The lutheransermons’s Podcast
Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve - November 23, 2022

Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve - November 23, 2022

November 22, 2022

Sermon for Thanksgiving Eve, based on:

Deuteronomy 11:13-16

Philippians 4:4-13

Luke 17:11-19

Sermon originally delivered November 27, 2013

Preparing for Worship - November 27, 2022

Preparing for Worship - November 27, 2022

November 22, 2022

This Sunday is the first Sunday of a whole new church year, as we begin the season of Advent, in preparation for the coming of Christ. We prepare especially for His coming at Christmas, but also for His coming to us again and again through His Word and Sacrament, and His coming again on the last day. The Scriptures can speak to any of these “comings.” The Gospel lesson is often from the Gospel of Matthew in this church year.

The psalm is Psalm 122. David was glad to be able to come to the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. It was a place of God’s presence and His giving of peace and security to His people. It was also a place for God’s people to pray for that peace, through Him, and give thanks to Him for His goodness. Our churches provide such a place for us today.

The Old Testament lesson is from Isaiah 2:1-5. This is a prophecy of the Lord Himself “teaching His people His ways,” as He came in the Person of His Son, Jesus. Jesus would teach people to follow Him and “walk in His paths.” He would be “the Light of the Lord”  and “the Light of the world,” as “nations would flow to Him” and He and His disciples would take “the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” to all peoples. He would bring bring ultimate peace through what He would teach and do as the Savior.

There are two alternatives for the Gospel lesson. It can be Matthew 21:1-11, where Jesus comes into Jerusalem riding on a lowly donkey on His way to the cross to pay for the sins of the world and to bring peace with God. If churches prefer to read this lesson on Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week, an alternative reading is Matthew 24: 36-44, where Jesus taught about His coming again at an unexpected hour on the last day. God’s people are to “stay awake,” spiritually, waiting by faith for Him and His return. There will be, then, the final separation of believers from unbelievers.

The Epistle lesson, Romans 13:(8-10)11-14 also calls God’s people to be spiritually “awake,” for the day of His return, the day of “salvation.” We put on Christ at our baptism (Galatians 3:26-29) and we are to continue to live in His light, with “the armor” of His Word and His good gifts He gives us. That also means seeking to cast off the “works of darkness” and our sinful desires, and to live in Christ’s love, reflecting His love to our neighbor - those people God has placed around us. That is what Jesus first has done for us, as our Savior.

Study of the Letter of Jude Part 3 - Verses 4-7

Study of the Letter of Jude Part 3 - Verses 4-7

November 22, 2022

Last week, we heard Jude asking the people to whom he was writing to be ready to “contend,” to “fight” for the Christian faith which had been delivered to them (Jude, v.3). The danger was from “certain people who had crept unnoticed” into the church and were “ungodly people” who were “perverting the grace of our God into sensuality.” The word “sensuality” means some kind of “excess,” a “lack of restraint,” “indecency,” usually of a sexual nature, though not necessarily limited just to that. Sometimes the word is translated as “lasciviousness” or “wantonness,” some sort of “shameless conduct” that is immoral and goes beyond the bounds of public decency (Jude, v.4).

The fact that Jude calls this behavior a “perversion of the grace of God” seems to mean that these people were taking for granted the mercy and forgiveness of God, in Christ, and felt that they could now do whatever they wanted to do, as if God did not care about their behavior anymore. Jesus had said, “If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed” (John 8:36). These people seemed to be interpreting statements like that to mean that they now had a license from God, a freedom through Jesus, to do whatever they chose.

It was the same sort of problem that Paul spoke of in Romans 6:1-4, when he wrote, “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Rather, we were baptized and connected to Christ, so that we “might walk in newness of life” - not to follow our old sinful nature and desires, without concern. (Remember Paul’s warning in Galatians 5:19-24 not to live in “the works of the flesh,” but to live by the Holy Spirit, in His good fruit.)

Jude had earlier (at the beginning of Jude v.4,) called these “ungodly people” those who “long ago were designated for this condemnation.” Jude went on (in v.5-7) to give three examples of people in the Old Testament who had gone away from God and His Word and will and were clearly condemned.

Jude first wrote about the children of Israel who were saved from slavery in Egypt and brought out and led toward the Promised Land. Sadly, many of them soon grumbled and complained and rebelled against God, and while Moses was with God on Mt. Sinai, they did what they wanted and broke commandment after commandment and worshipped a golden calf they had made and were involved in other immoral behavior. As a result, many died, and over time, almost all of that generation died and never made it into the Promised Land. (See Exodus 32 and Scripture warning such as Deuteronomy 28:15ff.)

Jude also clearly said that God “afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Unbelief is the most serious problem, that leads to condemnation if people are not brought back to Christ. Jude also said that the churches had been taught these warning and he was reminding them again of these, so that they might repent before being destroyed themselves (Jude, v.5). (By the way, some manuscripts have Jesus, the Lord, or the Christ or a combination of these names for God, mentioned here as “saving” the people from the Egyptians. God the Son was there in the Old Testament, too, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, doing the work of the Triune God, long before He came and took on human flesh as a true man, as well as being God, for our salvation.)      

The second example of judgment given by Jude, in verse 6, was that of the angels who were created perfect, as special servants of the Lord, but then were not satisfied with their “position of authority” and rebelled against God and are now condemned, to some degree “bound,” and are now just awaiting the final judgment. (See Revelation 12:7-12 and 20:1-3, 7-10 and 2 Peter 2:4 and Hebrews 2:14-15 and Luke 10:17-20, etc. Jesus has already made certain the final defeat of Satan and all his evil angels.)

The third example that Jude gave, in verse 7, was of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their destruction, because of rejecting God’s will and “indulging in sexual immorality, and pursuing unnatural desire” (literally, pursuing “other flesh”). This is a reference to homosexuality and other perversions, some of which I don’t want even to mention. (See Genesis 19, Deuteronomy 27:20-23 and 29:23-26 and Leviticus 18:23, and 20:13,15-16, etc.)

The fact that this example is used might give us an idea of the widespread kind of immoral perversions going on among some people in the churches to whom Jude wrote, too. Such following of their own desires was a clear denial of their Master and the Lord Jesus and His will; and such perversions were not acceptable and needed to be fought against, especially when they were happening with people in churches. (Another example of this was in 1 Corinthians 5:1-2.)

Remember again that the Greek/Roman world was very immoral and corrupt, with hardly any sexual standards or standards of other kinds. Christians tried to be an influence on the culture, but sometimes the culture and philosophy of that time influenced Christian people too much. This might be a good time to remember that Peter was dealing with some of the same issues in his second letter, too. Some think Peter wrote first and was predicting some of what Jude was seeing a few years later - or vice versa. Look especially at 2 Peter 2:1-19 and how similar this is to what Jude writes about.

We don’t have time in this study to compare the two letters very much, but will keep focusing in Jude. Keep thinking about similarities to our own day. More next week!

We are still in the “bad news” portion of the letter, with much law and warnings and past examples, to wake people up to the truth and make it clear that God still does care about what Christians do in His Name. We will see how He is calling people back to Christ and His forgiveness and new life above all, as we go on.

Sermon for the Last Sunday of the Church Year - November 20, 2022

Sermon for the Last Sunday of the Church Year - November 20, 2022

November 22, 2022

Sermon for the Last Sunday of the Church Year, based on:

Malachi 3:13-18

Colossians 1:13-20

Luke 23:27-43

Sermon originally delivered November 24, 2013

 

Preparing for Worship - November 20, 2022

Preparing for Worship - November 20, 2022

November 16, 2022

This is the Last Sunday of the Church Year. It is sometimes also called Christ the King Sunday, as we think of the victory of Christ our Lord and the eternal promises we have in our Triune God.

