Be prepared. Do the right thing.

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Advent 2, 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
December 9, 2018
Malachi 3:1-7b, Philippians 1:2-11, Luke 3:1-20

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

We have made it to the second Sunday of Advent and now John the Baptist has come on the scene.  John is that wilderness prophet who is the last of the line of the Old Testament prophets warning the people to repent.  He is in the model of the prophet Elijah and John is foretold by Isaiah and Malachi.

John is preparing the way for the Messiah.  John is the voice of one calling in the wilderness, he is the one making straight the path for the Lord.  John is making mountains low and filling in valleys.  John is getting people ready for Jesus to come into place to begin His public ministry and John’s message is harsh.

Here you now sit, 2,000 years after John was preaching in the wilderness in order to get people ready for Jesus.  Jesus now has already come.  He was born in Bethlehem. Thirty years later Jesus had three years of preaching, teaching, healing, feeding and caring for the people. Jesus entered into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday as a king and by the end of the week had been arrested, tortured, crucified and laid in a tomb.  Jesus then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven promising to return.

This is the era you are now in; Jesus has come and gone and you are waiting for Jesus to return.  This is different from the crowds going out to John the Baptist that day by the Jordan River.  You are not the offspring of snakes believing that because you are descended from Abraham that you can live life as if you are a pagan.  You do not believe that your ancestry guarantees that you are good with God even while you live a life of evil; oppressing people for your own gain.

You are not a brood of vipers.  You have been baptized into Christ; you are a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, God in flesh.  You are not waiting for the Messiah to come to earth to save you from your sin, but you are waiting for the Messiah to return on the last day to conquer evil forever.

Now John’s message of repentance is still valid.  You still need to live a life of repentance.  You still need to struggle against sin.  When you fail and fall into sin you must again repent.  You cannot live in unrepentant sin because it will destroy your faith.  As a Christian you cannot live as if you are an unbeliever because that is what you will become.  Embracing sin is to turn your back on God.  To embrace sin is to reject God.  You need to reject sin and embrace God.  So repent.  Have sorrow over your sin and turn away from sin and turn back to God.  Reject sin, embrace God, and live life in preparation for Jesus’ return on the last day for judgement.

You are indeed in a different situation from the crowds that day with John the Baptist, but some things are still valid.  The question the crowd asks John that day is still an appropriate question for you currently.  “What then shall we do?”  “Knowing Jesus is going to return, but we don’t know when, how then do we live?  What do we do?”

John the Baptist gives his answer.  Luke 3:11 (ESV) 11 … “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”[1]  Those who have extra should share with those who do not have the basics.  It is a call to live generously.  Our natural way to live is to live selfishly and worry about what is in it for me, me, me, me?  John’s words are a call to live in lavish selflessness rather than miserly selfishness.  It is a call to give to others in need.

After the crowd’s group question, “What then shall we do?” we hear from a couple of subgroups, the tax collectors and the soldiers, each asking the same question, “What shall we do?”  And John answers the tax collectors, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” To the soldiers he says, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

So the big question everyone asks John is the same question many people have today about life as a Christian; “What shall I do.”

This is not a question related to salvation.  The question is not, “What shall I do to be saved?”  Salvation is finished.  That has been taken care of by the Lord Jesus himself.  The question is; “Now that I have been saved, how shall I live?”

If you are a teacher, what should you do?  Teach well and love your students.  Put in the time to do the necessary preparation and grading.  Be patient and kind.

If you are an insurance sales person, what should you do?  Sell people the right coverage based on their needs and not on what has the highest commission.

If you are a worker in a restaurant preparing food, what should you do?  Wash your hands well and prepare food properly in a clean, sanitary environment with fresh ingredients.

If you a pastor, what should you do?  Prepare well for Sunday worship.  Put in the needed time on the sermon.  Visit the sick.  Care for the people.  Don’t waste time or money.

This is not a question related to salvation.  The question is not, “What shall I do to be saved?”  Salvation is finished.  That has been taken care of by the Lord Jesus himself.  The question is; “Now that I have been saved, how shall I live?”

If you are a student, what should you do?  Do your homework.  Prepare for tests.  Put in the effort to learn the material and don’t cheat or take shortcuts.

If you are a husband or wife, what should you do?  Remain faithful and committed to your spouse.  Love, honor, keep and cherish them deeply.  Don’t flirt with others.  Don’t complain and find faults.  If you are having trouble, work on the trouble.

We could go one for another half hour of various vocations and what to do, but instead let’s sum it up.  In whatever it is that you are doing, do it well and do it honestly.  Do it like a baptized child of God should do it.

Don’t cheat.  Don’t steal.  Don’t complain.  In this life there are is a great deal of temptation to take shortcuts; to be lazy; to take bribes and kickbacks.  There is temptation to complain about your situation, your boss, your teacher, your wages, your life.  Instead, be content in whatever your situation and stay prepared for Jesus’ return.

Jesus is going to return and you don’t know when, so how do you prepare?  Should you retreat up to a mountain top and start a commune?  Should you get rid of all your earthly possessions and become a monk?  No.  That is not what John the Baptists says to do.  John says you should do what you should be doing.  In your life, with you being you, do the right thing because it is the right thing.  Follow the Ten Commandments because God tells you to follow the Ten Commandments.  Love God and love your neighbor.  Do the right thing, not in order to earn God’s favor, but because you have already been redeemed by God through the blood of Jesus.

And as you do the right thing because it is the right thing, don’t expect to be rewarded.  I think well-meaning people sometimes have messed things up by rewarding us for just doing what we are supposed to do.  You have already been rewarded for something you didn’t do.  You have already received the gift of eternal life that is yours in Christ.  By doing the right thing you are not going to earn extra points in heaven or extra benefits on earth.  You are not going to earn a candy bar or a trophy for doing what you are supposed to do.  Do the right thing anyway.  Because it is the right thing.  Because it is your duty.  As we hear from Jesus in Luke 17:10 (ESV) 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’ ”[2]

Appropriately the second candle on our Advent banners say, “Prepare!”  So, as the Boy Scouts used to say, “Be prepared!”  Stay in Christ.  Stay connected to His Word and Sacraments in the church.  Do what you are supposed to be doing.  Do the right thing because it is the right thing because you have been made right in Christ.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

Jesus is coming into place for you.

nullFirst Sunday in Advent 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
December 2, 2018
Jeremiah 33:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 19:28-40

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Happy New Year!  We have made it to the beginning of another year on the church calendar.  The paraments have changed to blue.  The candle wreath is up and one candle is lit.  We have left the 27 Sundays after Pentecost and entered the season of Advent.  This is a season of anticipation.  Advent means, “A coming into place.”  In Advent we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ first coming into place as a baby in Bethlehem and, at the same time, we look forward to Jesus’ last coming into place on the judgement day.

Today’s Gospel reading looks at yet another Advent of Jesus; Jesus coming into place in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in preparation for Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  In both Jesus’ first Advent in Bethlehem and His Palm Sunday Advent in Jerusalem we find amazing contrasts.

In Bethlehem we encounter this marvelous scene of a multitude of angels shining forth the Glory of God and singing praises to the newborn Savior; Christ the Lord.  We have this amazing, magnificent sight, but as our view pans out we see that this astonishing scene is being played out to a field full of sheep and a few lowly shepherds.  And we learn that this one they are singing about, the Savior, Christ the Lord, is a little newborn baby boy wrapped up in cloths and lying in an animal feed trough.  The angels sing about this baby’s birth, Luke 2:14 (ESV) 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[1]  Gloria in Excelsis Deo.  Glory to God in the highest.  And on earth peace.

Fast forward 33 years and we find Jesus riding into Jerusalem.  Jesus is coming into place as King of the Jews riding a colt that has never been ridden down the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem.  Crowds are welcoming Jesus; they are spreading their cloaks on the road so the colt doesn’t have to step on the ground.  This is a majestic scene, the King coming to be crowned.  The crowds cry out with an echo of the angels announcing to the shepherds, Luke 19:38 (ESV) 38 … “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”[2]  Gloria in excelsis.  Glory in the highest.  Peace in Heaven.

When Jesus came into place in Bethlehem as a baby, the angels announce peace on earth.  Now, as Jesus comes into place in Jerusalem to be arrested, killed and to rise again, the crowds announce peace in heaven.  It is the full cycle.  Peace on earth and peace in heaven.

Just like at Jesus birth, on Palm Sunday there are great contrasts.  He enters with great pomp and the crowds praising him, but then Jesus weeps over the city knowing it will be destroyed.  Jesus is going to be crowned king, but the crown will be a torturous crown of thorns.  He will be enthroned, but enthroned in pain and humiliation on a cross with a sign above Him reading, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  On Sunday Jesus rides into town on a colt on which no one has ever ridden.  By Friday afternoon Jesus is dead and lying in a tomb which no one has ever used.  Jesus’ great glory is revealed in His great humility.

There is such a great contrast between Jesus being God Almighty and all the glory and honor and power we expect from that, and the humble reality of Jesus as God in flesh as a baby in a manger, and the harsh, humiliating truth of Jesus as a pitiable tortured figure gasping for breath on the cross.

You have experience with these types of contrasts.  You are a baptized child of God.  You have been given forgiveness, life and salvation.  You are in the Kingdom of Heaven right now.  Right now you have eternal life in Christ.  This is your identity.  And yet, as you well know, life in this world is so very difficult, so very sad.  There are such struggles in this life.  There is illness that attacks your body.  There is short term sickness that many experience throughout the year, colds, flu, stomach viruses, strep throat, and there is long term, devastating illness that threatens to destroy you.  What a contrast.  You have the promise of eternal life, and your body is breaking down and you are destined for the grave.

You are a follower of the Prince of Peace and yet you live in a world that is full of conflict and violence.  Jesus comes to bring peace on earth and peace in heaven and that promise of peace is for you, but, for now, you live in a world of conflict.  One of the devil’s favorite tools to tear people apart is conflict.  You see it in families, in school classrooms, in businesses, in government, and in church congregations.  Conflict gets in the way of people working together for good and instead has them spend their efforts and abilities in looking for methods to stand in the way and destroy.  In this life, conflict will come, but you are called as a follower of the Prince of Peace to calm conflict and help bring peace in this world.  As a Christian, called to be salt and light to the world, you are called to live life reducing conflict.

You are a baptized child of God, a follower of the Prince of Peace.  You have the peace that passes understanding and yet you live in a world of sickness, violence, sadness, death and conflict.  Such great a contrast.

There is such a great contrast between Jesus being God Almighty and all the glory and honor and power we expect from that, and the humble reality of Jesus as God in flesh as a baby in a manger, and the harsh, humiliating truth of Jesus as a pitiable tortured figure gasping for breath on the cross.

You even see the contrasts in your own experience with God.  You gather on Sunday to hear of God’s glory and power and might.  You hear how great and wonderful God is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  You hear about God’s magnificent glory.  You sing

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of Sabaoth adored;

Heav’n and earth with full acclaim shout the glory of Your name.

Sing hosanna in the highest, sing hosanna to the Lord;

Truly blest is He who comes in the name of the Lord!

You sing the words of Isaiah the prophet and the words of the crowds in Jerusalem on that day of Jesus coming into place.  You sing of Jesus being YHWH Sabaoth.  The Lord of the heavenly armies.  Heaven and earth shout the glory of His name.  And then you come forward to the altar of the Lord and you receive the Lord Jesus in a simple wafer of bread and simple sip of wine.  What a great contrast.

But in these contrasts we gain deep insight into the truth about Jesus.  Jesus came as Lord to serve, not to be served.

The contrasts we encounter with Jesus coming into place in Bethlehem and into place in Jerusalem give us insight into Jesus’ true character.  Glory and majesty are contrasted with humility and sacrifice.  The mind-blowing truth is that Jesus is both true God and true man.  Jesus is God in flesh.  He is the sinless Son of God and He becomes sin to save you.

St. Paul gives us a wonderful description of who Jesus is in Colossians 1:15-20 (ESV) 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.[3]

The fullness of God dwells in Jesus.  The fullness of God comes into place and lies in the straw of the manger in Bethlehem.  The fullness of God comes into place in Jerusalem and hangs in excruciating agony making peace by the blood of His cross.  The fullness of God is coming in place again to take you home.  Christ has died.  Christ has risen.  Christ will come again.  A blessed Advent to all.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

How to lose your faith.

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Last Sunday of the Church Year 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
November 20, 2018
Isaiah 51:4-6, Jude 20-25, Mark 13:24-37

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

On this last Sunday of the Church Year a good question to ask is, “when is Jesus coming back?”  2,000 years ago Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives and He promised to return.  So…when is He coming back?  The unsatisfying answer is…we don’t know.  No one knows.  If anyone tells you that they know when Jesus will return; they are lying.  Remember what Jesus says in Mark 13:32 (ESV) 32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.[1]

Jesus is coming back, but we don’t know when, so, Jesus tells us,  Mark 13:33 (ESV) 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.[2]

Now, it is hard to maintain vigilance over a long period of time.  For 2,000 years Jesus has not returned and so it is difficult to stay awake.  It is like being a night watchman in a place where nothing ever happens.  After a while it is easy to become complacent.  It is easy to neglect your duties.  Companies with watchmen have systems to track their security guards to make sure they are doing their duty; walking their rounds and checking what needs to be checked.  When I was a guard one summer they had a watchman clock the guards carried and there were keys at various locations that they need to turn in the clock to show they were making their rounds.  Now there are electronic systems and GPS.  The companies paying the guards want to make sure the watchmen are staying on guard and keeping awake.

For Christians it can be hard to remain vigilant over the long haul and there is no GPS system to track you.  No key system to make sure you stay awake and do your duty.  So, how do remain on guard?

Maybe a different question is what do you do in order to let down your guard and fall asleep?  For a security guard working nights just sit down and lean back and close your eyes for minute.  Next thing you know.  You need a new job.  What about for a Christian?  How do you let down your guard?  How do you fall asleep?  How do you lose faith?

You should forget that you are a baptized child of God.  Go through the day without remembering that God has made a promise to you through the blood of Jesus.  Forget that you have been set apart from the world to delight in God’s will and walk in his ways and instead reject God’s will and walk in your ways.

Let bitterness and hatred build up in your life.  Stay aggressive and belligerent.  Never back down from an argument with someone you disagree with.  Stop loving your enemies and stop praying for those who persecute you.

How do you let down your guard?  Separate yourself from Word of God.  Don’t read the Bible.  Don’t engage in any study of the Bible.  Don’t feed on the Word of God.  Instead feed on the things of this world.  Look at porn.  Read trashy books.  Watch junk.  Let your Bible disappear from your life and gather dust.  Start to accept as true that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something.  Design your own god who is there for you when you want it but does not interfere with anything that you want to do.

How do you fall spiritually asleep?  Feel no need for the body and blood of Christ.  Forget that you have sinful flesh and you live in a sinful world and are tempted by the Devil himself.  Start to believe that you are more than good enough and more than capable enough and you don’t need Jesus.

And if you do something and you feel shame and guilt about it do not confess the sin.  Do not admit your guilt.  Just try to rationalize the sin.  Make excuses.  Blame others.  Compare yourself to really bad sinners.  And if that doesn’t work numb the guilt with alcohol or drugs or casual hook ups.

Act like an unbeliever.  Conform your life to the ways of the world.  If you see it on TV or in the movies, it must be okay.  If everyone else is doing it, join in.  If others are cheating; cheat.  If others are lying; lie.  If other people are getting drunk and getting high; go along.  If others are engaging in sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of a man and a woman; it must be okay.  It is so hard to swim against the current; just give in and go with the flow and conform your life to fit in with everyone else.

How do you lose faith?  Stop praying.  Don’t set aside time to go to the Lord with adorations, confessions, requests and thanksgivings.  Quit acting like you are dependent on God and assert your independence.

Stop giving an offering to the Lord’s work.  Find some excuse or perceived way that the church is wasting money and instead keep that money for yourself.  You are better at using it anyway.  You could pump up your retirement or buy a car with the money you give to church.

And whatever you do, stop coming to worship services.  Stop gathering with those weak-minded people who think they need Jesus.  Come up with an excuse that works for you.  I worked too late.  I partied too late.  The pastor did something I don’t like.  It is my only day to sleep in.  I don’t have the right clothes.  Come up with some excuse and stop coming to worship on Sunday.  Coming to worship and confessing your sins and hearing you are forgiven just shows how dependent you are on God.  Who needs that?

This is what you can do in order to let down your guard and fall spiritually asleep and lose your faith.  You know this can happen.  You have seen it happen to members here; family members; friends.  They lean back in their chair close their eyes and fall asleep.  They are taking a spiritual nap.

But the end is coming.  Jesus is going to return and you don’t know when.  Those who have let down their guard and fallen spiritually asleep will be judged with the unbelievers.  At the judgment Jesus will deny He knows them and they will be forced to spend eternity with the devil and all his angels in the lake of fire.  So stay on guard.  Stay awake.  The end is near.

Remember who you are in Christ.  Remember you are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Stay in the Word.  Read the Bible.  Study the Bible.  Hear the Word.

Stay hungry for the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion.  It is a meal for sinners; you are a sinner; Jesus is here for you.

Confess your sins and receive forgiveness.  If a particular sin troubles you confess it privately to the pastor and know that sin is also forgiven.

Act like a follower of Jesus.  Be salt and light to the world.  Delight in God’s will and walk in God’s ways.

Pray.  Pray together here.  Pray alone in your room.  Pray throughout the day.  Bring your needs and concerns to the Lord along with thanksgivings for all He has done for you.

Give generously to the Lord’s work.  Matthew 6:21 (ESV)  21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.[3]

Come to church.  Kneel down and confess your sins.  Sing the truth about Jesus.  Hear the words of forgiveness.  Receive the body and blood of Christ.  Know you are not alone in the struggle against sin, death and devil.

Be on guard.  Stay awake.  Jesus is coming back and you do not know when.  But living in the anticipation of Jesus’ return is not like being a security guard watch an empty building through the long, dark night.  Living life as a Christian waiting for Jesus’ return is living out your ordinary life in an extraordinary way.  Living out your life in your various vocations of child, parent, grandparent, worker, employer, citizen, church member according to God’s will.  Living out the Ten Commandments, not in fear, but because you are already a child of God marked for salvation in your baptism.  Repent when you sin and struggle against sin.  Jesus is coming back to save you.  You are His baptized child of God.  Be on guard.  Stay awake.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

Stand firm. Time is running out.

nullPentecost 26
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
November 18, 2018
Daniel 12:1-3, Hebrews 10:11-25, Mark 13:1-13

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

The sand slowly, steadily, falls through the narrow opening in the middle of the hourglass and drops onto the large pile of sand below the neck.  As you watch, the sand never speeds up, never slows down, it just continues to fall and the sand pile at the bottom continues to grow…ever so slowly.

You look up to see how much sand is left, but the top of the hourglass is painted black.  There is no way to know how much sand remains.  This is the way it is with time.  Time for us is not so much hands on a clock going round and round but more like an hourglass with a blackened top.

This applies to the time of your life.  You can count how much time has passed, how many birthdays you have had, but you don’t know how much more time there is to go.  You know that you will die one day, but you do not know if it will be soon, or after a while.  How much sand remains in the top of your hourglass?  It also applies to the time of this world.  There is a very large pile of sand that has already passed through the narrow neck but you do not know how much more sand there is to come.  How long until the last day?  There may be only a few more grains, or there may be a tremendous pile of sand still to go.  You don’t know when the end will come for you individually or for the world, but you do know the end is coming.  You do not know when, but you know it will happen.   How much sand is left in the top of the glass?

In our Old Testament reading Daniel writes about the time when the sand runs out, Daniel 12:1 (ESV) 1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.[1]     At this time the multitudes that sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken from the dead.  Some will awake to everlasting life.  Some awake to shame and everlasting contempt.  We see here clearly that the Old Testament teaches a resurrection of the dead.

The time is coming when the sand will run out.  The thought of this can cause you to be downcast and frightened.  But, on that day, the Archangel Michael will arise and we also find Michael also in Revelation, Chapter 12.

Revelation 12:7-9 (ESV) 7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him [2]

Michael cast the devil down from heaven.  The devil has been cast down, so do not be downcast.  Jesus has conquered sin for you.  Jesus has conquered death for you.  Jesus has conquered the devil for you.  Jesus, the Lamb of God dying on the cross and rising from the dead destroyed the power of the devil to deceive you; Jesus destroyed the power of Satan to accuse you.  Do not be downcast.  The devil has been cast down.

As a baptized child of God you have God’s name watered onto you.  God has declared you to be His own.  He promises to save you.  The suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus have been credited to you.  All the sacrifices of birds, and lambs, and bulls at the temple did not take away sins.  Jesus takes away sins.  Jesus is the once-for-all sacrifice; the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

            When the sand runs out and the last day has come, it will be a great day for those in Christ.  It is truly something to look forward to with great expectation.  Something for which to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Hebrews 10:11-14 (ESV) 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.[3]

Jesus, the Lamb of God, has saved you and is sanctifying you; making you holy.  Your name has been written in the book of life and on the last day you will be delivered to eternal life.  You receive the Body and Blood of Christ to strengthen and preserve you in true faith to life everlasting.  In Jesus you have the promise that on the last day you will shine like the brightness of the sky and live forever with Jesus.  On that day when the sand runs out, there will be no more sin, no more evil, no more cancer, no more heart disease, no more addiction, no more grief, no more trouble, no more tears.

When the sand runs out and the last day has come, it will be a great day for those in Christ.  It is truly something to look forward to with great expectation.  Something for which to pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

You expectantly pray, “Come, Lord Jesus!” but in the meantime you wait and watch the sand fall slowly through the hourglass of time and you endure the difficulties of this life.  Jesus warns about many troubles.  There will be arrests and trials and executions.  People will hate you because you have the name of Jesus on you.  Those who put their faith in the things of this world will hate those who have faith in Jesus.  The things of this world will pass away, but you who have faith in Jesus will endure.

The disciples spend most of their time in the humble areas around the Sea of Galilee.  So these country boys are quite impressed by the magnificent temple in Jerusalem.  One of them exclaims, “Mark 13:1 (ESV) 1 … “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!”[4]  The disciple is awe-struck by the temple which Herod the Great rebuilt and overhauled to become a grand architectural marvel.

Mark 13:2 (ESV) 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” [5]  In 70 AD the Romans do just that and destroy the temple and leave it a flattened field of smoldering debris.

The magnificent things of this world will pass away.  That shiny new car will so soon be a rusty bucket of bolts.  That new phone, new computer, new clothes, soon are obsolete and out of style.  Beauty and strength will fade.  The things of the world pass away.  Endure to the end clinging to eternal truth.  In the California wildfires over a thousand homes have been destroyed.  With horrifying speed the flames transform wonderful houses into piles of smoldering rubble.  The things of this life; even our lives themselves, will pass away.  There will be trouble.  Jesus teaches, Mark 13:6-8 (ESV) 6 Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. 7 And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.[6]

Life is full of trouble.  The things that people want to cling to will not endure; but the truth of Jesus Christ will endure.  Stand firm through these troubled times with the confidence that comes from the blood of Jesus.  Hebrews 10:22-23 (ESV)
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.[7]  The devil has been thrown out of heaven, but he is still actively pursuing those who follow Jesus.  He was thrown out of heaven and could not destroy the woman or her child.  Revelation 12:17 (ESV) 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus…. [8]

The devil is angry and is at war against you with his lies and accusations.  Hold fast to the confession of our hope in Jesus Christ.  Do it together.  It is dangerous to try to be a solo Christian because you do not go to war alone.  You put on the armor of God and together stand firm against the assaults of the devil because you know Jesus has already defeated him.  Endurance through difficult times is done together, as the Church, the Body of Christ on earth.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.[9]

Times are tough.  People will hate you and worse.  Do not be downcast.  The devil has been cast down.  He has been defeated.  His war against us is only a last gasp of desperation.  Stand firm.  Keep meeting together, keep watch, endure.  The sand is running out and the end is coming.  Come, Lord Jesus.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[9]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

The church is full of hypocrites

nullLWML Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
November 11, 2018
1 Kings 17:8-16, Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 12:38-44

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

No one likes a hypocrite, someone who pretends to be good, but is actually evil. and so most folks agree with our Gospel reading today telling us how Jesus had “a greater condemnation” for the hypocrites among the scribes.

Today’s reading is a record of Jesus’ teaching in the temple during the week leading up to His crucifixion.  The scribes He is talking about are the temple scribes.  These are the ones who are actually in charge of copying the Holy Scriptures from one scroll onto another.  They write the holy words of God over and over again and this repetition means that they know the Scriptures very, very well.  They know the scriptures and yet use their great knowledge to rob widows.

Jesus reserves His greatest condemnation for hypocrites because, by definition, hypocrites know better.  You can’t fool others unless you already know how things work.  Hypocrites know that what they are doing is wrong and yet they wear their consciences down to nothing and live a lie.

Sadly, hypocrites lie to themselves more than anyone else.  One day every hypocrite will stand before God in judgment and yet they don’t think about that day.  Perhaps they have convinced themselves that there is no God and therefore no judgment.  Perhaps they rationalize that their hypocrisy is justified and God will not hold them accountable for it.  Perhaps they are hypocrites and don’t even realize it.

The really sad thing about hypocrites lying to themselves is that some of them hear a sermon like this and say, “You tell ‘em pastor; those folks really need to hear this.”

Now, the first thing that I, as your pastor, must do is preach this sermon to myself.  I am a hypocrite.  I lie to myself.  I lie to others.  I even lie to God.  When I hear Jesus condemn hypocrites, I need to understand that He is talking to me.  I need to hear this sermon.

You need to hear this sermon.  How many times have you been a hypocrite since this service started?  Earlier you said that you are by nature sinful and unclean.  Did you really mean it?  You said you deserved God’s present and eternal punishment.  That means that you deserve a miserable life here on earth and eternal punishment in hell.  Did you really mean it?  Were you really sorry or just kind of half-hearted about your sorrow?  Did you really repent, or just sort of repent?  How much of the worship service have you done on auto-pilot while thinking about something else?

What about the life you lead after the service is over.  What are you like when you are alone?  Does your attitude toward sin change when you don’t think you will get caught?  Does the Word of God that you listen to in here actually guide the way you live out there?

Many people criticize the church by noting that it is full of hypocrites.  That is sort of dumb.  It is like criticizing a hospital because it is full of sick people.  An honest examination shows that all of us are hypocrites … and murderers and adulterers and thieves.  I have broken all of the commandments and so have you.  We are in desperate need of healing from our sin.  We are not members of the church because we are so good or wonderful or righteous.  We are members of the church because we are sinners who need forgiveness.

We can get a hint for the source of the forgiveness that we need when we examine the second part of today’s Gospel.  Here we encounter a widow who gives all she has.  This woman may be one of the victims of the hypocrites that Jesus condemns.  With this widow Jesus does something that only God can do.  He looks into her heart and sees a faith that relies on the promises of God.

This widow’s gift is a foreshadowing of the gift that Jesus will give a few days after this.  This widow gives all she has financially.  Jesus will give all that He has … period!

Just as this poor widow offers her whole life at that offering box, so the Holy One who watches her, offers His whole life on the cross.  Here is One who is never a hypocrite – who never does anything that deserves condemnation.  Here is One who endures the greatest condemnation and makes payment for the sins of the world.  When Jesus Christ suffers and then dies on the cross for us, He offers up His life as the perfect sacrifice that satisfies the justice of God.

Because Jesus Christ lives a perfect life that is free of hypocrisy and every other sin, the grave cannot hold Him.  Although His friends lay Him in the tomb on Friday, He rises from the dead on Sunday.  He now lives forever and offers us a whole life.  Through His sacrificial death and His triumphant resurrection He offers us forgiveness for all our sins including the sin of hypocrisy.  And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to give us the same faith that the poor widow in today’s Gospel has.  He works through the audible Word of God as we hear the readings and the absolution, and He works through the tangible Word of God that we eat and drink in the sacrament.  The faith that the Holy Spirit gives us, receives the gifts that Jesus Christ earned for us as He gave His life for us.  The faith that the Holy Spirit works in us through Word and Sacrament, gives us a share in the Kingdom of God.  In that kingdom, we receive forgiveness, life, and salvation.

The church is full of hypocrites because the world is full of hypocrites.  Hypocrisy is but one aspect of the sin that plagues us all.  As sinful human beings, we all want to reject God’s will for us … even if that will is the forgiveness of our sins.  The world doesn’t understand that forgiveness is the true purpose of the church.  Therefore, it does not see the real difference between the church and the world.

The true difference between the world and the church is that the church is full of hypocrites who are forgiven.  It is also full of thieves who are forgiven, liars who are forgiven, murderers who are forgiven, and adulterers who are forgiven.  The church is full of sinners who are forgiven.  The world does not understand this forgiveness and therefore sees no point to the church.

Today we celebrate and thank God for the ministry of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League which knows the point of the church. For 76 years the LWML has been supporting mission work nationally and internationally. The women truly are Lutheran Women in Mission, and they are also women of encouragement. The LWML hasn’t just been collecting pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in their mite boxes; they have also been encouraging women and men in their faith walk to find true rest in the forgiveness of Jesus.

Over the 76 years of ministry, the LWML has lived through major challenges in our world and country, and even in their organization. Through all of the challenges and uncertainties, the LWML has placed their trust in God and have looked to Him for direction. Lives have been touched through their work and people have received rest that comes from our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

Let us be encouraged in our own witness by the witness of the LWML. There are people all around us that struggle with insecurity in this fast-changing world. We have true rest to offer them in a God who loves them and gave His Son for them. Let’s live in this rest and share it with others because the day is coming when every person will leave this world behind.  Those who leave without faith in Jesus Christ will leave without forgiveness.  They will suffer the eternal condemnation that their hypocrisy and other sins have earned.

