Friday, March 29, 2013

Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30 "The Lamb Provides A New Feast"

March 28, 2013
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30

"The Lamb Provides A New Feast"
1.     It also has a lamb.
2.     It also has real blood.
3.     It also delivers from death.
4.     It also gives strength for the future.

Sermon: Matthew 26:17-19, 26-30  “On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”  18 He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’” 19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.  26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

          What do you think of when you hear the word “feast?” Is it something like Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner? Something more extravagant than that? I can’t help but think of the pizza smorgasbord held at the Amber Lantern restaurant in the town I grew up in. All the pizza you could eat for $1.99 and it was good. I never could get myself to try the hotdog and pickle pizza though. In the worship life of God’s people God has always provided a feast. Old Testament worshippers had many.   As Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament or Old Covenant and ushered in the New Covenant He provided the Church with a New Feast.
          It happened at an old one. Jesus was celebrating the Passover Feast with His disciples. This was a feast. He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Jesus wanted to feast with His disciples. He had a gift to give them. A new feast. In case you are not that familiar the Passover Feast for Old Testament believers was given to them by God to remember God’s great rescue of His people from Egypt. They were there in slavery. God wanted them out.  Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, didn’t want to lose his slaves so God made him want to by sending a series of plagues. The last plague was the plague of the firstborn. God sent the angel of death who killed the firstborn son in every household and of every animal in all of Egypt except for those who had the blood of a lamb smeared on the doorframes of their homes. The Israelites were to bake bread without yeast, unleavened bread, flat bread to eat and easily pack for the journey ahead. Every year after that the people of God were to celebrate the Passover feast. They used a perfect lamb and unleavened bread.
It’s interesting to note the similarities between the new feast and the Passover Jesus was celebrating with the disciples. For instance the new feast also had a lamb. The Passover lamb was to be a perfect or unblemished lamb. I’ve often wondered how the Old Testament fathers handled things with that lamb. Lambs are so cute, cuddly looking. They must have had some way of keeping the kids from being tied to that lamb that would be killed. You could imagine the tears otherwise. The New Feast that Jesus gave to New Testament believers also has a lamb. Actually it has Jesus who is the Lamb of God. He is perfect in every way. Tempted like we are yet remained without sin. Is it possible that we could feel more sadness at the thought of a little lamb being sacrificed than the Lamb of God?
In both feasts sacrifice was necessary. And so was blood. Recently a mini series called “The Bible” has been airing on the History Channel. We are recording it at home. I’ve only seen parts of the one. It was the part that showed the events of Exodus, the plagues and the flight from Egypt. The director’s portrayal of that first Passover was interesting. Everybody needed some blood so the angel of death would pass over. So when they sacrificed the lamb they were careful to collect every drop in a bowl and then, almost like painting, they rushed to brush it on the doorframes. The