Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sermon May 30th, 2010

Numbers 6:22-27
I. The Father’s Concern.
II. The Son’s Grace.
III. The Spirit’s Keeping.
In the name of our Triune God, dear fellow redeemed children of God;
My theory is that when I watch or listen to my favorite sports teams, they lose. I doubt that my teams play has anything to do with me sitting in front of the TV set or listening with my ear to the radio, still it does seem like whenever I sit down to watch the Sunday afternoon or Monday night game, my team doesn’t do very well. Remember there was the exact opposite situation in the history of God’s people. The Israelites were fighting against the enemies of God’s people down in a valley. Moses was standing on the mountain side above the valley with his hands raised in blessing over the soldiers. When Moses hands were up the Israelites were winning the battle. But after a while his hands grew tired and he put them down to his side. When that happened the enemies beat the Israelites back. Finally Joshua and Hur came up with the idea of standing on each side of Moses and holding up the prophet’s hands of blessing.
The blessing of the Lord was important for His people. It assured them that the Lord was with them as they entered a desert and later the land with all kinds of physical and spiritual enemies. God’s blessing is a comfort for you too as we live in a world with all kinds of physical and spiritual enemies. God had a wonderful way of keeping things simple for His people and yet letting His truth shine forth in neat ways. In this blessing He teaches us about our Triune or “Three in One” God. You won’t find the word triune or Trinity in the Bible. Those are words that we came up with to try to describe what God tells us about Himself in the Bible. We see an example of God describing himself in His Blessing For His People. As we look at God’s Blessing, let’s see I.The Father’s Concern, II. The Son’s Grace and III. The Spirit’s Keeping.
I’ve often thought to myself about how glad I am that the Lord allows me to be a pastor rather than an Israelite priest or Levite from the Old Testament. All of the ceremonial law was an important picture of Jesus and His sacrifice but I’m glad I don’t have to worry about the scapegoat I was in charge of leading out into the wilderness finding its way back into camp and I really don’t think I would be cut out for butchering all of the animals for the sacrifices. There were many things for those Old Testament priests to remember. They were the health inspectors and the court system of the day. In the first part of the Book of Numbers, God explained what the priests were to do about the purity of the camp and restitution for wrongs. Later God goes on to talk about the Nazirite vow and a whole host of other things the Levites had to remember. God wanted all of these instructions taken seriously. Two of Aaron's rebellious sons were even killed because they lit and unauthorized fire before the Lord. In the middle of all of these "do this" and "don't do that" commands, we can see the concern of the Father come shining through in the words with which Aaron was to bless the Israelites.
The Father’s concern was passed from the Heavenly Father to His children through Aaron an earthly father. The Lord said to Moses, "Tell Aaron and his sons, "This is how you are to bless the Israelites." The fact that God loved his people is brought out even by the name used for God, the "Lord." God had already explained this special name to His people. "The Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with Moses and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses proclaiming, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. The Father of free and faithful love wanted his children to know that He loved them and that he would be with them as they moved through the desert and into the promised land.
Riding in a car with a complaining child is enough to put any human father near the edge. Can you imagine the patience of the Heavenly Father traveling with 2 million complaining Israelites through the desert. The Israelites were constantly complaining. When God sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt, they complained that they wanted to be left alone. As soon as they came to an obstacle in the desert, they complained that it would have been better if they had just been left to die in Egypt. Again and again the cycle repeated itself and we hear, "The people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, "If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord. Why did you bring us up of to Egypt to this terrible place?" In spite of all that complaining the Lord still blessed Israel. An earthly Father gets tempted to say to a complaining child, “get out of the car and walk.” Yet God didn’t leave the Israelites to fend for themselves. He kept those 2 million people safe for 40 years as they traveled in the desert. He reminded them of His constant love through Aaron’s words of blessing, “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
How is the view from the backseat in the car of your life? Have we grumbled about the way the Lord is driving our lives as he continues to bless us and keep us? I guess if we are honest with ourselves we have to admit that at times we have grumbled. Yet the Lord has not made us get out and walk. Instead He has shown us the grace of the Son.
Aaron was to continue on, "the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you." How is it possible that the God whose holiness consumes sinners in a ball of everlasting fire could turn his face toward sinful complaining people like you and me. In His grace, God turned His face to man when man deserved nothing from him. As sinners we were enemies of God. Often the hatred between enemies is so strong that they cannot even look at each other. Yet God turned his face toward undeserving man, toward us. When my children were small we had one of those big plastic turtle sandboxes. They have a great time in it, but I don't always appreciate it because the grass underneath it always dies. The grass dies because there is no sunlight. If God had not turned the sunlight of his face toward us, all sinful people would have died eternally. One of our well known hymn verses goes like this, "But God beheld my wretched state, before the world's foundation, and mindful of his mercies great, He planned my soul's salvation. A father's heart he turned to me, sought my redemption fervently, He gave his dearest treasure."
Over this weekend we have the opportunity to thank God for the blessing of our veterans. We thank God for the sacrifices they made and are still making for us. In Christ, God showed His sacrificial love to us. They put our interestsahead of their own. Love is action word that for
God meant putting our interests ahead of His own. That’ the gracious love Christ showed to us. "While we were sinners, Christ died for us."
God's favor was not just a one time gift, but God continues to bless you and me everyday. He continues to grant the peace and keeping of His Holy Spirit. God told Aaron to conclude the blessing with these words, "the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace." Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Lord turns us from rebels and enemies of God into God's dear children. Because the Holy Spirit worked faith in our hearts, God turns His face to us when we pray. One of the prayers in our liturgy asks that Jesus would give us that peace which the world cannot give. Jesus told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give you peace as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." The believer enjoys a peace which stands up even in the fiercest trials, even in the face of death. This peace allows us to say with Paul, "I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord."
As she was wrapping up a visit at her house would say, “Nah, Yah” and then she would say, “Come good home.” The Lord wants you to come good home- to come to our home in heaven. He sends the Holy Spirit to keep you safe.
When I was growing up there was only one kind of winter boots boys would wear to school. When they were all piled together near the door it was hard to tell which ones were yours. Mom wrote my name in mine. That’s what God does through these words every time you leave church. It is God’s way of putting His label on you. God says that through this blessing, "they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them." Let’s come again and again to have God put His name on us and give us His blessing. Amen

