Monday, June 13, 2011

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21, for Pentecost, "Call on the Lord!"

1. Imagine you are a pilgrim on your way to celebrate Pentecost: OT festival of harvest. Pilgrims, farmers gather to Jerusalem, one of three times a year. Bring the “firstfruits” of harvest as a freewill offering to God—thanksgiving for the harvest, trust in His provision.
a. Expectation, crowds of people, distant lands, farmers led by a flute player, sing the Psalms of Ascent, 120-136, while moving in procession up Mount Zion to the Temple
b. Then presenting their firstfruits to the priest, they were to recite the following, from Deut. 26: ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6 And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. 7 Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8 And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. 9 And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’
c. Then they laid down their offering and were to worship the Lord and rejoice and celebrate with everyone, including travelers and visitors to Jerusalem.
d. By Jesus’ time, many of the Jews, esp. from foreign lands, couldn’t speak the Hebrew and participate in the recitation. So what kind of surprise and joy to hear the mighty works of God proclaimed to them in all their native languages!
e. Miraculous gift of tongues showed to all who heard, that God wanted all people to have His Word, not only the Hebrew speakers. God was “reversing the curse” of Babel, the confusion of languages that set up a barrier between the peoples. Now the Gospel message would go forward in all languages, and the church would form in Christ Jesus in as many tongues/languages as are spoken.

2. People asked “What does this mean?”
a. Peter gets up and preaches a sermon (only the first part here) and quotes Joel 2. God’s prophecy fulfilled—dramatic outpouring of the Holy Spirit
b. What are all these signs? Signs that mark the issuing in of the Messianic Age, the age of the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ.
i. These signs were seen a-plenty during Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and the apostle’s age. Earthquakes and the sky darkened at Jesus’ death.
ii. Early Christian disciples throughout Acts having visions and giving prophecy. Stephen, Paul, Peter, Cornelius, the daughters of Philip the evangelist, the prophet Agabus,
iii. Sudden flurry of mission growth of the church—Spirit’s work, thousands

3. Everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved
a. Psalm 86:1-7: “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
b. Easy to take for granted. A person needs a repair done at home, they have a business card for the repairman, but never call. Does it do them any good to have the card but not use it? Don’t fail to use God’s name—don’t “hang on” to the name but never use it—call on Him daily in prayer. Call on Him in the day of trouble, and He will answer
c. Pentecost (& the rest of Peter’s sermon) shows who the Lord is, and why we can call on the name of Jesus and be saved
d. Jesus: convicted by earthly courts, whose conviction was overruled by God’s heavenly court when He raised Jesus from the dead and proved Him innocent, and the Messiah, the Son of God. Salvation is in His name—for all who call on Him.

Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at:
Listen to audio at:

1. How powerful is the Name of God to save? Psalm 106:6-10; Matt. 10:22; Acts 4:12; When and why should we call on Him? Psalm 86:1-7; 116:1-2; 145:18; Rom. 10:12-14

2. Pentecost, the “Feast of Weeks” or “Festival of Harvest” is actually an Old Testament celebration. Ex. 34:22; Deut 16:10; Num 28:26; Ex. 23:16a. Pilgrims would gather in Jerusalem, and on Pentecost morning, a flute player would lead the farmers up Mount Zion as they sang the “Song of Ascents” (Psalm 120-36). When they reached the temple, the farmers would present a basket of grain as an offering while reciting the words from Deuteronomy 26:5-10a in Hebrew. (The Lutheran Study Bible, p. 1835).

3. By the time of this Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection, many Jews from foreign lands no longer spoke Hebrew and could participate in the refrains and praises at the Temple. What kind of joy did they experience when they heard the apostles “telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). How did Peter answer the question: “What does this mean?”

4. How was this day a fulfillment of the prophet Joel? Joel 2:28-32

5. How was the prophecy that “your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” fulfilled already in the early years of the apostles? Acts 7:55-56; 9:1-16; 10:1-33; 16:6-10; 18:9-10; 23:11. These signs showed that the Messianic age had dawned, and that Jesus was the name on which we can call, to be saved. How had God shown Jesus to be the Messiah? Acts 2:22-24

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Sermon on John 17:1-11, for the 7th Sunday of Easter, "Kept in God's Name"

Sermon outline:

1. Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer—longest prayer of Jesus, first part is for His immediate disciples, second part expands to all future disciples.
a. Hour had come: Father to glorify Son & vice versa—the coming crucifixion, where humility and obedience would bring glory and honor to God

2. Jesus speaks about the purpose God His Father gave: “to give eternal life to all whom you have given Him.” Who has God given to Jesus? Have you been given to Jesus?
a. God is the one doing the giving, not us (vs. “I gave myself to Jesus”)…God gives faith, He calls us to be disciples/followers.
b. We are given to Jesus/called to faith by God’s Word. United with Him in baptism. The Word calls and awakens faith in us. Jesus says: “I have manifested (made known) your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” Jesus made known God’s name (more on that later). God gave them to Jesus, and they have kept His Word.
c. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God, and keep it. Disciples, who God gives to Jesus, hear and keep His Word. Not by our own power, wisdom, or righteousness, but by the power, wisdom, and righteousness of God. God works in us, and He lives in us to keep His Word.

