Christmas Day Service

                                                         Christmas Day Service

                                                         Christmas Day Service

Christmas Day Service

Matthew 1:18-25

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

It is written in Matthew chapter 1: Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.Thus far the text.

Let us pray:  O God, You make us glad with the yearly remembrance of the birth of Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.  Grant that we joyfully receive Him this morning as our Redeemer; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

Sermon –  Promises of God and Faith

Everything that is good comes from God. We have plenty of opportunities to mess up what God gives us, but He still generously and patiently provides for us.

Most people will attribute various blessings to God. They see the wonders of Creation and also the special blessings of human life. God has provided and arranged an intricate combination of dependencies, which are worth dwelling on because each depends on the other. Our medicines came mostly from plants and herbs until WWII. Those herbs provide medical properties on one hand and on the other generally favor poor soil making the soil good for other plants. Some herbs will not grow in good soil.

Our miracle drug penicillin is bread mold, used for infections. It was not discovered by Fleming so much as re-discovered when the mold spores killed bacteria in his messy lab. How many lives have been saved since? Scientists took note and began sifting through molds and soils to find additional antibiotics.

Faith, Which Is Good, Comes from God

Faith is a universal quality, which changes thoughts and actions based upon the object of that faith. Some have faith in magic and the occult. Others have faith in science alone. Others believe in a tyrannical government like Stalinism. 

When Christians use the term faith, they mean faith in the Holy Trinity, especially faith in Jesus Christ - the human face and voice of God.

This faith does not come from intellectual pursuits or from making a decision. Those who imagine this are bound to fall into all kinds of errors. Anyone who thinks of faith in a distorted way with have a distorted faith. That distortion is why people promote the idea of selling people on Christianity or telling them they have to make a decision.

The Promises and blessings of God are the work of the Holy Spirit in the Word to plant faith in our hearts and to strengthen and nurture that faith.

Anyone who disparages faith in Christ is simply attacking the work of God in the Word. That is how Jesus identified His mission so many times in John's Gospel - the work of God. So the disciples asked, "What is our work?" And Jesus said, "To believe in Me."

Just as Creation shows us many dependencies, so the Scriptures show us passage after passage that relates to many other passages. In fact, they are all linked as one, but we need to study and remember them to see how vast this relationship is.

Hundreds of promises in the Old Testament show us fulfillment, but also many other relationships, such as among the 500 references to shepherds and shepherding, sheep, lambs, and so forth. How can we not think about the binding of Isaac and the ram substituted for him? A male sheep substituted for the first-born son. And then later, the blood of the lamb was put on the doorposts, and the spotless lamb was sacrificed for each Passover meal.

So people do not need more persuasion or more incentives (like popcorn and soda during church) but more Promises and Blessings of God.

The Easter Vigil strikes many as powerful. Most of that service consists of readings from the Old Testament leading up to the resurrection of Christ. The readings alone provided the awe, majesty, and power of Jesus rising from the dead.

Likewise, great hymns put these thoughts into a condensed form that we can appreciate as we sing them to ourselves or remember them during the week.

We should remember that every time we hear the word Gospel. The Book of Concord authors liked to say the Promises of God as another way to the Gospel.

God promises much:

God promises a Savior, God becoming man, having both natures, human and divine.

God promises forgiveness of sin through faith in Jesus.

In parables, God promises various blessings from remaining in the Means of Grace - fruits of the Spirit, bearing fruit, growth in those Gospel attributes: Galatians 5, John 15, Matthew 13.

God promises eternal life with the blessed Trinity and fellow believers.

God promises joy and peace on earth from the power of the Gospel in our lives; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen

The peace, which passes understanding, protect and keep your body and soul in the Christmas Child, Our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Philippians 4:4–7      

December 24, 2017

Grace and mercy to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ this fourth Sunday in Advent.  (Amen)

It is written in Philippians: 4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your moderation be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.  Thus far the text.

Let us pray: Creator Father, who gives everlasting joy all who believe in Jesus, grant that we be known to treat others better than ourselves; in the name of Jesus.  Amen.

This morning we conclude the Advent season; the mini-Lent in which we prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of a baby who is the Lord.

To conclude this season, the words written to the Philippians describe what our conduct should now be like toward our Father, who art in heaven and also our conduct toward the people around us.

First, our conduct toward God our Father.  We respond with joy.  Our Father is the giver of joy.  Not necessarily happiness but joy.  Young children are filled with happiness on Christmas morning.  Presents.  Paper. A pile of happiness to fill us up.  But as the hours and days pass, happiness ebbs away.  We look toward the next happy event.  Unlike happiness, you start with no joy. But the giver of joy, our Father who art in heaven, gives you some joy.  Joy does not go away.  It accumulates.  Slowly, over time, you are filled with joy.  You become overjoyed and then your Father gives you even more joy.