Monday, May 24, 2010

May 23/24, 2010
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Genesis 11:1-9

1. God shows man the right way.
2. Often man foolishly chooses his own way.
3. God steps in to clean up man’s mess.

Genesis 11:1-9 (NIV) “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." 8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”

It seems to be another one of those “where you grew up” things. You know, like pop or soda, water fountain or bubbler. To those we add another. Is it the Tower of Babel or the Tower of Babel? That seems to depend on who you had for your Sunday School or Day School teacher. I was taught Babel, so that’s the right way. Actually this would be one of those cases where my dear old dad would say, “You’re both right and you’re both wrong.” You see the actual Hebrew pronunciation would be “Bavel.” I wonder if this isn’t just some deliciously divine irony at work here there seems to be so much confusion of the tongue on how to pronounce the name of Babel because confusion of tongues was the result of what happened at Babel. And yet for those who are willing to look back with the eyes of faith there are some lessons we can learn. Let’s see what the Babble at Babel teaches us.
It shows us first how God always shows man the right way. “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.” As we go back to Babel we see a far different world than we live in. There was only one culture and a common language. This was some time after the Flood. The population was increasing. People were moving eastward. This was good because God had shown man the right way. He did that when He spoke to the survivors of the Flood in Genesis 9:1. Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” Here was the right way, the blessed way, the way that fit within the plan of salvation. Fill the earth. This is nothing new for God, right? Think of before the Flood where God told His people living in a world marred by sin, the right way, the blessed way to live by calling on the name of the Lord. Think of the Garden of Eden where God showed Adam and Eve the right way, the blessed way to live, “But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." God always shows man the right way.
Sadly man often foolishly chooses his own way. Such was the case at Babel. “They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." Here we get another peek at life after the Flood. Those who worship the god of evolution would have us believe that our ancestors were dumb slouching barely developed people. They were not. These people were smart, skilled, sophisticated, innovative and resourceful. They knew how to build to last and use the natural resources of the area. Now smart, skilled, sophisticated, innovative and resourceful is not the same as wise, is it? We don’t know how long after the Flood this happened but Noah lived 350 years after the Flood. What story do you think Great Grandpa Noah told them? He told them about their Savior God who was to be absolutely obeyed. He told them of the consequence of disobedience. He pointed them to the rainbow in the sky and its message of the God who keeps His word. Did they listen? No! They fell down to worship at the idol called ME and defiantly set out to make a name for themselves instead of their Savior God.
Are we detecting a pattern here? Isn’t this the same thing that happened to the people before the Flood who stopped calling on the name of the Lord and who then according to the fact of devolution became more and more wicked? Isn’t this what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to disobey? Yes, sadly, even though God shows the right way, man often foolishly chooses his own way.
And then God steps in clean up man’s mess. “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." 8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” Now we know God who is everywhere does not need to come down from heaven to earth. Look also in the text at the spelling of the name LORD. Those capital letters tell you God is emphasizing His Savior name. The Lord’s telling us that He’s coming to once again to clean up the mess of man’s sin, like He did in the Garden of Eden, like He did with Flood. If things continued another world wide destruction would be needed. But God had made a promise. The rainbow still stands. So God cleaned up man’s mess another way. He separated people into cultures with separate languages. Confusion and distrust set in. The many languages we have in this world are not the result of man getting smarter and smarter but a consequence of man’s foolish defiance of God. And God’s will was done. The people filled the earth as was best for God’s plan of salvation.
But that’s not the end of the story is it? All of the history recorded in the Bible describes to us how our loving God works to bring about salvation. It tells us how the LORD, the Savior God, brought Jesus into the world to provide the ultimate clean up of man’s mess through His death and resurrection. Then when the Savior came, God undid the babble at Babel with the Holy Spirit poured on the disciples at Pentecost so each could hear in their own language that their mess had been cleaned up by Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior from sin. Today the babble is still undone as the Word of the Lord is available, translated into every language and most dialects of those languages. We rejoice in that and gladly do our own part in getting God’s Word to the nations.
And yet have we learned the lessons the babble at Babel teaches us? Please open your bulletins to look at the lessons Babel teaches us. Let’s read them together.1. God shows man the right way. 2. Often man foolishly chooses his own way. 3.God steps in to clean up man’s mess. Now take a look at your own life. Can you see some places where God has shown you the right way and yet you are foolishly choosing your own? Children, maybe in the area of respectful obedience to your parents and teachers? Parents and adults, maybe in the area of weekly worship and daily use of the word? For all could it be that our tongues speak words that are not confusing but instead are filthy and not worthy to be spoken by those with the privilege of being called the Children of God?
God will step in to clean up your mess. While He could do so by forcing your obedience, there is a better way, the Pentecost way, the Holy Spirit way. When God’s people confess their sins He is quick to forgive. Jesus made sure of that. And with the Holy Spirit’s help we can follow the right way, the wise way, God’s way. While man often foolishly chooses his own way, we don’t have to. We can honor Jesus by fighting our sinfulness, our selfishness, our laziness and we can live the right way, the way our God has shown us in His word. So that happens more and more among us, please stand and turn to page 20 in the front of the Hymnal if you need to, and let’s sing together the prayer song for the gift of the Holy Spirit often called the “Create in Me.” Amen.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Confirmation Sunday May 16th, 2010