new feast also has blood. By now you know that the new feast is the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. The Bible is clear that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that cleanses us from every sin is really present. So is His body. We know because He said so. 26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant.” You think of how careful the Old Testament believers were with the blood of the lamb. This is why New Testament believers are careful with the blood of the Lamb in the New Feast. We wait until children are instructed and matured. We learn how to examine ourselves before we receive. We practice close and closed communion so that someone doesn’t take the body and blood in a wrong way and to their judgment.
Because both feasts were not about bringing judgment but freeing from judgment. The blood of the lamb at the first Passover was used to spare the believers’ families from the Angel of death. He passed over those homes that had the blood of the lamb. No firstborn died. Later when Old Testament believers ate the Passover they also ate bitter herbs to remind them of how awful slavery was. They remembered how good it was for the bitterness of slavery to be gone. The New Feast of the Lord’s Supper also delivers from slavery, the slavery of sin and death. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The wages of sin is death, eternal separation from God. Forgiveness of sins frees us from paying those wages because Jesus Himself paid them for us. Just as the Old Testament Passover gave Old Testament believers a chance to remember what God had done for them the New Testament Feast given by the Lamb gives New Testament believers the chance to remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But there’s more.  The New Feast by a miracle of Jesus’ proclamation is not only a chance to remember but it gives forgiveness. What a feast!
And that makes us think of another way the feasts are alike. They both provided strength for the future. For the first Passover the people needed physical strength for their flight into Egypt. For the Old Testament believers the Passover Feast gave them strength to stay faithful to the one true God as they were living with idol worshipers all around them. They would remember God’s power and love. They would be reminded to wait patiently for the Lord’s salvation. The blood of the perfect lamb pictured the blood of the perfect Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world. Those who ate that feast with reverent hearts received strength to live the life of an Old Testament believer. The new Feast the Lamb of God has provided for us provides strength for our future to live our lives as New Testament believers. Jesus proves to us that He has forgiven us. He helps us remember that all our sins have been paid for. He assures us that His forgiveness is not like ours. His is complete and immediate. The cup becomes the cup of thanksgiving. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for God’s love and free forgiveness in Jesus. We leave the table motivated and encouraged to live the desire to go and sin no more, to serve the Lord with gladness. What a feast!
When Jesus gave the New Feast, the Lord’s Supper, He told the disciples that He eagerly desired to feast with them. May that be our attitude too, that we eagerly desire to feast with Him. Children, look forward to that day when you are instructed and confirmed. Adults, not part of our church family, why not do something to change that? Communicant members, Jesus’ invitation to feast with Him goes out regularly here, at least twice a month. Make plans to RSVP with a yes and gladly. Amen.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Palm Sunday 2013

Luke 19:28-40 "WHAT A WEEK FOR OUR SAVIOR" I. A week where He hid His power. II. A week where war brought peace. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, dear fellow redeemed Children of God; As we expected, we have not heard much from our son who is in Basic Training in San Antonio. I’ve read online that the temperatures have been much warmer than here with highs in the 80’s and 90’s. In a letter he wrote that this last week was BEAST week. From what I understand that’s when the trainees spend the week “camped out” and they spend the week, as if they were deployed, practicing skills they’ve learned. From what I understand it is a very intense week. Palm Sunday began the most intense week for Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem to battle with our enemies- sin and death and Satan, the Beast. What A Week For Our Savior! I. A week where He hid His power. II. A week where war brought peace. Lately it seems that the leader of North Korea has been rattling his sabre trying to get some attention. Often when this world’s leaders make threats, they follow them up with a show of force-maybe a military parade with goose stepping soldiers or a parades of huge trucks carrying missiles. When Jesus went into Jerusalem to His Holy Week Battle against Satan, he went with his power hidden. No one saw an army of his angels marching alongside him coming up the hillside toward Jerusalem. There were no antiSatan missiles flanking him on the right and left. For the most part his power was hidden. It was hidden, but it was still there. Jesus had just told a parable about faithfulness involving a king going away to be appointed king in a distant country and leaving his servants in charge. Jess knew what was going to be involved with his “going away”. He knew suffering and death were waiting for him in Jerusalem. But yet he did not have to be dragged into Jerusalem. Instead he went willingly in a joyful parade. Just like Zephaniah prophesied, “Rejoice O Daughter of Zion, See your King comes to you gentle and riding on a donkey.” “After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.' " Have you ever given someone directions and then after they drive off you think to yourself, “No I think it was a right turn at the light not a left. Oh well.” Notice that this is not what happens here with Jesus’ directions. His directions are right on. “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it." The donkey did not have an onboard GPS that Jesus was using. Jesus just knew where they were. Just like Jesus just knows about the things sitting on your heart this morning. Yet Jesus’ awesome power was hidden. He could have stopped his disciples outside of Jerusalem, waved his hand over a lizard there by the road and turned it into a donkey. Instead he humbly arranged for his disciples to fetch a donkey that was already a donkey. Jesus hides His great power. Doesn’t the Savior do the same thing today? He hides the power of his providing for us in the work that we do and by causing “his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” He hides his power so well that sometimes the unbelievers and the unbeliever inside of me and inside of you thinks that we’re the ones providing for ourselves. He hides the power of His forgiveness in the simple words of the Bible, in water in baptism and in bread and wine of Holy Communion. May we always see in our Savior the source of power and blessing in our lives. He is the one we can run to in this world where there are many uncertainties, unknowns, and “I don’t knows”. We find ourselves saying that we don’t know how long our jobs will last. I don’t know where to find another job. I don’t know when and if terrorism is going to rear its ugly head again in our world. Nobody knows for sure if they are even going to be here five years from now, five years from now or even five days from now. In this world of uncertainty, isn’t it comforting to know that hidden in your king riding into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday is a powerful mind that knows everything. Wars fought may at times bring a temporary peace but usually that peace doesn’t last for too long. Soon after WWI, “the war to end all wars” came WWII. WWII with its decisive victories was followed rather quickly by wars in Korea and Vietnam. More recently wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on. The battle Jesus fought in Jerusalem for us in the week after Palm Sunday brought true peace for you and me for eternity. “They brought it (the donkey) to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.” There were no limousine caravans bringing Jesus into the city on that first Palm Sunday. Though legions of angels were at his beckon call carrying Jesus rides into the city of Jerusalem to carry out the rescue mission for all of mankind on a donkey. “As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" Normally when people are involved in a war, they are fighting for their own survival. But Jesus came in the name of the Lord. We were the ones who needed saving. The other Gospels tell us that the people shouted Hosanna. Hosanna is a Hebrew prayer which asks the Lord to “save us.” It was also used as a way of praising God for being the Savior of his people-for bringing peace with God.. The people who carpeted the road with palm branches and coats were honoring Jesus as the promised Savior. They welcomed Jesus the Great King who would fight the war and bring peace through the coming battle. The crowds talked about that peace when they shouted, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" That peace was needed because our sins had put us at war with God. You see God doesn’t say, “Do the best you can. Try to keep a few of my commandments.” No, God says, “Be holy as I the Lord your God am holy.” God demands that we keep his commandments perfectly. Our sinful pride is cut away as we look at the countless times we have broken God’s commands. All of us must look at what God demands and confess with St. Paul, “I am the worst of sinners.” But Jesus came to fight for us. He did not “consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking upon himself the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death- even death on a cross.” The Pharisees were sure Jesus was taking too much glory for himself. Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." What Jesus was about to do in Jerusalem was so great that if the people had kept quiet on that first Palm Sunday the stones would have cried out! The one who could bring forth praise from stones is the one who loves you. The peace He brings calms our souls when our consciences bother us. He brings peace and calm to us in every trouble. BEAST Week is over for my son. Jesus has fought and won our Beast week for us. Let’s comes again to hear about the victories our king has won for us. Let’s rejoice in the peace he won for us. Amen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 20, 2013 Wednesday Lent servicde

