Archive for December, 2011

Behold the Word and the Light!

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Christmas Morning B, December 25th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
ohn 1:1-14

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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and you know what, the Word still is God!  He was  God in the beginning, He was in the manger God, He was on the cross God, and that very same God is with us right now.  How is He with  us?  In His Word, and in the light that the Word gives to us!  Will you allow that Word to be your God?  Are you willing to live in the light  that He gives to you through that Word?  Will you receive the mystery that an eternal and almighty God can and has come to save you  as a tiny helpless baby in a manger?  Will you by faith believe that He was born from a virgin, with Almighty God as His Father?  But will  you also accept by faith that before He was born, suffered, died, rose, and ascended He was always very God of very God?  Will you by  faith receive the truth that all things that were made were made through Him, and without Him, nothing made was made without Him  and by Him?  By faith along with all of the saints, will you give a loud Amen and declare that this is most certainly true?

This declaration of faith can only be made if you have been given new life; it can only be given if God’s Word has given you light, and it  is only this Word of God that can protect you from the darkness of sin that surrounds you and seeks to fill you!  This Word of God is He that is called “Faithful and True.”  He is the “Amen, the faithful and true witness,” and the absolute “Yes”, without a single no concerning the promises of God.  He is the final and absolute revelation of God, demonstrated in God’s own Son, Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the baby, Jesus the boy, Jesus the man, Jesus the crucified and resurrected Messiah is God’s final Word to you because in Him alone we find all of the purposes, plans, and promises of God.

Now, He isn’t an attribute of God, or a power that comes out of God, but a person within God.  He is the Son of God and has always been in a constant relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit… with One mind and One heart; the heart and mind of God!

Because the Word alone brings light and life, then all of us here this morning must admit that without the Word of God we wouldn’t, we couldn’t be alive.  But there is another kind of life that God’s Light gives us, and it is the gift of eternal life.  So the Word of God wants to take our minds out of the physical world and turn our focus onto the spiritual world.  Just as life and light are forever joined together in the physical world, in the same way they are joined in the spiritual world.  Where eternal life is given, it is only given by the Word of God.  So where true Light is, there is also the offer of spiritual life. St. John said it this way in our Gospel reading: “In Him (the Word of God) was life, and the life was the light of men.”

John uses the word “was” and not the timeless “is” because He wants to demonstrate that this Word of God entered our world in our flesh at a specific point in time; it is the time that the Word became flesh, He took on the flesh of a baby and lived among us, as one of us.  He was born and lived among us completely as one of us, but He did it without sin.

Behold your God!  Behold your salvation!  Behold the Kingdom of God, which comes to men!  Behold the Word and the light of God, which has taken on our flesh!  The Word did not stop being what He was before when He came to us, but He did become what He wasn’t… He became flesh!

The Word and Light of God has come to us, to give us faith, but He also comes to point out our unbelief.  You see there are many people who refuse the Christmas gift of God because they can’t understand this gift with their reason and logic.  They can’t accept the fact that this same Jesus who was born as a baby is also the timeless Word of God, the Only begotten of the Father, who is full of grace and truth; a Word that is the eternal God.

The Word is God’s speech, thought, and conversation with Himself and within His divine heart.  It is a conversation, a Word that is unknown to angels and men.  This Word remains unknown until God chooses to reveal it, and reveal it He has through Jesus Christ.  In Jesus the Word of God took on our flesh and proclaimed God’s love and forgiveness to us!

The creator of the world came to His creation, but His creation would not receive Him!  Why?  Isn’t He the Light that shines in the darkness?  Isn’t He the Light that reveals all truth?  Is there something wrong with the Light, the Word of God?  No, there is nothing wrong with the Light; there is something wrong with a creation that insists on living in darkness.

In our society we give a lot of respect to the men and women of science and rightly so, but when science trumps the Living Word and Light of God we can actually begin to loose God’s Light.  What I mean is this, when you let it bother you that God can’t be proven scientifically, then isn’t that kind of like lighting a candle to see the sun?

