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Trinity 22 2019 - Matthew 18:21-35

Trinity 22 2019

Matthew 18:21-35

November 17, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

 “How often” is not a safe question to ask Jesus.  When asked the sort of questions that St. Peter asks of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading, “how often” typically becomes one of those questions where a limit is trying to be defined. In this case, Jesus had just finished speaking to His disciples of forgiving a brother. He had spoken of the power of forgiveness, that “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matt 18:18). When St. Peter asked Him how often he should forgive his neighbor he is asking how often he should use these keys that Jesus had bestowed to the church. Is seven times enough? During this time in history, it was promoted that forgiving the same sin three times was enough.  Seven times would have been extraordinarily generous.  Yet Jesus answered him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

To illustrate this point Jesus speaks the parable of the unforgiving servant.  Jesus teaches in this parable that God forgives far more than you could ever deserve or even would be called upon to forgiven others.  He concluded His parable with the summary that if we do not forgive our neighbor, our heavenly Father will deal with us the same way as the king deals with his servant. To ask how often should I forgive my brother is, in fact, to ask how often should I be forgiven. To the one who refuses to forgive, who limits forgiveness to what seems reasonable based on human understanding, who refuses to receive and share the mercy of God in Christ, that one will be delivered to pay off the debt of sin.

If you want to remain with the world and follow the world’s ways and the world’s standard of justice, then there you will stay. If you want to live in God’s kingdom, you must forgive. It is not optional for a Christian. The blessing of forgiveness is the defining gift of the Church. Nowhere and nothing else can offer this heavenly blessing. Make no mistake, forgiveness is not acceptance of sin. It is not saying that the sin doesn’t matter or that it is ok if it continues.  Sin is never ok, and once confessed and forgiven it should stop. Call sin what it is: “evil” and “sinful” and “wrong”, and whenever there is repentance, exercise your God given right to forgive sins.

It’s not just that you are called to forgive, but to forgive for Christ’s sake and in His name. Your willingness, therefore, and even ability, to forgive a neighbor is grounded on Christ’s mercy. Are you struggling with the weight of sin? Repent, come to Christ and receive His forgiveness. Are you struggling with forgiving others? Repent, come to Christ and receive His forgiveness. The result of this is rather simple: Christ continues to forgive you when you sin, therefore you forgive those who sin against you as often as they sin. He has cancelled your debt that you may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness” (SC 2nd Article meaning).

At the heart of the matter is God’s declaration that your sins are forgiven, for Christ’s sake, freely by grace, and this is received through faith.  The purpose of this is not forgetting or excusing sin, but to deliver a good conscience before God through the forgiveness of sins.  Now, conscience is more than you think.  In popular usage, it’s a person’s moral compass, his personal standard of right and wrong.  The problem is that our conscience has lost its true north.  It’s broken, sin infected, so it doesn’t work right. If there is no reference point for a moral truth, people will live their lives according to wherever their passions will lead.  That was part of the problem with the unforgiving servant.  That’s why God’s law as revelation of His good and gracious will is so important. 

But that’s not really what Scripture means when it speaks about conscience. The word for the conscience in the New Testament is συνείδησις. From its root word, it means “to know together” or an awareness about something.  In the Bible it typically references a soul’s perception before God.  Conscience, then, is not as much a moral compass as it is a referee, or the ability to see yourself as God sees you.  

When understood in this way, it’s easy to see how damaged our conscience can be.  Every child of God struggles with this scarred conscience every day of life. The devil attacks the conscience with the accusation that you are unlovable, unforgivable, unredeemable. Indulgence of sin and damage from other’s sin scars the conscience so it can’t see himself as God sees him. The world tries to pull the wool over your eyes and pretend that sin doesn’t exist, that it isn’t evil or wrong, and therefore forgiveness is not really needed.

Forgiveness is not about making you feel better, nor making someone else feel better, or moving past something. It is about the conscience, about your standing before God and a right recognition of it. As a sinner, you stand guilty before a holy and righteous God.  For Christ’s sake, you stand pure and blameless with His righteousness credited to you by faith alone.  A superficial band aid won’t heal the wounds, nor the scars, from sin.  It takes medicine much stronger, much more lasting. It takes blood.  For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.