March 20, 2013  - 6th Wednesday Lent service
Sermon Text - John 19:25-27, with Mark 15:33-47
by Pastor Paul G. Eckert
    The theme for this, the last of our six Wednesday Lenten services,
is JESUS, REFUGE OF THE WEARY.  That makes it easy to see
why the two hymns sung so far in this service were chosen.  The first
one’s title was “Come Unto Me, Ye Weary,” and the second was
“Jesus, Refuge Of The Weary.”  It isn’t always that easy for us
pastors to choose hymns. 
    I’m going to start out by focusing on the word “refuge” and think
of some examples.  There is the saying “Any refuge in a storm.”  The
first example I think of is the storm of the universal flood.  Water
covered the whole earth.  But there was a refuge for Noah and his
family.  It was an ark.  That refuge, however, lasted only a little over a
year.  They had to go back to the struggles of daily life again.
    My second example has to do with Elijah.  In our reading from the
lectern do you remember hearing about him?  When Jesus said “Eloi,
Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (Eloi means my God) they mockingly said
He was calling on Elijah.  That makes me think of a time when Elijah
had to flee from wicked King Ahab and eventually found refuge in a
cave.  But then he had to go back to daily living too, like Noah.
    One more example - I take this from the March 10 Journal Sentinel
newspaper.  Maybe some of you will remember it.  The heading for
the article was: “Dozens of Pakistani Christian homes torched.”  
Here is the first paragraph: “Hundreds of people in eastern Pakistan
rampaged through a Christian neighborhood Saturday, torching
dozens of homes after hearing reports that a Christian man had
committed blasphemy against Islam’s prophet [Mohammed].”  The
Christians fled the area looking for refuge.  But that refuge was not
the solution.  Eventually they came back to find the destruction of
their homes.
    In the examples I have mentioned there was no real permanent
refuge.  Is there such a thing, a real permanent refuge?  Let’s hear our
theme again:
    1. He had some support. (Mark 15:40-41)
Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were
Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of
Joses, and Salome.  In Galilee these women had followed him and
cared for his needs.  Many other women who had come up with
him to Jerusalem were also there.
        a) we have many faithful women in our congregation too,
serving Jesus in various ways, many mothers serving Him in their
homes with their examples and teaching
        b) Jesus had that support in His day too
    2. He had some acknowledgment. (Mark 15:38-39)
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard
his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the
Son of God!”
        a) Pilate had insisted that Jesus was innocent of charges
        b) but this man had come to see much more
    3. But nature turned away, gave no refuge.  (15:33)
At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the
ninth hour. 
        a) there was no bright sunshiny smile from the heavens
        b) darkness and gloom took away any type of refuge
    4. And did God Himself turn away?  (15:34)
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi,
lama sabachthani?” - which means, “My God, my God, why have
you forsaken me?”
        a) Jesus still said, “My God, my God.”    
        b) but could it be true that His God had actually forsaken Him?
        c) the answer is “Yes” - He was forsaken - no refuge - His
heavenly Father would have nothing to do with Him - and we know
why, but we’ll talk more about that later.  First let us see how
    1. Jesus wasn’t thinking only of Himself.
        a) put yourself  into this spot: the background of the torture of
His trials, the weakness that made Him need help to carry His cross to
Calvary, that cross stretched on the ground while nails were driven in,
the cross lifted into the air and the pressure and pain that put on His
hands and feet, hanging there mocked and ridiculed and hurting
        b) I think I would have passed out or would be thinking about
myself, certainly not about others who seemed to be doing fine
    2. But in His agony Jesus thought of others.  (25-27)
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister,
Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw
his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing
nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,”
and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”  From that time on,
this disciple took her into his home.
        a) His mother and His closest friend among the disciples
        b) He wanted to be sure their situation would be taken care of
    3. Jesus thinks of all of us too.
        a) He proved that in the many healing miracles He performed
        b) And to us too, whatever our troubles, His invitation always
goes out: “Come to me, all you who are weary ad burdened, and I
will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you; and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for
your souls.” - (Matthew 11:28)
    4. It’s because He loves all of us too.
        a) we all are weary and burdened with sin
        b) we all need a refuge from that damning fact
        c) what Jesus accomplished on the cross was for us and for all
    1. What was finished? (15:37)
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
        a) that loud cry was, “It is finished!”
        b) it was Jesus’ mission to be the sacrificial Lamb of God who
had come  to take away the sins of the world
    2. Listen to that purpose. (2 Cor. 5:21)
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we
might become the righteousness of God.
        a) Jesus had no sin of His own, but He took and had all of ours
        b) having paid the wages of our sin for us, He covers us with His
    3. Daily take refuge in His forgiveness.
        a) we daily sin much, and don’t try to deny that
        b) but daily we can find refuge in Jesus, in His victory, in His
love, in His forgiveness
    4. Eternally we will take refuge in glory.
        a) Jesus made sure that His mother and His disciple John had
arrangements to take care of their remaining time on earth
        b) He has done much more for them and for all of us
        c) He said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms - I am
going there to prepare a place for you - I will come back and take
you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