3. Giving eternal life: “This is eternal life, that they know you the only True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
a. Eternal life is to know God and Jesus. To know Jesus is not just head knowledge: but to know and trust Him as your Savior. Know He went to the cross to die for your sins. Call on His name, worship Him, listen to and obey His teaching.
b. “I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.”
c. We know God’s heart toward us through Jesus. We find in Him mercy for our sins, and forgiveness for our guilt. We know Him because we cling to Him by faith—never letting go of the One who promises us eternal life, because to let go of Him is to let go of life and His promises

4. Jesus prays for His disciples—knows there will be challenges, they are in the world but not of the world. Reading from 1 Peter tells us we shouldn’t be surprised as Christians if trials and sufferings come upon us because of believing in Christ. Jesus is praying for you—knows that your faith will be challenged “Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith”

5. Jesus prays “Holy Father, keep them in Your Name”.
a. Named “Christians” after Christ
b. Given the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in baptism. With God’s name comes a new identity for us.
c. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray: “Hallowed (holy) be Thy Name.” Acknowledging the Name of God is Most Holy. This should fill us with a fear and reverence for the fact that God places that Holy Name on us. So how should we keep God’s Name Holy? The catechism goes on to explain that “God’s Name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it. Help us to do this dear Father in heaven! But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us. Protect us from this heavenly Father!” Our lives are to be a living, holy witness to the Holy Name that we bear.
d. Help us to do this dear Father in heaven! Jesus’ prayer/our prayer. Don’t go it alone against the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. Don’t let go of God. God will help us, God will keep us in His name. Enable us to resist the devil and stand firm in our faith.
e. God has given us to Jesus, called us to faith, given His Word and name, promised eternal life, and keeps us in His Name.

Sermon Talking Points
Read past sermons at:
Listen to audio at:

1. Read all of Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17. It is “priestly” because Jesus prays on behalf of others. How did Jesus pray for His disciples and also for us? What did He ask for?

2. What was the “hour” that Jesus said had come? What was going to happen? See John 2:4; 5:25-28; 7:30; 12:23; 13:1; 16:32

3. Who gave us to Jesus to be His disciples? John 17:2, 6, 9; 15:16

4. What is Jesus’ purpose in the world, as described in John 17:2? How does one get eternal life? See also John 5:24. What did Jesus do to secure eternal life for us?

5. Why do Christians need to be watchful of the devils attacks? 1 Peter 5:6-11. Why did Jesus pray for His disciples? What challenges did He know would face them? John 17:15ff

6. How are we given God’s name? Acts 11:26; Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 6:11. How do we keep and honor God’s name? 2 Thess. 1:12

7. Why don’t we ever want to let go of Jesus and His promises? What has God given and done for us? John 10:28-29. Will He let us go?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Sermon on Acts 1:1-11, for Ascension Day, "At God's Right Hand"

Sermon Outline:

1. Day of Triumph—sublime and awesome mystery—Jesus ascends to the place of honor at God’ right hand. Imagine the celebration at the victor returning home!
a. Father is spirit, and so what does “the right hand” mean? Not “displaced” from us by infinite distance, but ruling in God’s power and dominion everywhere. Power, authority exercised. Honor. Place of intercession
b. Christ alone can rightfully claim this honor. His humbling Himself, incarnation, death, and resurrection earned Him this rightful honor. Redemption necessary for Jesus to become our intercessor.
c. Our confidence of our own ascension into heaven (Where the head is, there the members of the body will be also!), resurrection of the body, forgiveness and Jesus’ intercession. God justifies.

2. Prepare a place for us. God is waiting for you! A restored and perfect heavenly fellowship with God, through Jesus’ blood: access to the heavenly throne of grace.

3. What remains to be done? All powers and authorities are being subjected to Jesus:
a. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. (Heb. 10:12-13)
b. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28)
c. When Jesus has finally subdued and destroyed all enemies and authorities, and made them subject to the Father, He will transfer all authority back to Him. Death will be destroyed. Eternal life for us, who have believed in Jesus!
d. Jesus continues to intercede for us, and He is eternally seated in that position of authority, so we have the promise of His eternal, righteous & merciful rule.
e. He will return to judge the living and the dead, and to bring us home.

4. Confidence built on Christ at God’s Right hand for us