I’m afraid that the Light of God seems to make very little progress in the world because the world refuses to see Him as He chooses to present Himself.  This world of unbelief is so saturated with darkness that it doesn’t even fear God, but it does fear His light that brings them His truth and life.  Now just because the Light of God seems to make very little progress does not mean that the Light is ineffective.  In fact, I would say that we are blessed to live in this time, because the light is shining so bright right now!  It’s God’s Light that’s brought you here this morning.  It’s His light that’s brought you into the church, through Holy Baptism.  It’s the light that made you, who were once not God’s people, God’s own children!

(But) “He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.”  That was the greeting the Word of God was given when He was born in the manger in Bethlehem.  As wise men sought out His presence, Herod, the king of Judah sought Him out to kill Him!  Even though He would grow up to enter His office as the Savior of the World; even though He performed many miracles, signs and wonders and spoke life giving Words of faith and light, His own people crucified Him!

But we aren’t doing any better today.  When if ever, do you see the church of God, the body of Christ united together as one heart and mind, setting themselves towards the very mission of God to build the Kingdom of God?  We are so fractured and even competitive; we care more about our budgets and styles of worship than we do about reaching the lost; people who are dying without Jesus Christ.

If all Christians really believed that Jesus was the only true Light of the World and they fought to keep that belief, to share that belief, then we would really begin to see the outward expression of our faith become uniformed and united towards building His Kingdom; a Kingdom that will have no end!

Listen to what Luther said even back in His time and see if it doesn’t ring true within our own congregation: “I am preaching to all of you (here).  But how few of you improve (your lives because) of my preaching and accept the blessed Light in faith and are enlightened by it!  Indeed, my sermons find faith only in a (few) of you.  But in spite of this I am and remain the pastor and teacher of you all.”

Can you hear the frustration in Pastor Luther’s words?  What was true then is still true today: not everyone here this morning believes in the Christmas message.  But that doesn’t take away a thing from the Word of God, the Light of God, and the mission and work of Jesus Christ!  He still remains the Light which saves all people.  From the beginning of the world up till its end Jesus is the true Light.

Jesus is our Light and He is very God of very God, begotten not made.  He alone is the Word that became flesh in this world and because of that, He’s has brought us grace and truth, even love from our Heavenly Father!  He alone takes away your sins, and He alone comes into this world of sin to save you!

Behold your God!  Behold your Savior!  Behold the Kingdom of God!  Behold the Living Word of God and the Light of the World!  Behold your Creator who has come to us in our world and in our flesh.  He lives among us even still in His Word.  He is the Light that no darkness can overpower, but He remains hidden to those who will not leave the darkness of sin.

Behold your God who comes to you through other sinners who have been redeemed and saved through the Word and the waters of baptism.  They are converted sinners, just as you are now.  Behold the Word and Light of God which accepts you as you are but loves you too much to leave you as He found you.  Behold the Word and light of God, which desires to continue speaking to you and filling you with faith, all so that you can one day join Him for eternity within His Kingdom of Heaven.

Behold your God who wants to work through you as He fills you with His light and faith.  He wants to use you to draw other sinners to Himself so that they like you will also become true children of God.  This is how God builds His Kingdom: Through the Word and the Light that His Word brings.  May this Word and Light of God fill us not just this Christmas season but for all eternity.  I ask this in Jesus name… AMEN!

Behold the Kingdom of God!

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

4th Sunday in Advent B, December 18th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

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As 2011 is coming to a close, there’s a lot to be thankful for, but there were also a lot of things that we might like to forget, and think of as a bad nightmare.  For instance, we are told that the peak in the foreclosures has not yet been experienced.  There are a lot of good people out there who will continue to lose their homes in 2012.

What started out as the American dream, has turned into an American nightmare.  I have personally met a lot of those good people who’ve lost their homes.  They’ve showed up in record numbers here at our church seeking help in our food pantry and our free community breakfast.  Each one, to the person tells the same story.  Their dream turned to a nightmare when they or someone in their household lost their job in the recession, and then were unable to find a new one.  As time went by, they were forced to choose between eating or paying the mortgage, they chose to eat, and so began the slow and steady decline to foreclosure!

Who’s to blame?  Is it the fault of the homeowner for buying more home than they could afford?  Perhaps.  Is it the fault of the mortgage broker and the banks, writing loans that they knew the perspective buyer couldn’t afford?  Maybe.  Or is it God’s fault?  God’s fault, why would I say that?  Well because more than a few of the people I’ve met have wondered out loud to me, why God allowed this to happen.  They wonder if God was trying to teach them something.

So is it God’s fault?  No, it was their decision to borrow or to give.  They were the ones taking the chance, hoping that God would bless their decision after-the-fact.  This is somewhat similar to the decision King David made, when he decided to build a house, a temple for God.

Since the time of Moses, the Hebrew people toted around the tabernacle of the Lord.  Although vast amounts of earthly wealth were used to create the tabernacle, it was still nothing more than a series of tents.  And now King David had just finished building his palace in Jerusalem, when he realized that the Lord’s Ark of the Covenant was still living in a tent.  So David gets an idea that he’s sure will please God: “I will build the Lord a beautiful temple!”  Now that he had the idea, David wanted to make sure that it would be blessed by God, so he found the Lord’s prophet Nathan and told him about his plan.  And what did the prophet say?  “Go (and) do all that is in your heart, for the Lord is with you.”  The only problem with this is, no one bothered to ask God what He wanted done!

So what did God want?  Well he wanted a home, but not one that David would build; He wanted a home that He would build Himself and establish by His own strength.  And this is where we discover that God’s no isn’t a bad thing, but a blessed thing.  It is the promise that something greater than we could ever imagine or think would be given in its place!

Now eventually, God did allow a house or temple to be built in order to worship Him, but it would not be a temple that could hold Him.  After all, He is God and He is present everywhere.  So while David’s son Solomon would be allowed to build, it would not be the building that would fulfill the Words of promise that came from God Himself.  Listen: “Say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, In all of the places where I have moved with all the people of Israel, did I (ever) speak a Word with (anyone), saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”  (Now) the Lord declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever.’”

Do you hear God’s “no” in those Words?  But do you also hear His “just wait” in those Words as well?  So what happened?  Well David’s son, King Solomon was allowed to build a house for the Lord, and after Solomon there were a few more from David’s family who sat upon David’s throne, but like all earthly reigns, it came to an end.  And yet God said that David’s house and kingdom would remain forever.  Did God foreclose on the mortgage to David’s reign and throne?  No!  God is not a man that He should change His mind, and He’s not like a bank that He should foreclose.  Behold the Kingdom of God.  A kingdom that comes after God’s no and in the middle of His just wait!

“And the angel said to (Mary), “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” [Luke 1:30-32]

Behold the mystery of God’s Kingdom.  Sinful man thinks that he can take a dream and build something that will cause God to bless him; something that will contain the good pleasure of the Creator of the universe.  And God takes that desire and turns it on its head and makes something that will save sinful mankind from their bondage of thinking, living, and dreaming independent, apart from Him!

God used the temple in Jerusalem, a temple that expressed the dream of all people that one day their God and Creator would be pleased with them and live with them.  And through that earthly temple He pointed to an even greater temple;  a temple of human flesh, created by God and occupied by God.  He used our flesh, created in the womb of a virgin through the work of His Holy Spirit.  And then He sent His Son to forever live in that flesh so that God could live among His people.  Behold the mystery of God’s Kingdom!  That Creator moved into and lived among the created forever!  That which is all powerful took on the form of a humble servant.  That which can not contain God does in fact contain God; all of God!  The God Who is the creator of all, took on the form of man so that He could save sinful man!  The flesh of sinful men and women would forever be redeemed and inhabited by God!

Are there any dreams in your life that you’ve been holding onto, waiting  so long for God to respond to?  Have there been dreams that seem to have been lost or foreclosed by God?  Maybe what you thought was God’s final no was really His wait and see.  Maybe, you’ve been walking by faith for so long that you’ve lost track of where you came from and where you’re going?  Maybe you’ve lost sight of your final destination!