    Do you know why we can be sure of this?  It’s because after Jesus
said “It is finished” and after He died and after His body was given
refuge in a tomb, that tomb was not His final refuge.  He came out
alive and victorious.  He is our forgiveness, our resurrection and life.
    Yes, Jesus is the refuge of us the weary in this life.  And after our
lives on this earth come to an end, our tombs won’t be our final refuge
either.  Heaven is our home!  Jesus is our present and eternal refuge!

Monday, March 18, 2013

LENT 5 March 16-18, 2013 Pastor Timothy J. Spaude Text: Psalm 73

March 16-18, 2013
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Psalm 73


          Today we are going to meet a man who I’m sure we can all relate to. He’s like us in many ways. His name is Asaph and he’s the man God chose to write Psalm 73 in the Bible. Like you and me he was a regular church-goer. In fact he served as one of the chief musicians for his congregation. It was a large one. He was one of the three chief musicians for the Temple at the time of King David. Also like you and me, Asaph was a Christian. He was a man who recognized his sinfulness before God. Yet he believed in God’s promise of the Christ, the one who would save him from his sins. Like us he also tried to live his life in accordance with God’s commands as his way of thanking God. Asaph was also like you and me in another respect. He had a problem with his perception of  justice—a spiritual problem. Let’s personalize the problem by reading the first portion of Psalm 73 together.


{1} Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart.
{2} But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.
{3} For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
{4} They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong.
{5} They are free from the burdens common to man; they are not plagued by human ills.
{6} Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence.
{7} From their callous hearts comes iniquity; the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.
{8} They scoff, and speak with malice; in their arrogance they threaten oppression.
{9} Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.
{10} Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance.
{11} They say, "How can God know? Does the Most High have knowledge?"
{12} This is what the wicked are like-- always carefree, they increase in wealth.
{13} Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
{14} All day long I have been plagued; I have been punished every morning.

          Asaph had a problem. All believers have it at some time or another. Did you pick up on it? Asaph knew a fact in his heart. God is good to Israel. God is good to believers. The opposite is also true. God judges and punishes the wicked. God judges and punishes those who reject Him. These facts Asaph knew. But that’s not what Asaph saw. What Asaph saw was the prosperity of the wicked. They had wealth. They had health. They blatantly lived their lives in defiance of God and were proud of it. They didn’t seem to have any guilt over their sin. Instead they boasted about it and even spoke blasphemously against God. What’s worse it seemed their wickedness was the source of their wealth and prosperity. What was it that Asaph saw that hurt him so? Was it dishonest businessmen who cheated and stole and got wealth that way? Was it the priests of the false gods who promoted sexual immorality? We don’t know.
But we certainly can relate. We work hard for our money, try to scrimp and save. We feel like we just get by, live in modest homes and drive average cars. Others steal. They don’t even want to work and take advantage of us taxpayers. Those working in the sin industries of prostitution and pornography make more in a week than we do in month. We have more things than we need but the drug dealers the latest cars and electronics and lavish lifestyle. We try to do things the right way but the bullies at work, in the family, or at school always seems to get their way, the promotion, the popularity, schmoozing the people, working the system.
This, my friends, is the problem. It’s not so much that we suffer problems that bothers us. We expect that in an imperfect world. What we don’t expect and what does bother us is when we see the wicked, the immoral, the God-haters prosper. Something screams in us, “That’s not fair!” We know God is good to believers. We know He punishes those who hate Him but why don’t we see it? The problem of suffering leads us to the same place it led Asaph—to doubt of God. Anger against Him. Accusations that He isn’t loving or fair. Like Asaph our feet can almost slip into despair. We might feel that our loyalty to God has been misplaced. In vain we have kept our hearts pure. In vain we have striven after innocence. It’s the problem of injustice.
God loves us though, even though we have doubted Him, even though we’ve given Him every reason to treat us like the wicked. In love He has provided a way for us to understand what we see. It’s pointed out to us in the next section from Psalm 73. Please read with me verses 15-17.


