Sermons

2nd Last Sunday (Mt 25:31–46)

November 19, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

((5. Oops!: What are you?))

When you see the exalted “Son of Man, the King, seated on His glorious throne,” where will you be? Which side will you be on? Will you be a sheep or a goat? Will you be on the right side and welcomed into the kingdom? Will you be on the left side, cursed, and cast out into the eternal fire? There’s no third option. Kingdom or fire—that’s it. No middle ground, and no way to pass from one to the other. The chasm between them is large.

So, which are you? Are you a sheep? Are you a goat? These are important questions. Eternal kingdom or eternal fire hang in the balance.

((4. Ugh!: How do you become a sheep and avoid being/becoming a goat?))

Balances, scales, and wages—that’s where we’re at. What’ve we got to do? We’re good at that sort of thing. We’re task-oriented sort of people, right? Give me a job, a chore, take up a personal pet project. We like that sort of thing. Self-improvement. Better obedience to a set of standards, a schedule, a routine. A better habit produces better results. That’s how you become a sheep, or, at least, avoid being or becoming a goat. Or so we think.

But if it were works, and I’m not saying it is, but if it were, what sort of works? Certainly not the kind we want to be doing. We can find the people we like, those who are like us, who think like us, those who “do” like us, and we’ll help them. They may even need your help—all the better! The needy, the homeless, the poor they may get your help, too. Great!

And you’re certainly better at it than that person over there, right? They need more standards, more law. That’ll get them in shape. That’ll change them from goat to sheep real fast. Yeah, I know I should do that, but at least I’m doing this. Scales and wages.

Then it all comes crashing down. True scales. True wages. The King speaks: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” “What? What do you mean? Pardon me, your majesty, you’ve gotten this all wrong. You’re mistaken. Don’t you know what I’ve done? What I’ve been doing? Are you blind? ‘When did [I] see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’

((3. Aha!: KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT.))

An overabundance of works got the goats nowhere. It’s not works. The sheep apparently do nothing; nothing they’re aware of, anyway. The goats apparently do everything; everything they’re very much aware of—to the letter! To think like a goat is to worry about your works and the works of others. To view works as a way of getting into the kingdom or to view them as a way of staying in the kingdom, is to think in terms of scales and wages, is to think like a goat.

But the King casts the scales aside for a different way. There’s the King’s Way or the highway to hell. The exalted King, the Son of Man, does His Kingdom different.

KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT.

That’s what He says: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, indeed.

((2. Whee!: Then it can’t be by works.))

If it’s by WAY OF GIFT, BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, then it can’t be by works. There’s no middle ground there. Inheritance can’t be earned. In fact, you only get an inheritance when the one giving it dies. That’s what happened! The Son of Man was exalted on His first throne. There He was in His first glory—Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. There He died. There the true wages and scales were settled. God’s own death the price.

The inheritance really can’t be earned. Not by you. Not by me. Not by anyone but Jesus FOR YOU. Listen to His Word: It was “yours from the foundation of the world.” You can’t earn that sort of inheritance. Only an eternal One can earn such an eternal inheritance, and He does FOR YOU.

And when it comes to works, of course, the sheep do them. The King says so. The sheep don’t seem to think so, but the King’s judgment is all that matters. The goats, well. They do them, but the King’s judgment is lack of work. It’s all by way of Gift. The sheep’s imperfect works are reckoned as good and holy by the blood and decree of the King. The goats’ imperfect works are reckoned as accursed and lacking because they aren’t covered by the blood and decree of the King. Sheep live by way of their King and Shepherd. That’s being in Christ. In Christ: sheep, good, holy.

((1. Yeah!: You are what King Jesus makes you.))

The Gift gets even better. KING JESUS DOLES OUT THE KINGDOM BY WAY OF INHERITANCE, BY WAY OF GIFT, after all. He doles it out, and makes you “blessed of My Father.” That’s baptism: “This is [My beloved son, My beloved daughter] with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus elects you, His sheep, in Baptism.

