.

And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.”

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?”

She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. Ruth 1:1-20

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Unbent, Unbroken, Unbounded Love

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 111; 2 Timothy 2:1-13; Luke 17:11-19

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Pentecost 21 Sermon: The Saving Hand of the Lord

Preached on Luke 17:11-19
The Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 23C
9 October AD 2016

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Saving Hand of the Lord.

Luke 17:13 Summary: We cannot say with certainty that miracles of healing or heavenly protection from severe injury or death do not still occur — but we don’t seem to see much evidence. Lepers aren’t regularly sent to show themselves healed to the priests. Paralytics aren’t everywhere springing up, dancing for joy at their sudden healing.

A hymn tells us that, “in days of old,” the hand of the Lord was “strong to heal and save.” Scripture is replete with examples, including today’s Gospel, of miracles of deliverance and healing. The first stanza reminds us:

   Your hand, O Lord, in days of old
   Was strong to heal and save;
   It triumphed over ills and death,
   O’er darkness and the grave.
   To You they came, the blind, the mute,
   The palsied and the lame,
   The lepers in their misery,
   The sick with fevered frame.


But what about today? What has God done for us recently?

We easily forget the “everyday miracles” effected by our divinely created bodies as bones knit or as wounds close and heal. We tend to downplay advances in medical science and the amazing skills and training of those in the healing arts — even though these are also gifts from God.

Above all, we ignore the most splendid exercise of the Lord’s hand saving hand. In effecting our salvation, it is every bit as active as it was in Bible times. The hand of the Lord continues to forgive sinners, find the lost sheep, and shepherd His flock to the green pastures of eternal life. The healing hand of the Lord against sin’s cancerous sickness is evidenced as His pastors baptize, absolve, and commune. We see His loving hand in action as Christians reach out to comfort the hurting, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and otherwise love their neighbors as themselves.

Luke 17:17 Text: On the way to Jerusalem [Jesus] was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.

And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

And as they went they were cleansed.

Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”

And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Saving Hand of the Lord

Hymn Text: “Your Hand, O Lord, in Days of Old” is public domain. Stanza One quoted from Lutheran Service Book

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 111; Ruth 1:1-19a; 2 Timothy 2:1-13

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25 September 2016

Installation Sermon: Life for the Dead

Preached on Luke 16:19-31
The Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 21C
The Installation of Pastor Brian J. Thorson
25 September AD 2016

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Life for the Dead.

Bronnikov's Lazarus Summary: If one were looking for a Scripture that shows what God desires in a pastor’s character, the appointed epistle for today is a wonderful fit. I certainly referenced it in this sermon. However, today’s Gospel sits at the heart of the message entrusted to pastors and their congregations: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.”

Jesus told the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus sometime before His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. It would be years before the Evangelists and Apostles recorded His life and carried the Gospel forth into the world. Yet even then, the Scriptures we now know as the Old Testament were sufficient for salvation, for they already declared divine judgment against sin and proclaimed forgiveness by God’s grace through faith.

In telling this story, Jesus certainly has an eye on love for our neighbors, particularly the poor and helpless among us. Yet the emphasis finally isn’t on the Law’s demands to care for the poor and it certainly isn’t that the poor are righteous and the rich wicked.

Instead, Jesus shows how we are either trapped by or else escape from the consequences of our sinful natures. Poor Lazarus isn’t saved by his poverty any more than is the rich man damned because of his wealth. And the rich man’s brothers wouldn’t be saved by the miracle of a dead man coming back with the threats of the Law. Their salvation would depend upon believing the Scriptures, knowing the depth of their sins and trusting the greatness of God’s forgiveness.

Jesus fulfilled the promise of the Old Testament but He didn’t negate its content. People are still saved by hearing Moses and the Prophets — and the Evangelists and the Apostles — and by believing that God forgives their sins for Christ’s sake. The message remains the same: The harsh, absolute, unwavering condemnation of sin by the Law drives sinners to despair their own righteousness while the sweet, healing, absolute forgiveness of any and every sin through the Gospel brings peace, joy, and the promise of everlasting life with God for all who believe.