{15} If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed your children.
{16} When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me
{17} till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

          The Holy Spirit testified in Asaph’s heart that his way of thinking was wrong. He knew that to speak against God was a betrayal. Yet trying to understand gave him no comfort. No matter which way Asaph looked at the situation it came out wrong. It just wasn’t fair. Finally Asaph did find understanding. He did find comfort. Did you pick out where? Asaph found it in the sanctuary of God. In the Temple. What was there? The Word! The Word of God. Remember in those days copies of the Scriptures were made by hand and hand made scrolls. Expensive. Precious. Rare. They were kept for use in the Temple. When Asaph went to God’s Word he found understanding.
          You and I do as well. You and I won’t find relief from the problem of suffering by looking at things rationally. We won’t find relief by trying to find someone who has it worse than we do. We find understanding only in God’s Word. That’s what I mean by saying the Church Year season of Lent helps us understand the problem of suffering. For when we look in the Word who do we see first and foremost? Jesus. The Son of God. Our Savior. When we look into the Word to see Jesus during Lent we see injustice. You want to see something that’s not fair? Look at Jesus. He’s the Son of God, the owner of all things. Yet on earth he looks poor and owns nothing. He is righteous and pure. Yet on earth He suffers for all sins. He loves all people. Yet on earth He is hated and resisted and mocked and tortured and spit on by the very people whose place He did take in Hell. That was not fair.
          But it was brilliant and loving. For God knew what He was doing after all. He had a plan. A great plan. A plan we can’t live without! Jesus for us. Jesus in our place. God’s Word gives us that understanding of why God allowed Jesus to experience injustice. God’s Word gives Asaph and us understanding to deal with injustice today. Let’s read about the solution to the problem of suffering it in the last section of Psalm 73.


{18} Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin.
{19} How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors!
{20} As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as
{21} When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
{22} I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
{23} Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
{24} You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
{25} Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
{26} My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
{27} Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
{28} But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will
         tell of all your deeds."

          There are unalterable truths that gave Asaph the solution to the problem of suffering and filled him with joy. They will do the same for us. The first is the fact that God will judge the wicked. It is patient kindness on God’s part that keeps Him from giving the wicked what they deserve now. He wants them to repent and be saved too. But make no mistake about it, the wicked, the God haters, will be judged. They will get the punishment of Hell. That’s part of the solution to the problem of suffering. Take a long term look at it. Never, never begrudge the wicked the wealth or limited happiness they have now. You know why? This is as good as it gets for them. We should pity them because when they die, not only are they forgotten her,e but they are forsaken by the God they forsook. They’ll be cast down to ruins. They’ll be completely swept by terrors. They experience an eternity of  pain and anguish in Hell. The wicked will be judged.
          But you won’t. You have God and God has you. That’s the second truth that provides the solution to the problem of injustice. Your faith and trust and allegiance to God is never in vain no matter what you see. God has a plan. A plan to take you to glory. A plan to hold you up and keep you from falling. Lent proves it with Jesus. It lets you see the way God works. It lets you see a masterfully loving God working according to a masterfully loving plan. That’s the solution. God knows what He’s doing. Always.
          There’s one more thing we need to learn from Asaph though. And that is the right response by Christians who have struggled with perceived injustice. The first part of the response is repentance. Asaph admitted he was being senseless and ignorant, a brute beast, when he let his heart become grieved and bitter against God. We should do the same. We have no right to cast aspersions on God’s love for us--not when He gave us His Son Jesus.  We are ignorant brutes when we doubt God. If you have been struggling with injustice and it has led you to doubt God, repent to Him. Tell Him you were wrong. He is not. Tell Him you are sorry. It’s the right thing to do. And then do the second part of the right response. Tell of the Lord’s good deeds. Praise Him. Tell others how He brought you through like Asaph did. It’s the right thing to do. In fact, let’s do it right now. Let’s praise God using the musical setting of Psalm 73 as it’s found on page 94 in your Hymnal. Amen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

March 10, 2013 - Lent 4
Sermon by Pastor Paul G. Eckert
Sermon text - Luke 15:1-3,11-32, with Philippians 2:5-11