The Psalm is Psalm 46. We looked at this psalm a few weeks ago, at Reformation, with the focus on God as our Refuge and Strength and our Fortress in every time of need. Today we hear that while earthly “nations rage” and “kingdoms totter” and “earth”and “seas” and “mountains tremble” and “give way,” the Lord God “will be exalted” and “make wars to cease” and finally bring perfect, eternal peace to us in heaven, "the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.”

The Old Testament lesson is from Malachi 3:13-18. God says that many of His own people had been saying “hard words against Him.” They were claiming that there was no “profit” in following Him and His will. The evil and arrogant were “prospering,” and the Lord was allowing the evil to escape with no consequences, they thought. Some still feared the Lord, though, and talked with with one another and encouraged each other, most likely in worship and prayer and use of the Word of God. The Lord heard them, and they were written in a “book of remembrance” as His “treasured
possession,” and they would clearly be identified as His children, who served Him, on the day of judgment. (See also Malachi 4:1-3.)

The Epistle lesson is Colossians 1:13-20, a beautiful description of God the Son - who He is and what He has done. “All the fullness of God dwelt in Him.” He existed “before all things” and was involved in the creation of ”all things,” and “in Him all things hold together.” For our sake, though, He came into this world to bring us redemption and the forgiveness of our sins. Through Him we are reconciled to God and have peace with God “by the blood of the cross.”

Our Gospel lesson, Luke 23:27-43, speaks of that great work of Jesus, as he went to the cross for us. He was “Christ the King, the Chosen One of God,” and yet willingly suffered  in our place to forgive our sins and give us the promise of “Paradise” - eternal life with Him in heaven, through faith in Him. He will remember us, too, and our names are written in His “book of remembrance” and life eternal, as we have been brought to know and trust in Him as our Lord and Savior, just like the criminal described in this passage.

Study of the Letter of Jude Part 2 - Verses 2-4

Study of the Letter of Jude Part 2 - Verses 2-4

November 16, 2022

Last week, we heard that this letter was written by Jude, a half-brother of Jesus and a brother of James, the leader of the early Christian church at Jerusalem. Jude simply began by telling what was most important - that he had been called to faith and was now “a servant of Jesus Christ.”

We don’t know exactly when he wrote this letter or who the people were to whom he wrote, but it may be that he had ministered to them in the past. He just says that they are people who were also “called” and dearly loved by God the Father and “kept” for Jesus Christ, their Savior (Jude. v.1). There are similarities between Jude’s letter and 2 Peter, and Peter’s letter may have been helpful to him, as he wrote by the inspiration of God, as Peter did.

Jude began with a blessing and prayer that three great gifts of God would be increased, “multiplied” among the Christians to whom he writes. He asked first that God’s “mercy” would be with them - His compassion and pity for them and their needs and especially for the forgiveness of their sins. As they knew of God’s mercy, they would know that they also had “peace” with God. The barrier of sin between them and God was removed, because of His great love for them, especially through what Jesus had done for them (Jude, v.2).

In preparing for this letter, Jude said that he was especially eager to write to these beloved people about “their common salvation” - the great hope now and forever that they and all those in the faith had in the good news of Jesus and what He had done to rescue them.

That was the favorite message of all the Biblical writers  - what God had already done for them, through the gift of “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” It was a gift earned by the “once for all” sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

See how that one sacrifice by Jesus was described in Hebrews 9:24-28 and again in Hebrews 10:10-14. That one sacrifice was great enough to pay the penalty for all sins of all people, and we receive the benefit of all that Christ did and are counted as “saints” as we are brought to faith and trust in Jesus. That is “the faith once for all delivered” to the people to whom Jude wrote and to all who are brought to faith in Jesus, including us who trust in Him. See also Paul’s description of a “saint” in Romans 1:1-7. All believers are already counted as saints through Jesus. This is the message that Jude said that he wanted to spend his time on, in writing this letter.

However, Jude first “found it necessary to write appealing” to the people “to contend for that faith.” To “contend” meant to struggle, to fight as a combatant for something - in this case, for the sake of “the faith.” We get our English word “agonize” from this Greek word; and added to the word is a preposition which suggests “to agonize or struggle or fight “earnestly.” Why was there a need to have an agonizing struggle? What was so important to fight about?