Here is the link to view the May 16, 2010 worship service.

St Jacobi Worship Service May 16, 2010 from Richard Waldschmidt on Vimeo.

May 16th, 2010
Confirmation Sunday
I. The Grace of The First And The Last.
II. The Grace Of The One Who Gave Us His Unchanging Word.
In the name of Jesus, who is coming soon, dear fellow redeemed children of God;
When I was at the Seminary, all of the students had jobs to do. Some were serious jobs, like the men who shoveled snow. Others parked cars for events. Others were not so serious. My job was to be the Fenster Aufmacher. That’s means I was charged with opening the windows. One young man had the last name of Warning. His job was to give the two minute warning when lunch was almost over. Yes, we cracked ourselves up. Today in God’s Word, Jesus gives us the two minute warning. “I am coming soon,” Jesus said. While he doesn’t give an exact time for His return His words serve as a call to always be ready.
Usually two minute warnings are harsh sounding bells and whistles. But let’s look today at the words Jesus uses to end the Bible. No shrill bells or whistles- but we hear the encouraging words of Jesus. The Grace of The Lord Jesus Be With God’s People. I The grace of the First and Last. II. The grace of the One who gave us His unchanging Word.
Confirmation days are days that parents enjoy and look forward to but they are days that seem a long way off when their hold their little bundle of joy in the delivery room or at the baptismal font. But here you are-ready to make your promises to the Lord as adult members of our church family. The years have flown by. At times in our lives Jesus’ return may seem to be a million miles away and then at other times it will seem as though it can’t be more than a day away. Our perception doesn’t change Jesus words, “I am coming soon.” The truth is that Jesus is coming soon to take all of us home to heaven, where we will meet around the throne of Jesus. As we wait for the day when Jesus comes, let’s take comfort in the words of the First and the Last,- the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.
Most people would say that if you are going to have an operation it is a good idea to have a surgeon who has done the operation before. From the operating room to the football field, experience is important. The world we live in as we wait is a scary place. How wonderful that our Lord Jesus not only has years of experience, He is the first and the last. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” If Jesus were giving examples from the English alphabet, he would be saying, “I am the A and the Z.” Not only has the Lord Jesus seen every single situation in the life of every single person who has ever lived, He is eternal. He knows the future. He already knows every single situation that you will face. He knows whether you will live to the age of 81 or 18. He knows where you will live and when you will die. The one who loves you enough to die for you knows all of those things.
You have changed since the day you walked into Sunday School and kindergarten. But Jesus does not. All of that time does not change Him or his promises. He won’t come along one day and say, “Now what was that I promised them, I can’t remember.” The Bible tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” As He closes His word to you the First and the Last speaks of his love for you.
That’s important because He says, “My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Jesus tells us what the reward is that he is bringing with him earlier in the Book of Revelation when he says, “Be faithful even to the point of death and I will give you a crown of life.”
But wait a minute. He is going to give everyone according to what he has done. Do those words send a chill up your spine? They do for me. If your life has been anything like mine, it has been a week where we botched things up with one sin upon another. We’ve taken the commands of the First and the Last and treated them like they were the demands of someone near the middle or down the way on our list of priorities. The thought of Jesus coming soon and giving me exactly what I deserve for my sins is terrifying. But Jesus comforts us by explaining what he means, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolators and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” We can’t look at that list and say, “well at least I’ve never done those things.” Just take that last one for example. Sometimes we’ve found ourselves being pretty well practices at telling falsehoods. All of us should be excluded from heaven because of our sins. That’s where the grace of the first and the last comes in. In His undeserved love for you and me our Savior Jesus washed all of our sins away along with the sins of the world when he died on the cross. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit has brought us to cling to the Savior Jesus in faith. The Holy Spirit has brought us to look for Jesus who is coming soon to take us home to heaven. My dear friends, don’t walk away from Jesus. You don’t want to be left outside when Jesus comes again.
BP has not called me for advice about the oil spill. You need credentials for something like that. Jesus showed now shows us His credentials for who he is and the unchanging Word He has given us. The grace of the Lord Jesus is with God’s people He has given us His word.
“I Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches.” Then Jesus goes on to describe himself. “I am the Root and the Offspring of David and the Bright Morning Star.” Jesus identifies himself as the Savior who has won salvation for us and as the Bright morning star will soon return to take us home to heaven.
Jesus’ promise that he is coming soon draws a wonderful response. “The Spirit and the Bride say “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come and whoever wishes let him take from the free gift of the water of life.” God’s grace is not like the chicken pox- that it comes once in a lifetime and then you are done. God’s grace in His Word is for our entire lifetimes. By God’s grace we’re encouraged by that gracious invitation in God’s unchanging word every day. No matter what happens in your lives ahead, don’t ever forget Jesus invitation for our thirsty souls, “Come to me all ye that labor and are heavy ladened and I will give you rest.” When the devil tries to drive you into the ground of despair, remember that Jesus’ water of forgiveness flows for you and it is free.
Since this is confirmation Sunday, I’ll ask you a question from your confirmation days, “Since this is God’s word what do we never want to do with it? Add to it subtract from it or twist it’s meaning. You are living in a world where people want to change the Bible. Just this last week there was a huge controversy in our town when a university rescinded a job offer and people on all sides of the fence where adding and subtracting from Scripture or twisting its meaning. God has chosen to close the Bible with warnings to anyone who would think of changing even one Word of the Bible. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city which are described in this book.”
It has been the privilege and joy of your pastors and teachers to teach you about Jesus’ love and the truths of God’s Word. That message of sins forgiven remains unchanged in a life full of changes.
In sports the two minute warning makes everyone rush around and be conscious of every single second. Jesus is coming soon. Jesus assures us of that fact, “He who testifies to these things says, “Yes I am coming soon.” John responds like all of us respond, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.” We don’t have to rush all around but let’s make the use of everyday serving him and telling others until that day when he comes. Until that day, the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.