No sign, not even a dead man coming back to life, will create and sustain faith. We have a concrete example of this when Jesus called a dead man — one also named Lazarus — forth from the tomb. Those who already trusted God rejoiced while those who persisted in denying and resisting Jesus instead plotted to kill Him and the very man whose life He’d just restored (John 11:45-53).

Only the Holy Spirit, working through God’s Word, can crush sin-hardened hearts with the Law and restore shattered sinners with the Gospel. The content of saving faith remains simply and solely the forgiveness of sins we receive in the Gospel and Sacraments. And only God's grace received through faith will bring us to the joys of eternal life with Moses and the Prophets, with Evangelists and Apostles, with Abraham and Abraham's God.

Luke 16:19-31 Text: [Jesus said,] “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.

“The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

“But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

“And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’

“And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Luke 16:19-31

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Life for the Dead

Illustrations: Lazarus at the Rich Man’s Gate by Fyodor Bronnikov, 1886. Folio 78 recto from the Codex Aureus of Echternach, Lazarus and Dives.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 146; Amos 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:1-13

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Saint Michael’s Day Sermon: Do Not Rejoice ... But Rejoice

Preached on Luke 10:17-20
Saint Michael and All Angels
25 September AD 2016

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Do Not Rejoice ... But Rejoice.

St. Michael and All Angels Summary: The seventy-two disciples returned to Christ and the twelve, thrilled with the display of God’s glory they’d seen . They celebrated how they could cast out evil spirits in Jesus’ name. Yet He told them that their enthusiasm was misplaced.

Of course it’s good that Satan and his minions have no power over us. It’s wonderful when demons are driven out and tormented people given peace. Yet however good these are, they are only signs of our true source of joy: Jesus Christ died to save sinners and because of Him we are God’s children. The Lord’s true glory isn’t revealed in the demons’ submission to Jesus but in the Son’s submission to His Father’s will in His suffering and death. By His sacrifice, Jesus effected our salvation.

Yes, Jesus “saw Satan fall like lightning.” But Jesus also saw you raised up from the baptismal waters, named by God and recorded in the Book of Life. In Baptism, our names are “engraved on the palms of [God’s] hands. (Isaiah 49:16; see also the sermon Engraved on God’s Palms)” They are “written in heaven” and no matter what befalls us on earth, we know that we’ll be raised up as eternal citizens of the new heavens and the new earth. How can we not rejoice in this!

Luke 10:18 Text: The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”

And [Jesus] said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.

“Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Do Not Rejoice ... But Rejoice

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 91; Daniel 10:10-14; 12:1-3; Revelation 12:7-12; Matthew 18:1-10 (alternate Gospel)

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18 September 2016

Pentecost 18 Sermon: Deeds Unforgotten

Preached on Amos 8:4-7
The Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 20C
18 September AD 2016

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Deeds Unforgotten.

Amos 8:4-7 Summary: Amos said, “The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: ‘Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.’” Are we such fools as to invite this remembrance? Are we innocent of taking advantage of those less fortunate?

Not likely! In one way or another, each of us shares culpability for the world’s social injustice — injustice that’s certainly sinful of itself but also a symptom of mankind’s fallen nature. The wicked practices that Amos decries testify against a people who judge themselves better than others — a people just like us.

We may not spend the Lord’s Day actively planning to cheat the poor, to achieve wrongful gain at the expense of the needy, or to create and use crooked measures in order to bilk the unwary. However, we often ignore the needs of the less fortunate even as we gather in the Lord’s house. Too often, we give only cursory attention to the preaching of His Word and the reception of the His Supper, preferring to zip in, get pepped up, and dash out in an hour or less.

By accusing us of using unjust measures, the Lord also points out our unbalanced natures, ever inclined toward sin. We are out of balance. And if we approach God’s judgment thinking that we will save ourselves, we’ll find the balance weighted more against us than we would have seen in Israel’s most dishonest scales, for the Lord “will never forget” our deeds.

John 5:1-9 Yet when Christians hear the Lord swear by “the pride of Jacob” to remember our deeds, we rejoice! Jacob’s ultimate pride resides in his greatest Heir, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. Israel’s Pride gives us true forgiveness and credits us with His own deeds. Now our deeds are kind, merciful, and done without counting the cost. Our hearts are holy, our motives pure.