Jude said that “certain people have crept in unnoticed… who are perverting the grace of our God…” (Jude v.4) in a way that was “denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.” These were not people attacking the church and the faith from the outside. These were people who were part of the church, who had crept in stealthily, from the side, and were distorting and perverting key teachings of the faith, including “the grace of God,” and in the process were “denying” the Lord Himself and His Word and will.

It is not a total surprise that people who do not believe or understand Christians would be criticizing them and challenging them. It is much more difficult and dangerous when the attacks come from within from those who seemed to be God’s people. Something must be done, Jude was saying.

We will get into more of what Jude said and meant next week. Keep looking at this letter yourself. What example of past problems did Jude give? Do we still have such problems today? What should be done to “contend” for the faith? These are not easy issues and are ones that some  would often prefer not to deal with at all, in our current culture. But Jude is saying that these are dangers that we cannot ignore. The Lord’s blessings on your week.

Sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost - November 13, 2022

Sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost - November 13, 2022

November 16, 2022

Sermon for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, based on:

Malachi 4:1-6

2 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Luke 21:5-19 

Sermon originally delivered November 17, 2013

Preparing for Worship - November 13, 2022

Preparing for Worship - November 13, 2022

November 8, 2022

We are now in the last two weeks of the Church Year. Our Sunday readings have to do with “end times” and the return of Christ our Savior. The Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 98, a great psalm of praise to the Lord for his marvelous work of salvation. He has been faithful to His chosen people of Israel and will now perform His glorious work for all nations and make this Good News known to the ends of the earth. This will happen through Jesus Christ and His Gospel shared with all. We are to bring a joyous song to Him, with words and musical instruments, along with praises of the created world. When He returns, He will judge in a righteous and upright way.

The Old Testament lesson is from Malachi 4:1-6. Elijah the prophet (identified by Jesus as John the Baptist) will come and turn the the hearts of people, through his call for repentance and return to the Lord. He will prepare the way for the “Sun of Righteousness,” our Lord Jesus, who will bring spiritual healing, the forgiveness of sins, and joy to people who fear the Lord and trust in Him. A day of final judgment will come, though, for the arrogant and evildoers, with fire and destruction.

The Epistle lesson is from 2 Thessalonians 3:(1-5) 6-13. Paul asks that the believers would pray for him and all others sharing the Word of the Lord, that the Word would speed ahead and more people might be delivered from evil and be brought to faith in the Lord. Then they will know in their hearts “the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.” Paul also warns the Thessalonians not to become idle busybodies, refusing to work and earn their own living when they can work. Paul encourages them to be busy at some ordinary work, and “not grow weary in doing good.”

The Gospel lesson is from Luke 21:5-28,(29-36). People are admiring the magnificence of the Jerusalem temple, but Jesus warns that it will all be destroyed. Questions come, and Jesus describes some of what is coming. Some say it is like looking at a mountain range, with peaks ahead, but not an ability to tell exactly what is ahead and when. He warns about false teachers who think they have everything figured out and know just when the end is near. There will be many natural and humanly-made disasters. God’s people will have many trials and tribulations, too, but also will have “mouths and wisdom” to bear witness to Christ. Jesus tells the believers how they can escape destruction when the temple and Jerusalem are destroyed and can then bring the Gospel to Gentiles (non-Jews), along with Jews, all over the world. Believers are to stay awake in faith and prayer in the Lord. Finally, the Son of Man, Jesus Himself, will come in a cloud with power and great glory. Believers can hold their heads high, for the day of final redemption has come at last.

Study of the Letter of Jude Part 1 - Verses 1-2

Study of the Letter of Jude Part 1 - Verses 1-2

November 8, 2022

We begin today a study of the Letter of Jude. You can find it right before the Book of Revelation. It is the second-last book of the New Testament. It is short, with only 25 verses. I picked this letter because we can work through it in just a few weeks, as a break from the 22 weeks it took to study Paul’s Letter to the Galatians!