Those who have faith in Jesus Christ already have forgiveness.  They have left their sin and its condemnation behind.  They will enter the eternal joy of heaven.  They will enjoy the eternal peace of Him who gave all that He had, even His whole life, for you.  Amen

Boasting is the opposite of faith.

null

Reformation Day (observed) 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
October 28, 2018
Revelation 14:6-7, Romans 3:19-28, Matthew 11:12-19

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Let’s play a quick game of naming opposites.

Light               Dark.

All                   None

Down              Up

Clean               Dirty

Empty                         Full

Love                Hate

The thing with opposites is that they cannot both occupy the same space at the same time.  You cannot have both “all” and “none” in the same place.  You cannot have both “love” and “hate”.  You cannot be both “empty” and “full”.  So, what about “faith”?  What is the opposite of faith?

Today we observe Reformation Day which falls each year on October 31.  On that day in 1517 Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.  Those of you who have been on the Germany trip have stood outside that church looking at those doors pondering the great effect posting the 95 theses has had on the world; spiritually and politically.  Luther emphasized three great Solas.  Sola Gratia, Sola Fides, Sola Scriptura.  Grace alone.  Faith alone.  Scripture alone.  Our Epistle Lesson today from Romans addresses the middle Sola; faith alone.

Romans 3:27-28 (ESV) 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.[1]

What is the opposite of faith?  It seems from this reading that an obvious opposite of faith is works.  Faith trusts in what Jesus has done, works puts its trust in what you do.

But there is another opposite of faith in these verses.  That opposite is boasting.  Boasting looks in the wrong direction and focuses on the wrong thing.  Your boasting has you looking away from God and instead looking to yourself.  Looking to your own intelligence; your own goodness; your own perseverance, and boasting has you telling others how good you are compared to how bad those others are.

It is quite easy to fall into the mindset of thinking you are better, smarter, and holier than others.  I know I have.  Far too many times I have fallen prey to the temptation of boasting.  The temptation to boasting is particularly acute for Lutherans on Reformation Day.  It is easy to start to think we are just so much smarter; so much purer, so much holier, so much better, than those in the Roman Catholic Church and other churches.

Now, I am very glad Martin Luther rediscovered the truth of the Gospel and I am very glad to be a Lutheran.  But I am no better than anyone else.  I remain, by nature, sinful and unclean.  You are no better than anyone else.  You remain, by nature, sinful and unclean.

In the truth rediscovered by Martin Luther there is no place for boasting about yourself and yet there is a great desire in all of us to boast.  There is a terrible tendency to look at others and what they do and judge yourself to be better, smarter, holier than that other person.  The devil loves to have you look down on others and boast about yourself.  Think for a moment.  Who is that person; those people, in your life; in your family, at school, at work, at church that you think you are better than them?  Who is it that you have found yourself looking down upon and puffing yourself up.  Who have you talked badly about or to?  It is awfully attractive to believe you are better than that other person.  Too often you find yourself in the position of the Pharisee in Luke 18

Luke 18:10-14 (ESV) 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” [2]

The Pharisee talks to God all about all the good things that the Pharisee is doing and how he is better than the tax collector.  The tax collector pleads for mercy.

The boasting one talks and talks and talks, all about herself and how good she is and how smart she is and how holy she is.  With boasting there is no room for faith.

So, what is the cure?  What is the antidote?  What medicine can the boasting one take to drive out his boasting and make room for faith?  The remedy for boasting is the law of God.  The law of God stops the boasting.

Romans 3:19 (ESV) 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.[3]

The boasting one talks about himself.  The law stops his boasting.  Hearing the law of God applied to your life shows you your sin and takes away any grounds for boasting.

So, what is the cure?  What is the antidote?  What medicine can the boasting one take to drive out his boasting and make room for faith?  The remedy for boasting is the law of God.  The law of God stops the boasting.

Romans 3:20 (ESV) 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. [4]  Romans 3:22-23 (ESV)
22 … For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,[5]

Boasting looks in the wrong direction and looks to the wrong things.  Boasting talks.  The law silences the boasting.

Through the law comes knowledge of sin.  The law shows you that you are a sinner who needs a savior.  The law shows you your need for the gift of the righteousness of God.  The law cannot save you.  The law points you away from yourself and points you to Jesus.  The law leaves you silent letting another speak for you.  Mark 15:34 (ESV) 34 … “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[6]

John 19:30 (ESV) 30 … “It is finished,” … [7]

Mark 2:9 (ESV) 9 … ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ …[8]

Faith does not look at itself.  Faith looks in the right direction and looks at the right thing.  Faith looks to Jesus, the Christ, suffering and dying and rising for you.  Faith looks to the blood of Jesus as the propitiation; the appeasement of God.  Faith looks to the resurrected Jesus as evidence that the payment is enough; all your sins are forgiven; death is conquered forever; you have eternal life in Christ.  Faith looks to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.  Faith looks to Jesus as the one who justifies.  Faith looks to the only thing that can save.  Faith looks to the blood of Jesus; to the cross of Christ; to the empty tomb.  Faith alone.

The cross silences self-righteous boasting because in faith there is no boasting except in the cross of Christ.  On that cross outside Jerusalem 2,000 years ago you find forgiveness, life and salvation.  From the cross is poured out for you mercy and grace delivered to you in the Word of God, in baptism, and in the body and blood of Christ in Holy Communion.  In the cross and the empty tomb you find the source and object of your faith.  Jesus for you.  Grace alone.  Faith alone.  Scripture alone.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

Getting into the Kingdom of God is impossible.

nullPentecost 22 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
October 21, 2018
Ecclesiastes 5:10-20,

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Mark 10:23 (ESV) 23 … Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”[1]

How difficult it will be for those with wealth.  I guess it’s going to be rough on the last day for those rich folks.  Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jeff Bezos…wouldn’t want to be one of those wealthy people on the last day.  Although…it might be might be kind of fun to be one of them for a while; living that lifestyle of the rich and famous; winning a billion dollars in the lottery.  But Jesus says, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  Those poor, wealthy people.

Of course being wealthy is relative.  According to a World Bank report this week almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $5.50 per day.  I have heard that to be rich by world standards is to have more than one pair of shoes and get to choose what you eat.  Sometimes we hear talk about that terribly selfish top 1% of wealthy people.  By world standards an income above $32,000 per year puts in you in the top 1% of world earners.  You are all rich.  Many of you are in the top 1%.

Mark 10:23 (ESV) 23 … “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”[2]

C’mon Jesus.  Are you serious?  Are you talking about us?  How difficult it will be for us to enter the kingdom of heaven?  The disciples are amazed at Jesus’ words and Jesus continues to teach them, “Children,” he says.  He calls them children which takes us back a few verses to when Jesus sees the disciples keeping the children away from him.  Mark 10:14-15 (ESV)  14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”[3]

Children are weak and vulnerable and trusting.  Jesus addresses the disciples as children.  “Mark 10:24-25 (ESV) 24 … “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”[4]

I have trouble getting a piece of thread through the eye of a needle; there is no way a camel has a chance.  It is impossible.  Mark 10:26 (ESV) 26 And [the disciples] were exceedingly astonished, and said to [Jesus], “Then who can be saved?”[5]

Who can be saved?  A camel cannot get through the eye of a needle.  It is impossible.  You cannot get yourself into the kingdom of God.  It is impossible; for the wealthy; for anyone.  Jesus has set the stage and is about to drop a teaching of colossal importance on the disciples; and on you and me.

