Pastor's Sermon
May 13, 2018
Exodus 20:5-6
Christian Life Sunday
  Rev. Fred Kogler, Guest Preacher
 
Christian Life Sunday - St. Paul Lutheran Church, Arlington, MN
MOTHER’S DAY May 13, 2018
 
Happy Mother’s day to all of you who are mothers young and old… and to everyone here who have mothers, grace be to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today is a very special day for several reasons: Not only is it Mother’s Day, but it is a day set aside to consider the gift of life and the time of grace God has given us, it is also a special opportunity to bring to you the story and explain the purpose of Christian Life Ministries, a ministry we share as fellow Christian Lutherans.
 
The section of God’s word that I would like to use to guide our thoughts and strengthen us is from the book of:
Exodus 20:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
 
Theme: Understanding the commands and promises of God that serve as the basis for a shared ministry:
 
These are the words of God spoken to the children of God through his chosen leader Moses. They are better known to us as a summary of God’s Law, as they set for his holy immutable will. These are the 10 commandments that are to serve people of all nations and ages as God directs the activities of daily living for all people.
 
God alone gives life and regulates it. May we recall what it says in the book of Genesis:2:7  Then the Lord God formed a man[a] from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
 
Furthermore, when he brought Adam and Eve together he enlisted their help in the work of procreation and told them to be fruitful and multiply. Not only were they given the innate ability to love and nurture each other, they were also able to have children like themselves created in the image of God.
 
Other commands were added by God to preserve and protect the life of all the children of men. This protection begins from the moment of conception and extends throughout our lives here on earth. We read: Isaiah 44:24
24 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
   who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
   who alone stretched out the heavens,
   who spread out the earth by myself,
 
It is this same creator God who gave the command to all of us: “Thou Shalt not kill.” To ignore these commands as the will of God and that they are directly from God is to refuse to acknowledge him and his sovereignty. God makes it perfectly clear that he will hold accountable all those who know his will and live their lives contrary to it.
 
So it is today when a nation of people such as ours has such arrogance and greed that it is moved to willfully abuse and neglect the commands of God by the slaughtering of over 60,000,000 unborn children in less than 50 years! Knowing this we should be moved to gasp in unbelief, cry out in horror, and shed endless tears of great sorrow…everyone of us should fall to our knees in prayers of repentance.  It certainly moves us to share the ministry of Christian counseling concerning abortion sponsored and maintained by Christian Life Ministries. That is why I am here today… to bring you back to the understanding of God’s will regarding life and forgiveness.
 
Yes, forgiveness! Not only will and does God punish the impenitent, but his merciful and loving heart has prepared to freely give to all forgiveness. This he does through the terrible suffering that Jesus endured as died on the cross and was forsaken by his heavenly Father!
 
We must acknowledge, too, our great need for God’s love and how great and merciful our God is who had His Son endure all the punishment mankind deserves by dying on the Cross!
 
2. As if the slaughter of the unborn was not enough, moreover, there is much, much more.  We need to know that all children born alive are precious, for each and everyone of us, and especially to God. For little boys and girls born alive God holds very dear to his heart. They are to be brought to Jesus through baptism and be taught the lessons of the Gospel. We may all say yes, we know and understand that, but not everyone does it. Jesus himself reminds us with these words in Matthew 19:14  Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And again he has charged his disciples including all of us: 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
 
In view of these words of Scripture which command and promise that the total wellbeing of all children, we are shown what it is that should be our concern and the focus of a love-filled ministry.  The teaching, training, supporting, loving and encouraging of children everywhere is to be of the highest of priority!
 
For further encouragement and direction we Recall Ephesians 6:4 where we are told:  4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. We are not to frustrate our children to the point of exasperation, but direct them in all their activities according to the word of God. They need to learn about accountability to God and they Need to learn about the forgiveness of God. They need to learn about Jesus! They need to know about the will of God in their lives. They need to know of God’s love and forgiveness. They need to know that they are, each and everyone of them, precious to the Lord.
 
Young mothers need to learn how to apply the love of God to the everyday training of their children. So this is included,  it is brought to them in the work and programs of Christian life ministries. Many prayers and much support are needed to further this work of Christian love and compassion.
 