Video of May 9th, 2010 Worship Service

Click on this link for video of our May 9th, 2010 worship

Saturday, May 15, 2010

May 13, 2010 Ascension Service - Pastor Paul G. Eckert
St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church
8605 W. Forest Home Ave.
Greenfield, Wisconsin 53228
May 13, 2010 3:30 & 7:00 P.M.
Opening Hymn 169:1-2
Pastor: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Congregation: Amen.
P: Prayer
C: Amen.
Song - 3:30 - Grades 5-8 ------------------ "Peace I Leave With You"
- 7:00 - Mixed Choir --"Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled"
1. Mount Sinai And God’s Law
Scripture and Comment - Exodus 19:20-25 and 20:1-20
The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them." Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’" The LORD replied, "Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will break out against them." So Moses went down to the people and told them. And God spoke all these words:
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of
the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You
shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."
Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."
Comment -
1. Go directly to 285:1,11,12
2. Referring to 285:12 have confession by asking
questions and congregation responding
1) Acknowledge sinfulness and sins? (I do) 2) Acknowledge that you can’t solve this? (I do)
3) Do you flee to Christ who has solved this? (Yes)
3. Lead in to 170:4-5 by referring to "no
more can vex our spirit" and why we want to be
drawn closer to sharing in glory
Hymn 285:1, 11, 12
The Law - To Christ We Flee In Confession Of Our Sins
Hymn 170:4-5
2. The Lord’s Mount And His Promise
Scripture and Comment - Isaiah 2:2-5
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Comment -
1. Here is the present and future answer to our confession
2. Pronounce absolution and what that means
3. Go to Psalm 47 - let us praise God for all of this
The Gospel - From Christ Forgiveness And The Future
Psalm 47 -------------------------------------------------------- page 85
3. Mount Gerizim And Christ’s Revelation
Scripture and Comment - John 4:19-26
"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."
Comment -
1. How terrible if there was an answer to sin, but we like
the Samaritan woman didn’t know about it
2. Here Jesus revealed Himself as He does that for us too
3. His ascension doesn’t mean He no longer cares and no
longer reveals Himself
4. Instead He still calls mankind His own and has His
blessing hand stretched over us as sing in 175:1-4
Hymn 175:1-4
4. The Transfiguration And Mount Hermon
Scripture and Comment - Matthew 17:1-5
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!"
Comment -
1. Notice how Peter wanted to be a part of Jesus’ glory, to
be with Him
2. That is what we have in mind when we sing "Draw Us
To Thee" in 170:1-3
Hymn 170:1-3
5. A Prayer Mountain In Judea
Scripture and Comment - Luke 22:39-46
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
Comment -
1. Jesus prayed often. Here He prayed in agony for our
salvation. He also encourages us to pray
2. Now ascended, He has not stopped praying/interceding
for us, as we sing in 175:5-6
Hymn 175:5-6
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The Lord’s Prayer
Hymn 172:1-4
6. Mount Calvary And The Crucifixion
Scripture and Comment - Luke 23:33; Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left.
They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).
Comment -
1. The background for "Calvary" may be interesting
2. But what happened there, that is important
3. What we see here does not appear glorious, yet it is
4. As we now sing in 174:1-2, the Lord of battles has
gained the victory, by death has crushed His foes
5. And that means our sins have been atoned for, we are
Hymn 174:1-2
7. The Commissioning Mountain In Galilee
Scripture and Comment - Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Comment -
1. Ascension doesn’t mean He isn’t with us anymore
2. He is always with us, also to help us do what He has
commissioned us to do: make disciples by using His
means of grace to reach out to others
3. His hands are still raised in blessing while we do that
and as we by faith look forward to our own ascension,
as we sing in 174:3-4
Hymn 174:3-4
8. Mount of Olives And The Ascension
Responsive Scripture Reading and Comment - Acts 1:8-12
P: "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and
you will be my witnesses
C: in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends
of the earth."
P: After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes,
C: And a cloud hid Him from their sight.
P: They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going,
C: when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
P: "Men of Galilee," they said,
C: "Why do you stand here looking into the sky?
P: This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
C: will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into
P: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called
C: the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city.
Comment - Having read this, now sing about it in 171:1-4
Hymn 171:1-4
9. Mount Nebo And Looking Ahead
Scripture and Comment - Deuteronomy 32:48-49 and 34:1-5
On that same day the LORD told Moses, "Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession.
Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the LORD showed him the whole land - from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it." And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.
Comment -
1. Moses could not go into earthly promised land
2. While we live on this earth we cannot go into the
heavenly promised land
3. But as that earthly land was promised to fulfill God’s
purpose of a Savior to be born there
4. So heaven is promised to us as our future great reward,
as we sing of that now in 171:5-6
Hymn 171:5-6
10. Mount Zion And Fulfillment
Scripture and Comment - Revelation 14:1; Revelation 21:10;
Hebrews 12:22-24; Micah 4:1-2
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all
men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
Comment -
1. As promises about earthly land were all fulfilled
2. So here is pictured the promises of heaven all fulfilled
3. On this sure promise we build our confident hope and
faith, as we sing now in 173
Hymn 173:1-3
Closing Prayer
C: Amen.
P: The Blessing
C: Amen, Amen, Amen.
Closing Hymn 169:3
Jesus said,
Some Announcements
We thank our Ascension organist, Mrs. Leona Hauer, the choirs, the ushers, the worshipers - all who are in any way involved in praising our ascended Lord and Savior.
All Scripture quotations are from the NIV which is in our pew rack.
Our regular schedule of services is Sundays at 8:15 and 10:45 A.M. and Mondays at 7:00 P.M. Please note, however, that starting with June and continuing through August the second Sunday service will become 10:00 instead of the current 10:45.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 9/10, 2010
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: John 14:23-29