That’s King Jesus doing His doling out of the kingdom. All His gift. He’s the Preparer of the Kingdom. And sheep receive all that the King, their Shepherd, has to give them. They live from and through Him. He declares them sheep. He puts them on His right. He chose them, called them in Baptism. Sheep don’t go their own way. They don’t even think in terms of “my works.” That’s foreign. That’s not sheep thinking. Sheep thinking is receiving from the King who doles out the kingdom by way of gift, whenever and whichever way He doles out the gift makes no difference to the sheep. No scales and wages. Pure gift. Pure inheritance.

Font. Keys. Altar. There it is. Washed sheep, decreed sheep, body and blood sheep. His. His Gift. His inheritance. No scales. No wages. “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

3rd Last Sunday (Mt 24:15–28)

November 12, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

What sort of comfort do we look for in this life? What sort of escape? People look for all sorts of comforts and escapes. We fashion all sorts of false comforts. We usually compensate for our what troubles us with pleasure. We watch the game. We drink. We eat. We read. We hunt. We do everything in our power to not think about what’s going on in the world. We avoid dealing with our own problems. But in the end, these false comforts come up empty.

There was no comfort in AD 70. The Romans besieged Jerusalem. The conquered it. We know what goes with that sort of thing. People fled. If they couldn’t escape, they were killed. If they were spared, well, they were taken as slaves. It didn’t matter if they were men, women, or children. The temple was destroyed. Jerusalem sacked. Truly an “abomination of desolation.”

Are we comfortless? It feels like it from time to time because we’ve set up all sorts of false comfort. We set up our walls, our towers. But look out at the world: there’s no end to trouble. Look at our own lives: there’s no end of trouble.

Whatever security we thought we had is taken away, our props get kicked out from under us. What are we left with? Where do we turn? In the darkness, in tragedy, in death, in trouble, where do we go?

Do we go to false comforts? False words? “The day’s always darkest before the dawn.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “God never gives us more than we can handle.” Doesn’t He? Jesus says it will be more than people can handle: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” Our false comforts just ring hollow, because they are.

But there’s only one thing that was hollow and empty, that was basically bare and echoed with nothing to catch the sound but a few grave clothes. That empty tomb is the source of our comfort not because it was empty, but because of Him who once occupied that tomb, who was crucified and killed for us.

THE ONLY TRUE COMFORT WE HAVE IS CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED.

It’s around Him that we gather, and it’s from Him that we receive true and lasting comfort. He is our comfort. He our life in the midst of death. He our peace in the midst of chaos. He our joy in the midst of sadness. He our light in the midst of darkness.

We gain our life, we are sustained, enlivened from His death. His death is life, is salvation, is redemption, is peace with God. His death is our death. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized, were baptized into His death?” His death is our sustenance. “This is My body, which was given for you; This is My blood, which was shed for you. Take eat; take drink.” “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.”

Only if we’re truly dead, can we then be made truly alive. Once we’re sunk deep into Jesus’ wounds, buried deep in His death, united to the Crucified alone, it’s then that we find that death brings life, that death gives way to life, that His resurrection from death is then our resurrection from death. Such life given from the very same means that give us His death: “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.”

This is our comfort in the gray and latter days. That He will do whatever’s necessary to save, protect, bring about salvation—even end time’s salvation—for His “elect,” His chosen, His baptized, His eagles. We don’t have to wonder where He is. We don’t have to be on the lookout for the next big movement of the Spirit, or the next big book, the next big fad. “Here He is!” “No, over here!” “No, over there!” No, none of that. Jesus tells us exactly where He is: in His word-filled water, making disciples, wherever two are three are gathered to receive His Absolution, to hear His preaching, to receive His body and blood.

There’s no other signs. No wonders. That’s not Jesus. He delivers comfort. His death comfort. His empty tomb comfort. His baptism comfort. His absolution comfort. His body and blood comfort. “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.”

THE ONLY TRUE COMFORT WE HAVE IS CHRIST THE CRUCIFIED.

His comfort is everlasting. It will last past and through the gray and latter days. Then on the Last Day, “the coming of the Son of Man” “will be like lightning that comes from the east and shines as far as the west.” And we, the Lord’s eagles, who gathered around His body in this life, will be “caught up…to the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,” we “shall mount up with wings like eagles; [we] shall run and not be weary; [we] shall walk and not faint.”

That’s our comfort, our true comfort, our only comfort. And it only comes from Christ the Crucified. That comfort, that Jesus is yours. He has to be: “For wherever the body is, there the eagles will gather.” It’s true in this life, and it’s certainly true in the life to come.

