Celebrating 500 years of biblical and confessional Christianity. To God alone be the glory!
Mission: Purpose We are a community of God's people; called, sustained, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. As the body of Christ, we are obedient to Him, who is the Head, in proclaiming the kingdom of God both in words and actions. We exist to encourage each other to grow in Christ Through sharing the gospel with all people. Through providing a fellowship for all Christian believers by maintaining a biblically focused Christian atmosphere by serving God and others Mission To make disciples of all people, through baptizing and teaching in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Operating as usual
No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. - Luke 8:16
6 On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. 9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
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This was Brittany's house. You see when I told the kids we were moving away from their friends and family, I had to make some concessions. For example, Gloria got the room that had a view of the horses. She loves horses. Brynne was promised that we'd let her bake often since she loves to bake and we'd let her have the kitchen to herself. The boys had one concession: If we find a black widow, we keep it as a pet. Thus, Brittany. And if you know anything about black widows, they make cob webs, not nicely designed ones but webbing all over. This whole container was covered in her web. We'd toss crickets inside the container and they'd somehow manage to make it to the bottom, but she'd just weave more web so that they were completely covered with a web canopy so the second they hopped...they were trapped. And they were dead. The "sheet" of verse 7 is better translated a web. It means certain death. Like a cricket in Brittany's container. But our Lord himself promises to do away with it for good.
I. The shroud...the web. It's the one curse the world cannot overcome on its own. And it's frustrating to many of them. This is why some wring their hands and scream over mask wearing, distancing, and trying to be as careful as humanly possible in regards to the virus. They revile death. They can't beat death, they know this. So they go to sometimes ridiculous lengths to stave it off. No one can beat it for one simple yet profound reason: We didn't create death. God did. He is the God of death and he created it because we earned it. The wages of sin is death. It's the payout for following Adam and Eve's disobedient lead. It's a reminder for why we have a weekly -- even an hourly -- need to confess our sins. This shroud...this deadly web that covers us like crickets...is only a matter of time. And we have no one but ourselves to blame.
II. But the Lord of hosts...the all powerful and holy God...the ONLY God...takes matters into his own hands. First off, notice the Epiphany feel of this text. All peoples. All nations. Isaiah spends an ample amount of time talking about the restoration of the Israelite remnant to the holy land. But here he is specifically referring to humankind. Men of every color, tongue, and nation. It is too small a thing for you to be a light to the Israelites alone. And notice that the Lord doesn't commission his angels to prepare this amazing heavenly banquet. Nah. He rolls up his sleeves and lights the grill himself. (By the way, it makes me chuckle that this fatty meat and rich wine is the kinda food that helps get a person to heaven to begin with. But here...there will be no calories.) How do we know this? Cuz there will be no death. The shroud God himself will destroy. The deadly web that covers all mankind...he will obliterate. The judgement and curse he created...he will swallow up forever. And we know how he would accomplish this. Through the One born of Mary. Through Immanuel who performed miracles. Through he who would atone for the sin that separates all mankind from God on the cross and would swallow up death forever three days later. For he whose blood of the new covenant is given to us time and time again at the rail. Because I live, you too shall live. And the sadness that accompanies that web of death will also be no more as our Lord remarkably and personally wipes away every tear from every eye on his holy mountain. Golgotha was an ugly hill upon which our Savior willingly died. But through his death and resurrection, he insures that we will be on this blessed mountain praising him saying we trusted in him and he saved us. Forever.
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
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Was browsing a pretty old Christian text this past week. And while this text was not the Bible, it corraborated some of the traditions that I was already aware of. It also added to that list. Ready? Isaiah died by being sawn in half. Joel died from blunt force trauma. Some guy attacked him and he died shortly thereafter. Amos was tortured and murdered. Micah was murdered. Habakkuk and Jeremiah: stoned to death. Ezekiel was murdered. And Zechariah wasn't just murdered...he was murdered at the steps of the altar and his blood was put on the altar horns. