Sermon for 01.15.22 “A most important question”

EPIPHANY 2, JANUARY 15, 2023 Text: John 1:29–42a Theme: A most important
question Other Lessons: Isaiah 49:1–7; Psalm 40:1–11; 1 Corinthians 1:1–9
A. In the Name of the Father…Amen. B. The Gospel lesson serves as our
sermon text for this morning. C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God
our heavenly Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. D. Dear
brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray: LSB 527:1 O Savior, Precious
Savior O Savior, precious Savior, Whom yet unseen we love; O name of might
and favor, All other names above, We worship Thee, we bless Thee, To Thee,
O Christ, we sing; We praise Thee and confess Thee, Our holy Lord and King.
Amen. Text: Public domain Introduction A. It’s difficult to determine which
of these two questions of Christ is the more important: 1. “What are you
seeking?” or 2. “Who do you say I am?” 3. The first comes early in Jesus’
earthly ministry and the second in the midst of his ministry. 4. One is
spoken to two who would then begin to follow him, and the other is spoken
to his disciples following years of discipleship. 5. One seems to be
applicable to life in general and the other to saving faith in particular.
6. Both are significant questions to be answered by every follower of
Christ. B. Today’s text draws our attention to the importance of Christ’s
first question, the one addressed to his would-be disciples: 1. “What Are
You Seeking?” C. The would-be disciples to whom Jesus directs this question
are actually already disciples of John the Baptist. 1. John’s original
crowds of hearers were certainly seeking something. A. By this point,
John’s call for repentance and Baptism had gathered a large following. 1.
John was all the buzz. A. He had devoted disciples hanging on his every
word. B. His message had struck a nerve. C. Hundreds, perhaps thousands,
were hearing his preaching and confessing their sins. 2. He was
accomplishing his mission: A. people were eager for the Savior! B. Many
were even asking whether John himself might be that Messiah. B. Then one
day, John turned every head away from himself and declared, “Behold, the
Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (verse 29). 1. There’s
the one whom you should follow: Jesus (verses 30–34). A. At Jesus’ Baptism,
the Holy Spirit as a dove had descended on Jesus as the signal to John. B.
Jesus would be much greater than John, for he was “before” John even though
he was the younger cousin. C. Announcing Jesus to be the Messiah was the
whole purpose of John’s ministry. 2. It was time! A. Jesus must increase.
B. John must decrease. Two of John’s disciples therefore leave John to
follow Jesus (verses 35–37). 3. One of them was Andrew; A. the other may
well have been the Gospel writer John himself. 4. This was entirely
appropriate, just as the Baptist intended. C. Faithful Jews had long been
seeking the Messiah for a very long time. 1. They were seeking a messiah
who: A. Would bring freedom from the oppressive Romans. B. Would restore
Jerusalem and Jewish power back to the Jews. C. Would heal sicknesses,
which were signs of God’s judgment. 2. They were seeking the Messiah all
right, A. They just did not know what kind of messiah they were looking
for. 3. Therefore the question must be asked: A. “What are you seeking?” 2.
In fact, all of humanity are seeking something— they just don’t know what.
A. Since most people don’t know what they’re really seeking, their best
worst guess is to seek it in four areas: 1. Power A. with power I can have
anything I want. B. If I have to step on people to get what I want, so be
it! 2. Wealth A. money, too, can buy almost anything, certainly plenty of
nice things I can name. B. Money can buy me love! 3. Knowledge A. it isn’t
just for knowledge’s sake, but to impress others, control others, solve the
world’s problems and my own. B. Look at how smart and enlightened I am! 4.
Popularity A. I like people to like me . . . B. and I like what certain
people can give me if they like me. C. It’s all about making and keeping
people happy! D. Therefore I must be a people pleaser! 5. But all of these
lead to a living death. B. Without knowing it, what most people are really
seeking is deliverance from sin and all its effects: 1. Seeking a sense of
identity A. sin confuses me as to my relationships with others and where I
fit into the big picture. 1. I am the center of the universe! 2. Seeking a
sense of security A. sin means I’m going to get sick, B. lose my vitality,
C. perhaps even lose my nest egg. D. Therefore: 1. I need to stay healthy
2. I need to amass as much wealth as possible E. But, finally, I’m going to
die. 3. Seeking meaning and purpose A. Since I’m going to die, what can
really come of anything I do? 1. Perhaps it’s best that I “eat, drink, and
be merry, for tomorrow I may die!” 3. What we’re really seeking, God
provides in the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. A. God
calls us to repent of all those “best worst guesses”—which are really false
gods. 1. Power, A. The lust for power demands one get more power. 2. Wealth
A. The desire for wealth means I need to have more of it. B. I will also
need to safeguard my wealth. 3. Knowledge A. Knowledge is power! B. For who
doesn’t like a smart person? 4. Popularity. A. How can I be noticed unless
I am the most popular? B. Or as it was said during our college days: BMOC
(Big Man On Campus) 5. Confessing these to be false gods, sins against God
and one another, we realize that what we really seek is the One who can
take away sins. B. If we’re clear on what we’re seeking, we’ll see that
those two disciples are headed in the right direction (verses 38–39). Jesus
the Christ is the Anointed One of God bringing reconciliation with the
Father. Through his obedience, passion, death, and resurrection, he: 1.
Restores our identity as redeemed children of God A. with sin that
alienated me from God and others forgiven, B. I belong to him, which also
means I belong with others who are his. 2. Restores our security A. having
reconciled me to himself by removing my sin, B. God holds me securely,
while I live and when I die, whatever else may be uncertain. 3. Restores
our meaning and purpose A. since now death isn’t the end, my labors for
God’s kingdom have lasting, eternal value. C. Like Andrew, we go to tell
others of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (verses
40–42). 1. Bringing others also to know forgiveness and everlasting life A.
Therein is our purpose! B. Therein lies, dear brothers and sisters in
Christ, eternal value! Conclusion A. It was not that long ago that
congregations were offering “seeker services” in addition to their regular
or traditional services. 1. The thinking was that those who do not know
Christ can be attracted to a god that offers answers to their temporal
needs A. financial security, B. lasting relationships, C. and so on. B. In
reality, all Christian worship is a seeker service. 1. Our seeking in
worship is characterized by an attitude stated by the prophet Jeremiah: A.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart”
(Jeremiah 29:13). 2. This attitude finds its source in our thirst for God
as expressed in Psalm 63: A. “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary
land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). 3. This seeking is commanded by
Christ in his words recorded in Luke 12: A. “Seek his kingdom, and these
things will be added to you” (Luke 12:31). 4. And seeking is motivated by
Jesus’ promise in Luke 11: A. “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to
you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For
everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who
knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10). C. “What are you seeking?” Jesus
asked the two disciples of John who were following him (John 1:38). 1. And,
of course, the “what” is really a “who.” 2. May all of our worship be
seeker services! D. What are you seeking from Jesus? 1. Is deliverance from
all the effects of sin that which you seek? A. If it is, then that second
important question has become the one needs to be answered next. B. We need
the One who takes away our sin, the sin that causes the world and everyone
affected by it with so much suffering. C. But John has already answered
that question in our text, too, hasn’t he?! D. “Who do you say that I am?”
Jesus will later ask his disciples. E. And John answered: 1. Jesus is the
Lamb of God, who does exactly what we need. 2. He takes away the sin of the
world. Amen. E. Let us pray: LSB 512:7 At the Name of Jesus Glory then to
Jesus, Who, the Prince of light, To a world in darkness Brought the gift of
sight; Praise to God the Father; In the Spirit’s love Praise we all
together Him who reigns above. Amen. Text: Public domain F. The peace of
God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen. G. In the Name of the Father…Amen.

Sermon for 01.01.23 “Free from the guardian”


Text: Galatians 3:23–29
Theme: Free from the guardian
Other Lessons: Numbers 6:22–27; Psalm 8; Luke 2:21

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be your from God our heavenly Father through our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 898:5 The Ancient Law Departs
All praise, eternal Son,
For Thy redeeming love
With Father, Spirit, ever one
In glorious might above.
Text: Public domain


A. It is the end of a year and the beginning of a new one.
1. Our thoughts may be on the past year and its joys, sorrows,
accomplishments, and sins, or on the year ahead and our hopes for it.
2. It doesn’t matter that this date is somewhat arbitrary for reckoning a
new year, or that calendars have changed in human history.
3. At least this day reminds us of the passing of time.
4. Those who are not Christian come to this day, and sometimes they lament
and curse the year past for their unhappiness, and they hope to be happy in
the year to come.
5. They lament over the fact of all the celebrities who have died, that war
is still rampant, that change is not happening like what they want it to,
6. Christians, however, should use this day to remember that their days and
years are in God’s hands,
A. to give thanks for his blessings in the past year,
B. to repent of their past sins,
C. and to pray for God’s future blessing.
D. It is a good night and a good day for us Christians.
B. The Judaizers, no better than that of the pagans, had backed Paul in a
1. He had just finished proving from the Old Testament in Galatians 1-2
that God’s plan of salvation left no room for the works of the law.
2. But the fact that Paul quoted six times from the Old Testament raised a
serious problem:
A. If salvation does not involve the law, then why was the law given in the
first place?
B. Paul quoted from the law to prove the insignificance of the law.
C. If the law is now set aside, then his very arguments are worthless
because they are taken from the law.
1. Are Christians obligated to obey the entire Law of Moses?

A. The Epistle for today has nothing to do with the New Year.
1. It does, however, say something about today’s festival, the Circumcision
and Name of Our Lord.
2. On the eighth day after his birth, our Lord was given the name Jesus and
was circumcised, in order to fulfill the Law of Moses.
3. Now here in Galatians 3, St. Paul is writing against the false apostles,
those who were teaching that in order to be saved, you have to keep the Law
of Moses, particularly the ceremony of circumcision.
4. Is circumcision still an obligation for Christians?
5. If so, are Christians obligated to obey the Law of Moses in all its
A. the Ten Commandments,
B. dietary laws,
C. circumcision,
D. and the like?
2. The false apostles’ argument makes salvation dependent on human efforts.