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

Dick Crome Funeral (Gen 5:21–24; 1 Th 4:13–18; Mt 28:1–10)

November 9, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

101 years, 6 months, and 28 days. Wow! 101 years, 6 months, and 28 days. Quite a bit longer than what we prayed in Psalm 90. There Moses teaches us that “the years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty.” That’s what Moses says, and he lived to 120. Moses also recorded for us Enoch who lived 365 years. Enoch’s son, Methuselah, lived to be 969!

Death, even at the end of a long life, is not a part of the Lord’s original and eternal plan. A life no matter how long is always, in some sense, cut short.

Yet the Lord will use death for His purposes. Death gives way to life. Death brings with it the gifts of life. It’s the gateway to the Lord. Death must give way to the true way of things—life. It has to! Because

JESUS’ LIFE DESTROYS DEATH.

((I. Death is the status quo in this life.))

The Lord Jesus really does give blessings in this life. Great heavenly Father type gifts, all delivered only out of the Father’s great mercy and love in Jesus Christ. Such good gifts! Great gifts for Dick! 101 years, 6 months, and 28 days of gifts. A wife of just shy of 74 years. 4 sons. 10 grandchildren. 24 great grandchildren. Being able to truck until he was 83!

All good gifts, but we all know this day comes. We all know that what we are gifted with in this life and what we gift others with—all those heavenly Father, earthly gifts are temporary. Eventually moth, rust, death, and decay take everything. We can’t escape it. It’s inevitable, even after 101 years, 6 months, and 28 days. Death is the way of things in this life.

Sin does this. “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” “Those who sin die”—that’s what the Law says. That’s what the Lord Jesus Himself said to Adam, “On the day you eat, you shall surely die.” Since then, people have been dying, “because all sinned.” Caskets, cemeteries, our tears are all proof—death hurts, death stings, death is our last and great enemy. Death seems to destroy life.

((II. Life must be the true way of things though.))

But that’s not all. “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Life must be the true way of things—not death! JESUS’ LIFE DESTROYS DEATH, after all. Not just the perfect life Jesus lived for Dick and for you, (that perfection counts for you, by the way), not just the death Jesus died for Dick and for you. No! Jesus came back to life. Jesus was always raising the dead, but Jesus coming back to life—it’s that life (His resurrection life) that truly destroys death.

Didn’t you hear the angel? “You seek Jesus who was crucified. He’s not here. He was raised just as He said.” Jesus came back to life. The angel rolled away the stone to show what Jesus had already done. Jesus was dead, and then He was out—tomb empty, Jesus gone. Then there He was—alive! “Greetings!,” He said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” They did see Him, just as He said.

Now, Jesus doesn’t just destroy His own death. That’d be a lame sort of Savior, and that’s not Jesus! No, He destroys all death. Death itself is meaningless. It’s a nap. A sleep. A sleep Jesus can and will awake people from. That’s the sort of resurrection life He gives. It’s the sort of life promised in Enoch. Enoch didn’t die. God took Him into eternal life with his body to show there would be a resurrection. And Jesus delivers that sort of life to each of you, and He certainly delivered it to Dick.

Yes, JESUS’ LIFE DESTROYS DEATH, and He makes sure He delivers that death-destroying life. He won’t leave us in need, in our greatest need, in our last hour of need all alone. He bends all creation to His purposes. The death-destroying, life-restoring waters of Baptism give us life, eternal life in the midst of death. There we receive Jesus’ resurrection robe of righteousness. No sin can keep us out of life: in Absolution heaven’s gates are flung wide open—no sin to keep them closed. So also the medicine of immortality—Jesus’ resurrected body and blood, which was given and shed for you—give you Jesus’ own promise, “I will resurrect you on the Last Day.”

All creation and time bent to deliver theses Gifts—the Gifts God truly cares about—eternal-life giving Gifts: to you, for you, for Dick, too. Baptized April 23, 1916. Absolution was delivered, body and blood delivered Monday. Preaching to remind Dick of his Baptism into Christ as he heard the Word and from our Epistle: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.”