It is by the holy blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world that you are declared righteous in God’s sight. It is the holy blood that you receive in the Sacrament which is shed for the forgiveness of your sins. It is by the holy precious blood and Jesus innocent suffering and death that you are redeemed, that your sins are paid for, and carried them away. When people sin, there is forgiveness through faith in Christ. But when people are sinned against, there is also healing through faith in Christ. Jesus takes the guilt and shame upon Himself and into His body, and He forgives your sins and cleanses you from all unrighteousness.

A conscience healed by Christ’s forgiveness is now a conscience that can now see aright. It is a conscience captivated by the Word of God, by Christ and His declaration that you stand justified by grace alone for the sake of Christ alone, that you are pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:10-11).  Amen.

Trinity 21 2019 - Genesis 1

Trinity 21 2019

Genesis 1

November 10, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

One of my favorite phrases in the Hebrew Old Testament: tohoo wabohoo תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ. It is the phrase right after God’s initial act of creation, that the earth was “without form and void… and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  God’s initial act of creation made “the stuff” of creation from nothing.  However, this stuff was “without form and void” – it was tohoo wabohoo. It was disordered, but then He speaks and brings order to His creation so that it was declared to be good.

By His creative Word, God brought order to disorder. He speaks and it comes into being.  He speaks His creation into being, separating the light from the darkness, the waters above from below, the land and the sea. And then God fills His creation with more good things, sun and moon and planets and stars, plants, and animals, each to reproduce after its own kind: a fish to beget a fish, not a dog; an apple tree to bear apples with apple seed, not pumpkins.  Where there was disorder, tohoo wabohoo, God brings about an order, and He orders things in way that is good.

And then on the sixth day, God does something different. “Then God said, ‘Let us (a statement itself about the triune nature of God) make us man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”

And so God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God creates man and woman, only two genders based on God’s created biological intent to compliment one another in marriage, blessed them, gave them the ordered life of being fruitful and multiplying, of having children, and taking care of God’s creation. It is in humanity alone in all of creation, that the image of God rests. Created in that image, Adam and Eve reflect the order of creation because they live holy lives and perfectly reflect God’s will. Even then, their righteousness, was from God, through faith/trust in Him. And it was not just good, but after God creates Adam and Eve, He sees all that He has made and it was very good.

But Adam and Eve didn’t feel like it was good enough. God surely must be holding back, for there was that one tree in the garden that they were not to eat from. And then it happened, the Fall into sin.  The devil comes to Eve and tempted her with the thought that there was something better. That they could be more than created in God’s image. He offered the thought they could become like God, knowing good and evil, that only then will their eyes be opened. Before the Fall into sin, they did not know the difference between good and evil, for there was no sin, no evil.  And their righteousness was from God, through faith, trust, in Him. When Adam took that fruit from Eve and ate, sin entered the world and brought disorder. It brought pain, anger, suffering, and death – all a result of sin, of rebellion against the holy will and intention of the Creator for His creation.

And that disorder is now the reality of the world in which we live. St. Paul notes in Romans 8 that even creation itself groans, subjected to futility, in bondage to corruption of sin imposed upon it. God’s creation now becomes a source of danger, of violence in storm, wind, and wave, of animals that now live as predator and prey. The big disaster isn’t human pollution or global warming or whatever else gets dreamed up.  It is the effects of the Fall of sin that infects all of creation and brings disorder to what was declared good when God created.

But it’s not just out there, or back then, but it’s here (within me).  Human nature has become completely corrupted, disordered, because of sin.  A disordered heart and human nature leads to disordered living. We do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things.  We have not loved God with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Husbands and wives argue. Children are disobedient toward parents and other authorities. Parents irritated with children. Confusion over identity, what it means to be human, male and female as God created and intended. Terrorism, acts of violence, and more plague the world over and over again. Even the institution that God has given to maintain order – government authorities – can’t keep its own house in order.