A. Those false apostles had a pretty strong argument.
1. Jesus was circumcised, after all.
2. And God commanded circumcision to Abraham and had it written down by
3. Circumcision was the sacramental sign of God’s people.
4. So if the non-Jewish people, the Gentiles, want to be saved, they would
have to join God’s people, and that would mean they have to become Jewish
and be circumcised.
5. They would have to keep the Law of Moses.
6. That’s how their argument ran.
7. It’s a rather attractive argument, and even in our day, some Christians
think the same thing.
8. But it’s completely wrong.
9. It makes salvation dependent on our performance of the Law of Moses, and
takes away salvation as God’s free gift.
10. So Paul argues against the false apostles, and Galatians is Paul’s
masterpiece, in which he demotes the Law of Moses and proves that salvation
is through faith in Jesus Christ, not through the works of the Law.
B. When we Lutherans say “Law,” that usually means the eternal will of God
for our behavior:
1. which functions as:
A. a curb,
B. a mirror,
C. and a rule,
D. and which is written in the hearts of mankind.
2. That is, we usually mean the moral law of God, which is also the natural
A. But in the Bible, “Law” often means the Law of Moses in the broad
sense—the first five books of the Old Testament.
B. “Law” in the broad sense is how the false apostles at Galatia were using
the word “Law”: everything that God spoke to Moses, that’s the Law.
C. It includes:
1. the eternal, moral law,
2. the ceremonies of the tabernacle,
3. and the civil ordinances of ancient Israel.
4. And that brings us to Paul’s main point.
3. The Law of Moses is not the way of salvation. Instead points to the way
of salvation.

A. Paul’s main point is what we hear in Galatians 2:15–16:
1. “We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know
that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in
Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be
justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works
of the law no one will be justified.”
B. In chapter 3, then, he proves what he said, both from Scripture and from
the experience of the Galatians.
1. But the false apostles had what seemed to be a strong argument:
A. “The Law of Moses was given by God; therefore you have to do it.”
2. Yes, says St. Paul, God gave it, and it is holy and good, but only if
you use it the right way.
A. The Law of Moses was never meant to be a way of salvation.
3. Instead, it points you to the way of salvation.
A. It does this in two ways:
1. First, the Law of Moses has prophecies and types of Christ and of our
salvation through faith in him—his life, death, and resurrection.
2. Second, the Law of Moses has the moral law, such as the Ten
Commandments, which reveals our sin, and curses and damns all sinners.
3. It shows us our need for Christ the Savior.
4. So indeed the Law points to Christ, both by prophesying and by damning.
4. Since Christ has come to you, you are now free from the guardian.

A. This is shown by the example of a “guardian,” or disciplinarian.
1. In our Epistle, Paul gives this example of the right use of the Law.
A. “Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned
until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian
until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now
that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (verses 23–25).
2. The Law of Moses was our guardian, or daisciplinarian.
A. The Greek word is paidagogos, which is where we get the word
B. It doesn’t mean a teacher of children, though.
C. A pedagogue was a slave in charge of disciplining the sons.
D. He would lead them to school and make sure they behaved, and if they
didn’t, he would punish them.
E. A pedagogue, a guardian, a disciplinarian—that’s what the Law was.
F. It’s good, it’s given by God, but it was never meant to be a way of
salvation for sinners.
G. God set forth the Law through Moses to do the opposite:
1. not to save,
2. but to discipline,
3. to reveal sins,
4. to rebuke,
5. to curse,
6. and to damn.
H. By doing so, all our excuses are removed, and all we can do is confess
ourselves guilty before the holy God and pray for forgiveness.
I. The guardian points to the way of salvation.
1. We cannot be saved by obeying the Law of Moses, because we cannot obey
the Law of Moses perfectly.
B. Thanks be to God, you are now free from the guardian.
1. Faith has come, that is,
A. “the word of faith that we proclaim” (Romans 10:8).
B. This proclamation has gone out into all the world.
C. The message of Christ’s person and saving work has come to you, and
through it, the Holy Spirit has created faith in your heart.
D. So you are now free from the guardian.
E. You’re not a little kid anymore; you have grown up in Christ.
F. You are no longer under a guardian.
5. So rather than being under the Law (that is, coerced and condemned),
Christians walk in the Law (that is, freely loving what God commands, freed
from condemnation).
A. What does all of this mean?
1. Two things:
A. First, the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel are not applicable to
1. They have served their purpose and are no longer in effect, now that
faith has come.
B. Second, even though the moral law, such as the Ten Commandments, is
still God’s will for our behavior, as it always has been (forever and
ever), its curse has been removed through Christ.
1. Christ:
A. obeyed the Law perfectly,
B. loved God perfectly,
C. and shed his blood as an innocent sacrifice—the first blood of which was
his circumcision.
D. Yes, with Jesus’ circumcision, we see a prefiguring of his blood being
poured out on the cross.
2. So you are no longer under the Law, under its curse.
A. Instead, with the Holy Spirit within you:
B. you now walk in the Law of the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:21),
C. and in his Law, we are drawn and called to meditate day and night (Psalm
B. Through Christ:
1. We Are Free of the Ceremonies,
2. Civil Ordinances,
3. and Condemnation of the Law of Moses,
4. but We as Christians Do Not Set Aside God’s Commands but Walk in the Law
of the Lord.
C. Not under the Law,
1. but in it,
2. because you are in Christ,
3. were baptized into Christ,
4. and have put on Christ.
5. You are free from the guardian, for faith has come.


A. Dearly beloved, in this new year of the Lord, be comforted
1. by the kindness of him
2. and give thanks to him, who became your Brother in the womb of the
Virgin Mary and fulfilled the Law for you, including circumcision, in order
to establish your salvation securely.
3. To him be glory forever. Amen.
B. Let us pray:
LSB 382:1 We Praise You, Jesus, at Your Birth
We praise You, Jesus, at Your birth
Clothed in flesh You came to earth.
The virgin bears a sinless boy
And all the angels sing for joy.
Alleluia! Amen.
Text: © 2006 Concordia Publishing House. Used by permission: LSB Hymn
License no. 110000247
C. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
D. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for 12.24.22 “Promises made, promises kept”

Sermon for Christmas Eve 2022

Text: Luke 1:38-56
Theme: Promises made, promises kept

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The text for our consideration this evening is the Gospel of Luke,
chapter 1, verses 38-56, which was read earlier.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 933:1 My Soul Rejoices
My soul rejoices,
My spirit voices—
Sing the greatness of the Lord!
For God my Savior
Has shown me favor—
Sing the greatness of the Lord!
With praise and blessing,
Join in confessing
God, who is solely
Mighty and holy—
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!
His mercy surely
Shall rest securely
On all who fear Him,
Love and revere Him—
O sing the greatness of God the Lord!
Text: © 1991 Stephen P. Starke, admin. Concordia Publishing House. Used by
permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110000247


A. Have you ever taken a walk or driven somewhere just to take in the
sights, sounds, smells, etc. of the day?
B. Tonight’s series of short homilies will be like that walk or drive.
1. In preparation for the yearly festival of Christmas, where we remember
the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, let us for a few moments
stop and think, to ponder anew on the promises God has given us as
believers that find their fulfillment in Christ.

Promises made, promises kept (part 1)

Promise #1: Promise of the Savior

Luke 1:37-38, 45
(37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”
(38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me
according to your word.” And the angel departed from her…
(45) And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of
what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
A. Only God can make this or any other promise to Mary or us and keep it.
1. Why? God is able to do so and has the power to back up His promises.
B. The Lord seeks to bless His people with the Savior.
1. The Lord is not hungry for power or vindictive;
2. He longs to use His power to bless us with everything that is perfect,
holy, and good.
Promise #2: Promises of physical and spiritual blessings.

A. Psalm 37:3
(3) Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend
1. Trust in the Lord–> He never fails us!
2. Do good by helping others along the way.
B. Proverbs 3:5-6
(5) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own
(6) In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
1. God gives you blessings wherever you are.
2. Example: Short story of my car breaking down while attending seminary.
Promise #3: Promise of unlimited blessings.
A. Psalm 31:19
(19) How great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear
You; You have worked for those who trust in You before the sons of men!
1. God blesses us with faith, trusting in Him for salvation!

B. 2 Chronicles 20:6
(6) and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You
rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and
might, so that none is able to withstand you.
1. God has all things and I mean all things under His control!
→ We sing the hymn.
Promise #4: Promise of prayers answered.
A. 1 Kings 18:37-38
(37) Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O
LORD, are the true God and that you are winning back their allegiance.”
(38) Then fire from the LORD fell from the sky. It consumed the offering,
the wood, the stones, and the dirt, and licked up the water in the trench.
B. Luke 1:13
(13) But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your
prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son; you
will name him John.
1. This then is the prayer of faith: Thy will be done, O Lord, and not
mine. Do to me what You see as best. Amen.
Promise #5: Promise of spiritual fullness.
A. John 10:9-11
(9) I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will
come in and go out, and find pasture.
(10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so
that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.
(11) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the
B. John 14:6
(6) Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one
comes to the Father except through me.
1. In these verses, there are three “I Am” statements:
A. They describe of who Christ is and what He does.
B. These verses take us back to what we hear in Exodus 3 (Moses and the
burning bush; “I Am” was first used).
C. Jesus is Life and He gives life!
Promise #6: Promise of spiritual light in the darkness.
A. John 1:4-5
(4) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
(5) And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not
overtake it.
B. John 9:5
(5) As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.
1. Christ is the Light of the world and in Him there is no darkness at all!
2. What is the purpose of the Light?:
A. To expose our sins
B. Provide the remedy that is needed
→ We sing the hymn.
Promise #7: Promise of power for service.
A. Matthew 5:16
(16) Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.
B. James 2:17-18
(17) Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself.
(18) But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your
faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works.
1. The power to believe in the Lord comes from God himself!
2. The power to do good comes from God Himself (the power of the Holy
Spirit) working through our faith!
Promise #8: Promise of eternal life in heaven for those who trust in Christ.
A. We know what John 3:16 says, but what about John 3:14-15 and 17-18?
B. John 3:14-15, 17-18
(14) But even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so
must the Son of Man be lifted up,
(15) so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have
everlasting life.
(17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but
so that the world might be saved through Him.
(18) He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe
is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the
only-begotten Son of God.
C. John 5:24
(24) Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My Word and believes on Him
who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but
has passed from death to life.
1. Without Christ, there is no salvation.
2. Without Christ, you have absolutely nothing.
3. With Christ, there is no condemnation.
4. With Christ, you have everything.
Promise #9: Promise of salvation (tied in with promise #8).
A. 1 Corinthians 1:18, 27-31
(18) For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost,
but to us being saved, it is the power of God.
(27) But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the
wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the
things which are mighty;
(28) and God has chosen the base things of the world, and things which are
despised, and things which are not, in order to bring to nothing things
that are;
(29) so that no flesh should glory in His presence.
(30) But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who of God is made to us wisdom
and righteousness and sanctification and redemption;
(31) so that, according as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory
in the Lord.”
B. Matthew 28:18-20
(18) And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All authority is given to
Me in Heaven and in earth.
(19) Therefore go and teach 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 things, whatever I commanded you. And,
behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the world. Amen.
C. 2 Corinthians 8:9
(9) For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was
rich, for your sakes He became poor, in order that you might be made rich
through His poverty.
D. Matthew 7:24-27
(24) Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will
liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock.
(25) And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the winds blew and
beat on that house. And it did not fall, for it was founded on a rock.
(26) And everyone who hears these sayings of Mine and does not do them
shall be compared to a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
(27) And the rain came down, and the floods came, and the wind blew and
beat on that house. And it fell, and great was its fall.
1. Don’t be ashamed of God and His Word!
2. This Word (Law and Gospel) is for ALL people, not for a select few.
3. Make sure your foundation is secure, grounded in the Rock and not the
4. The Lord has blessed us with the best gift anyone could have ever given:
A. Jesus Christ Himself, true Man, born of Mary, True God, born of heaven!
B. Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Amen.
E. Let us pray:
LSB 384:5 Of the Father’s Love Begotten
Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore. Amen.
Text: Public domain
F. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
G. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
→ We sing the hymn.