So where are you right now?  You are in His Kingdom of Grace!  A Kingdom you neither built nor established.  A Kingdom where your God comes to you embodied in His Living Word and Sacraments.  You can see and hear these things, and you receive them but you can’t explain them.  They are a mystery to you, and yet within the mystery you know by faith that your God is really with you.  In these things you’re shown a crucifix like this one and told that our God who came to us in our flesh died for you, for your sins, and by faith you believe this.  In the waters of your baptism, you are told that you were given a life giving bath of simple water empowered by His Word and Spirit.  By faith you believe that not only is your Savior Jesus Christ really with you, but He will never leave or forsake you!  In the Lord’s Supper, you are given simple bread and wine and through His Living Word you are told and you believe that within those simple elements are Christ’s very body and blood; given for you and shed for you… for the forgiveness of all of your sins.  And within this meal God proves that it was He who began the good work of faith by coming to us in our flesh, dying for our sins, and inhabiting our souls through our baptism, who will complete that work, all while He and He alone is nourishing and strengthening your faith so that you can wait patiently to see God’s wait and see turn into an “I told you so!”

In our Old Testament lesson this morning there’s one important part left out of our reading, and it is David’s response by faith to God’s promise of building a house that will last forever.  Listen, because his response is amazing: “Who am I, O Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?  And as if this were not enough in your sight, O Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant.  Is this your usual way of dealing with men?” [2 Samuel 7:18-19] The answer to David’s question is a resounding, yes!  This is always how God responds to His children whom He has called into His grace through Jesus Christ, by faith, through the power of His life giving Word!  God’s promise to build your house, to build your future is set on the solid foundation of His Holy Word.  You can’t afford this gift and you can’t earn it; but you can relax and celebrate it because God doesn’t foreclose.  While it’s true that He will allow you to walk away from this gift, He will never ever leave you nor forsake you!

So what is our response to all of this?  We simply cry out with the blessed virgin Mary and say, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your Word.”  AMEN!

Behold Your Salvation!

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

3rd Sunday in Advent, December 11, 2011
Mr. Mark Kunkee, Deacon of Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
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“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” (Isaiah 61:1 ESV)

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Our Text comes to us from Isaiah 61 verse 1: “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has moved me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind me up to the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness from the prisoners.”  Who is this speaker?  Of course it is Jesus Christ.

It was in our baptism, where our sins were washed away; it was there that we became a child of God; it was then that the spirit of the Lord came upon us.

Yes the Holy Spirit came upon us in our baptism but there is someone that doesn’t like that.  And that foe is the devil or Satan.  Because the devil hates it when we do not follow him,  he even gets more upset when we worship and praise  our Lord and savior Jesus Christ.  Oh he hates it when we read the holy bible, receive Biblical teachings,  or work to serve the Lord in gladness; all of this upsets the devil.

So it goes without saying that we need to stay far away from the devil and close to Jesus who provided us victory over all of the devils and our own sinful flesh.  We do this when we call out to God in prayer.  We call out to Him for strength and wisdom.  When we stay in God’s Word, turn to Jesus, and call out to Him in prayer we are actually living in, resting in, and believing in everything that God has done for us through Jesus Christ for us!  Through Christ’s death on the cross and His resurrection He has healed our broken hearts and set us free from the bondage of our sin.  When we turn to Jesus and His cross, we are focused on the lord and not the temptations of the devil and our own sinful flesh.

I know I have said it before how much does the lord love us?  He loves us enough that He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us. And this was done so that whoever believes in HIsaiah 61 ESV

im should not perish but have everlasting life.  Because of what he did for us on the cross we gladly continue to turn ourselves to God.  God has crushed Satan’s head, and because of that, we continue to worship and praise our Lord as we see Him building up his kingdom through our obedience.  And as we gladly follow Jesus He also empowers us with His Spirit so that we aren’t afraid to tell others what he has done for us.  In other words, He wants us to be that fisherman who goes out to catch the unbelievers and then bring them into the church where they be baptized in the name of the Father son and Holy ghost and sent out to do the very same thing.