We not only have Christ’s deeds credited to us but Jesus also continues working His deeds through us. He sends the Holy Spirit to move us to lives of mercy, serving our neighbor, loving our enemy, forsaking sinful gain, and seeking justice for all.

Text: Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?”

The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Amos 8:4-7

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Deeds Unforgotten

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-15; Luke 16:1-15

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11 September 2016

Pentecost 17 Sermon: I’ll Do It Myself

Preached on Ezekiel 34:11-24
The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 19C
11 September AD 2016

Title: I’ll Do It Myself (MP3 Audio)

Ezekiel 34:14 Summary: Since those He calls to lead His people continually let Him down and follow their own inclinations, the Lord promises to come and set things right. Unlike the threatening billboards from a few years ago that read “Don’t Make Me Come Down There —God,” His goal is not to spread wrath and destruction but rather to gather the lost and hurting. Only those secure in their own sense of righteousness will fall under His judgment.

The Lord strongly hinted how this would happen. He first claimed to be His people’s true Shepherd, then said, “I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David.” God and David both as one true shepherd? Of course, the Lord must be speaking of His Son. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic kingship. David’s Lord is the shepherd king’s final and greatest heir to the throne. He is God come down from His throne. Likewise, He is Immanuel — God with us. He is the Word made flesh, God incarnate, one of us.

God also declared that the rescue would take place “on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” And so we read that at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as He died hanging on the cross, “from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. (Matthew 27:45)”

This sermon was delivered to residents and staff of Riverview Heights Health and Rehabilitation Center in Lexington, Missouri.

Ezekiel 34:23 Text: “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

“And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God.

“I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.

“As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

“Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep.

“And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.” Ezekiel 34:11-24

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of I’ll Do It Myself.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:169-176; 1 Timothy 1:(5-11) 12-17; Luke 15:1-10

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Pentecost 17 Sermon: Seeking the Sheep

Preached on Luke 15:1-10
The Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 19C
11 September AD 2016

Title: Seeking the Sheep (MP3 Audio)

Luke 15:10 Summary: Physicians are surrounded by sick people but we don’t call them disease-ridden. Attorneys meet regularly with criminals but that doesn’t automatically make them felons. Morticians deal daily with the dead but that doesn’t mean that they are corpses. But let Jesus sit down with low-life sinners and watch the judging begin.

In response, Jesus told His parables of the lost sheep, coin, and son. Today, we hear Him speak of the joy that a shepherd knows when he finds his lost sheep or that a woman has in recovering her missing coin.

He tried to show the Pharisees and scribes that these “sinners” were every bit as dear to the Lord as were the most righteous of Israelites. As much as any of these paragons of virtue who challenged Jesus’ choice in dining companions, so the “tax collectors and sinners” were also among those the Psalmist called “the people of [God’s] pasture, and the sheep of his hand. (Psalm 95:7)”

When we’re feeling the weight of our own transgressions, we need to know that we’re the same sort of sinners whom Jesus chooses to receive. And when we start standing in judgment over others, we need His reminder that we are no holier than the most wicked of sinners. Our Shepherd loves each of us dearly — but He doesn’t appreciate our acting as if were any less in need of rescue than are any other sinners.

Luke 15:5 Text: Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:1-10

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Seeking the Sheep.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:169-176; Ezekiel 34:11-24; 1 Timothy 1:(5-11) 12-17

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04 September 2016

Pentecost 16 Sermon: Life and Good, Death and Evil

Preached on Deuteronomy 30:15-20
The Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 18C
4 September AD 2016

Title: Life and Good, Death and Evil (MP3 Audio)

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 Summary: “I’d like ‘Death and Evil’ for One Thousand, Alex,” said what Jeopardy! contestant ever? Yet from the Fall of Adam until now, mankind continually puts itself in jeopardy, making choices ranging from less good to horrifyingly wicked.

Only those who know that Christ chose to die for them and believe that because of Jesus, the Father chooses to forgive them have any chance of truly choosing life and good. Those who choose to reject salvation in Jesus Christ make the decision of their first parents, attempting to set themselves as gods over the one true God.

When Christians hear the Lord say, “Choose life and good,” we know that He is simply inviting us to continue living in faith toward Him and in fervent love for others. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we answer with the “Amen” of body, mind, and soul in thought, word, and deed.

Text: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

“But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.