Sermon for 12.25.22 “The Lord has bared His holy arm”


Text: Isaiah 52:7–10
Theme: The Lord Has Bared His Holy Arm
Other Lessons: Psalm 2; Hebrews 1:1–6 (7–12); John 1:1–14 (15–18)

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.

B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.

C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:

LSB 384:1 Of the Father’s Love Begotten

Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore. Amen.


A. “The Lord has bared his holy arm” (Isaiah 52:10).
1. He has revealed His Son, Jesus, to the world!

B. Matthias Flacius Illyricus (a defender of Luther’s teaching in the
sixteenth century) says that in the Scriptures “arm” means the following:

1. First, since men have their strength and instrument of actions in their
arms, therefore by metaphor this word is transferred to all power, might,
resources, and glory, as in Psalm 44[:3]: “Nor did their own arm save them
but your right hand and your arm.” Job 35[:9, Vulgate]: “Because of the
strength of the arm of tyrants,” that is, because of their power.
A. Thus it is predicted that that arm of the wicked shall be broken (Job
31[:22]; 38[:15]; Psalm 10[:15]).
B. Psalm 37[:17]: “The arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord
upholds the righteous.”
C. It is understood in this way in Jeremiah 48[:25]; Ezekiel 30[:21–22];
Zechariah 11[:17], where the arm is said to be withered.
D. Moreover, in Isaiah 33[:2] the prophet prays: “Be our arm every morning,
our salvation in the time of trouble,” that is, our Helper and Strengthener.
2. Second, in the same way Scripture uses the word “arm” about God’s power,
as in Job 40[:9]: “Have you an arm like God?”
A. And Psalm 89[:13]: “You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high
your right hand.”
B. That is, his arm is strong.
C. And in the greatness or the extending of his arm, it says that God frees
either the godly or the wicked (Exodus 15[:16]; Psalm 77[:15]; 79[:11];
D. Psalm 136[:12]: “With a strong hand and an outstretched arm,” because
warriors when fighting, or even others when in hard labor, bare their arms,
both to remove the impediments of the clothing and to be less hot, or
rather, to be cooled.
E. It is found in this way in Jeremiah 32[:17, 21]; Ezekiel 4[:7]; 1 Kings
F. In the aforementioned passage of Ezekiel it says: “with your arm bared,
and you shall prophesy against” Jerusalem, that is, like a strong, hot
warrior you shall fight against Jerusalem with your sermons.
3. Third, because the chief power of God for destroying the kingdom of
Satan is his incarnate Son, through whom also he made the world, the “arm
of God” is used for the Messiah himself (Isaiah 51–53; 59; 63).
A. You can also take the words of the blessed Virgin in this way as being
about the Messiah: “He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered
the proud in the thoughts of their hearts” [Luke 1:51], that is, through
the Messiah he will destroy the kingdom of Satan and will free his people.
(Matthias Flacius, Clavis Scriptvrae S. seu de Sermone Sacrarum literarum,
vol. 1 [Basel: Episcopius, 1580], 90–91. Translation by Benjamin T. G.
C. When we hear today’s Old Testament Reading from Isaiah 52, we should see
it fulfilled in the Christmas story.

1. Angels from on high, like messengers upon the mountains, have sung to
the shepherds:
A. bringing good news,
B. proclaiming peace,
C. bringing good news of happiness,
D. proclaiming salvation,
E. saying “Your God reigns.”
F. Maybe they didn’t say those exact words, but they indeed said:
1. “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ
the Lord” (Luke 2:11).
G. Shepherds (the first missionaries) proclaimed this to friends and
family, running off to tell everyone what they saw:
1. the sign of the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a
2. “Your God reigns. . . . The Lord has bared his holy arm” (verses 7, 10).
D. Therefore:
1. rejoice in mind and voice;
2. rejoice by means not of leisure, pleasures, and new diversions,
3. rejoice by living in peace
4. rejoice by bringing the good news of Christmas to others.
E. Today, you are invited to learn about the Arm of the Lord, so that your
true, godly Christmas joy may be increased. For True Christmas Joy Comes
from the Salvation That God Has Worked by His Holy Arm.

1. What does the “arm” mean in Scripture?
A. Besides the obvious meaning, it is also a symbol for a person’s strength.
1. A man’s arm is:
A. his strength,
B. his power,
C. his ability to accomplish deeds and to labor.
2. Illustration:
A. An arm is part of the body.
B. It is one with the body, but is also a distinct part, and by means of it
we do most of our deeds.
C. A warrior uses his arm to fight.
D. A laborer uses his arm to fix things, move things, and produce things.
B. The Jews saw God’s merciful power when he brought them back from
captivity in Babylon.
1. When they came back from Babylon, they knew that the Lord had “bared his
holy arm before the eyes of all the nations” (verse 10).
2. That is, he showed them his power.
2. So then, what is God’s Arm, his Arm with a capital A?
A. The Arm is of one substance with God: “at the Father’s side,” as is an
arm to a man (John 1:18).
B. The Arm is a person distinct from God the Father:
1. “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake, as in days of
old, the generations of long ago. Was it not you who cut Rahab in pieces,
who pierced the dragon?” (Isaiah 51:9).
C. The Arm is the Son of God, who became man, the Son of God Incarnate.
1. Wondrously, the Arm of the Lord is “bared” by putting on our human
nature (verse 10).
2. This comes right before the fourth Servant Song (Isaiah 52:13–53:12):
A. The Arm is the one who grew up as a young plant.
B. The Arm who is the Suf­fer­ing Servant (cf 53:1–2).
3. The Trinity is proclaimed in the Old Testament. God invites you and all
people at all times to marvel in the mystery of the Holy Trinity.
3. Now, what God does with his Arm is all-important.
A. The Arm of the Lord returns to Zion (verse 8). That is, he takes up
residence with his people.
1. “But will God indeed dwell with man on the earth?” (2 Chronicles 6:18).
2. Yes! “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
3. Yes, indeed! “Behold, the dwelling place [tabernacle] of God is with
man. He will dwell with them” (Revelation 21:3).
B. The Arm of the Lord works salvation (verse 10).
1. Salvation means rescue or deliverance from all the evils that afflict us.
A. For the Jews, Isaiah prophesied that God would bring them back to
Jerusalem and reestablish his presence among them in the temple.
1. This was a salvation not just from bodily hardships but from God’s wrath
and hostility.
B. Through the Arm of the Lord, our Lord Jesus, God delivers us:
1. from death,
2. from slavery to sin;
3. from His wrath at sin itself.
2. Salvation also means:
A. the possession of health and wholeness,
B. the enjoyment of all truly good things.
C. When the Arm of the Lord works salvation, he also brings us close to
himself, so that freed from everything bad, we may enjoy every truly good
gift by being in close communion and fellowship with him.
C. The Arm of the Lord restores his kingdom.
1. “Your God reigns” (verse 7).
A. The Arm is the one through whom the Lord destroys Satan’s kingdom and
establishes his own kingdom.
2. On the cross, Jesus would be proclaimed as the “King of the Jews” and
crowned with thorns.
3. Marvelously, through his death and resurrection and the sending of the
Spirit, he sets up his kingdom in your heart and among his people, the
D. The Arm of the Lord God reveals himself through preaching:
1. “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (53:1).

A. Dearly loved children of God, “The Lord has bared his holy arm” (v 10).
1. He has revealed his Son, Jesus, to the world!
2. Take heart! God’s Arm is not the sheer, unpredictable power of divinity.
3. Rather, God’s Arm has become man, your Brother.
4. By the incarnation, God shows his great love for mankind, and for you in
B. With such a great Giver and gift, should he not be your chief joy?
1. God wants to be the ultimate source of your joy.
2. May He grant us His Spirit so that the joys of this day will be not in
the things and food and drink and parties and events of the season, but
that all these things would point us to himself, the lasting source of all
joy, the Lord’s holy Arm, bared for all the ends of the earth to see. Amen.
C. Let us pray:
LSB 384:5 Of the Father’s love begotten
Christ, to Thee, with God the Father,
And, O Holy Ghost, to Thee
Hymn and chant and high thanksgiving
And unending praises be,
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory
Evermore and evermore. Amen.
Text: Public domain
D. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for 12.18.22 “This present sign”


Text: Isaiah 7:10–17
Theme: This present sign
Other Lessons: Psalm 24; Romans 1:1–7; Matthew 1:18–25

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, peace, and mercy be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
→ O Lord, give us grace to walk before You all the days of this our
pilgrimage with a good conscience and pure mind, that when You shall appear
to reward every man according to his deeds, we may rejoice and not be
ashamed before You at Your coming. Grant this for the sake of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Savior. Amen.