The Spirit of the Lord is coming from the all-powerful God, who carries out the promises he makes.  He has promised us grace and mercy.  Jesus did not come on his own; God the Father sent him and anointed him with the Holy Spirit.  And that same Spirit is still will us today; empowering us with God’s grace and faith, which are ours through Jesus Christ.  Through Jesus Christ, we too can speak words, the good news, which binds up the broken hearted, proclaims freedom to those captivated by their sins, and proclaims and provides release to those who are held captive by the devils.  All of this is God’s own comfort given to a world that mourns and grieves because of death

Yes, that same Spirit is still with us every time we read our bibles or hear the Word of God proclaimed!  It is in this way the Jesus makes true His promise that He will continue to be with us forever. Remember when you have a problem; take it to the lord in prayer.   Let’s continue to remember that God is the way the truth and the life, and no man can come to the father accept through Jesus, so continue to love your savior Jesus Christ with your heart mind and soul, forever and ever amen.

Now may the love and grace of god which surpasses all human understanding keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus until life everlasting Amen.

Behold Your God!

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

2nd Sunday in Advent B, December 4th, 2011
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA
Isaiah 40:1-11

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What kind of God do we serve?  When we give a testimony about Him to our neighbors, what should we say?  Well listen to His own  Words and then behold your God: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her  warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

Not just once, “Comfort”, but twice, “Comfort, comfort.” So the Lord begins with a single repeated command; it’s a command to the  preacher of God’s Word, that would be me, and it’s a command to God’s ambassadors, that would be you. This command flows from the  mind of God, and God himself directed it to his messengers, messengers who will announce the good news of his love. God wants  everyone to hear this message. He claims all people as His own when He calls them, “my people.”  Think about that for a moment; after  all of our unfaithfulness, all our rebellion, all our sins, we are still his people. God remains our God; for us He is still faithful and  gracious, just as he promised to be: “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and  faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exodus 34:6, 7).

What is our warfare?  It is our struggle to fulfill God’s Law.  It is realizing that because of our sin we can’t make things right with God.  But in order for our warfare to be over, in order to receive a double portion of God’s own comfort we will need to see our sin and want it removed; we need to hunger for His forgiveness; we need to receive it according to His terms and not ours.  Each of us must admit that we alone bear the responsibility for our hard life, the hard service that our life represents.  It was our own sin that separated us from God’s love and it is our insistence on atoning for that sin our own way that causes such warfare.

This morning God’s is asking each of us to agree with Him that all of our accomplishments, the things that we count as good are like grass and the beauty of wild flowers in a field.  The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it, when He calls us home.  Then all of our goodness vanishes as we stand before a perfect and holy God.

This was the message of John the Baptist as he lived his life proclaiming the way of the Lord; preparing the way of the Lord!

This morning, that same Word, that same message is crying out to us from the wilderness of our hearts: “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Prepare the way of the Lord. To our sinful ears, this is a hard word to understand, because it sounds like God is asking us to do even more to earn His love; but that is exactly what He isn’t saying.  No, instead, He’s telling us that He will no longer let us do things our way.   To prepare the way of the Lord means to prepare ourselves for the Lord’s activity in us, so that He alone may be our source of help and pride; so that our lives and eternities will be one with His Son Jesus Christ. But how is this way prepared? What are the obstacles and obstructions we are to remove?  Nothing other than our own arrogance and pride. Those are the very things that prevent people from receiving the grace of Christ.

So how hard can it be?  Well to walk this way, you have to get onto God’s royal highway naked as a Jay bird!  You can’t travel with any merits of your own; you have to receive only the clothing that God provides!  You must be clothed only with His double gifts of grace and faith!  Your heart must agree with the psalmist and say: “If You, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand,” (who could walk on your royal road to your royal kingdom)? “But with you there is forgiveness (there is grace and faith)” [Psalm 130:3]

Now, this is where all sinners equally stand at the edge of a cliff; they will either allow God to turn them away from certain death and see the beauty of God’s way, or they will ignore the way of the Lord all together and jump head-long into pride and an eternity of death.  Those who chose death hear the command to prepare the way of the Lord and say, “What more do you want me to do? I go to church every Sunday and I try to be good. What do you want from me now?” But what they fail to see is that if there is any doing to be done, it must be done by God.  They fail to see that the mountains and valleys that God wants leveled are in our own hearts.  Martin Luther said that the Mountains are saints, and valleys are sinners. As we stand before God all of us are the same without distinction, whether we are saints or sinners. In fact, you who are baptized are both at the same time!  This is the way of God; He levels the playing field.  But why? So that the gospel can be receive by everyone with the exact same assurance; God’s Word gives exactly what it promises… an eternal life of peace with God.  Before God all things must be leveled.