God our Father gave you His only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Jesus should not perish but have everlasting life.  That is a gift.  Our Father has given you life in abundance.  Life that is everlasting.  And no one can snatch you from our Father’s gracious hand.  Our response is not just happiness that can ebb away but rather abundant joy.  Joy is believing again that our Father loves you.  Joy is believing that you will rise even though you die.  Joy is waking up on Christmas morning and seeing a pile of people God has given you.  Our Father gave you parents who gave you life.  Our Father may have given you a husband or wife to share your life.  Our Father may have given you children and blessed is the man that has his quiver full of children (Ps. 127:5 KJV).

Therefore, rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Our conduct before the Lord is joy.

Second, our conduct toward mankind.  Overflowing with joy how should you treat the people around you?  The public reading of this verse said, Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  That’s good.  Treat your people fairly.  That’s good.  Another good word (besides reasonableness) is moderation.  Treat your people with moderation.

We are a people that have rights, don’t we?  We are a people that are naturally compelled to stand up for our rights, aren’t we?

What would people think if you did not protect your rights but gave them up to help people? What would people think if you did not stand up for your rights but rather let other have the benefit that rightly belongs to you?

That’s right.  Nothing bad would happen.  There is no law against giving up your rights, is there.  That’s right.  There is no law against giving up your rights just as there is no law preventing you from overflowing with joy before the Lord.

Ahh, but I hear an objection.

But, but, but evil people will take advantage of us.

Ok, but let us take a second look at what the Lord says to see what we missed:

First:  4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Ok, we got that.

Second: 5Let your moderation be known to everyone.  Ok, we got that too.

But now, we see what we missed.  It is written:  The Lord is at hand.   

This Lord is the Immanuel we heard about on Wednesday.  The prophet Isaiah declared, The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.  His name shall be Immanuel which means, “God with us.”  Or for us this morning “The Lord is at hand.”

The Lord is more powerful than evil people who might take advantage of you.

You believe this Lord keeps His promise to take care of you always.  If you don’t believe that then you found your repentance for this morning.

You treat you people with moderation because you are overflowing with joy.  If you don’t treat your people with moderation then you have found your repentance for this morning.

So repent and believe the Lord.  You can give up your rights to help the people around you from time to time for their benefit.  Your joy overflows because your sins are forgiven, your salvation is promised, and your eternal life began at baptism when you first believed.  

On this final Sunday in Advent, Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your moderation be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The peace of God, which passes understanding; will protect you and keep you in Jesus Christ the Lord who is at hand.  Amen.

Isaiah Study Notes - Chapter 60

Isaiah Study Notes - Chapter 60

Isaiah Study Notes - Chapter 60

Isaiah Study Notes - Chapter 60

Verses 15-22

December 20, 2017

15 Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.

Forsaken - Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34.  My God, My God why have you forsaken Me.

Hated - John 15:18.  The world hated Me before it hated you.

Isaiah is describing the church during the time he worked with the Word.  The church was forsaken by God.  The name Christian was hated or whatever name the faithful went by such as Israel or Hebrew.

so that no man went through thee - This word picture of a ruined city also describes the church.

I will make thee an eternal excellency - The church struggles and looks like it is crushed but it will not be destroyed.  The gates of hell...

a joy of many generations - Everyone in this city will have joy even though there be martyrs.  A time will come when people will say, I wish I could have listened to Isaiah.  At the time, no one wanted to hear Isaiah.  Note: joy is a gift from God.  You start with no joy.  You receive a little bit of joy at a time.  This joy never goes away.  Happiness is different.  You start with a lot of happiness.  This happiness is slowly lost.  Eventually it is gone.

16 Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.

This is not worldly wealth that the kings will give the church.  It is food and clothing.  Some kings will be moved by the plight of the Christians and provide some care for their basic needs.  Paul says (Rom. 8:36), “We are being killed all the day long,” and (1 Cor. 4:9), “God has exhibited us apostles as last of all.”  As the Word spread and the Christians were dispersed throughout the New Testament, the kings were also humbled.  They could not stop the spread of Christianity.  The emphasis is the description of the LORD as Savior and Redeemer.

17 For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.

This is a general saying.  The Lord will change sadness into joy.  He will make good things more precious.  It is like a political candidate promising to make things better during a campaign.  This is the LORD speaking.  thy officers (bishops/pastors) peace (KJV).  your overseers peace (ESV).   Luther: Visitation means episcopate. Thus the word ἐπισκοπεῖν is used in the psalm concerning Judas, “May another take his episcopate” (cf. Ps. 109:8). A bishop is an overseer, a caretaker of his office. Thus Peter says that a bishop must not be a busybody in other men’s affairs (1 Peter 4:15), that is, be hindered by alien cares and tasks. But his own office is to look around and to visit with the Word and sacraments...Your visitation, that is, “your episcopate.” I (the Lord) will furnish the pastors.

18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.

Luther: “I want to take care that there shall be no injury, devastation, and destruction where this Word has been.” Just as above, every calamity will cease when the Word is present. For the godly, instructed in the Word, have peace with God, and they will also have peace with the brother and will harm no one. They will live peaceably with all (Rom. 12:18). Hearts will not be torn and disquieted, but all will be in peace. Injury and disturbance of the peace will be reduced internally and externally.

19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.   20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.  21 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.  22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time. (Isa. 60:15-22 KJV)