3. There is another matter that is covered in this section of Exodus,and which is becoming more and more a part of the Christian Life Ministries’ outreach, it is especially covered in the same chapter,  verse 12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”
 
One of the most terrible emerging problems in our society is: Parent Abuse.  In fact it has become known as “America’s Secret Crime.” In a book by the same title written by friend and fellow WELS member, Daryl Olson, his extensive research revealed that single mother families are on the rise. The 1017 census revealed that there were 11,667,000 single parent families of which 81.4% are headed by single mothers! Further research reveals more criminals come from mother headed single parent families. It shows further that more and more of these mothers are verbally abused, neglected, physically hurt, shown disrespect and exploited than ever before. This is very true when it comes to how many families treat grandmothers and aged aunts.
 
The point of all this is to show the great need for training mothers how to raise their children, and developing agencies of education, such as the training and parenting classes that Christian Life Ministries offers and provides. This is were you all come into the picture. I implore you to see the great need, the urgency and the opportunities that are placed before us every day.  I ask you to please to help with the counseling, training in the basic activities of daily living, by providing education for their souls, praying for the children and their mothers, and with a conscious understanding of the commands and promises of God through faith in Jesus Christ support this ministry we share with you gifts of time and resource! May the Lord forgive us all for our negligence and grant us the forgiveness that we so desperately need through Jesus!  Amen.
 
May 10, 2018                                                                                                                          Ascension Day
Acts 1:1-11                                                                                                                       Rev. Matthew C. Rauh
 
What Ascension Means to You!
 
     In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”  So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
 
     In a couple weeks we will be celebrating Memorial Day.  Memorial Day does exactly what its name implies, we remember the sacrifices made by the men and women who served in our armed services.  We remember especially those who died in that service.  It is humble and somber as we think about how someone died for us and for our freedoms.  Memorial Day is a very special holiday.
     Today is another special holiday.  It is Ascension Day.  It certainly is a day to remember all that Jesus has done for us:  born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried.  He died for us.  We celebrate the freedoms we have because of him.  But we do more than just memorialize what Jesus did for us.  We can’t leave a wreath at his grave because he has no grave thanks to the resurrection.  And because he ascended into heaven, we look forward to the day he returns.  So we will let Acts chapter one tell us why this is such a special holiday.  We learn what Jesus’ ascension means to us.  It means Jesus is in charge of everything.  It means he is still with us.  It means he is coming back for us.
 
I.  Ascension means Christ rules all things.
 
     I remember a book we read to our kids when they were little.  It is called, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  It’s about a little boy who had a bad day.  He went to bed with gum in his mouth and woke up with it tangled in his hair.  He trips on his skateboard getting out of bed and drops his sweater in the sink.  At school, his best friend deserts him, his teacher fails to appreciate him, and his mother forgets to put dessert in his lunch.  After school the whole family goes to the dentist and guess which one had the cavities.  Yes, Alexander.  For supper he had to eat lima beans which he doesn’t like and afterwards watch kissing on TV which he also does not like.  His bath is too hot, he gets soap in his eyes, his favorite marble goes down the drain, and he has to wear stupid-looking pajamas to bed.  His nightlight burns out, he bites his tongue getting into bed, and finally the cat refuses to sleep with him.  What a bad day for Alexander.
     How many bad days have you had?  It seems everything is going wrong everywhere, at church, in our community, in our nation, in the world.  And it often isn’t just a bad day, it’s a bad week, month, even years.   And we wish it was only stubbing a toe or getting a cavity or biting your tongue.  It seems like we are totally helpless, much like some hapless ship at the mercy of a hurricane.
     That is why ascension is so important.  It means that things are not out of control but are under the complete control of Jesus.  Remember what he promised:  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” not to the devil, not to fate, not to people, but to Christ.  And he wields his godly power for us.  As it says in Ephesians 1, “. . . and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, . . . And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.”
     So what does ascension mean to us?  It means that we still live in a sinful world and suffer from the consequences of sin including guilt, fear and death.  It means that the devil is on the prowl like a hungry lion, and he is furious.  Ascension means, however, that we are not at the mercy of the devil.  It means that Christ is ruler over all things, that the devil can’t do anything to us unless he begs God for permission!  It means that Christ is in control, that he has the whole world in his hands, and no matter how bad things appear, he is working them for our the benefit of his Church.  We are not a ship at the mercy of a hurricane; Jesus is at the helm and will safely lead us through this world to heaven.
 