1. Of Jesus love for us.
2. Of our love for Him.

John 14:23-27 (NIV) “Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

There are some special things going on today, aren’t there? As a nation we are observing Mother’s Day. It’s a day for children to show love for their mothers. At St. Jacobi it’s also Examination Sunday where our 2010 confirmands are publicly examined as to what they have learned in preparation for becoming communicant members of St. Jacobi. In addition to that, for much of the visible Christian church today is the 6th Sunday after Easter where God’s word encourages Christians to live every implication of the fact that Jesus lives. That’s a lot going on! Actually we can fit all three of those special days together by looking at some words Jesus spoke to his disciples before He died and rose as a chance to have a Mother’s Day Examination of love.
Now if your mother loves you, you will know it. There will be all kinds of things you can think of that she does. Does Jesus love us? Absolutely! Naturally we think first of what He did. But let’s also examine what He does. In the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday Jesus said to the disciples. “These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. 25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Jesus’ love is a giving love. To His disciples Jesus first of all promises to give the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful gift He is! First for the disciples. Can you imagine how confusing this must have been for them? Jesus appeared in good health. Things seem to have been going well. Now He was talking about not being with them. Can you imagine how frightening it must have been after Jesus died and rose and then ascended when the reality set in that Jesus would not be with them visibly like He had in the past? When they realized that they would carry out the work of leading the Church and teaching people what Jesus had done and had said. What should they do? What should they say? How comforting it was for them to look forward to the gift of the Holy Spirit. He would teach them all things and remind that of the very words Jesus said.
Talk about a gift that keeps giving. We are the recipients of that gift too, aren’t we? This is how we got the New Testament. These disciples and later the Apostle Paul were reminded by the Holy Spirit of all the teachings of God that He wants us to have. They were reminded of the very words Jesus spoke. We have them in the Bible as proof of Jesus’ love for us. We also have the Holy Spirit working among us and in us. Here’s another reason Christians are so eager to be into God’s Word daily and why the Devil works so hard to keep you out of it. The Spirit is there, sent by God in Jesus’ name to rush to our side and help us.
That reminds us of a second gift Jesus’ love moved Him to give to us. Peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus gives His peace to His disciples. He describes it as a peace that is different from the way the world gives. How is that? Well the world gives to get right? There’s strings attached. Quid pro Quo. Something for something. Not so with Jesus. His peace is a true gift. His peace is a gift so that hearts won’t be troubled. His peace is a gift to help with fears. Have you ever wondered what it means when at the end of sermons pastors often quote from Philippians 4 and say “And the peace of God that transcends all understanding…” What does that mean to transcend understanding? I’ve often look at it as the difference between understandable peace and the kind that makes no sense to those with faith. Understandable peace is the absence of conflict, the absence of what’s got you afraid. So if you have a disease or sickness and you are cured and feel at peace, that is understandable. If there is conflict in your family and it is resolved, there is peace, that is understandable. Jesus’ peace is different. It’s that inner calmness in the midst of turmoil. These disciples had it. They sat in prison and sang hymns. They were opposed, arrested and whipped by the chief priests and they rejoiced. They had Jesus’ peace. It’s a gift Jesus has for you too. Turn to His word in time of trouble. Remember His teaching. Who He is. What He has done. No matter how rough things look, feel, or are, you can count on Jesus to be there with you, for you and making everything work out just right. As we examine Jesus’ love this Mother’s Day His is clearly of love that gives.