A. Louis IX, who ruled France in the thirteenth century, was once
reportedly asked why he signed his name “Louis of Poissy” and not “Louis
IX, King of France” (which would have been the traditional way for a king
to sign letters and documents).
1. He responded by pointing out that Poissy was the location of his
2. Then he is said to have explained, “I think more of the place where I
was baptized than of Reims Cathedral where I was crowned.
3. It is a greater thing to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a
4. This last I shall lose at death, but the other will be my passport to an
everlasting glory.”
5. This saying was etched in stone in front of the baptismal font at the
former St. Louis Catholic Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
6. It reflects the Christian conviction that Baptism is the most important
day in the life of a follower of Jesus.
7. It identifies a Christian as a child of God who will live eternally with
8. This identity manifests itself daily—not only in the signing of one’s
name, but also in the sacrificial and selfless life of service to others.
B. There is no question: the sign King Ahaz refused to ask, the virgin
birth, was among the greatest signs given to mankind (Isaiah 7:14).
1. But in our Baptism, God has given us the sign that everything the
virgin-born Christ accomplished by his life, death, and resurrection is
personally and eternally ours.
C. “ ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call
his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23).
1. Yes, God is present with us.
1. With a few exceptions, the people of God have often experienced life in
a way that makes them think God is absent.
A. That’s an astounding claim, given the common experience among God’s
people of his apparent absence.
1. Most of us, at some point or another, have wondered whether God is
really with us.
2. We face great difficulties, and we wonder if God cares.
3. We encounter things we can’t explain or understand, and we wonder if God
really exists.
4. We cry out to God on our knees but hear nothing in response other than
our own sighs.
5. We slog through this life, never experiencing much of a spiritual high
or low, and we begin to question if God is with us.
6. With a few exceptions, the people of God have often experienced life in
a way that makes them think God is absent.
2. Ahaz only continued a millennia-old theme of God’s people doubting his
A. You’re not alone when you wonder.
1. You’re not the first to question God’s presence.
2. It’s safe to say that very few have never questioned God’s presence.
3. In fact, those who question God’s presence are actually only continuing
a several thousand year old theme of God’s people doubting his presence.
B. Before the fall into sin, God walked and talked with his human
1. His presence was obvious.
2. Adam and Eve did not doubt that he was there.
3. They doubted his reliability, all thanks to the serpent.
4. But that’s a different problem altogether.
5. His presence was obvious.
C. After the fall, however, God’s people have often doubted his presence
among them.
1. The episode with the golden calf is a good case in point.
2. In , God told Moses to meet him on top of Mount Sinai so that he could
give him his Law.
3. Moses was going to be gone for a while.
4. In the meantime, the people got antsy.
5. They began to question God’s presence.
6. By the time we get to Exodus 32, they’ve concluded that God does not
A. Or at least, that he is no longer with them.
1. Never mind the ten plagues that God brought on Egypt to deliver them.
2. Never mind the parting of the Red Sea by which God rescued them.
3. Never mind the manna and quail that God provided in the wilderness so
that the people wouldn’t starve.
4. “What have you done for me lately?” the people asked.
5. When God did not respond, they decided he was no longer there.
D. That’s what happened in our reading today from Isaiah 7.
1. King Ahaz doubted God was with him.
2. He had a reason to doubt:
A. foreign armies were mounting around him.
3. But God had promised to be with his people forever.
A. God had promised to protect and preserve them.
4. But Ahaz and the people of God looked around at the present
circumstances and were not convinced.
E. That’s when Isaiah entered the scene.
1. God sent Isaiah to give a message to Ahaz.
2. His message was simple:
A. God is with you, Ahaz, whether you believe it or not.
B. He promised he would be with you.
C. Believe him. If you have doubts, simply ask him for a sign—anything you
want—and he will show you that he is with you.
3. Can you imagine that?
A. An invitation from God to ask him for a sign?
4. But Ahaz wouldn’t do it.
A. Why not? Because he didn’t want to trouble the Lord with such a request
B. No, it was because he had already lost his faith.
C. He had already put his faith in a “golden calf”:
1. this time it was an alliance with a foreign army.
3. Despite his and our doubts, Isaiah spoke God’s Word that promised his
A. That’s when Isaiah spoke those words that Matthew would quote seven
hundred years later.
1. You don’t trust God enough to ask for a sign?
A. “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall
conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (verse 14).
B. God Promises to Be Graciously Present in His Creation through Jesus.
4. God’s presence in Christ is a hidden presence.
A. Isaiah’s response to Ahaz’s lack of faith was to promise a peculiar sign
of God’s presence.
1. He promised a child who would be born to a maiden.
2. This is hardly the kind of sign that one would expect from the Almighty.
3. But this would be no ordinary child.
4. He was to be called Immanuel:
A. “God with us.”
B. Moreover, God would be with his people to save them from their sins.
B. Immanuel is Jesus. Jesus is Immanuel.
1. The child who was also the eternal Son of God.
2. He is God’s sign.
3. He is God’s proof.
4. He is God’s guarantee that he is with us.
5. That is what makes Christmas such a big deal.
6. That’s why we’ve been getting ready to celebrate Christmas since the day
after Thanksgiving.
7. On December 25, we celebrate the fact that God is with us:
A. that he is with us to save us.
C. But God’s people of every age question whether God is with us or not.
1. We have our own golden calf episodes.
2. God doesn’t behave in ways that we think he should, and our faith slides
into disbelief.
3. We don’t see God solving our problems or healing our diseases or fixing
our families or answering our questions when we want, and we are tempted to
conclude that he is not with us.
4. God’s presence in Christ is still often hidden from us.
D. That’s why God gives us another sign.
1. That sign is Baptism.
2. The Lutheran Confessions speak of Baptism (and the Lord’s Supper) as
signs of God’s gracious disposition toward us.
3. The Augsburg Confession describes the sacraments as:
A. “signs and testimonies of God’s will toward us” that “awaken and confirm
faith” in us (Augsburg Confession 13, paragraphs 1–2).
4. The Apology draws on the Early Church when it says:
A. “It has been well said by Augustine that a Sacrament is a visible Word,
because the rite is received by the eyes and is, as it were, a picture of
the Word, illustrating the same thing as the Word” (Ap to the Augsburg
Confession 13. paragraph 5).
E. When we think of Baptism as a sign of God’s grace toward us as we ought
to, we begin to see the importance Baptism has for every day of our lives.
1. Just as Louis IX thought so long ago.
5. God’s presence in the world today is made known through his people as
they love and serve one another.
A. Baptism is not only a sign of God’s gracious will toward us.
1. It is also a sign to the world.
2. Baptism signals to outsiders what we are as Christians (Augsburg
Confession 13, paragraph 1), but it is our baptismal living that makes
them stop to notice.
3. As Paul writes in Romans 6, our Baptism means newness of life.
4. This life manifests itself in sacrificial service to others:
A. both to fellow believers in the Church
B. and to those in need outside the Church.
5. When the everyday lives of God’s people are shaped by their Baptism into
Christ, the watching world sees the hidden presence of God.
6. God’s presence in the world today is made known through his people as
they love and serve one another.


A. It’s exactly one week until Christmas, and we all have an awful lot yet
to do to get ready for it.
1. As you hurry through all that remaining business, remember that in
Christ, God is present with us.
2. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.
3. And just as important, he is God with you.
4. You know that because of your Baptism.
5. You were baptized into Christ.
B. Running, scurrying, hurrying on this errand and that, to this mall and
that store, as you welcome guests and make your social rounds, remember
your Baptism:
1. in the way you treat clerks and other shoppers,
2. in the way you treat visiting loved ones who may be hard to love,
3. in the way you think about the gifts you select for others.
4. Remember your Baptism as a sign that the babe in the manger is not only
the Savior of the world.
5. He is also your Savior from your sin, and now he is your strength for
faithful living in his name. Amen.
C. Let us pray:
→ LSB 361:4 O Little Town of Bethlehem
O holy Child of Bethlehem,
Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in,
Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
Our Lord Immanuel!
Text: Public domain
D. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for 12.11.22 “Vengeance and joy”


Text: Isaiah 35:1–10

Theme: Vengeance and Joy
Other Lessons: Psalm 146; James 5:7–11; Matthew 11:2–15

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
1. O Lord, help us not to put our trust in people, but in You alone.
Forgive us for mistreating others and for looking down on people different
from ourselves. Thank You for keeping all of Your promises through Christ.

A. It says something that national parks and other recreation areas require
backpackers to get a wilderness permit before setting out.
1. When you head into the wilderness, you’re not only going off the grid,
but you’re leaving behind the safety—to say nothing of the conveniences—of
subdivision and suburbia or city or small town.
2. For example, it also says quite a lot when this is the last sign you
read as you leave the trailhead:
A. “Most recent mountain lion sighting . . . yesterday.”
B. And the sign proceeds to give you instructions like, “Hold small
children on your shoulders to protect them and to look as tall and menacing
as possible” and
C. “Carry stones to throw if you see a lion.”
B. The wilderness is a dangerous place.
1. Especially if you run out of water or darkness falls or you simply get
2. Even a seasoned hiker can suddenly feel helpless.
3. Suddenly your self-reliance evaporates and you realize you need someone
to bail you out, to rescue you.
4. Our text today uses “wilderness” as:
A. a metaphor,
B. an illustration, for many things you and I experience that are anything
but illustrations, metaphors, picture language
C. things we live with that are very, very real.
D. Tragic things.
E. Painful things.
F. Dangerous things.
G. But the point of the text is that in a very real way, Christ’s coming
delivers us from all those things.
H. As the prophet Isaiah puts it, God Will Come with Vengeance to Bring
Life to the Wilderness.
I. Life in the wilderness is dangerous.
A. Wilderness well illustrates what truly is the difficult reality of life
in a fallen world.
1. Isaiah pictures burning sand, a haunt of jackals, lions, and ravenous
2. God’s Old Testament people had experienced these challenges very
literally as they traveled through the wilderness.
A. Commentary on verses 1–2:
1. “Wilderness” (midbar) calls to mind many things for the people of God in
the Old Testament.
A. It is a place of danger (Exodus 14:3) populated by deadly animals
(Deuteronomy 8:15),
B. where water is scarce (Exodus 15:22) and crops do not grow.
C. It is easy to get lost in the wilderness (Psalm 107:4–5).
D. But the wilderness is also where God’s people learn to trust
(Deuteronomy 8:1–3).
2. In the wilderness:
A. God carried them (Deuteronomy 1:31),
B. fed them (Exodus 16:1–36),
C. and gave them water (Exodus 17:1–7; Numbers 20:1–11).
3. In the wilderness, God seeks people, guards and cares for them, and
lifts them up (Deuteronomy 32:10–14).
B. This dangerous and desolate place (the wilderness) will be glad and
1. Notice that here Isaiah does not say the people of God will rejoice in
the wilderness, but that the wilderness itself will rejoice.
2. All creation will praise its Creator.
3. These verses reminds us that God is “the author of all joy,” for only
God could make desert places rejoice (John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah:
Chapters 1–39 [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986], 622).