Mark 10:27 (ESV) 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”[6]  It is not about you.  It is about Jesus for you.

You cannot do it.  It has already been done for you.  Your sin is an insurmountable barrier to getting into the Kingdom of God.  Jesus has destroyed that barrier.  Jesus laid down His life to save you.  He has taken away your sin and brings you into the Kingdom.  Jesus does it for you.

Immediately following Gospel reading today, as Jesus and the disciples continue on their journey, Jesus next tells the disciples how he is going to do it.  Mark 10:33-34 (ESV) 33 … “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. 34 And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” [7]

Jesus does it for you.  It is all so counter to your natural way of thinking.  You want to believe you can do it yourself because you want to be independent.  You want to be strong.  You want to be self-sufficient, but you are not.  Before God you are a weak, helpless, dependent child.  And Jesus welcomes you and gives you the Kingdom of God.

            You cannot do it.  It has already been done for you.  Your sin is an insurmountable barrier to getting into the Kingdom of God.  Jesus has destroyed that barrier.  Jesus laid down His life to save you.  He has taken away your sin and brings you into the Kingdom.  Jesus does it for you.

This morning we welcomed little Sloane Sheley into the Kingdom of God through the waters of Holy Baptism.  Jesus’ perfection and holiness were watered onto Sloane and she became a child of God.  There are many churches that say that children should not be baptized until they can make a decision for themselves.  But we see in today’s Gospel reading that it is not about what you do or what you say; it is not about you doing your part; it is about God’s gift to you of eternal life in His Kingdom.  Jesus welcomes the little children and gives them forgiveness, life and salvation.  It’s not about you; it’s about Jesus for you.

Salvation is a gift from God the Father, to you, through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  You cannot save yourself, but you can get lost.  You can get distracted by the things of this world.  There are dangers to your faith in God.

Our lessons last week and this week warn about the danger of wealth; the danger of loving money.  Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV) 10 He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.[8]

The love of money is spiritually dangerous; it can lead you away from fear, love and trust in God alone.  Being in the Kingdom of God brings you great joy.  Love of money takes away your joy.

Now we need money; it is part of life, but we cannot love money and that is an easy temptation to give in to.  We think about money a lot.  There is a lot of pressure about money in life; there are lots of bills that come with being an adult.  It is easy to become obsessed by money because it is easy to live above your means.

This is one great benefit of each week giving a generous offering to the Lord’s work at Immanuel.  To give a sacrificial offering off the top each week and not from the leftovers helps keep money in perspective.  How much constitutes a sacrificial, first-fruits offering is different for everyone.  Ten percent is not a law in the New Testament covenant, but I use it as a guideline to avoid letting my selfishness and greediness get in the way of generosity.  For some the right amount may be less, for others more.  Keep a healthy attitude toward money no matter how little or how much you have.  Live below your means.  Be generous with those who work for you or serve you.  Tip generously.  Be generous with those around you.  Give generously to various charities that provide help to others.  Give generously to the Lord’s work here at Immanuel.  Give cheerfully, give regularly.  Give each week whether you are in worship or not.  Offering is a gift to the Lord’s work, not an admission price.  Keep the right perspective of money as a temporary tool and if you find you are starting to love money, give something away.  Give away more.  Be more generous.

As a Christian living life in the Kingdom of God you will find more joy in your limited possessions than an unbelieving billionaire will find in his great wealth.  You, as a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, find joy in simply eating and drinking and finding enjoyment in your toil for the few days God gives you.  As a baptized child of God you have more than anyone else; because you have Jesus.

It is indeed impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.  It is impossible for you to get into the Kingdom of God on your own.  And yet, you are in the Kingdom of God because Jesus brought you in.  Jesus did the impossible.  Jesus paid your price.  Jesus saved you.  Jesus is the way.  Jesus is the only way.  Jesus is your way.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[6]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[7]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[8]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

First Commandment Problems

nullPentecost 21, 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
Oct. 14, 2018
Amos 5:6-7, 10-15; Heb. 3:12-19; Mark 10:17-22

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Long story short.  This rich man gets to meet Jesus but then goes away full of sorrow.  What happened?  The man must have some prominence because he is able to get through the disciples right to Jesus and kneel down before Him.  Just prior to this we see the disciples keeping children away from Jesus.

The disciples rebuke the children and welcome the rich man.  Jesus welcomes the children and rebukes the rich man.  Why is that?  What is going on here?  What we have here is a first commandment problem.  What is the first commandment?

“You shall have no other Gods.”  And who remembers Luther’s explanation in the Small Catechism?  “We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.”

Children have little trouble fearing, loving and trusting.  Children are small and weak and powerless.  Children are well equipped to fear, love and trust others.  This is how they deal with their parents, teachers and other adults.  Not so much for the rich man.  “You shall have no other Gods.”

The young man knows this commandment, he thinks he understands it and is obeying it, but Jesus will show him that he has another god.  The young man comes to Jesus because he has heard about this eternal life stuff, and he has heard about this teacher Jesus, and he wants to get eternal life.

Mark 10:17 (ESV) 17 … “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”[1]  At first glance this seems like a pretty normal question.  What must I do?  But when we look more carefully we can tell just from his question that he doesn’t get it.  What must I do to inherit?  Inheritance does not come from what you do, but rather from who you are.  It comes from your identity.  A child inherits from her parents because she is their child.  Eternal life is an inheritance for the children of God.  It is an inheritance for those who are in Christ; those who are marked by God in the waters of baptism and covered by Jesus’ blood.  Eternal life is for those who wear the robe of Jesus’ righteousness covering over all their sins.  The rich young man wants to know what he can do to obtain a gift which is freely given to the children of God.

Jesus tries to give the young man some clues.  Mark 10:18 (ESV) 18 …“Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.[2]

Jesus then says, Mark 10:19-20 (ESV) 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”[3]

The man is rich and he believes he is good enough.  He has kept all the commandments.  He is a good guy and he knows he is good with God because he is wealthy, and wealth, as everyone thinks they know, is how God shows his blessings to you. This man has a lot of possessions so he must be blessed.  The man believes he is good enough and just needs to know what he must do to inherit eternal life.  Maybe make a donation?  Feed some poor people?  Build someone a home?  Pay someone?  What must he do?

Jesus looks at the man and loves him.  He knows what the man is thinking and he knows the man fears, loves and trusts in something other than God.  Jesus wants to correct the man’s thinking and believing and bring him into the kingdom of God.

Jesus gives it to him straight.  Jesus does not soften the truth, or spin the truth to be more palatable.  He does not give a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down.  Jesus gives the man the full, hard truth. Mark 10:21 (ESV) 21 … “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”[4]

Jesus knows what it is that this young man fears, loves and trusts…it is his wealth; his possessions.  Jesus gives him strong medicine and the man goes away sorrowful.  “You lack one thing.”  The man lacks fear, love and trust in God above all things.

The man’s fist is closed so tightly around his wealth there is no room for anything else.  There is no room for Jesus.

Money is not evil, but the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Money and possessions must always be held in an open hand so that wealth is used in service to others.  Wealth can come and wealth can go.  It is a tool, but it cannot become the object of fear, love and trust.

Jesus gives the rich young man strong medicine but the man is not willing to take it.  The man wants eternal life, but he loves his possessions more.  We hear this strong warning in our own lives.  We hear this warning from Jesus not to cling to anything except the cross of Christ.