Death doesn’t destroy life. We think it does. But the truth is: JESUS’ LIFE DESTROYS DEATH. Jesus’ tomb is empty. Even as He blessed Dick with many gifts, He made sure that He delivered what Dick needed most of all: life. Dick was washed in the waters of life 101 years ago. The gates to eternal life were, once again, flung open for him Monday, and he was fed with eternal life in the body and blood of Jesus Monday, too. He entered Jesus’ no-more-death eternal life Tuesday.

Now, these Gifts weren’t just for Dick. They’re for you, too. Jesus bends all of time and creation to make sure you can receive them, so that you too can have life, eternal life. And because you have and trust and receive His Gifts, Jesus even uses death to His purposes to save you, to bring you to Himself. Now death is now the path to eternal life with Jesus. No scales, no tolls, no detours. There’s nothing else needed from us or from Dick. Jesus took care of everything. Absolutely everything! Death gives way to life. It has to! Jesus did so! His Gifts say so. In death “there you will see Me,” Jesus says. Face to face even as He will raise your body just like His is risen. JESUS’ LIFE DESTROYS DEATH, after all.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

All Saints’ Day—Observed (Rev 7:9–17)

All Saints’ Day—Observed (Rev 7:9–17)

November 5, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

You, dear saints of God, are saints of God. You’re His holy ones. That’s what a saint is: someone who’s holy. Not just a little bit holy, sort of holy, or even mostly holy. No, saints are holy! 100%. Saint-i-ness, holiness comes from Him who “alone is the Holy One.” It comes from Jesus.

Now, that flies in the face of how we naturally think about saints. Saints are good people, and all that. That’s just how most people think—us included! But our text from Revelation sets the record straight. It’s all about saints, “the saints triumphant,” but it’s not just about them or for them. All Saints’ Day is just like every other Feast Day in the Church. Our Revelation text is just like every other text of Scripture. I’ll give you a hint: It’s all about Jesus FOR YOU.

((2. Saints are those who dwell with Jesus.))

So, “who are these in white robes and from where have they come?” Well, they’re the ones who dwell with Jesus. They’re His saints. They’re “before [God the Father’s] throne,” before the Lamb’s throne (it’s the same throne), and there they are “day and night,” that is, forever. Cause there is no more day…or night.

How’d they get there? Well, they aren’t saints, and they aren’t forever in God’s presence because of what they’ve done. Not even one good work done in this life gets them there. Not baking, sewing, hunting with his buddies, or whatever else some people try as comfort when someone dies. Saints aren’t saints because of what they’ve done—no matter how nice! The saints in our text tell us why they’re there, though: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” They are WHERE they are (dwelling in God’s presence), they are WHAT they are (saints, holy ones) all and only because of Jesus. His salvation (His death, His resurrection) did it. 100%. No exceptions.

Saints are those who dwell with Jesus because of what He’s done for them.

((1. Saints are there with whom Jesus dwells.))

But that’s not all, dear saints of God. Saints aren’t just those who dwell with Jesus in eternal life. Oh, no, no no. Saints are those with whom Jesus dwells.

When Jesus dwells among people, it’s only natural that in that place you’ll find saints because Jesus is the One who makes saints! Saints have pure robes. They’ve been “made white,” “washed in the blood of the Lamb.” That’s His salvation. He didn’t shed His blood only for the saints, but He shed His blood to make saints, “to set us free to be people of God,” to be His saints.

So often we tie being a saint, being holy to what we do, to morality. To doing the right thing. That if you do some bad stuff over here, you’ve gotta do this good stuff over here, and that transaction is what makes you a good person, makes you nice, makes you a saint. When you’re good outweighs the bad, we think that’s living the sanctified, holy, saintly life.

But saints aren’t just nice, or mostly good, they’re 100% good in God’s sight. No amount of works will do that for you, but Jesus already has. That’s why He “dwelt among us.” He lived the perfect life, and His perfection counts for the saints. Jesus’ saintly life is the saints’. His death and resurrection save us from sin, and our transactional thinking.

He still dwells among us. That’s what makes us saints. He continually fills us with His own saint-i-ness, His very own holiness. He’s washed our robes in His blood. Not only that, He gives us His own robe of righteousness. He’s led us the living waters of Baptism. That’s where He did that for us. Not only that He feeds us with His holy body and holy blood. This Holy Supper gives us Jesus’ own holiness. The perfectly holy body and blood of Jesus becomes united to our bodies and souls so that we, too, are completely holy as He is holy.