C. Our own “wildernesses” of different kinds we also know very literally.
1. Some are our personal guilt or shame.
2. But many dangers we encounter simply because the whole world is sinful.
3. Some of these are physical (cancer, aches and pains)
4. others are relational, (son against mother, father against daughter,
5. still others are mental or emotional (depression, anxiety, dementia,
6. These are all serious dangers that come with traveling through this
wilderness, our sinful world.
7. You know what your own struggles are, what your wilderness feels like.
8. Or perhaps it’s difficult even for you to name them yourself.
9. In any case, our sufferings in this fallen world, in this wilderness,
are real, and we need deliverance, we long for rescue.
II. God promises to come into the wilderness with life-restoring vengeance.
A. Christ’s coming will make all things right again.
1. Visualize what Isaiah wants us to see
2. Verses 1–2, 5–7
(1) The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall
rejoice and blossom like the crocus;
(2) it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The
glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
(5) Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf
(6) then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute
sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the
(7) the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs
of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall
become reeds and rushes.
3. The wilderness itself will flow and flower.
A. The sufferers of personal “wildernesses” will rejoice in health and
4. These promises were fulfilled in part during Jesus’ life and ministry.
A. Jesus points this out to John’s messengers in today’s Gospel (Matthew
11:4–5) when he says:
(4) And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:
(5) the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed
and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news
preached to them.
5. But they will be fully realized when Jesus returns in glory on the Last
A. At that time, he will restore all of creation—including life, health,
and joy to each of us.
B. The heart of Isaiah’s promise, however, is this: “Those who have an
anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with
vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you’ ” (verse
1. Notice, first, God will come with vengeance.
A. He will exercise vengeance on his enemies:
1. sin,
2. death,
3. and the devil (and those who remain in league with them).
4. For them, the promise of vengeance is obviously not good news.
2. But we are no longer God’s enemies!
A. Christ Jesus coming and going to the cross has reconciled us to God.
B. We have been baptized into his death.
C. We believe in Jesus—which is why you came to worship this week!
D. God’s vengeance against his enemies is good news for God’s people
because it means relief and rescue.
3. Because Christ’s death has reconciled us to God, he is with us in all
our wildernesses.
A. Physical pains–God is with you.
B. Relational problems–God is with you.
C. Emotional issues–God is with you.
D. Mental distress–God is with you.
C. It may seem a little odd to think of God’s vengeance as we prepare to
celebrate Christmas. After all, the image of a babe in the manger hardly
elicits fear or trembling. But this baby is no ordinary baby.
1. Not only would he reign over sin, death, and the devil in his life and
2. Even more, he would reign over these enemies in his resurrection from
the dead and in his session at the right hand of the Father.
3. For now, his reign is hidden to us
Hebrews 2:8
(8) putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting
everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At
present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.
4. But when he returns, his reign will be visible for all to see as he
restores his beloved creation for the rejoicing of his redeemed people.
III. Our celebration of Christmas invites us to rejoice in advance of
Jesus’ return.
A. Isaiah frames our text with this invitation to rejoice in the coming of
the Messiah.
1. He begins with the wilderness itself rejoicing (verses 1–2) and ends
with the people of God gathering together in “everlasting joy” (verse 10).
2. This is much more than the shallow and super­ficial feelings that
characterize many Christmas music playlists.
3. Instead, Christian joy is the natural response of the people of God who
are beginning to enjoy the fruits of a creation that will be restored to
B. Picture how different this coming joy will be from the world in which we
live now!
1. Unlike today, there will be no more “sighing” and no more “sorrow”
(verse 10).
2. There will be:
A. no more weak hands or feeble knees (verse 3),
B. no more blindness, deafness, lameness, or muteness (verses 5–6).
C. no more thirst and no ravenous beasts to devour us (verses 7, 9).
3. Instead, the people of God will gather in the city of God in joy and
gladness forever.
C. At its best, Christmas provides a hint, a glimpse of this joyful
condition, but these are always only partial and temporary.
1. We can (and we should) give thanks for these moments of rejoicing,
especially during this holy season.
2. But these glimpses are ultimately only a dim pre­view of the fullness of
rejoicing that will arrive and remain with the return of Jesus.
IV. Together as a congregation, and individually in our respective
vocations, we proclaim this promise to encourage those who remain weak and
A. Verse 4
“Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you’ “.
1. Yes, Isaiah says to us, “Say it!”
2. Those who are:
A. anxious,
B. weak,
C. suffering
D. tell them that in Christ, God has come and will come again in vengeance
. . . to bring life to their wildernesses, to save them!
B. All Christians of every station are called to proclaim God’s saving
1. Luther called this the “mutual conversation and consolation of brethren”
(Smalcald Article, Article III, paragraph IV).
2. This takes place outside of worship, in our daily lives, as ordinary
Christians speak the promises of Christ to one another.
3. These promises encourage the people of God.
A. The joy of those whose rejoicing has begun is contagious.

A. Imagine for a moment what it looks like to share this joy with others.
B. It’s a delight to share joyful news with others.
1. Every couple who’s shared the news of a healthy birth can relate.
2. Every teenager who’s just overperformed on a final exam here at the end
of the semester and raised their grade to an A knows the feeling. Every
recent graduate who got the job and the honor of calling their parents to
tell them their investment paid off has experienced the thrill.
C. But of all those who get to share good news, it may be the surgeon who
is most privileged.
1. Imagine this situation:
A. The wife of a fifty-three-year-old man waits on pins and needles for the
emergency heart surgery to end.
B. The last time she saw her husband of twenty-eight years was as he lay on
the floor of their dining room after collapsing without warning.
C. The surgery lasts much longer than she expected.
D. Finally, after what seems to be eternity, she looks up to see the
surgeon walking toward her.
E. He invites her into a private room.
F. She searches his face for clues and braces for the worst.
G. Removing his mask, he tells her that the surgery was a success and they
were able to save her husband’s life.
H. They expect a full recovery.
I. She collapses into his arms with joy and thanksgiving and relief.
D. It was the bleak and depressing outlook that makes the good news so
1. The surgeon shares in the woman’s joy by sharing with her the good news
of life . . . just as God gives us opportunity:
2. “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those
who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come
with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you’ ”
(Isaiah 35:3–4).
E. All of us have the honor and privilege of speaking joyful words of hope
to those who struggle in their own personal wilderness:
1. Christ will come with vengeance to make right that wilderness.
2. He will come and save you. Amen.
F. Let us pray:
Take our trembling hands, Lord Jesus, and lead us to the comforts of Zion.
G. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
H. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for 12.07.22 “A message in the midst of fear of the unknown”


Text: Matthew 1:18–25

Theme: A message in the midst of fear of the unknown (Joseph)

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. Matthew 1:18-25 serves as our sermon text for this evening, which was
read a few moments ago.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 900:1-3 Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love
Jesus! Name of wondrous love,
Name all other names above,
Unto which must ev’ry knee
Bow in deep humility.

Jesus! Name decreed of old,
To the maiden mother told,
Kneeling in her lowly cell,
By the angel Gabriel.

Jesus! Name of priceless worth
To the fallen of the earth
For the promise that it gave,
“Jesus shall His people save.”

A. Fear of the unknown.
1. In the spring of 2020, our world was upended by an unseen enemy.
2. Our lives were changed by a virus we little understood and couldn’t see.
3. We had no cure, and many faced it with a sense of terror and dread.
4. Sickness increased.
5. Hospitals overflowed.
6. Medical personnel strained to hold up under staggering loads of care.
7. Shortages abounded.
8. Deaths mounted.
9. The world seemed under siege.
10. Months passed.
11. A year passed.
12. What would come next?
13. Does it ever end, or do we just wait for the next variant?
14. Fear of the unknown.
B. But this was not the first time in recent history such a cataclysmic
event turned our world upside down.
1. Most of us still recall 9/11.
2. Many of us stood that day transfixed before our TV sets watching the
unthinkable happen.
3. Terrorists took a most useful and friendly machine, the airplane, and
turned it into a deadly missile of mass destruction.
4. Nearly three thousand people perished as two towering skyscrapers
collapsed in burning heaps of rubble and death.
5. Security immediately tightened everywhere.
6. And a war on terror commenced around the world.
7. But these enemies could not always be seen or easily found or identified.
8. When would the next event occur?
9. Would a terrorist attack come to my neighborhood?
10. Fear of the unknown.

3. Joseph faces fear of the unknown in Mary’s unexpected pregnancy and
whether or not to marry her.
A. Joseph lived with his own fear of the unknown.
1. In our current culture, it may seem minor, but for him the dilemma was
2. He was betrothed to a lovely young woman named Mary, legally married in
a union that was yet to be consummated.
3. It would be about a year before the final celebration, but their
marriage was real and binding.
4. Joseph surely dreamed of a wonderful life with his new wife and possibly
even a large family supported by a thriving carpentry business.
B. But all these dreams seemed in serious question when Mary was suddenly
“found to be with child” (verse 18).
1. She was pregnant, and Joseph knew he wasn’t the father.
2. Obviously, someone else was.
3. But what should he do?
4. A future with Mary was now fraught with complications socially.
5. He could continue with the marriage, but it was not so simple anymore.
6. The Old Testament law called for an adulterous woman to be stoned if her
guilt was confirmed (Deuteronomy 22:23–24).
7. This was unthinkable for the woman he loved.
8. So he couldn’t go there.
9. An option within the law allowed another solution:
A. “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put [Mary] to shame, resolved
to divorce her quietly” (verse 19).
B. A quiet divorce.
C. The shame could be avoided, as well as the punishment for
D. He loved her and did not wish any of this hardship upon her.
C. As Joseph deliberated all this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in
a dream.
1. A special divine messenger from heaven.
2. And a needed one too.
3. As the first words from the angel reveal, Joseph’s struggle involved
more than just hesitation and concern:
A. “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife” (verse
B. Joseph was struggling with fear.
C. The word in the original language (phobeo) can carry the idea of
panicked flight, even terror.
D. And it was a terror, fear, of the unknown.
E. Fear of going through with the marriage despite the unknown of Mary’s
F. And the unknown of the consequences of breaking the holy law of God.
G. If word ever got out that Mary was pregnant before the actual ceremony
and celebration, the whole community would know.
H. She would be branded with an A for adulteress.
I. Joseph’s friends and neighbors would probably expect, maybe even
pressure him, to divorce Mary and possibly even carry through on the rest
of the law’s provisions and punishments.
J. And what about his reputation as a responsible businessman of Nazareth?
K. He couldn’t know how this would all play out.
L. Undoubtedly he even had more painful personal questions he wished could
be answered.
M. Why had she done it?
N. Who was the father?
O. How would she make it alone—well, with a child to raise?
P. Would he ever be able to trust someone again?
D. One can imagine such things keeping Joseph up at night.
1. A heavy burden so filled with worry and fear when he should have been:
A. Excited about the future,
B. eagerly planning and preparing the home he and Mary could have had
2. God comes along and answers that fear with the promise of the birth of
Jesus, Immanuel.
A. Fear is a true enemy of hope.
1. It robs us of the assurance:
A. that God is in control,
B. that God has a plan,
C. that even the darkness of the present might yet become the light of a
better day.
2. God’s solution to Joseph’s fear, however, was not just the assurance
that all things might work out in the end.
3. He must have been surprised by the amazing promise he heard from the
A. “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. She will bear a son, and
you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”
(verses 20–21).
B. Mary was not just pregnant; the child in her womb was conceived by the
Holy Spirit.
1. God was his Father!
2. And the name Joseph was instructed to give this new child may have
seemed ordinary in one way—it was a relatively common male name for
Hebrews—yet, on the other hand, this name was forward looking of something
incredible and world-changing.
3. Joseph was to name this child Jesus, which means “Yahweh saves,” for as
the angel declared, “He will save his people from their sins.”
4. Here Joseph was concerned about:
A. his immediate personal circumstances,
B. his reputation,
C. Mary’s welfare,
D. his own questions . . .
E. and God was planning something much grander.
F. He was planning to deliver mankind from sin itself, and thus from death,
even hell.
G. What fear could be worse than a fear of death itself?
H. If hope could survive death, it could survive anything.
C. And even this was not the end of the message from heaven.
1. There was another name.
A. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his
name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (verses 22–23).
B. Just as the prophet Isaiah had declared.
C. In the darkness of fear, we often feel alone and isolated, even
D. Yet this baby in Mary’s womb would be God’s very tangible and visible
presence among his people.
E. Joseph was not alone in his concerns.
F. He was not left to work this out by himself.
G. God was with him.
H. God would strengthen him and guide him and protect him each step of the
D. As the story unfolds in the Gospels, we know that many more challenges
faced Joseph.
1. Traveling with Mary so close to her due date must have given some
2. Then struggling to find a place to stay in busy Bethlehem.
3. The night of the birth without a midwife or any others to assist.
4. In all this, God was with him.
5. And the story’s twists and turns would not end.
6. Joseph would have to flee with the mother and child to Egypt, for an
enraged Herod sought to kill the child to remove a possible contender for
his own fragile rule.
7. Again, an angel from heaven, a divine messenger, brought a timely
warning, as well as needed guidance and direction (Matthew 2:13).
E. So much change in Joseph’s life.
1. So many unknowns in the future.
2. How could he possibly entertain any real hope for tomorrow when he
hardly knew what tomorrow would bring?
3. But God was with him, Immanuel.
4. And the one over which he watched as a new foster father would be the
true promise for all mankind:
A. the one who by his future death on a cross would be the deliverer from
B. from death,
C. from the very power of evil itself that animated murderous and dangerous
men like Herod.
D. Joseph had everything even when at times it felt as if he had so little.
1. As we face our fears of the unknown, God answers with the same message
of hope in the Savior, God with us.
A. Late into the pandemic, our world tried to reemerge and find its
1. It’s still trying. The economy has wobbled as inflation has taken a
heavy toll.
2. Violence and terror have continued to leak into our cities.
3. Our communities have become polarized in hateful rage.
4. It’s hard not to worry about what tomorrow might bring, whether we’re up
to the challenges just around the corner.
5. The world around us changes faster than we can comprehend and adjust.
6. The world beneath our feet shifts and shakes.
7. We worry for our children and their future in this torn up and broken
8. We worry for our own futures as we age.
9. Fear grips with the clamp of an icy cold hand of terror and pins our
hopes to the ground.
B. And then we hear that word again.
1. Right from God’s own messenger.
2. Straight from the very throne room of heaven itself.
3. The angel now turns to us and says:
4. The one born of Mary is “Yahweh saves.”
5. This one delivered you from your sins and your certain death.
6. You do not have to fear.
7. This one born of Mary is “Immanuel,” God with us.
8. He is with you too.
9. You do not have to fear.
10. And so, you can hope again.
11. Hope not just:
A. for this fleeting moment,
B. for today,
C. but for tomorrow,
D. for next year,
E. for all eternity.
F. Your hope is grounded in God’s promised presence sent to save us and be
there for us.
C. As Paul declares to the Romans (Rom 8:31–39), no one can stand against
us if God is for us.
1. No one can frustrate or stop God’s plans.
A. Not Herod.
B. Not the worst tyrants of our time.
C. Not the terrorists.
D. Not any enemy.
E. No one can bring a charge against us.
F. Not even Satan, the accuser of the brethren. And he has been working
overtime lately on all of us!
G. God has declared us right with God through Christ.
H. No one can condemn us, for this Jesus intercedes for us at the right
hand of God.
I. And no one can separate us from the love of Christ.
J. Not tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or
danger or sword.
K. For in all these things we are more than conquerors through the one who
loves us.
L. No one can tear us from God’s presence.
M. Not life, not death, not angels or demons or rulers.
N. Not things terrorizing us in the moment, or fears of what is to come.
O. Nothing in all of the created order.
P. Nothing.
Q. For the one born of Mary is the deliverer from sin, Immanuel, God with
D. And with that, we have hope.