Jude can a good follow-up to Galatians, too, because both letters dealt with false teachers, but in almost opposite situations. The false teachers in Galatia were trying to add various Jewish rules and regulations that the Galatians supposedly had to do in order to earn salvation for themselves. They were challenging salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone. Trust in Christ was not enough, the false teachers said. In contrast, Jude was dealing with people who falsely perverted the grace of Christ by making it seem to be an excuse to sin and do whatever they wanted to do, as if God did not care.

The author of this letter simply calls himself “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude, v.1). The name “Jude” is a short form for “Judas.” (The Greek actually has “Judas,” but maybe it is translated as Jude to make sure there is no confusion with Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, or another Judas, also called Thaddaeus, both of whom were among the original 12 disciples.)

This Jude seems to be the Judas identified in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 as one of the “brothers” of Jesus. He was actually a half-brother, since Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, through the power of the Holy Spirit, and the others brothers and sisters, including James, were born of Mary and Joseph in the normal way later on. (The “James” mentioned here in Jude v.1 is not the Apostle James, who was killed by one of the Herods in Acts 12:1-2 some time earlier. This is James, another of the half-brothers of Jesus (Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3), who became a leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem (Acts 15) and wrote the Letter of James) (James 1:1).

It is interesting that both Jude and James call themselves “a servant of Jesus Christ.” But they do not call themselves brothers (half-brothers) of Jesus in their letters, as they could have. This is probably because they knew that earlier in the ministry of Jesus, they had not believed in Him as the Messiah and Savior. See John 7:5. It was not until after Jesus’ resurrection that it was clearly said in the Scriptures that they had become believers in Him. See Acts 1:14. Jude and James would also have remembered that when they and Mary had come earlier in His ministry to see Jesus, He had said, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).

Jude and James knew that it did not matter if people had met and knew facts about Jesus or even were His relatives. What really counted was whether a person had been brought to faith in Jesus as Savior. That was, as Martin Franzmann says, “the tie which bound a person to Jesus and made him an obedient child of God.” That’s why Jude, in Jude v.1, calls himself only “a servant of Jesus Christ” and immediately in v.2 says that he is writing to “those who are called,” as he was, to faith in Jesus. These were “beloved” people, dearly loved by God the Father and “kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude v.2).

Paul also wrote of “the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:8-9). Peter wrote of how believers are being kept, “being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:2-5). John spoke of these gifts of God as being the definition of love and “being beloved” - “not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins”(1 John 4:9-10). Jude summed up all of this in the simple words that he wrote to believers “who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.”

We close for today with a few other introductory notes. We know nothing more about Jude than what is in this letter. We don’t know who the people were to whom he was writing or where they were located or just when this letter was written. There are similarities with some things written in 2nd Peter, so some think that Jude had seen 2nd Peter and was influenced by what Peter said, or vice versa, before Peter was put to death for his faith. This could put the letter in the 60's AD, probably between 65-70 AD.

Paul mentions in passing in 1 Corinthians 9:4-6 that there were “brothers of the Lord” involved in sharing the Gospel besides Peter and the apostles and Barnabas and he himself. Jude could have been writing, then, to churches he himself had worked with. There are a few late traditions, long after his time, that say he worked in Persia, but we don’t know if these are true. We do know that there are possible references to this letter and quotations, as early as in Clement of Rome, 96 AD or so, and numbers of early church leaders in the 100’s AD and later.

If you have time, read all of Jude and think about what it seems to be saying and warning about. See if you can find where the references to the Old Testament are found. Praise God that you have been called to faith and are kept safe in Christ Jesus. The Lord’s continued blessings.

Sermon for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost - November 6, 2022

Sermon for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost - November 6, 2022

November 8, 2022

Sermon for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost, based on:

Isaiah 1:10-18

2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 10-12     

Luke 19:1-10

Sermon originally delivered November 3, 2013

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