“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Life and Good, Death and Evil.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 1; Philemon 1-21; Luke 14:25-35

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28 August 2016

Pentecost 15 Sermon: True Humility

Preached on Luke 14:1-14
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 17C
28 August AD 2016

Title: True Humility (MP3 Audio)

Luke 14:10 Summary: To be truly humble is not to go about feeling worthless. It isn’t a life of emotionally abasing and berating yourself. It is, however, learning to see ourselves and others the way God does — as hurting sinners and as forgiven people for whom Christ died.

Living in a nursing home, as do most of those in attendance for this sermon, is humbling on a earthly level. Yet even there, residents need to be reminded that the God who loves them equally loves each of their fellow residents and all who are entrusted with their care. Their low estate doesn’t give them license to take advantage of, bully, or ignore the needs of others.

They — as do we — also need constant reminder that all sins are forgiven. Christ humbled Himself, taking on our flesh and claiming ownership of our sins so that we might be raised up and exalted by Him. Remembering His atoning sacrifice leads believers to joyfully respond and lovingly look out for their neighbor’s best interests.

True Christian humility isn’t a self-started work designed to please or appease God. Instead, it is generated as faith’s response to the Gospel’s freedom. Humility is our acceptance that we are truly no better, holier, or more worthy than anyone else and the God-given desire and ability to act on this knowledge in true love for others.

Humility, then, is the Christian’s “sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 116:17).” It’s the ongoing action of confessing to God and to others that we lowly sinners who deserve God’s wrath are nevertheless also forgiven saints and worthy of eternal glory for the sake of Christ Jesus.

Luke 14:13 Text: One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” But they remained silent.

Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” And they could not reply to these things.

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.

“But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:1-14

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of True Humility.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 131; Proverbs 25:2-10; Hebrews 13:1-17

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Pentecost 15 Sermon: Preach You the Word

Preached on Hebrews 13:1-17
The Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 17C
28 August AD 2016

Title: Preach You the Word (MP3 Audio)

Wash Summary: “Remember your (church) leaders” — that seems easy. Merely thinking about current and former pastors is no problem. We may remember a series of spiritual leaders or we might have had only one pastor so far in our lives. Some we might recall with fondness, others, less so.

Yet biblical remembering is more than just replaying memories. To remember is to occupy your entire being, body, mind, and soul in engaging the object of your memory. Therefore, when the epistle writer continues by saying, “Obey your leaders and submit to them,” he doesn’t mean blind, unquestioning obedience to their every utterance but rather carefully considering their proclamation of God’s commands and promises, then thinking acting upon these words.

A faithful congregation echoes God in speaking to its pastors: “Preach the Word.” And a faithful congregation likewise joyfully submits to what is proclaimed.

So when our leaders lay down the Law — the damning, destroying message of God’s wrath and judgment — we’d better pay attention. And when they speak the sweet consolation of the Gospel — Christ’s suffering and death for sinners bringing full forgiveness — well, if we don’t focus on this, then we’ve forgotten what it means to belong to Him.

Relationship between pastors and parishes are never perfect — all too often, they’re a fair distance from even being really good. However, just as Christ’s ministers bear with much among the flocks where He places them, so Christian congregations are encouraged to put up with and overlook those things that are mere matters of opinion and preference. This brings joy to pastors as they wash, teach, and feed the flocks entrusted to their care.

Teach Text: Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.

Feed So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:1-17

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Preach You the Word.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 131; Proverbs 25:2-10; Luke 14:1-14

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21 August 2016

Pentecost 14 Sermon: Our Home the Untouchable Mountain

Preached on Hebrews 12:4-29
The Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 16C
21 August AD 2016

Title: Our Home the Untouchable Mountain (MP3 Audio)

Hebrews 12:18-21 Summary: In the history of Israel, Sinai was an important — even essential — mountain, but it wasn’t part of the Promised Land. For although He also proclaimed grace and blessing from its heights, the Lord primarily used Sinai to declare His Law, to instruct and discipline — even to terrify — His people.

Zion was the mountain of blessing. After the Ark of the Covenant entered Jerusalem, it was the place where God established His rule. Zion was the mountain where the Lord invited His people to come to receive forgiveness of sins.