In God’s declaration of double comfort is the assurance that the Law has been fulfilled for us.  Our sin has been removed from us.  He is telling us that we have been set free from our sins, not by working and struggling but by the forgiveness that the Son of God, Jesus Christ provided for us through His suffering and death upon the cross. This is the continual message of God’s Word, which teaches deliverance from sins by forgiveness and grace; grace completely removed from anything we do or fail to do.  This is not the way of the world, but it is God’s way!  God’s way is the gospel, and the gospel doesn’t look backwards at the life we led, but it looks to Jesus Christ upon the cross Who and says, “Believe God, trust in God. For your faith receives forgiveness for sins.”

Faith is completely a gift from God.  It allows you to hear His Word and believe it.  It is a Word, which declares that you are no longer a slave to sin; you are no longer locked in the dungeon of fear and pain! Your hard service is over, not because you’ve earned it or because you’ve done your time and satisfied the law. No, your bondage is over because God has provided your release through his Son, Jesus Christ!

Jesus alone paid the debt, a debt caused by every twisted and perverted sin ever committed, even your sins!  Your debt has been paid off. Your sins are forgiven; they  were paid for by the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).

So as our reading says this morning, we have been paid double.  Not only have we been forgiven and promised to receive the blessing of an eternal life of peace with God, but we may also enjoy that blessing in the here and now, in this sinful world.  But you have been blessed to be a blessing to others.  How?  By speaking the gospel.  The gospel alone saves people from all sin.  It alone is what saved you, correct?  So the voice of God speaks to us this morning and says, Cry out!  You who have heard the good news and been freed from the bondage of your own sins, “lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, and do not be afraid; say to the people in your community, “Here is your God!”  See the Sovereign Lord born in a manger; see Him high and lifted up, crucified for you… for your sins.  He is the Sovereign Lord who is coming again with power and His arm rules for Him.  His arm is His Holy Word, and His reward and recompense is in the gospel for you.  Jesus died to save you!

Speak the gospel, and do not be afraid to give your witness, because that witness and the Word of God are the very power of God!  No one can become a Christian, no one can be saved unless they hear the Word of God and receive the gift of faith from God which comes through the hearing of His Word.

I’d like to close with a Christmas story that explains very nicely how God prepares us and puts us on His road of salvation.  It was Christmas almost Fifty years ago when a man named Rex was stationed in Korea as a young Marine lieutenant. His wife and new born daughter were home in the United States.

On Christmas morning the thermometer hovered around zero with several inches of snow covering the ground. Outdoor worship services were planned and Rex decided to attend out of respect and “to set a good example for the other men.” Nearly two hundred Marines turned out for the service. They sat on their helmets in the snow. They faced a small portable altar. The chaplains had no microphones, and the portable organ suffered from the extreme cold.

Something happened to Rex in that worship service. God broke into his life. He thought of all that was precious to him: home, his wife, his unseen infant child. In that moment as they tried to sing Christmas carols in the cold air he realized that knowing God does not depend on anything he has done or will do; it doesn’t depend on a building or nice clothes, instead knowing God is an act that God does in our hearts so that it can be celebrated and shared with others.” Far from home and loved ones, Rex realized that Christmas Day — in itself — is not important, but the faith it represents is.”

The truth is, God often breaks into our lives in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. He always does it through His Word and He does it through people speaking and sharing that Word.

Behold the mystery of your God; He comes to you in your own language!  Born as a baby in a manger; beaten and bloodied by the government and mocked with the words, “Behold your king!”  Crucified to silence Him, and now reigning with power and might!  Behold your God!  Behold the Lord God comes as your Savior who will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, (even you); he will carry (you) in his bosom, and gently lead to your eternal heavenly home.  Come Lord Jesus, come!  AMEN!