    Because of the length of the text I did not read it first before this
sermon.  Instead I’ll read it in portions as we go along.  The opening
verses are: Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering
around to hear him.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law
muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Then Jesus told them this parable: ----.  After this we skip some
verses that speak of shorter parables until we come to the long one we
often refer to as the prodigal son parable. 
    What is a parable?  The purpose of a parable is to teach something
using a picture, an illustration.  Let’s listen and learn now from the
prodigal son parable and see a most wonderful reality.
    1. The father was very good to his son. (11-12)
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.  The
younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the
estate.’ So he divided his property between them.”
        a) we could question this father’s wisdom
        b) but not his love that gave what maybe he shouldn’t have
    2. The son was not very good at all. (13-16)
“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set
off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild
living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine
in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went
and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to
his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods
that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.”
        a) his goal? to get most out of life, what his desires wanted
        b) obviously had not taken to heart what Jesus said (Mt. 16:26):
“What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet
forfeits his soul?”
    3. Our heavenly Father has been good to us.
        a) God so loved the world that He gave His Son
        b) this He did freely in His amazing correct love and wisdom
    4. What do we often do with His goodness?
        a) we see God’s goodness also in His creation, in the many good
things available to us, the comforts and joys of life
        b) but do we put that first, forget about our God who loves us?
        c) let’s be honest: what is daily most important to us - the world?
    1. The son was ready to return. (17-20a)
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s
hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I
will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I
have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer
worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired
men.’  So he got up and went to his father.”     
        a) this son finally woke up
        b) he recognized he was wrong, he repented, acknowledged it
    2. There was a joyful reunion. (20b-24)
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was
filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms
around him and kissed him.  The son said to him, ‘Father, I have
sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to
be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick!
Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and
sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a
feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive
again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
        a) the father didn’t say, “you made your choice, live with it”   
        b) instead he welcomed him back - what a dad!
    3. What hard knocks does it take to wake us up?
        a) think wrongful use of sex, abuse of drinking and drugs, pursuit
of money and popularity, etc. the way to go?
        b) they can’t help you when death comes knocking
    4. Look at our heavenly Father’s love!
        a) even if we had no major outward flaws, we all have sin
        b) what does God do when we acknowledge sin, repent?
        c) He forgives for Jesus’ sake - what a Father!
    1. He had stayed comfortably at home. (25-27)
“Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near
the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the
servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has
come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’”
        a) apparently hadn’t lived like his brother
        b) maybe he was like us as church members, going along with the
routine, taking what we have here for granted       
    2. He stressed what he thought he had earned. (28-30)
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his
father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his
father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never
disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat
so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours
who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home,
you kill the fattened calf for him!’”
        a) he thought he had earned by his behavior, father owed him
        b) he resented a father who had grace, who received his brother
    3. The father still showed love. (31-32)
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and
everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad,
because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was
lost and is found.’”
        a) his love was for both, wanted both of them
        b) did this brother accept this, or go on resenting this?   
    4. Our heavenly Father also reaches out to us.
        a) actually we are like both brothers
        b) we are sinners by our actions, and by our thinking
        c) but our heavenly Father’s grace is for us too
    1. God’s Son went way down (son 1), but without sin. (5-8)
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who,
being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God
something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the
very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And
being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and
became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
        a) He came from mansions of heaven to death on earth
        b) but He failed in neither actions nor thoughts
    2. The Father rightfully exalted Him. (9)
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the
name that is above every name, ---.
        a) as the perfect substitute sacrifice He won the victory
        b) He is the only Savior - positively no one else exists who paid
for our sins and who defeated death that we might have true life
    3. Let’s all be penitent sons and daughters. (Luke 15:21)
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and
against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
        a) let us acknowledge our unworthiness, repent
        b) then rejoice that we can say with the Apostle John, “How
great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be
called children of God!”
    4. And praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  (10-11; Luke 15:32)
--- that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and
on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus
Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
        a) openly confess what you believe
“‘But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of
yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
        b) be glad - though you don’t have everything the world offers
        c) we lost sinners can come to our heavenly Father’s open arms
and because of our Savior will enjoy the riches and beauty of heaven!