As he compares and contrasts these mountains, the author of Hebrews also compares and contrasts the Exodus with the Christian life of pilgrimage to our final resting place. We won’t reach the Promised Land by dwelling at the foot of Sinai, striving to fulfill a Law that is beyond our keeping. We look toward Zion and to the new Jerusalem, the heavenly city, the resting place of the saints.

Given earthly form in Christ’s Church, the fulness of Zion is yet to be revealed. We can only touch it in part but we still receive full forgiveness. Although we still await eternal residence, we already inhabit Mount Zion, living even now by faith as residents of “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.”

Hebrews 12:22-24 Text: In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken — that is, things that have been made — in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:4-24 (25-29)

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Our Home the Untouchable Mountain

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 50:1-15; Isaiah 66:18-23; Luke 12:22-30

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14 August 2016

Pentecost 13 Sermon: Knowing the Signs

Preached on Luke 12:49-56
The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 15C
14 August AD 2016

Title: Knowing the Signs (MP3 Audio)

Luke 12:49-56 Summary: Full and free forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ isn’t a popular message. Some think they have no need to be saved while others believe that they can save themselves — or at least participate in their salvation. The discord stirred up by Jesus’ ministry has only increased through the years.

Yet for those who believe in Him, the very Word that divides sinful mankind unites sinners with their loving Father, giving them peace with God and the only possibility of true harmony with other people. But if we don’t recognize the sign of our own sinfulness, we are unable to see the need for forgiveness. And if we don’t know the sign of Christ crucified, we miss the only means by which we have true peace and eternal life.

While some of the specific trials and afflictions noted may belong especially to the nursing home residents to whom I was preaching, they generally pertain to all humanity, particularly when age, accident, illness, or isolation become part of everyday life.

Text: [Jesus said,] “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” Luke 12:49-56

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Knowing the Signs

Illustration: Line drawing from Art of the Church Year by Ed Riojas, available through Higher Things Store.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:81-88; Jeremiah 23:16-29; Hebrews 11:17-12:3

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Pentecost 13 Sermon: The Witnesses Testify

Preached on Hebrews 11:17-12:3
The Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 15C
14 August AD 2016

Title: The Witnesses Testify (MP3 Audio)

Hebrews 12:1 Summary: While the faithful in Hebrews certainly provide good examples for following generations, the primary reason that their names and deeds are recorded is to provide witnesses. For salvation comes not from emulating their works but through the Object of their faith. As we also are, so were they saved by believing in Christ, even hundreds or thousands of years before Jesus’ birth.

Text: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets — who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.

Hebrews 12:2 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated — of whom the world was not worthy — wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. Hebrews 11:17-12:3

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Witnesses Testify

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:81-88; Jeremiah 23:16-29; Luke 12:49-56

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07 August 2016

Pentecost 12 Sermon: The Evidence of Faith

Preached on Hebrews 11:1-16
The Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost — Proper 14C
7 August AD 2016

Title: The Evidence of Faith (MP3 Audio)

Hoet: Enoch Translated Summary: While Christians sometimes speak of childlike belief as “blind faith,” this gift of the Holy Spirit is anything but blind. Rather, faith is the believer’s clear-eyed, evidence-driven certainty. Faith is built on the Word of God in the testimony of the prophets and the apostles and the recorded deeds of our God as He worked to bring salvation to fallen mankind.

The world’s evidence is that everyone dies. God’s testimony is abundant, eternal life. The world gives evidence of decay. God says, “I am making all things new. (Revelation 21:5)” The world shows why you should despair. God “has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)”

God’s evidence clearly points out that our faith and hope come not because we earn them but as pure gift. We inherit eternal life through the righteousness of faith, knowing that we own no native righteousness. Faith leads us to confess that we are “poor, miserable sinners,” which is a pretty major handicap to earning any favor with God. Faith also leads us to believe and confess that we are saved by grace for the sake of Christ, who earned every blessing that we now possess and every one still promised.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld: Abraham and Sarah Promised a Son Text: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:1-16

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Evidence of Faith

Illustrations: Translation of Enoch from Figures de la Bible (1728), illustrated by Gerard Hoet. Abraham and Sarah Promised a Son from Die Bibel in Bildern (1860), illustrated by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 33:12-22; Genesis 15:1-6; Luke 12:22-34 (35-40)

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