140112 Isaiah 42:1-7

Guest Speaker: Pastor Michael Otterstatter on MLC Sunday

Sermon Text: Isaiah 42:1-7
Sermon Theme: Jesus Brings Justice for All

Let your imagination take you back in time to a small pioneer town in the Old West. A dusty street separates the dozen or so buildings that make up the town. Of course there is a general store, a blacksmith shop, a motel, and a saloon. As you ride in on your horse the citizens of this frontier community cower in fear. You can sense the tension they are feeling as they look at you with suspicion. When you finally persuade someone to talk to you the source of their intimidation is revealed. Outlaws, bandits, and renegade Indian bands have constantly threatened the lives and property of the residents. Since this town is on the edge of the frontier there is no law enforcement officer or system of justice. Instead of peace, security, and well being, there is only fear, uncertainty, and unrest.

But just as you begin talking with a resident of the town a man with a shiny, metal star pinned to his chest rides in on a white horse. The attention of everyone in the community is focused on him. He comes with a six-shooter at his side and a rifle tethered to his saddle. He has been given the mission to bring justice to that place. He comes at the direction of a higher authority with the clearly defined task of establishing justice. Under the watchful eye of this lawman a transformation will soon take place in the frontier town. The residents held captive by fear will eventually be able to live peaceful and prosperous lives because of the work of the lawman.

From our thoughts about a sheriff in the Wild West, the Word of God for our sermon today will direct us to the Great Lawman that brought justice to the whole world. He came with the authority and blessing of God the Father Himself. But he did not do his work in the way most people would expect from a bringer of justice. Instead of being ruthless, violent, and unforgiving he established justice in a very different way. And even the justice that he brings is unusual and out of the ordinary. Listen again to our Old Testament for today and picture in your mind the One who came to bring justice for all and how that justice affects people yet today. We ask God the Holy Spirit to increase our faith in our Savior as we again see that:

"JESUS BRINGS JUSTICE FOR ALL"
I. Justice that has the Father's approval
II. Justice that sets guilty sinners free
III. Justice that gives hope and new life

Read more: 140112 Isaiah 42:1-7

140106 Isaiah 60:1-6

Text: Isaiah 60:1 – 6
Theme: Your Light Has Come!
1. He Removes the Darkness
2. He Fills Us with Joy

In the calendar of the Christian Church, January 6th is known as Epiphany. One of the meanings of the word "epiphany" is "shining forth". The readings from God's Word used throughout this time of year remind us the Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, God the Holy Spirit led Jesus' disciple John to write this about Jesus: "In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." Today, the prophet Isaiah proclaims this same Good News: YOUR LIGHT HAS COME!

Read more: 140106 Isaiah 60:1-6

131225 Christmas Day

Text: Luke 2:8-14
Theme: The Song of the Angels: Gloria In Excelsis

For three consecutive Wednesdays in December we contemplated the Songs of the Advent season, the songs of Mary and Zechariah and Simeon. Three different people, three different voices, three different titles, but all three songs flow from a common source: faith.

Mary's song was a song of faith repeated. When the angel announced that God had chosen her to give birth to the Savior, not only did Mary believe this amazing news. She couldn't keep it to herself. As soon as she reached the home of her relative Elizabeth, Mary burst into a song of praise, a song we call the Magnificat: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46, 47).

Zechariah's song was a song of faith restored. When the angel Gabriel told him that he and his wife would have a son in their old age, Zechariah was skeptical. Because he doubted, Zechariah was not able to speak until after that miracle child had been born. After a year of silence, after a year of meditation and anticipation, Zechariah knew exactly what he wanted to say. His song has come to be known as the Benedictus: "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people" (Luke 1:68).

Simeon's song was a song of faith rewarded. The Holy Spirit had promised this righteous and devout man that he would see the Christ child before he died. He waited and watched and watched and waited. And in God's good time, Simeon's patience was rewarded. Taking the baby Jesus into his arms, he sang this lullaby, the song we know as the Nunc Dimittis:

"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32).

It's kind of sad that this concert of Advent anthems has to come to an end, or does it? Even though the season is over, the singing continues. In fact, the Lord himself has composed a very special song for us this morning, a song that was first preformed by an angelic choir, a song that captures the feelings of every believer on the day of our Savior's birth. Call it a Christmas encore. Today God's saints on earth join with God's angels in heaven to sing the song of the angels...

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS

I. The mood
II. The music
III. The message

Read more: 131225 Christmas Day

131222 Matthew 1:18-25

Text: Matthew 1:18-25
Theme: Immanuel Is With Us

See if you can figure out what the following statements have in common: "You can observe a lot just by watching." "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." "We made too many wrong mistakes." "It's deja vu all over again." And the ever popular: "It ain't over till it's over."

All of these famous (or infamous) quotes came from the mouth of Yogi Berra, longtime catcher for the New York Yankees. In fact, Yogi Berra made so many of these quizzical statements (called Yogi-isms) during his career that they have been compiled in a book with the fitting title: "I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said."

The previous statements have even more in common than their source. They are all redundant. They needlessly repeat information that has already been clearly stated. Predictions are always about the future. Mistakes are always wrong. Nothing is over until it's over.

Some people might say that the season of Advent runs the risk of being redundant. The church year sets aside four consecutive Sundays to prepare God's people for Jesus' coming. We add an additional three midweek Advent devotions that focus on essentially the same subject. By the fourth Sunday in Advent, it would be very difficult for us not to know that Christmas is almost here.

In all fairness it should be mentioned that repetition is not always a negative. In business there is something called the principle of redundancy, which states that if you repeat information enough times to the people in your target market area, they will eventually remember what you have to say.

With that principle in mind, I have chosen a sermon theme this morning that is purposefully redundant. In our text, Jesus is called Immanuel. Immanuel is the combination of two Hebrew words that simply mean: "God with us." If we were to use the English translation of that name instead of the name itself, the sermon theme would sound like this: "'God With Us' is With Us."

The fact that God is with us cannot be repeated too many times. The fact that God came down to earth in human form to rescue the world from sin is something that we can never hear enough. So if you will pardon the redundancy, we make our final preparations for Christ's birth today and take great comfort in the knowledge that...

Immanuel is With Us

I. He is with us miraculously
II. He is with us prophetically

Read more: 131222 Matthew 1:18-25

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