On All Saints’ Day, just like every other day, we are reminded, because we so often forget, that we really are saints. We are holy. Not in ourselves. Nothing we do. Absolutely nothing! But Jesus dwells with us to make us saints, to make us holy, to keep us holy. No holiness apart from Jesus and His Gifts. The result of being made a saint now is that the saint will dwell with Jesus forever in His Father’s kingdom. That’s what Revelation 7 is all about.

JESUS DWELLS WITH HIS SAINTS NOW, AND THEY WILL DWELL WITH HIM FOREVER.

But there’s really no difference between us, who are being made saints now, being kept saints, and those who are saints dwelling with Jesus. There’s one thing we have in common with them: Jesus. Jesus is the hinge of the “holy Christian Church and the Communion of Saints.”

Those you love who are now with the Lord Jesus are here! They gather with us. It’s why we sing before the Sacrament: “With angels and archangels and with all the company of heaven.” “All the company of heaven” is the saints, those you love, who now dwell with Jesus. They join us in singing our praises to Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Eucharist indeed!

You see, when Jesus comes to dwell among us, to bring us His body and blood this is what’s going on. Here we stand and gather in Jesus’ presence, and He’s delivering to us His body to eat and His blood to drink. And there on the other side gather His “saints triumphant” who are feasting at Jesus’ eternal wedding feast, not “hungering anymore or thirsting anymore.”

Saints here. Jesus. Saints there. He’s the hinge, after all. He dwells among His people, and they dwell among Him. That’s our joy not only this All Saints’ Day but forever. That JESUS DWELLS WITH HIS SAINTS NOW, with you now, AND his saints (you) WILL DWELL WITH HIM and all his other saints FOREVER.

INI + AMEN.

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Sermons

Walter Sears’ Funeral (Jn 10:17–18, 25b–30)

November 2, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

Jesus knows His sheep. He knows Walt. He knows you, too—each one of you. And Jesus isn’t the sort to know someone, and then not do anything about it when that person’s in trouble. So Jesus, God Almighty, Son of the Father, does something. He can’t not! That’s the sort of Jesus He is. Jesus does something for Walt and for all His sheep—for you, too!

So, what does Jesus do? Well, He “gives them eternal life.” He’s God Himself, one with the Father, and so He can do that sort of thing. What happens when Jesus gives eternal life to His sheep? It’s simple, but amazing, but, more importantly, it’s comforting, especially on a day like today. So, what happens?

JESUS’ SHEEP NEVER PERISH. Continue reading

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Sermons

Reformation—Observed (Jn 8:31–36)

October 29, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

You’re free! And not “unalienable rights” free. There’s no “unalienable rights” in Jesus’ freedom. That’s worldly freedom—1st Article Gifts that don’t actually save anyone. Jesus isn’t talking about that sort of freedom.

No, you’re really free. Baptized free! A freedom that Jesus promises, seals, and delivers to you, splashed on your forehead, in the water and Word of Holy Baptism. After all, you don’t set yourself free. Someone else does the freeing. Jesus does. He gifts it. Not only Waters it, but Sermons it, Absolutions it, Bodys and Bloods it.

To be free is to live begiftedly—from, in, and through Jesus’ Gifts. It’s how He makes you free, keeps you free, and causes you to remain in His freedom. His Gifts are the only way Jesus sets you free. And when He sets you free, well,

JESUS REALLY SETS YOU FREE. Continue reading

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Sermons

Trinity 19 (Mt 9:1–8)

October 22, 2017
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

INI + AMEN.

What happened some 2,000 years ago in Capernaum is shocking! It was shocking back then. It didn’t go unnoticed by anyone. The pharisees noticed and grumbled. The crowd of people noticed, and they gave praise and glory to God. The paralytic noticed, too. Did we even notice why?

It’s not that the paralytic took up his mat and went home. We get hung up on that, but that’s minor compared to what Jesus said! Everyone saw the miracle, but they really took notice of what Jesus said. It was shocking! It was wonderful. More than all that: it was comforting. It still is! Still wonderful. Still shocking! Still quite noticeable. Should be, at least.

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Continue reading

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