A. The Angel’s Message of Hope to Joseph in the Midst of His Fear Gives Us
Hope as We Fear Our Unknowns.
1. A hope that cannot be disappointed.
2. A hope grounded in God’s assuring promise.
3. A hope that survives time itself.
4. An eternal hope. Amen.
B. Let us pray:
LSB 900:4-6 Jesus! Name of Wondrous Love
Jesus! Name of mercy mild,
Given to the holy Child
When the cup of human woe
First He tasted here below.

Jesus! Only name that’s giv’n
Under all the mighty heav’n
Whereby those to sin enslaved
Burst their fetters and are saved.

Jesus! Name of wondrous love,
Human name of God above;
Pleading only this, we flee
Helpless, O our God, to Thee. Amen.
Text: Public domain
C. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and
minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
D. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for 12.04.22 “The kingdom of peace”


Text: Isaiah 11:1–10
Theme: The kingdom of peace
Other Lessons: Psalm 72:1–7; Romans 15:4–13; Matthew 3:1–12

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.

B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for today.

C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Our God is the Lion, the Lion of Judah
He’s roaring with power and fighting our battles
And every knee will bow before You
Our God is the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain
For the sin of the world, His blood breaks the chains
And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb
Oh every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb. Amen.

A. For many of you, our text from Isaiah 11 conjures up a very clear image.
1. You can just see a wolf and lamb playing with each other,
2. a lion grazing contentedly,
3. a baby laughing near the hole of a cobra.
4. Such a strange, enchanting picture of nature at peace may have been in
your children’s Bible or hung in your childhood bedroom.
5. But how many nurseries are adorned with an artist’s rendering of how
“the lion will lie down with the lamb”?
B. Because of the association with those romantic illustrations from our
youth, the Old Testament Reading today may come across more like that of a
fable or fairy tale, a sweet but ultimately mythical description of the way
life really is or ever will be.
1. But far from it!
2. In beautiful, vivid, memorable picture language, God is giving us here a
very real promise about both Jesus’ coming and the salvation he brings.
C. In Christ, the Kingdom of Peace Isaiah Pictured Is Here and Now.
I. Isaiah sees Jesus coming as the King of peace.
A. As with so much of Isaiah’s poetry, the key is context.
1. If we understand the surrounding verses, we’ll better understand what
Isaiah is pointing to when he tells of vegetarian lions and domesticated
2. In the very first verse, Isaiah says that “there shall come forth a
shoot from the stump of Jesse” (verse 1).
3. What is this but a prophecy of Jesus’ line of descent and birth?
4. When Jesus was born, the line of Jesse, King David’s father, had been
reduced to a stump.
5. The Davidic monarchy had been routed and kept down by the empires of
Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.
6. Yet, “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming From tender stem hath sprung! Of
Jesse’s lineage coming As prophets long have sung” (LSB 359:1).
B. About this same Jesus, the Spirit of the Lord rests. Isaiah writes:
1. “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom
and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge
and the fear of the Lord” (verse 2).
2. Jesus, the Son of David, went forth “full of the Spirit” and manifested
himself before all Israel.
3. At his Baptism, the Spirit of God descended on him like a dove and came
to rest on him.
C. On Jesus rests the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.
1. During his humble ministry, he demonstrated a wisdom which had been
hidden from the beginning of the world;
2. he spoke and gave insight into heavenly things which only he knows (John
D. On Jesus rests the Spirit of counsel and might.
1. By his suffering and death, David’s Son, the King of Israel, loosed the
bonds which held people captive and overcame the enemies of the human race:
A. sin,
B. death,
C. and the devil.
E. On Jesus rests the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
1. He was obedient to his Father’s will, even unto death, to lead the lost
children of the world back to God.
A. Now through the Spirit, the Lord plants:
B. the knowledge of God,
C. true love and true fear of God,
D. into the hearts of men.
F. His work completed, the Son of David now sits on the throne of his
1. “And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by
what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with
righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek
of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and
with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall
be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins” (verses
A. Christ bears the scepter of peace, not judging by what his eyes see or
deciding disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness judging the
poor, deciding with equity in the interests of the meek.
B. To us troubled sinners, Christ gives us justice.
C. He makes poor, miserable sinners like us right with God by covering our
sin and presenting them blameless to God the Father.
G. At the same time, the godless, those who reject the scepter of this
king, who reject his peace and grace, are put to shame.
1. They behold him glorified but receive the punishment due their rejection
of him.
2. Again as Isaiah puts it:
A. “He shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the
breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked” (verse 4).
H. This, in short, is what the first five verses are all about.
1. Some 750 years before the fact, Isaiah foretells the coming of Jesus,
the King of peace.
2. What Isaiah now goes on to describe is the kingdom of peace—the domain
that Jesus will rule.
II. Isaiah sees Jesus ruling over the kingdom of peace.

A. We read at the end of the passage that the root of Jesus will stand as a
signal for the peoples (verse10).
1. The nations shall inquire of him, and his resting place will be
2. And here is the wonderful surprise for us:
A. This holy time has already come!
B. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of Mary, has come.
C. His name and his cross have been set up as a signal on the earth.
D. It is visible everywhere.
E. Those near and far have salvation and peace preached to them.
F. The nations, sinners from all over the earth, acknowledge it.
G. They confess that in no other is salvation to be found, that no other
name under heaven is given among men by which they must be saved.
H. They come and kneel before the crucified Christ.
B. We all know that not all believe in this Christ.
1. This same Christ is also a sign that is spoken against, as Simeon
foretold in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:34).
2. Christ has been appointed for the fall of many.
3. But many also come—from all peoples and lands.
4. There are always new flocks who stream to
A. the signal on the mountain,
B. to the manger in Bethlehem,
C. to the cross at Golgotha,
D. new flocks who find peace and rest for their souls.
5. They inquire after the one who has redeemed them.
6. And as the waters cover the sea, so numerous are they who acknowledge
the Lord and serve him.
C. Watch what this means for the community that trusts in Jesus.
1. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with
the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their
young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned
child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain” (verses 6–9).
2. In the kingdom of Christ, there is no malice.
3. Those who acknowledge the Lord renounce the works of the devil.
4. And although we sinners still sin, there remains an ever-flowing
fountain of mercy.
5. Day to day, we receive from Christ grace upon grace, as well as peace
and strength for all good works.
D. This then is what Isaiah means when he says the wolf shall dwell with
the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and so on.
1. The prophet is painting a picture of paradise.
2. Wolves, lions, and bears dwelling alongside lambs, calves, and young
3. The wild animals not feeding on flesh and blood but instead going into
pasture and eating straw like the oxen, no longer feral and ferocious but
III. This kingdom of peace that Isaiah sees we live in even now!
A. This is not a fairy tale or one of Aesop’s fables.
1. Nor is it primarily a description of what life will finally be like in
2. No, this is the kingdom of grace in which we live now!
3. This is what the Church that Christ built, even now being assembled from
out of all the nations, looks like now!
4. These scenes from the natural world are a metaphor, an allegory, for the
peace that the Christian Church enjoys this very moment:
A. a peace in sharp contrast to the world’s lack of peace,
B. its continual conflict and war,
C. everyone looks to take advantage of his neighbor,
D. the sons of men do not know the way of peace,
E. people are quick to shed innocent blood,
F. and yes, there is poison on their lips.
B. Lions eating straw and wolves lying down with lambs?!
1. The Gospel makes possible even greater things than that!
2. The wild beasts are a picture of how human beings really are—just as
given to sin by nature as a wolf is to eating meat.
3. But a lion deciding to go vegan is nothing compared to God taking a
sinful human being, releasing him from the guilt of all his or her sin, and
giving them a heart that no longer wants to sin but wants to do only the
will of God!
C. As new creatures in Christ, united with the One who alone is holy by
nature but who shares his holiness with us, this is exactly what has
happened to us.
1. God has created in us new hearts so that, while sin still clings, we
truly want to please God and serve our neighbors.
2. This is completely unnatural from the perspective of our old sinful
3. The disciples who out of fear abandoned Jesus in his hour of need did
what came naturally.
4. But transformed by the power of the resurrection and by the risen Jesus’
own word to them, “Peace be with you,” they went on to suffer persecution
and imprisonment and even martyrdom for the sake of his name.
5. You and I likewise have been transformed by the Holy Spirit’s
intervening in our lives and making us into the kind of people we would
never possibly be without him.
D. To be sure, even the Church, the Bride of Christ, still has her spots
and wrinkles.
1. But she washes herself daily in the blood of the Lamb and is made a new
2. We who have been:
A. won by the Gospel,
B. who believe in Christ and serve Christ,
C. where we deny our worldly lusts,
D. we lay aside our wild nature and habits
E. in all this, we daily strive to put down our inborn wrath and bitterness
and jealousy.
F. Only with the help of the Spirit, we are careful to maintain unity in
the bond of peace.
G. Instead of doing harm to one another, we do good to one another whether
it’s convenient or not.
H. For here there is no more Jew or Greek, slave or free, man or woman
(Galatians 3:28).
I. We are all one in Christ.
1. Today, we have guests from Community of Faith Lutheran Church, with
Pastor Randall Lewis, their pastor. Welcome!
2. We are all ONE IN CHRIST!!