And if that isn’t a depressing enough picture for you, in the end, the disordering effect of sin brings only thing: death. Sin always brings death. St. Paul explains it this way, again in Romans (5:12), “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned…” Sin and death disorders what God has created, it undoes what God has created us to be.

There is no way for us back to Eden.  There’s no way back of the tree of life. From Adam and Eve onward, the only way is to the tree of the cross.  God sends His Son took humanity into Himself, without the corruption of sin, perfectly ordered, true God and true man, he came as the second Adam in order to restore order and the image of God in us. To do this, He had to deal with the main problem, with sin. St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus received the punishment and ultimate consequence of sin that we deserve – he died. Obedient unto death, and then three days later rose from the dead! He defeated death because He had dealt with sin on the cross. He defeated your death because He dealt with your sin on the cross.

New creation of God’s good order is being restored as the disorder of sin is being removed through forgiveness.  Just like the first go around, God brings the goodness back into creation by means of the same creative Word.  He declares you to be righteous, good, re-ordered back toward Him and His intent for the sake of Christ alone. In Christ, you are a new creation. The Holy Spirit who hovered over the face of the waters, hovers over the water in your baptism, so that by the Word the Spirit renews you. The Word and the Sacraments order your hearts again upon the right thing, the good thing, the good One.

This side of eternal glory and the new heavens and new earth, we still struggle, but we do in sure and certain hope of the consummation of the new creation in Christ.  God’s order will be restored.  In the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ He has acted to overcome tohoo wabohoo.  Through the Means of Grace God has already made us a new creation now and we look forward to the Last Day when once again all things will be very good and there will be no more tohoo wabohoo. We live knowing that Jesus Christ will return in glory on the Last Day.  When that happens He will give us a share in his resurrected and immortal body.  He will restore creation and free it from the slavery of corruption.  And we will rest with Christ, an eternal Sabbath, in the new heavens and the new earth. Come Lord Jesus. Amen.

 

This sermon was inspired by a sermon preached by Pr. Mark Surburg in 2013. http://surburg.blogspot.com/2013/10/sermon-for-twenty-first-sunday-after.html

Funeral Sermon for Bob Schaefer

Funeral Sermon for Bob Schaefer

Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:16-21

November 6, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

All Saints Sunday 2019

All Saints’ Day (Observed) 2019

Revelation 7:2-17

November 3, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

While is certainly has its strange moments, we hear of God’s revelation to St. John which shares a very comforting picture in the midst of the trials and tribulations in our lives.  As we look to the Church Militant - those saints still living and fighting the good fight on earth - and the Church Triumphant - those saints from whom their labors rest, as we just sang - we hear of time where they are one in the same.  All Christians are holy in Christ, sanctified by the Holy Spirit through the forgiveness of sins. In this Feast of All Saints, we remember and give thanks for everyone who has lived and died by faith in Christ. With the saints who have gone before us in the faith, and with all who believe and are baptized into Him, we are one body in Christ. And the countless number of God’s people from all over the earth and throughout time, come together with the angels praising God for our salvation.

What a sight it must have been. St. John brought by the angel to see a great heavenly host from every nation, tribe, people, and languages. Maybe even more spectacular though is that all these, along with the angelic host, are all gathered around the throne of God and the Lamb. The heavenly crowd is carrying palm branches.  This is the only other place outside of John 12:13 - Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem a week before He was to die and be raised from the dead - where palms are mentioned in the NT.  The picture that John paints for us in Revelation is one of all God’s saints participating in the same sort of things as Palm Sunday, a reception of the promised King, the Son of David, waving palm branches and singing a song of praise to one who has come to save us.  But this time, it’s very different.  We aren’t talking about Palm Sunday where Jesus rides on to die.  No, this morning, we hear of the Messiah coming to His people to live! 

People who stand before God, dressed in white robes, dressed in the purity and righteousness of Christ.  This fits in nicely with the Epistle reading.  1 John 3:3 “And everyone who thus hopes in Him purifies himself as He is pure.”  You, God’s saints, His holy ones.  You have been white washed.

