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Heavenly Beggars

Heavenly Beggars
January 22, 2017
Word of Life, Naperville, IL
Matthew 5:3

God’s Grace and Peace to you from our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Let me start with asking a question, when a beggar asks for money do you: Never give, Sometimes give, Always give?

I am sure that many thoughts go through your mind during this time. We often struggle when dealing with the needs of the poor. So, when poor are mentioned in the Bible, do we quickly try to turn the page so that we don’t have to struggle?

Well today, Jesus mentions the poor in the Gospel reading. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

What is Jesus trying to teach us in this passage and the rest of the Scriptures? Well let’s take a closer look, instead of turning the page and moving on. Here is Matthew’s version of Jesus’ sermon on the mount. But there seems to be a difference with Luke’s account of the same sermon. I don’t think they are in disagreement, rather that Mathew and Luke have a different audience in mind. Matthew spells it out in more detail, poor in spirit.

Not Poor, but Poor in Spirit
We often think: Whoever is rich or powerful is completely blessed by God
On the other hand, whoever is poor and miserable is rejected and condemned before God. 

But we need to reject this distinction that world brings. Because as James notes in his epistle:

James 2:1–4 (ESV)
2 My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2 For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3 and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4 have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

Being poor or being wealthy or middle class is a gift from God. If God has blessed you with many great, if God has bless you will little, great, because God has blessed you. When we consider ourselves living in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, compared the Gold Cost or Lake Forest, we may consider ourselves poor. But when compared to the rest of the world, especially when we consider the many who live in 3rd world nations, we are extremely rich. Christ, cherishes each person living in 3rd World countries, living in lower Wacker dr., living in Aurora/Naperville area all the same. We are the one that make the distinctions.
In the 4th petition of the Lord’s Prayer Luther reminds us that that God Blesses all evil people. With the purpose of this petition is that we praise Christ for the blessings that He has given us.

So let’s go to Isaiah 66:2 (ESV)
2  All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things came to be,
declares the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit
and trembles at my word.
If I am paraphrase here, the blessings come from Christ. But what is Christ looking for…the poor in spirit.

We are beggars this is true, was found in Luther’s coat when he died. It is assumed it is the last word he ever wrote. This is what it means to be poor in Sprit. We are in need of Christ’s grace in our lives.

Kleinig notes: Luther, therefore, does not envisage the spiritual life as a process of self-development, but as a process of reception from the triune God. This process of reception turns proud, self-sufficient individuals into humble beggars before God.

Beggars in need of Christ’s mercy, because as the Psalmist notes of us:
Psalm 51:17 (ESV)
17  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Christ is look at the heart, do you really need Christ and His forgiveness?

Kleinig continues: We do not, as we follow Jesus, become increasingly self-sufficient. Rather, we learn, bit by bit, the art of begging from God the Father, until at our death we can do nothing but say, “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me!”

The Art of Begging, saying Lord, have Mercy. Someone who know that they need Christ. No just for one simple handout. Not enough to just get started and then I will take care of it on my own.

But as Kleinig notes:
In our human lives, growing up involves the gradual shift from dependence to independence. But the reverse is true for us as we grow spiritually.

While I am looking forward to the time when my wife and I are empty nesters, Christ’s isn’t. Just the opposite, Christ is want us to be daily dependent upon Him alone.

There was a cliché many years ago in the Christian church: FROG Fully Rely On God. It is great to teach for Sunday School. The cliché can only say so much. What I like better is:

Morning Prayer by Luther
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.

Notice the dependence Luther brings in this pray. Christ does the work, and without Christ we are nothing.

So when beggars come before Christ:
Christ always gives of Himself

Let me close with the words from the Introduction to the Lutheran Service Book it says the following:
Our Lord is the Lord who serves. Jesus Christ came into the flesh not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.…Our Lord serves us today through His holy Word and Sacraments. Through these means, He comes among us to deliver His forgiveness and salvation, freeing us from our sins and strengthening us for service to one another and to the world.

In His name, Amen.

Written by dballa

January 29, 2017 at 9:11 am

Posted in Sermons

Christ Unites Us

Christ Unites Us
January 22, 2017
Word of Life, Naperville, IL

1 Corinthians 1:10–18

Here we have it, even in St. Paul’s day, a division in the church. Should this surprise us, well for those who have ever been to many church meetings, the answer may be that we are not surprised. Why many will ask, God creates each of us a little different. Those differences often clash with one another, especially when we remember in Genesis 3 and Adam and Eve sinned against God, and that all humanity has this sin. Romans 5:18 (ESV) 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. So why should be we surprised that when a bunch of sinners get together, there will be divisions. You could say it is in our nature.

Since God used St. Paul to writes the words of Roman 5:18, why would God have St. Paul write 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV), the opening words of Today’s Epistle reading: 10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.
So, let’s unpack the reason why, St. Paul could write these words, for our nature is indeed sinful. We start with what they were being divided over. St. Paul notes that it is surrounding Holy Baptism. The people were baptized into Christ, but for some their focus was upon the person that God used to perform the baptism.

So, we go to Luther’s Small Catechism for a little help, What is Baptism? Baptism is not just plain water, but it is the water included in God’s command and combined with God’s word. Please notice there is nothing about the person who is performing the baptism. It is about God’s promise, not man’s doing. St. Paul clearly is trying to take the focus of the division, from whom performed the baptism, to the one who is truly doing the work in Holy Baptism, Christ Jesus.