Now how about our love for Him? Mother’s Day is a gentle reminder for children to show love to their mothers. During the examination the confirmands answered questions about the many great things God has done to show love for us in creating and preserving us, redeeming and sanctifying us. They also answered questions about how we can show our love back. Our Mother’s Day examination of love continues with a chance for us to examine our love for Jesus.
It’s easy really because Jesus tells us what love for Him looks like. “Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” How much more simply can Jesus put it? Those who love Him obey His teachings. Do you want to examine your love for Jesus? Look at how and why you are obeying Jesus’ teachings. When you plan your weekend events around your worship of Jesus it says to Him, “I love you.” When you watch the words that come out of your mouth because you don’t want to offend Jesus’ ears it says, “I love you.” When you respectfully obey your parents and others in authority it says, “I love you.” When you are content with your possessions when you serve others without complaining, when you defend them it says, “I love you, Lord.” All these are daily ways we who love Jesus get to show it and what does He do but turns around and gives more.” My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” What a blessing. A Christian home where the Lord lives with us.
Now like a good mother Jesus also has a word of warning. “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” Has it bothered you living in America and watch our moral standards slide? Are you puzzled why those who stand up for instance for same sex marriages are treated as the heroes in the media and those like us who because God said so, call it a sin, are pretty much demonized? Jesus has told us why. It may be hard for us to grasp but some people don’t love Jesus. That’s why they will not obey Him. They don’t want to. The word of warning for us is to watch out for the same Devil’s trap they have fallen into. The trap of disobedience. When you examine your life do you have some acceptable sins, sins that maybe you hold your rally to demand you right to? If so repent. For Jesus said, “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.” May those words never apply to you or me. And they don’t have to. Jesus loves us with an everlasting love. He did give His life for us. He continues to bless us with the Holy Spirit and with peace and so much more. That’s why we love Him in return.
Loving in return brings us back to Mother’s Day. You know on this Mother’s Day the type of appreciation or love that every child wants to show his loving mother is the type of appreciation or love that she wants. For some it’s a meal. For some its flowers. For some it’s a gift. But, kids, the gift I know she really wants is your obedience all year long, right? So also with our Lord Jesus. He did not love us with one action although even that would have been enough. He keeps loving us all year long. In response let’s not show our love for Him once a year or even once a week, but all day long. And of all the ways we could show our love the one way that is most important to Him? Obedience. Amen.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Video of May 2nd, 2010 Worship Service

Click on this link to view May 2nd, 2010 Worship Service.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 2, 2010
Seminarian Mark Reichert
Luke 10:25-37

The Golden Rule states “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In the minds of many, the parable of the Good Samaritan is nothing more than an illustration of this rule. It is ironic that such a well-known account is so often misunderstood as a simple morality guide. The Golden Rule certainly has application here, don’t get me wrong; but only after it is put in its proper place. The parable speaks to the most basic of all religious questions: What must I do to inherit eternal life? It’s the natural mindset of the world that if we do our best to follow rules and laws, we should be rewarded. However, we have an underlying misunderstanding about God’s Law: it is not just a bunch of rules to be followed superficially. God knows our hearts and he is concerned about our attitudes. Jesus teaches us here that the requirements of the Law stem from the spirit of the Law, which is love. Selfless love is the fulfillment of the Law; in our text we see that the expert failed by that standard, but Jesus fulfilled it.