Cling to the cross of Christ.  Fear, love and trust in God alone.  Salvation comes from Jesus alone.  Fear, love and trust Jesus, God in flesh, God with us, as a child trusts her parents.  The other nine commandments all point us back to the first commandment because when we break any of them we are also breaking the first.  Luther reminds of this in the explanations to the other commandments which all begin: “We should fear and love God so that…”  When we break any commandment it is because we are fearing, loving and trusting something else more than God.  We all have a lot to repent for and so we turn back to Jesus and cling to the cross.

Still today there is great temptation to trust in wealth as evidence of God’s favor.  Quarterly statements just came out and we are tempted to judge our value as people by what is reported by T. Rowe Price or Fidelity.  We are tempted to fear, love and trust money and possessions.

We are tempted to cling to other things as well.  Many are brought to ruin because they cling to their own wisdom and they twist God’s word to conform to their own understanding and believe God is pleased with them.  Others are brought to destruction because they cling to their own good works as evidence that they are in good standing with God.  But the evidence of God’s favor is not a fat 401K.  It is not wisdom and knowledge.  It is not your good works.  The strange evidence of God’s favor is the bleeding, dying Jesus hanging in agony on the cross that Friday for you.  The evidence is that same Jesus risen from the dead on Sunday morning.

Beware of what you cling to.  Fear, love and trust in God alone.  You are a baptized child of God.  You have the inheritance of eternal life.  Not from anything that you have done, but from what Jesus has done for you.  Come to the altar of the Lord to receive the fruits of that cross.  Come as humble children fearing, loving and trusting God.

Is there something you are clinging to other than the cross of Christ?  Let go.  Open your hand.  Release your grip on anything other than the cross of Christ.  Hold money and possessions and knowledge and works in an open hand where things can come and go.  Fear, love and trust in God alone.  You are a baptized child of God.  You live in the inheritance of eternal life.  Cling only to the cross of Jesus.  And know that in Christ you are safe, because when you cling to the cross it is not you holding on the Jesus.  Jesus holding on to you.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

Christians are all lowly sinners needing Jesus

nullPentecost 19 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
September 30, 2018
Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50

Sermons online: 

Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

The disciples have been having a rough time of it here in chapter 9 of the Gospel of Mark.  It starts out well enough for Peter, James and John going with Jesus up on the mountain where Jesus is transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah appear and God the Father speaks.

But then they come back down the mountain — Jesus, Peter, James and John.  And as the four come back to the rest of the disciples they find them in an argument.

A man has brought his son to Jesus’ disciples be healed of a demon and the disciples can’t do it.  But why the arguing?  The Jewish scribes are questioning the disciples’ abilities and it seems that the disciples have gotten defensive.  The poor man and his possessed son have been forgotten and they have shrunk back into the crowd while the disciples and scribes go at it.  You can imagine the scene.  The scribes accusing, “You can’t drive out the demon.  You’re useless.  You’re frauds.”

The disciples responding, “No we’re not!”

“Yes you are!”

“No we’re not!”,         Jesus shows up, puts the focus back on the man and his son, and drives out the demon without difficulty.  It is a pretty low moment for the disciples.

On their way to Capernaum Jesus tells the disciples that “Mark 9:31 (ESV) 31 … “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”[1]

Oh gracious.  That’s not good.  Jesus is going to be killed.  As the disciples continue their journey it starts to dawn on them.  Hey!  When Jesus gets killed which one of us is going to take over?  Which one of us is next in line?  Which one of us is the greatest?

When they get to Capernaum Jesus calls them out for discussing who is the greatest and tells them, Mark 9:35-37 (ESV)  35 … “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.”[2]

Another rough day for the disciples as Jesus pops their puffed up dreams of greatness and tells them to be humble and serve one another and welcome children.

Then the disciples see someone driving out demons in Jesus’ name.  It is not one of the 12 disciples.  It is not someone authorized by Jesus.  It is some outsider casting out demons.  This must drive the disciples crazy.  They, the 12, the guys closest to Jesus, are having trouble casting out demons and then this nobody shows up and he is doing it.  Who does he think he is?  What does he think he is doing?  The disciples try to stop him from casting out demons because this person is not one of them.

But Jesus rebukes the disciples again.  Mark 9:39-40 (ESV) 39 … “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us.[3]

Jesus is saying that there is not an “in” group and an “out” group; there is not an “us” and a “them” when it comes to the followers of Jesus.  The disciples thought they were pretty special, but they are just lowly sinners who know they need Jesus and are called to be humble servants.

There is a difficult message here for us in the Church.  We’re not so special.  We are lowly sinners who know we need Jesus and we are called to be humble servants.  We do not get to look down on other Christians as if we are better.

…if the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod disappeared tomorrow, Christianity would continue on.  As Lutherans there is no room for boasting or thinking we are somehow better than anyone else.  Because the one thing we can be sure about is that Christians in any other Christian church are also lowly sinners who know they need Jesus.

Now I believe that conservative Lutherans, as a whole, have the best grasp of Biblical truth of any church body.  When Martin Luther was excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church for challenging the pope, he didn’t design something new, but rather went back to an older form of the Catholic Church; he went back from Scripture and Tradition to Scripture alone.  Our church body, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is not perfect; it does not have all the answers, but I believe it is currently the best there is; or I would go to where I believed they taught the truth in greater purity.

That being said, if the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod disappeared tomorrow, Christianity would continue on.  As Lutherans there is no room for boasting or thinking we are somehow better than anyone else.  Because the one thing we can be sure about is that Christians in any other Christian church are also lowly sinners who know they need Jesus.

We can discuss differences.  We can lovingly warn about false teachings creeping into churches.  We should remain on guard against false teachers; against wolves in sheep’s clothing, but we dare not think we are somehow better believers than those in other church bodies.

If you meet someone who attends a small Pentecostal church you know you are both lowly sinners who know you need Jesus.  If you meet someone who is a very traditional Roman Catholic who attends Mass at the Cathedral, you know you are both lowly sinners who know you need Jesus.

We can, and should, discuss theological differences, and they are many.  There are many false teachings in churches that need to be addressed and discussed.  There are legitimate, serious differences.  Some churches teach that there is no salvation outside of their church body.  There are those that teach that good works save you.  Some teach that baptism is something you do for God when you are old enough to make a decision.  Some teach a prosperity gospel.  Some use the Gospel to reduce the law so much that they teach there is no sin.  These errors are serious and dangerous.  There are many churches with many different teachings and styles and we never want to reduce the faith down to, “All churches are the same as long as you love Jesus.”  But we also never want to speak against them where the Gospel is being proclaimed and people are being fed the Word of God.  We should not look down on the work of the Gospel being done by others.  We are all lowly sinners who need Jesus.  We never want to start believing that Lutherans will be the only ones in heaven.

One great danger of looking down on someone else as a Christian is that you may cause them to believe that their faith is not good enough and they are outside of salvation.  You could cause someone to despair and believe they are not redeemed by the blood of Jesus.  It is a grave sin to push someone away from Jesus.

Mark 9:42 (ESV)42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.[4]

We do not get to judge or look down on others.  Judgement is above our pay grade.  We cling to the cross of Christ because that is where salvation is found.  We point others to the cross of Christ because that is where salvation is found for all people; only in the cross of Christ.  Romans 3:22-24 (ESV) 22 … For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…[5]

“Us” and “Them” divisions can also happen also within a congregation.  We can start to think that some folks are better Christians than others because of who they are or what they do.  This is an error.  We are all lowly sinners who know we need Jesus, without distinction.  We all come here as equals.  The 80 year old lifetime member and the one who is here for the first time; we are all the same.  We are all lowly sinners who know we need Jesus.