What a wonderfully visual picture John paints for us today!  Every time I read this, and I’ve thought this way since I was pretty young, I always think of Tom Sawyer.  I don’t remember how old I was, but I was younger than 10, when I first read this book by Mark Twain.  And in my book was a picture of Tom Sawyer after he had gotten in trouble, whitewashing a fence.  I seriously dreaded that my parents were going to make me do this to our fence when I got in trouble.

It wasn’t until I grew older that I realized I didn’t have to worry about whitewashing.  Because I’m not Tom Sawyer.  I’m the fence. Since salvation is by grace alone, as we heard about last Sunday particularly during our Reformation Service, it’s impossible for a person to wash himself to achieve the forgiveness of sins.  God alone can turn scarlet sins to white by scarlet blood.  Christ white washes you, using His own blood as staining a wooden cross as paint.  That blood He then takes and uses to wash you white and clean and pure from all your sins.  Revelation 7:13-1413 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, ‘Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?’”  14 I said to him, ‘Sir, you know.”  And he said to me, ‘These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” 

John is assured that God Himself will dwell with His saints who have gone through the tribulation in the same way that Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us.  The Lamb of God will be the Shepherd – one like the sheep in the flock will also be like God.  Fully man and fully God. He will guide them to springs of living water remind us of Jesus’ own words that He is the water of life and the shepherd that lays his life down for His sheep.  This also sounds a lot like Psalm 23, those comforting words we often hear at funerals, to which John adds in Revelation that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

On that day, that great Day of the LORD, as the Father sent the Shepherd to the earth to gather His people (John 10:14-18, 2:27-30), now the Shepherd, as the victorious Lamb, presents the flock to His heavenly Father, clean and pure, white washed in divine blood. The angels in heaven praise God and the Lamb for the salvation of human beings.  The redemption of God’s people in Christ is the most important action since His creation of all life.

As we wait for that final day, we live today encouraged despite the fears and horrors in your life and the world, and in view of the tribulations yet to come.  God will protect His people as they carry out the mission of the Lord here on earth.  He will not forsake us, not permit us to lose hope and faith in Him.  And He promises your citizenship as part of the church triumphant.  This is our end, you future, your life – eternal glory of God with all the faithful saints of God, white-washed in the blood in the Lamb.

Funeral Sermon for Ron King

Funeral Sermon for Ron King

October 29, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

Reformation Sunday 2019 - Matthew 11:12-19

Reformation Sunday 2019

Matthew 11:12-19

October 27, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

“He who has ears, let him hear.”  Whenever our Lord speaks these words, it is to reveal important truths and so we ought to sit up and pay attention. In the case of the Gospel reading for today, His words strike the conscience of Christendom like a hammer on this anniversary service of the day, when 502 years ago, Luther’s hammer struck on the doors of the Christian church.  It is a hammer blow that is still echoing throughout the world.

On this Reformation day, we do not merely look back to long-gone years of the Lutheran Church. Our celebration of the Reformation isn’t about what happened 500 years ago as much as what happened 2000 years ago.  This Gospel reading takes us back to the good old days, the greatest days in the world, when the Kingdom of Heaven broke into this world in the person of Jesus, God in the flesh. All the law and prophets of old up to John had been preparing for that very moment. And then John the Baptist, the greatest of all men born of women, proclaimed this coming kingdom and the king who had arrived. 

God has come in a way to reign that will not look right to normal human perception. Of course, there is power in the reign of Christ, but it power for those who repent and believe, not power to overthrow violent men.  Make no mistake, there is violence when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom suffers violence, Jesus says. The Old Testament prophets knew this all too well.  Being a prophet in the Old Testament times was not for people pleasers.  Christ Himself suffered a gruesome death upon the cross.  11 of the 12 disciples died a martyr’s death. Countless Christians in the early church were martyred. Luther had a death sentence upon his head for speaking against the evil of indulgences, of buying and selling forgiveness. Christianity today is still the most persecuted religion in the world.   