We may read the first few verses of this account and raise an eyebrow at Jesus’ words. Let’s recount: The expert asks how he can obtain eternal life; Jesus asks him what the Law says; the expert answers, “Love God and love your neighbor.” But then Jesus replies “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” A curious answer coming from the Savior of the world, right? But the simple fact is that the expert did answer correctly – he quotes directly from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Scripture does in fact say that the one who perfectly fulfills the Law will have salvation – Jesus maintains that when he says “do this and you will live” – that’s based on Leviticus 18:5. However, when Jesus told him this, it wasn’t meant as a challenge. In reality, the Law was meant to crush his sinful pride and show him the hopelessness of his attempts to earn his own salvation.

Now that question and answer session was embarrassingly simple for the likes of this so-called expert in the Law; after all, it didn’t take an expert in the Law of Moses to know how to inherit eternal life. So he tried to justify himself by essentially asking, “Okay, I get all that, but what I really want to know is this: who is my neighbor?” Now the question may have seemed innocent enough; after all, it would have been good to understand such a vital portion of the Law both for his own sake and for that of his hearers. But let’s remember that this expert meant to test Jesus. Undoubtedly he asked Jesus to define exactly who his neighbor was because he wanted everyone in that crowd to know just how faithful he had been to the Law. He evidently would have had to show a lot of love to his neighbors to equal the amount of love he clearly had for himself! However, Jesus tells him this parable to uncover his pride and show him his misunderstanding.

Jesus tells of an unsuspecting traveler going from Jerusalem to Jericho, who was mugged and left half-dead by robbers, which was common along that way in those days. And hopefully the expert was willing to take this to heart, because Jesus then told of a priest and a Levite (some might say experts in the Law) who came along one after the other to the spot where this man was lying. Both see him, decide against helping him, cross to the other side, and high-tail it out of there before anyone knows they were there. By all accounts, their actions were inexcusable; they were the spiritual leaders of Israel and should have set a clear example of faith and duty for their people to follow. Instead they totally contrasted the love that the Law called for. They were selfish hypocrites; they knew very well what the Law said, but didn’t practice what they preached. Perhaps they thought it was too dangerous to stick around for long to help the man. Perhaps they were tired and sore from the work at the Temple they were returning from and didn’t want to expend the effort. Perhaps they considered themselves too dignified to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty by helping him. Who knows for sure, but what we do know is that it was sinful arrogance that caused them to leave the man as they found him.

However, where these experts failed to uphold the Law, the Good Samaritan acted rightly in his heart and his actions. When he came to the same spot, he didn’t cross over to the other side and continue on. He saw an opportunity to help a man in need, and he took it. Without regard for his own safety or standing, he showed what selfless love is all about. Let’s not forget that they are still on the road where the man was first robbed and beaten, maybe even shortly afterwards. The circumstances certainly could have been dangerous, but that was no obstacle to this Samaritan. On the other hand, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. He might have asked himself whether that man would do the same for him; the answer is probably not. However, this was really no dilemma for him. Quite simply, he didn’t see a Jew; he saw a neighbor whose every need he could willingly care for by sacrificing his own time, effort, resources, and money to do so.
The expert’s question was “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus now once again puts the ball in his court, asking, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The answer was obvious: “The one who had mercy on him.” Perhaps the expert had thought that only those people whom he lived near and worked with, his friends, and his close relatives really counted as his neighbors, and certainly no one outside of his fellow Jewish countrymen! Anyone else was inconsequential, since after all, it was common Jewish teaching and practice to “love your neighbor and hate your enemy” (Matt. 5:43). However, Jesus shows him that his question was wrong - it really should be, “To whom can I be a neighbor, and how can I prove myself as such?” By Jesus’ definition, our neighbor is anyone whose need is evident to us and to whom we can be of help and service. The expert’s focus was self-service; thus, he sought to limit the extent to which he had to apply his love to others. Because his heart was not right, his thinking was wrong. He came initially to Jesus to exalt himself, but when Jesus told him to “go and do likewise,” he left completely humbled. There was no other feasible response for him than to admit that he was utterly unable to live up to those expectations because they were simply too great.

Jesus says in Matthew 22(:40) that all the commandments of the Law and the Prophets shake down into these two categories: love for God and love for neighbor. Are you as comfortable and content with that as the expert in our text evidently was? Do you kid yourself into thinking that you do these things like you should? Jesus taught that showing love for God is doing everything he commands in exactly the way that he commands. That is, think right and act right always. Do it all perfectly, without ever lapsing into the slightest failure, because if you really want to put the matter of being saved on the basis of doing or earning, then this—and no less—is what you must do.