What benefits does Baptism give, as Luther notes? It works forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.
Notice who is doing the work. St. Paul, didn’t die on the cross to forgive sins, to rescue us from death and the devil. Nor does St. Paul give eternal salvation, but Christ Jesus did these things.
Christ Jesus through His death on the cross accomplished the forgiveness of sin for the whole world. We receive this forgiveness through Holy Baptism, and we are changed. Did you hear the changed part? I know as Lutheran we don’t like change. But notice what Luther again says in the Small Catechism about Baptism:
What does such baptizing with water indicate?
It indicates that the Old Adam (The Old Adam is that Sinful human nature we have) in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily emerge and arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written? St. Paul writes in Romans chapter six: “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom. 6:4)

How can St. Paul appeal to the people of Corinth and us not to have divisions among us? St. Paul reminds us that there should be no divisions, that we are in Christ. And tossing in Luther, that we Old Adam (The Old Adam is that Sinful human nature we have) in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires. Daily we confess that we have sinned and that we are sinners, with the key word being repentance, that is turning back from our rebellious nature toward Christ and His forgives for us and Christ’s forgiveness for others around us.
Is this easy, by no means, as Luther reminds us in the explanation of the 3rd Article of the Apostles’ creed.
I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers..

Here Luther reminds us that we can’t, but it is Christ, who call us, just like Christ called His disciples in the Gospel. Like our Epistle reading it is not I follow, it is Christ who calls. What did Jesus say, Matthew 4:19 (ESV) 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Who is doing the work, Christ. Who calls us, gathers us, into Himself, through Holy Baptism. Christ continues to call and gather us through His Word, which we receive here as Word of Life every Sunday.
The Book of Concord reminds us “For where Christ is not preached, there is no Holy Spirit to create, call, and gather the Christian church, apart from which no one can come to the Lord Christ.”

So Christ takes our many divisions, our many sins and heals us, through His Word and Sacraments. So yes, St. Paul can call us to account:
1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)
10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.

For Christ Unites Us.

Written by dballa

January 22, 2017 at 12:30 am

Posted in Sermons

The Glory of Christ’s Name Upon us

The Glory of Christ’s Name Upon us

January 1, 2017
First Sunday of Christmas
King of Glory Lutheran Church
36W720 Hopps Rd, Elgin, IL 60123

Summary: We rejoice that the name first given to Jesus the Christ at His circumcision is placed upon us in Holy Baptism which makes us Holy, a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.

An enthusiastic group of 20-somethings from Immanuel Church of the Nazarene in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, recently gathered to share what they love about their congregation. One noted the modern worship music and relevant messages at Sunday morning services. Another said the spiritual depth of the community challenges her to follow Jesus. Still another mentioned the friendships built during a mission trip.
When one 22-year-old offered her two-word answer, every head nodded. It wasn’t the name of a program, but a person: Bill Wallace.
Whether he’s attending their Bible study, showing up to a basketball game, or simply saying “hello” in the hallway, Wallace has made it his mission to ensure that young people know they matter.
Wallace is 76 years old.
Remembering a childhood when adults failed to show up for his important events, Wallace resolved that no young person at Immanuel would experience the same on his watch. Now Wallace and a cadre of senior adults keep showing up—not only at church, but all over town—to cheer on young people and remind them that they have a family at Immanuel.
What is so special about a name? We like it when people remember our name, we feel valued and important. It is who we are. But as the illustration of Bill Wallace notes that we make feel alone and forgotten, in this world, when people ignore us, fail to remember our name and are absent during key times of our lives.
But notice that our Old Testament reading for today doesn’t leave us there. But shows us a different view of how God, through Jesus Christ looks at us.
Isaiah 62:2 (ESV) you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. The Word of God through Isaiah shows that we have a new name. And we receive that new name when we were baptized. During Holy Baptism God’s name is placed upon us through the water connected by God’s Promise.

Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV)
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Notice the belonging, never forgotten message at the end. I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Bill Wallace wasn’t doing anything innovative, but following the patter that Christ has already laid out in Holy Baptism.

Notice that Isaiah noted that this was from the mouth of the Lord. And if you have one of those red letter editions, what show Christ’s words in red, you know that, Jesus is speaking, by what the text says, and by they are in red. For Christ is God, who speaks these words.

Isaiah then notes the results of God’s name being placed upon you. 62:3 (ESV) You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
If I may go a little beyond our text Isaiah 62:4 (ESV) You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her…
Even when other are not there for us, or disappoint us, Christ will not forget us as Isaiah noted, Because God’s name is upon us.

Welcome to the First Sunday of Christmas, also Jan 1st, which is also the Feast of the Circumcision of our Lord. It is the Circumcision of our Lord where Jesus was named. It is the 8th day of His Birth, as prescribed by God’s Word. Where Jesus is given His Name.

Matthew 1:20–23 (ESV)
20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

So as Chirst takes on Human flesh and blood as we see at the first Chirstmas, He takes on that flesh and blood in order to redeem all flesh and blood, but taking on the sin of flesh and blood and in exchange He give us His holiness His Righteousness. So when Jesus dies on Calvery’s cross He takes our sinfulness and restores to us His perfect holiness. This is call the great exchange. Our sins, for His holiness.

Isaiah notes this 61:10 (ESV) I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

St. Paul makes the connection with Baptism in Galatians 3:27 (ESV) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
So, during these 12 Days of Christmas we remember that Christ who so wonderfully created us and in His incarnation yet more wondrously restored our human nature, which we receive through Holy Baptism.

So as Isaiah puts it we Greatly Rejoice, in His Name Amen.

Written by dballa

January 1, 2017 at 9:45 am

Posted in Sermons