II.  The ascension means Jesus is with us.
 
     Ascension also means that Christ will be with us always!  Imagine for a moment that Christ did not ascend up into heaven but stayed right here on earth.  In fact, that is what the disciples expected when they asked, “So when they met together, they asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’”  Imagine that Christ remained on earth and set up a throne and palace and office.  It could be anywhere, Milwaukee, Mankato, Beijing; it doesn’t matter.  He has office hours from nine to five.  Every time you wanted to see him you had to travel and stand in line and take a number.  Your number is 1,679,362 and you see that number 93,583 is being served!  He will go on tours, but how long do you have to wait until his tour comes to Sibley County or the Midwest or the U.S.?  It would be very inconvenient if Jesus remained on earth.
     Do you remember what Jesus promised in our gospel reading two weeks ago from John 16?  “It is for your good that I am going away.  Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. . . . But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”  It is for our good that Christ ascended into heaven.  Then he could send us the Holy Spirit who would work faith and teach us and guide us in all truth.  Because of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to wait in line or make an appointment to see Jesus.  We can meet with Jesus anytime.  All we have to do is open our Bibles.  By the power of the Spirit we pray to Jesus who answers our questions, comforts us, teaches us, even motivates us; he solves our problems, gives us hope, forgives us, strengthens us.  
     So what does ascension mean?  It means that Christ is with us always.  It would be exciting if we could visit some palace and see and visit with Jesus for a little while.  But then we would have to leave and let someone else visit him.  No.  It is better that he ascended.  He is available 24/7.  He is right here in the Word and the Sacraments.  Ascension means we receive the Holy Spirit who works, nourishes and strengthens faith in us.  The ascension means Jesus hears our prayers and intercedes for us no matter when we pray.  Jesus as God is present everywhere.  He is here right now.
 
III.  The ascension means that Christ will come back for me.
 
     The ascension means one other thing:  that Christ will come back for us soon.  “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky?  This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. 
     Christ has ascended into heaven.  Guess what.  He is coming back at any moment.  No matter how old we get or crippled, he will take us.  Even if we should die, he will take us to heaven because he will glorify us.  And not just you and me, but all those who died in Christ.  He is coming again.  So be ready.
     In a track meet, when the starter yells, “To your mark, get set,” the runners better be ready.  If any one of them relaxes and the starter yells, “Go,” then he or she will be caught off guard and lose the race.  Friends, we are in the get set stage.   Jesus said, It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his authority.”  We don’t know when Christ will return; we only know it can happen at any moment.  We are in the “get set” position and lets not relax.  Instead, let’s keep busy. 
     Ascension means we wait for Jesus to return, wish for it, pray for it, want it now.  It also means that we have things to do for God.  Did you catch what the disciples did after Jesus’ ascension?  In Luke’s last words we heard, “Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”  We do the same after the ascension.  We worship God with great joy.  We praise him.  We worship him in church, at home, in our thoughts, in our actions, words and deeds.  We stay ready meditating on his Word day and night.  We teach our children about him.  We tell others.  “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
 
     On Memorial Day we put out American flags.  Flags are placed at the graves of veterans and speeches made.  The President puts a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldiers.  There are many things we do to remember what Memorial Day means.  Remember what ascension means to you.  Remember what he did for you, how he died for you.  But remember what he is doing today as he is in charge of everything for our sake.  And get excited that he is coming back for you soon.  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.  INJ  Amen.
 

Readings for May 13, Christian Life Sunday:
Acts 1:15-26
1 John 4:13-21
John 17:11b-19
Exocus 20:5-6
The Psalm:  Psalm 8


Readings for May 10, Ascension Day:
Acts 1:1-11
Ephesians 1:16-23
Luke 24:44-53
The Psalm:  Psalm 47
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