Furthermore, loving God includes loving your neighbor perfectly and selflessly, because He commands that as well. But like our expert in the Law, the sinner in each of us keeps asking the question “and who exactly is my neighbor?” You see, it is also our nature to expect there to be finite, reasonable limits to the Law; we don’t think it’s fair to be confronted with a task we can’t accomplish. Satan tries to convince us that we are doing what God expects of us, when in fact we are falling pitifully short of it. Just as there’s no limit to the love God shows us, so also there are no limits to the love God expects of us. God cares about our attitudes as well as our actions, and he doesn’t just want us to show love as a heartless, mechanical exercise. He wants us to love selflessly, from the heart, as He loves us, and like the Good Samaritan, to be willing to show that love to anyone in any way at any time.

All things considered, the expert’s stubbornness was astounding. Do you think he finally got the point by the end of this account? You would hope so, but think about this: do we finally get the point when the same things happen to us? Or does our pride cause us to deny our fault and to dig in and try even harder to earn God’s favor? Though Satan would have us do so, when Jesus commands us to “go and do likewise,” He is confronting us with our complete inability to fulfill God’s Law on our own. Think for example about how we’ve overlooked a family member in need of support because it didn’t fit into our schedule or budget; how we’ve turned a blind eye to a friend whose life was falling apart because we didn’t want to stick our nose into business that wasn’t ours; how we’ve looked down upon someone for whom our Lord Jesus gave up his very life for no other reason than their fashion style or the color of their skin; and how many other countless ways we’ve given God a bad name by living a selfish and sinful life. Are these examples of love for our neighbors, brothers and sisters? Are these the deeds by which we think we merit salvation? The fact is that we have stumbled at every point in the Law any number of times; stumbling at any point of the Law just once makes us less than what God demands. Indeed, these are examples of efforts that deserve nothing but condemnation.

So then rather than continuing in a downward spiral of pride into Satan’s stronghold by challenging ourselves to be better people, we need to finally submit to the fact that we can’t even do that on our own, much less earn salvation. Only then with broken and contrite hearts can we truly find understanding of God’s Will at the cross of Christ, who has fulfilled the Law perfectly at every point for us.

So let’s start again from the beginning of this account. The expert asks, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He was looking for a way to earn his own salvation, not realizing that the Way to salvation was standing right in front of him. And the answer to his question? Well, good luck fulfilling those requirements; there has only been one person that’s ever walked this earth who could and did – again, the one standing right in front of him. Jesus loved God perfectly by always obeying every one of his commandments the right way in life and by willingly submitting to His Father in death. He loved his neighbors perfectly by coming to earth to serve, rather than to be served, as He deserved. His love and concern for others were limitless – he showed them in his patience with unbelief and stubbornness, in his miracles, and in his teaching. Yet He says in John 15(:13): “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” He showed his perfect love for his neighbors of all times most of all in going to the cross to die for them. Though we deserved banishment from his presence and death at his hands, He suffered and died to bring us to himself for eternal life in heaven. That’s love, friends.

So when the God who so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son for us asks you to love as He has loved, how do you respond? How else can you respond but with humble thankfulness and a resolve to do so with his help? Though he was in no way obliged to do so, he came to earth to keep the Law that we couldn’t and offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. The blood that he graciously shed for us covers us and all of our shortcomings, so that God no longer remembers any of our sins against Him or our family, friends, co-workers, classmates, or anyone else we would call “neighbor.” If that is not motivation, then what is? That love that Christ first showed us compels us to show that same selfless love back to God and to our neighbors, and he has promised to empower us for this task by sending the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Not only is he our motivation to love, though; he is also our example of how and who to love. We see Jesus in the Good Samaritan, as the one who showed selfless love to his neighbors both in attitude and action when all others did not. Our neighbor is not just a means to an end, as the expert in the Law selfishly seemed to think, and loving our neighbor is not some superficial obligation. Rather, in love and thanks to God for loving us, the Gospel motivates us to exercise our faith by applying the Golden Rule and asking ourselves ‘what Jesus would do’ so that we can take full advantage of all the opportunities God gives us every day to follow Jesus’ example of love for neighbor. And not only do we see Jesus in the Good Samaritan, but also we see him in the man in need of help, as Jesus gives us this assurance and encouragement from Matthew 25(:40): “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”

So when we hear the words “go and do likewise” from Jesus, he is not setting us up for failure. He is calling us to the right attitude for the love and service that flow naturally from our faith. Recall Jesus’ allusion earlier to Leviticus 18:5. There the LORD says, “Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them.” With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Consider Galatians 3:11 – “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Have faith in God, who has saved you and now strengthens you to do His will. Through faith in Him we can resist the devil’s temptations to relapse into our natural self-reliance and self-serving pride, and through faith in Him who is our inspiration and example we inherit eternal life and can now reflect His selfless love rightly back to Him as He deserves and to our neighbors as He wills, just as we are told in Galatians 5:6 that “the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” In that light, now go and do likewise. Amen.