But the real violence, the most dangerous violence, is that done to the Word.  It is the violence done to Christian’s soul when it is starved of the pure Gospel.  When false prophets, antichrists, and liars twist God’s Word into something different. There’s good reason that Jesus warns against those who will come in His name but who have not been sent by Him, nor represent Him, nor speak His Word. don’t usually think about differences in doctrine to be that big of deal, but it is.  This isn’t some attempt to say I’m right and you’re wrong, or to win an argument, or to say Lutheranism is better than everything else, but it has everything to do with proclaiming Jesus. For violence done to the Word is violence done to He who is the Word of God in the flesh. 

And that is really the very heart of the matter, and the heart of the Reformation, isn’t it?  It’s not about Luther, nor the sound of the hammer on the church door in Wittenberg. It’s about Jesus crucified for the forgiveness of your sins.  The One who takes the violence of all the sin in the world, and the very wrath of God, upon Himself.  It’s about the Gospel. It’s about people hearing and believing the Word of God, and that people are justified in the sight of God for Jesus’s sake. It is that good news that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

Thus the Reformation as we know it was started by Martin Luther, who was attempting to reform the Catholic Church back to what the Apostles and early church Fathers understood and taught from Holy Scripture.  And so the Reformation teaching of, and insistence upon, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is not a history lesson. It is a contemporary issue. It is your life today in Jesus. Your life is a reformation, a re-forming of your heart, mind, and body in the image of God. It is a life lived in light of the Gospel of Christ, that the Lord Himself has violently broken into this world, suffered violence against Himself, and drives you out of the wilderness of your sins and into the kingdom of God as heirs of the heavenly Father.  It is a life marked by repentance over your sin, faith in Christ and in His forgiveness, and the new life lived with the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

The purpose of the Reformation is to thank and praise God for the blessings He gives. The kingdom of heaven has not departed, for the King still lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  This is the message of the everlasting Gospel announced by the angel in the Revelation to St. John. And this good news does violence to the kingdom of Satan. The King of kings and Lord of lords has invaded this world that He might shed His blood and destroy the work of the devil and your sinful heart. He snatches people right out the jaws of hell, where your sins would land you, just as we saw today in the baptism of these two young men.

He who has ears, let him hear.  For faith comes by hearing, hearing the word of Christ. And the Word of Christ is this: that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.  He is the propitiation, the atoning sacrificed. He is just and the justifier of all who believe in Him.  For His sake, your sins are forgiven. We celebrate the Reformation in a spirit of grateful humility that God still allows His good news of forgiveness to be preached to us and heard, and we ask that He would preserve His Church on earth for the sake of Christ so that many more might hear the pure doctrine that God forgives sinners all by grace through faith in Jesus, all while praying that He keep us in the same.

Trinity 18 2019 - Deuteronomy 10:12-21

Trinity 18 2019

Deuteronomy 10:12-21; Matthew 22:34-46

October 20, 2019

Zion Lutheran Church + Nampa, ID

            Our Old Testament reading begins and ends with the command to fear the Lord your God. To most people today fear is not a positive emotion.  Yet when reading the Bible, it is often seen in a positive light.  So which is it?  Well, it’s really not as complicated as it may seem.  The nature of fear depends on the object of that fear. When we fear something that is evil and powerful, our reaction is all too familiar. Adrenaline spikes, fight of flight response kicks in. But when you fear someone who you know has your best interest at heart, someone who loves you, that kind of fear becomes altogether different. It becomes reverence and awe, it makes you want to follow that thing.

            And so it is with the first commandment to have no other God’s can be summarized that we are to fear, love, and trust in God above all things.  This fear, awe, and reverence arises out of an awareness of our sin and guilt, our own unholiness in the presence of the holy God but which is relieved by the good news of forgiveness. The fear of God is to be united with the love of God; for love without fear makes men remiss, and fear without love makes them servile and desperate (Johann Gerhard).  This fear of God awakens love, the fruit of which is revealed in serving God with all the heart and soul.