A. The well-established convention of expressing historical dates as BC or
AD is gradually being discarded in favor of BCE and CE.
1. In an attempt to be sensitive to non-Christians but is a blatant effort
to cause further division and strife, more and more textbooks, instead of
BC, which stands for “Before Christ,” are using “BCE,” which stands for
“Before the Common Era.”
2. And instead of AD, which is short for a Latin phrase (Anno Domini) that
means “in the year of the Lord,” various publications are now using the
initials “CE,” which stands for “Common Era.”
3. It’s a bit like replacing “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays.”
4. And it’s just as laughable, because while saying BCE and CE does manage
to avoid referring to Christ or suggesting that Jesus is the Lord, the
numbering system remains the same!
5. The birth of Jesus is still the anchor date.
6. After all, with what event does the so-called “Common Era” begin?
7. The birth of Jesus Christ, of course!
8. The current year is 2022 CE, but 2,022 years since when?
9. The birth of Jesus Christ, of course!
10. Scholars may change the letters, but the substance remains; the world’s
own calendars continue to bear witness to the fact that what Isaiah
prophesied (whether in 750 BC or 750 BCE) has come to pass: the “signal for
the peoples” has come (Isaiah 11:10).
B. This peace the Lord speaks of through Isaiah will be perfected in the
world to come.
1. At that time, Christ’s kingdom and reign will become true glory and
2. But the kingdom of peace has come already and is now, just as surely as
the King of peace has come already and now lives and reigns to all
3. God grant that we recognize anew and afresh the great blessings he has
already bestowed on us in his kingdom!
4. Come, Lord Jesus! Amen.
C. Let us pray:
So open up the gates, make way before the King of kings
Our God who calls the saved is here to set the captives free. Amen.
D. The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for 11.27.22 “The mountain of the house of the Lord”

ADVENT 1, 11.27.22

Text: Isaiah 2:1–5

Theme: The mountain of the house of the Lord

Other Lessons: Psalm 122; Romans 13:(8–10) 11–14; Matthew 21:1–11 or
Matthew 24:36–44

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
Psa 122:1-9
(1) A Song of Ascents. Of David. I was glad when they said to me, “Let us
go to the house of the LORD!”
(2) Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem!
(3) Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together,
(4) to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, as was decreed for
Israel, to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
(5) There thrones for judgment were set, the thrones of the house of David.
(6) Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!
(7) Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”
(8) For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”
(9) For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.


A. Isaiah 1:2 “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has
spoken: ‘Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled
against me’ ”
B. So begins the Book of Isaiah.
1. With the heavens and earth as jurors, God the Almighty Prosecutor
presents his closing argument against the defendant, his own people,
A. They have abandoned their Maker and Redeemer.
B. Their worship is insincere.
C. Their rulers are corrupt.
D. They lack mercy.
E. They oppress the weak and live solely for pleasing themselves.
2. The just sentence for their crimes?
A. Their land shall go desolate,
B. they shall be burned with unquenchable fire.
C. Similar words of judgment and condemnation immediately follow our Old
Testament Reading for today.
C. But here in Isaiah 2 verses 1–5, the prophet abruptly shifts to words of
mercy and a description even of Israel’s future glory.
1. Verses 2-4 “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain
of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the
mountains. . . .
2. For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from
Jerusalem. . . .
3. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn
war anymore” What does all this mean?
4. From the prophet’s day to the present time, Isaiah’s prophecy about a
mountain that God would one day establish high above all other mountains—to
which the peoples would stream to hear the Lord’s teaching and out of which
God’s Word would flow to the rest of the world, bringing peace and
harmony—has been misunderstood and abused.
5. Where then Is the “Mountain of the House of the Lord”?
I. Jews, Muslims, and even many Christians have mistakenly identified the
mountain of the house of the Lord according to their own worldly
A. For many of the Jews living during Jesus’ humble ministry, the mountain
Isaiah was talking about was Jerusalem.
1. That’s where God would come and deliver his people from their physical
enemies and establish a literal kingdom on earth that would rule all other
2. Convinced of this, they rejected Jesus, thinking he couldn’t possibly be
the Messiah, the one sent by God to bring about such an earthly kingdom,
since Jesus brought not glory but a cross, not political freedom but
B. Where then is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For Christian millennialists, such as the authors of the popular Left
Behind books, the answer is much the same as the old Jewish one.
2. They, too, believe the mountain of the house of the Lord refers
literally to Jerusalem and that one day, before the resurrection of the
dead, Jesus will come to set up there a central government and rule all the
nations of the world for a thousand years.
3. The godly of the world will be in charge and the ungodly will be
4. No wonder our Lutheran forefathers rejected such teachings as “Jewish
opinions” (Augsburg Confession Article 17, paragraph 5).
C. Where is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For modern Judaism, it is the land of Israel.
2. However, unlike the picture Isaiah gives us of the nations of the world
streaming to Jerusalem, those who hold on to modern Judaism treat Israel as
the exclusive possession of the Jews.
3. The conversion of Gentiles to Judaism is hardly a priority, and to the
extent that there are Gentile converts to Judaism, distinctions remain.
4. A Gentile is still a Gentile.
D. Where is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For Muhammad, the mountain was Mecca, the center of the Muslim empire
and the future capital of a world converted to Islam.
2. But unlike the pleasing picture of peace that Isaiah paints, Islam has
always been a religion of bloodshed.
3. When Muhammad first received his “divine revelations” in the early 600s,
few in his hometown believed him.
4. So, he took his new religion north to Medina, where he found converts
willing to wage war against his enemies back in Mecca.
5. Thus began Islam, the so-called religion of peace.
E. Where is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. For many of the medieval popes:
A. it was either Jerusalem, the holiest of pilgrimage destinations,
B. or Rome, the center of Christendom and home of Christ’s representative
on earth, the pope himself.
2. Yet unlike the voluntary streaming of people and the conditions of peace
which Isaiah describes, the popes sought to establish the kingdom of God by
force—during the Crusades through war and during the Inquisition through
instruments of torture.
II. Christ, by his first Advent, has inaugurated the latter days, in which
the peoples of the world are brought into God’s kingdom.
A. Where then is the mountain of the house of the Lord?
1. A key to help us unlock the mystery is the phrase “in the latter days.”
2. The error of first-century Jews and modern millennialists lay in
thinking that the “latter days” to which Old Testament believers looked
forward are still way in the future.
3. How did the author of Hebrews put it?
A. Hebrews 1:1-2 “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to
our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by
his Son”.
4. Did you catch that?
A. “In these last days.”
B. Every day since Christ’s resurrection and ascension until his second
coming is one of the last days.
C. There is nothing yet to be accomplished for our salvation between now
and our Lord’s coming again in glory!
D. As St. Paul said in our Epistle this morning: Romans 13:11 “You know the
time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.”
E. We do know the time!
5. We are living even now in the last days.
B. Isaiah also spoke of people freely streaming to the mountain of the
house of the Lord to be taught by God and to walk in his paths.
1. So much for an earthly kingdom brought about by force of arms.
2. Remember what Jesus told Pontius Pilate: John 18:36 “My kingdom is not
of this world”.
3. Jesus said that from the days of John the Baptist the kingdom of heaven,
instead of committing violence, suffers violence, and he warned against
those who would try to “take it by force” Matthew 11:12.
C. The mountain of the house of the Lord is the place where God dwells and
is enthroned and reveals himself to his people.
1. The mountain of the house of the Lord is where God gathers his people
around his Word and Sacrament.
2. In short, the mountain of the house of the Lord is here, in this place,
God’s Church, where two or three have gathered in his name.
3. You and I are part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s 2,700-year-old
D. Imagine a first-century Palestinian, thanks to some time-traveling
technology, transported into the present.
1. He might argue that today’s world hardly resembles Isaiah’s picture of
peace—swords being beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.
2. But what did the Christmas angels declare?
A. Luke 2:14 “Peace on earth and goodwill toward men!”
3. A modern millennialist might argue that understanding Isaiah 2 in terms
of the Christian Church does not take the text literally or seriously
4. But Isaiah says:
A. Isaiah 2:3 “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the
Lord from Jerusalem”.
5. Must the nations make pilgrimage to Jerusalem to hear the Word of the
Lord, or does the Word itself go out from Jerusalem to the nations?
6. The risen Christ commanded his disciples to proclaim repentance and
forgiveness of sins:
A. “to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).
7. And that’s exactly what happened:
A. The Word—the promise of salvation through Christ’s atoning sacrifice on
the cross—went out from Jerusalem, starting with the apostles, and spread
to sinners around the world.
B. Even today, around the world, people of every nation, language, and
tribe come to the house of the Lord and are being converted to faith in
Jesus Christ, taught by God and walking in his paths.
III. Still waiting for the consummation, we rejoice that even now the peace
between God and sinners and among the redeemed is a reality.
A. That Word which began in Jerusalem comes to you today.
1. Although you and I fall under the same judgment which God spoke to his
people in Isaiah, God has graciously pardoned us.
2. He has issued a stay of execution.
3. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. Why?
4. For the sake of the one who was condemned in our place—his Son, Jesus
5. Risen from the dead, God’s Son declares to you this day, “Peace be with
6. Your sins are forgiven.
B. It’s true that, just as did the believers of Old Testament times, we
still look forward with a sure hope to that Last Day, when God will put an
end to all earthly war, remove all sin, wipe away all tears, when there
will be only peace and joy in the presence of our Lord forever.
1. But unlike the Old Testament believers, we know that the age of Christ’s
second coming is the culmination of what has already begun.
2. Isaiah got to view the mountain from a distance.
3. We’re actually dwelling on it!
4. These are the last days.
5. The Light has come into the world!
6. Even now there is forgiveness of sins and peace, peace with God and
therefore with one another.
7. And the Word of the Lord draws the nations to itself.