And the great good news is that Jesus is here for lowly sinners.  Jesus is here to speak to you the amazing Good News, “I forgive you all your sins.”  Jesus is here to feed you with His Body and Blood in Holy Communion.  Jesus is here in your midst to hear your prayers and praises and to declare you to be a saint; to assure you of eternal life in him.

It is not about you.  It is about Jesus for you.  So don’t point people to us.  Point people to Jesus.

Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

[5]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

The muscle memory of the tongue

null

Pentecost 17 2018
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
September 16, 2018
Isaiah 50:4-10, James 3:1-12, Mark 9:14-29

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                            pastorjud.org  
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

I have taught three of my children how to drive and have one left.  This is not one of my great joys of parenting.  It is difficult and awkward for a new driver to figure out how to coordinate brake pedal, gas pedal, steering wheel, mirrors, and turn signals to control their own car and to keep an eye out for all the other cars on the road.  It is pretty scary for a while until they start to get the hang of this driving thing.  Eventually, with practice, they start to develop muscle memory in their feet and hands and eyes so that the necessary motions of driving come naturally.

There are lots of activities where you can develop muscle memory.  Typing, things at work and motions in sports where you practice the same movement over and over so that your muscles just know what to do and they do it.

So speaking of muscle memory, what is the most powerful muscle in your body?  The muscle that can be a force for great good?  The muscle that has terrible power to destroy?  It only weighs 2 ½ ounces and yet can cause great trouble.  The human tongue.

You all know how deadly poisonous the tongue can be because you yourself have used that little muscle as a weapon to lash out at others with great fury and venom.  You know very well how to hurt other people with your words.

My mother used to tell me, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but names can never hurt you.”  We would love to believe that to be true, but, of course, we all know that is just something mothers tell us to try to get us to ignore other people’s hateful words.  Words hurt.  The tongue muscle is powerful and I am afraid that too many of us have developed the muscle memory to use the tongue for evil rather than good.  And this cannot be my brothers and sisters in Christ.

You were conceived and born a sinner and were blind, dead and an enemy of God.  You once belonged to the darkness of evil.  But that is not where God left you. God the Father sent His only Son Jesus to deal with the problem of evil; the evil in the world and the evil in you.  Jesus went up against all that evil and took it into Himself; onto Himself.  He dealt with political evil, religious evil, supernatural evil, the evil in you and me; Jesus took it all upon Himself.  He went into the depths of the evil and died and then rose again.  Jesus overcame evil.  Jesus paid for the sins of the world.  Jesus dealt with the problem of evil and gives you forgiveness and eternal life.  In Christ, you are a redeemed child God bought with the blood of God in flesh shed for you on the cross.  Jesus takes the evil and pays the price and declares you to be holy and pure.  He has marked you as His own in Holy Baptism.  You belong to Jesus.  You are a child of God; you are the light of the world.

You have Christ who is the light in the darkness.  The light spreads by the tongue.  The tongue can be used to speak to one another the Word of God; to tell others about Jesus; to speak words of love to others; to bless others; to lift others up.

But the muscle memory of your old, sinful self is powerful.  It is so easy to instead use your tongue to speak hate-filled words; often to the people you love the most.  I, myself, have a terrible temper and a vicious tongue.  My tongue has gotten me into great trouble since my childhood because it is so easy to let ugly, poisonous words spew forth.  The muscle memory of the tongue causes you to fight the same fight over and over with the same people.  The muscle memory of the tongue causes you to say evil things, hateful things, coarse things, nasty things.  The muscle memory causes you to use the tongue to curse others rather than build them up.  The muscle memory of the tongue causes you to use it to accuse others who have been forgiven by Jesus.  Because your tongue has a muscle memory of evil it does great evil and causes evil to spread in the world.  Your tongue brings added darkness to the world.

            You have Christ who is the light in the darkness.  The light spreads by the tongue.  The tongue can be used to speak to one another the Word of God; to tell others about Jesus; to speak words of love to others; to bless others; to lift others up.

James 3:5-11 (ESV) 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?[1]

My brothers and sisters in Christ, these things ought not to be so.

One little match can burn down an entire forest.  One little tongue can destroy a family, a church, a community.  You’ve seen it happen.  Families broken because of words spoken.  Marriages destroyed by words.   Parents and children who won’t talk to each other because of words.  Friendships wrecked.  Jobs lost.  Neighbors at odds.  All because of poisonous words spoken by the tongue.

As a Christian, you are the light of the world called to love your neighbor; you need to learn to tame the tongue.  And it isn’t easy.  Learning to tame the tongue will be more awkward and difficult than first learning to drive and worse, and it will take longer.  Because you already have muscle memory to let evil spill forth.  Confess your failures and receive forgiveness and keep practicing.  You will never be able to completely tame your tongue this side of the grave, but you can make progress.  With practice and more practice and more practice you can develop muscle memory in your tongue to speak well of others; even when they don’t deserve it.  During the awkward and difficult stage take it slow.  When you get ready to say something practice pausing and thinking and controlling the words that come out of your mouth.  Remember you are the light of the world shining forth the light of Christ.  Let your words reflect this.  Practice speaking calm, loving words that lift up instead of tear down.

And this is not to say you never discipline your children or never let someone know when they are doing wrong, but it does mean that you do it with cool, composed speech and not with an angry, vile, venomous rant.  Like mom used to say.  “Put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion.”  Speak well of others.  Don’t gossip.  Don’t try to lift yourself up by putting someone else down.

And don’t triangulate.  When I have a problem with someone my natural reaction is to tell someone else about it and complain about the person I have a problem with.  I have a problem with Jeremy so I go and tell Jed; I have made a triangle.  If I have a problem with Jeremy with whom should I talk to?  Jeremy.  If I am not willing to talk to Jeremy then I should say nothing.  This is so easy to understand, and so hard to do.  The evil one tries to use all sorts of petty squabbles, and not so petty squabbles, to tear us apart and bring more darkness into the world instead of light.

Instead of assuming the worst about others, put the best construction on their actions.  If someone is late to meet you or pick you up don’t get angry and assume the worst of them.  Assume the best.  Assume they are trying to get to you, but traffic is really bad.  If someone hasn’t returned your call, don’t assume they hate you; they likely just got busy and forgot; call or text them again.  If someone walks past without saying hello don’t assume they are rude, assume they are deep in thought about something important.

Live in peaceful harmony with everyone.  Even those you don’t like or you are told not to like.  We are living in a time when there are many in this nation who work hard to keep us starkly divided according to politics and race and religion.  It is so tempting to be able to categorize everyone and treat others poorly because they are not in your same group.  The bitterness and contempt that gets spewed forth on social media from Christians is not acceptable.  You are not going to agree with everyone, but you can treat everyone with love, and kindness, and respect.  You can disagree and discuss without getting angry and hateful.

As Jesus is being nailed to the cross He has every right to be bitter and angry and curse those who are hurting Him.  But what is it that he says as He is being crucified?  “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Like the small rudder on the back of a ship can turn the large ship, so can that little muscle of a tongue do great things and terrible things.  Not one of us can stand on the high ground because we are so good at controlling our tongue.  All of us struggle to control that little muscle and keep it from evil.  So let us all practice and practice and practice using the tongue as an instrument of light instead of an instrument of darkness.  Change the muscle memory from evil to good.  Because you are not a child of the darkness anymore.  You are a child of the light; in Christ you are the light of the world.

Amen.

 


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001