The people of Israel are about to enter the promised land, and God gives them two instructions through Moses.  They are to circumcise their hearts.  Circumcision was a physical act, performed as a sign of the Savior’s covenant on every Jewish boy when he was 8 days old. But Moses explained that beyond the physical, to what it actual means.  An uncircumcised heart was one that was hardened against God’s grace. And so the Lord breaks through such hardness.  St. Paul says in Romans 2 that true circumcision is not one of the flesh, but that of heart. God’s people are made, covenant established, fear, love and trust implanted.

Second, they are to love the sojourner, your neighbor. God wants His people to love the weak, the powerless, and the stranger as evidence of a circumcised heart. The people of God are to love others because they have been loved by God. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). In order to love others, you must first know what true love actually is. What we hear in Deuteronomy is that a vital relationship with God which is worked out in terms of responsibilities toward our neighbors. Without the true circumcision of the heart, which is to say, Baptism, true fear of God and love for God and for the neighbor is impossible.

These two things point to the summary of the whole 10 commandments: to love for God and love for one’s neighbor. Together, these two are what God’s requires of us, as Jesus clearly saw in His response to the Pharisee who asked Him which is the greatest commandment.

But how is it that the Pharisee was so hung up on keeping the law perfectly and yet missed the whole point? Luther once remarked that the Law can show you the way to go, but can’t give your legs the strength to get there. Only the Gospel can do that.  The law way of thinking hangs on in every person’s heart. It prefers deeds over creeds, works over faith, and leads us to try to take at some credit for our salvation.  By nature we find it more reasonable to believe that we must do something to be saved rather than to believe the good news that God in Christ has already done everything that needed to be done to save us. The Pharisee asks a Law question and gets a Law answer. But Jesus does not leave us with the Law, but with His Gospel. He leaves us with what He does, with Himself.

And that is why we are here. We don’t comes to church because He commands it, we hear His words as Gospel words, not as if God is putting a whip to our back.  Not because God will be angry with us if we don’t. But He will be disappointed if He can’t be giving out His gifts. That’s what He loves to do most of all.  And if you won’t be dealt with in that way, then He will deal with you in the other way, the way you actually deserve.  If you reject the Gospel way, then the Lord will give you the Law way. 

What is required of you is to be served by Christ. For He is the one who loves the Lord with all His heart, soul, mind, and strength and who loves His neighbor as Himself.  What is required is to receive the benefits of Christ fulfilling the Law, of His circumcision of your heart in the waters of Baptism, and of His perfect love for you. God does not ask of you what He Himself does not do in Christ. Christ comes not to make the Law easier or doable or to get rid of the requirements. He comes to fulfill the Law, to meet the requirements of a perfect fear, love, and trust. He meets the requirements of a perfect life and He takes the punishment of your failure upon Himself at the cross.  He rises again so that you might receive Him . You do not have to justify yourself, your works, or your lack thereof, for God declares you righteous for Christ’s sake by grace. As all that we are and have is a gracious gift of God, all that we have to offer Him is the sacrifice of thanksgiving.

What is the message that we want to get out to the world?  “What must I do to be saved?” You have to do all these things, work hard, try hard, and God will appreciate your effort.  Is it “be afraid! God will send you to hell if don’t do these works, be this good, act this way.  Is it come with me, we have the best coffee around? The best youth group? Your kids will have the best time playing with others. But let me ask you this? What do all these things have in common?  Or better yet, who do all these things have in common?  ME! And this is the point of the matter.  It’s not about you, it’s about Jesus.  What is required is Jesus. What about come with me, we don’t have all the gimmicks and programs and productions and distractions.  Here is the Lord God, kneeling down from heaven to give you His victory over sin, death, and the devil.  Come with me. Here is Christ Himself, baptizing you in His crucifixion and eternal life. Here is Christ Himself feeding you with His body and His blood. 

Fear the Lord, you His saints.  Hold fast to Him, for He is your God, and by His name He has given to you, you will swear, you will live, and you will love, even the name of Jesus, who with the Father and Holy Spirit, are one God now and forever. Amen.

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