A. In the 1960s, having outgrown the space in which its members had
worshiped since 1941, the leaders of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in
Dallas, Texas, set out to find a new location for their church.
1. They chose for their site what was, according to surveyors, the highest
elevation in the city of Dallas.
2. Now, for the relatively flat prairie land of Dallas, this wasn’t saying
3. Some members jokingly say that Our Redeemer Lutheran Church is “a city
shining” not so much “on a hill” as on a knoll, that is, a small hill or
4. Still, the slightly higher position relative to its surroundings serves
as a visible reminder that the mountain of the house of the Lord:
A. where God’s Word is preached and the gifts of salvation are given
B. It has been established as chief among the mountains (Isaiah 2:2)!
B. What a note on which to begin a new church year!
1. Today, on the First Sunday in Advent, Isaiah reminds us that the Lord is
faithful to his promises.
2. Though we still live in a world ravaged by war and disease and other
calamities, a world still in bondage to sin and death and far from glory,
God dwells even now in his house—this house!—and reveals himself to us.
3. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah
2:5). Amen.
C. Let us pray:
Our hearts are glad and our souls rejoice before You, Lord, our God,
because by Your Word of truth You have made us members of Your Holy Church,
in which You daily and richly forgive the sins of all those who build their
trust on Jesus Christ. Grant us grace to abide in the love of Your Word, in
purity of faith and in piety of life, even to our end. Amen.
D. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
E. In the Name of the Father…Amen.


Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve 2022 “What a Thanksgiving treat”

Thanksgiving Eve 2022 11.23.22

Text: Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Theme: “What a Thanksgiving treat”

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this evening.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
E. LSB 823:1 May God Bestow on Us His Grace
May God bestow on us His grace,
With blessings rich provide us;
And may the brightness of His face
To life eternal guide us,
That we His saving health may know,
His gracious will and pleasure,
And also to the nations show
Christ’s riches without measure
And unto God convert them. Amen.


A. Gabriel Ruth, a Globally Engaged in Outreach (GEO) missionary for the
LCMS, wanted to show her Czech students something typical of an American
celebration of Thanksgiving.
B. She couldn’t provide turkey for a hundred, so she made the
next-most-Thanksgiving treat:
1. green bean casserole.
2. Cream of mushroom soup.
3. Crispy fried onions.
C. Mmmmm! Surprisingly, she was able to find all the ingredients in Prague.
1. Baked.
2. Transported two hours on the train.
3. Sprinkled.
4. Happy American Thanksgiving!
D. Her students’ reaction? “Eww! Gross! What’s that?”
E. “Come on, try it!” she said.
1. Not many takers.
F. The only ingredient of the recipe most of Gabriel’s students would taste
were the crispy fried onions.
1. They picked them off the top, and they were a universal hit.
2. But the whole casserole, the main event?
3. They’ll never know what they missed.
G. Jesus presented ten lepers the greatest reason for thanksgiving.
1. And it wasn’t that they were healed of their leprosy.
2. That was just the crispy fried onions on top.
3. It was the fact that the Messiah, the Savior, was right there, offering
4. All ten loved the crispy fried onions, being healed of their dreaded
5. But only one tasted the whole casserole.
6. Only one realized how delicious was the treat he’d actually been given
(Luke 17:11–19).
H. We’re given so many reasons to give thanks, and the turkey and pumpkin
pie and green bean casserole we’ll enjoy tomorrow are among them.
1. So are health and friends and family we’ve enjoyed all year.
2. But every blessing we receive is only because Jesus, the Savior, has
made us God’s dear children again by dying for us, taking away the sin that
once separated us from all of God’s gifts.
3. For that, I say Happy Thanksgiving!
I. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 1 Chronicles 16:34 proclaims:
1. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!”
2. Christians are urged to give thanks always to our Lord, who loves us.
3. Look at all that God has given to us! He has given people in our lives
who love us.
4. He has given us a country to live in, safety, good medicines, and all
kinds of daily bread.
5. Our Father gives us so much good that we should give thanks to God for
all that he has given us just this year alone.
J. At this point you might be saying:
1. Wait a minute. Pastor, did you just say we should give thanks for all
God gave us this year?
2. This year has been horrible!
3. The year 2022 is surely going to go down as one of the hardest, most
frustrating, and divisive years in U.S. history!
4. With the:
A. loss of loved ones due to death,
B. to inflation showing its ugly head every time we look to buy something,
C. to people losing the ability to be decent and civil toward one another:
1. How Can Anyone Be Thankful This Year?!?
I. We can be thankful that this year God taught us we do not live by bread
alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
A. Dear fellow redeemed of the Lord, remember what our text for our
consideration says:
1. “You shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you
these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you
to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or
not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which
you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know
that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that
comes from the mouth of the Lord” (verses 2–3).
2. Think how the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for decades.
3. Do you think they were thankful?
4. Many were not.
5. Many grumbled against God and Moses.
6. God gave:
A. daily bread miraculously,
B. from manna to water pouring from a rock to quail,
C. so the people could eat something else.
7. Other times, God angrily took lives, like when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
led a rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16),
8. or when God sent snakes to bite people and many of them died (Numbers
9. So compare what the Israelites went through compared to what we have
gone through in 2022.
10. We’ve only had one bad year.
11. The Israelites had forty.
B. God sent the Israelites to the wilderness out of love to humble their
1. God’s ways are not our ways.
2. He knew the Israelites could not yet properly receive his gifts—not the
Promised Land and especially not eternal life through faith in the coming
3. He knew the people trusted in their own wisdom and abilities.
4. By humbling them, he meant to show them their utter hopelessness apart
from him.
5. By humbling them, God might show his beloved people that they needed his
6. This is why God says he humbled his people:
A. that “he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but
man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (verse 3).
C. Whatever else 2022 has brought us, we can still say that God’s fatherly,
divine goodness and mercy are infinite and boundless.
1. God’s wisdom is greater than ours.
2. His understanding is unsearchable.
3. In this year that few people have liked for one reason or another, God’s
Word that proclaims Jesus, our Savior, has still been preached.
4. In this awful year, our heavenly Father has not taken his Word away from
5. While other comforts were taken away, God’s Word still comforted us as
only God’s Word can.
6. This Word proclaims you righteous, right with God on account of Jesus,
even if reason disagrees and senses don’t detect it.
7. Like the Israelites, so you and I also can learn by that during this
humbling time, we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes
from the Lord’s mouth.
II. And we can be thankful—this year as every year—for all the blessings
that the Word of God promises are ahead for us in Christ.
A. God’s Word is a Word of both Law and Gospel.
1. It first shows us the perfect way to live; and because we have not lived
this way, it also shows us Jesus, who did.
2. God in his Word desires that we would:
A. “keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and
by fearing him” (verse 6). Yet God’s Word also proclaims Jesus, whose
footsteps never strayed and who for our sake laid his perfect life down at
the cross.
B. God’s Word promised the Israelites a good land overflowing with
1. That promise sustained the faithful as they trekked through the
2. With little pleasant in their day-to-day life, with frustrations as they
moved from place to place, the promise of God’s gift of an overabundant
land encouraged the faithful.
3. Certain of God’s promise, they forgot the past and pressed forward to
the great goal God was giving them.
C. The same thing is true for us too.
1. In this year:
A. when conveniences have been taken,
B. when fears have abounded,
C. when family customs had to be changed,
D. when worries for our older friends and relatives consumed us,
E. when we are frustrated at the political battles in our country (which I
think every side would admit to)—we have a sure Word of comfort.
F. That Word is the salvation promised in Jesus, who delivers us from this
valley of sorrows to himself in heaven, based solely upon his love for us.
G. So we believers can forget what lies behind and set our face joyfully to
the blessings that lie ahead.
D. By God’s Word, believers learn how to be content in all things—in normal
years and even in times when things are anything but normal.
1. By God’s Word, believers learn to trust him daily in all challenges, and
we see how richly those who also trusted him in Scripture were blessed by
2. By God’s Word, believers are:
A. comforted in affliction,
B. helped in distress,
C. fed when spiritually hungry,
D. strengthened when weak,
E. loved when loveless,
F. set at peace when terrified,
G. and forgiven for Christ’s sake when guilty.
3. For that Word of our Savior and God’s undying mercy for us poor sinners
sustains us through even the hardest of years.
E. This year, I’ve seen people challenge others to come up with good things
God gave them in 2022.
1. It’s good to do, to stop and count our blessings.
2. What good things has God done for you this year?
3. What blessings did God bring you?
4. I think you could find quite a lot that God gave you this year that you
can be thankful for.
5. Even the hard things you’ve seen this year may be blessings in disguise,
blessings that will open up sometime in the future in ways that we just
don’t see now.
6. But we do see what God’s Word says.
7. And we see how God is good and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in
steadfast love.
F. There is much to give thanks for.
1. Greatest of all is that 2022 has shown us that this world isn’t that
desirable of a place. The year 2022 has taught us to set our eyes on that
which lies ahead and to forget what lies behind. For this world is not the
home of believers.

A. Our true home is in heaven, in the new creation and the resurrection of
the body.
B. Jesus has come to save us from this valley of sorrows, and he has done
everything we need.
C. He has gone to prepare a place for us in the new promised land of heaven.
D. He has secured that place for us by his blood, and he communicates this
to us by his Word and Sacraments.
E. For this, and for all God’s gifts, we give thanks. Amen.
F. Let us pray:
G. LSB 823:2 May God Bestow on Us His Grace
Thine over all shall be the praise
And thanks of ev’ry nation;
And all the world with joy shall raise
The voice of exultation.
For Thou shalt judge the earth, O Lord,
Nor suffer sin to flourish;
Thy people’s pasture is Thy Word
Their souls to feed and nourish,
In righteous paths to keep them. Amen.
Text: Public domain
H. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and
minds in the true faith in Christ until life everlasting. Amen.
I. In the Name of the Father…Amen.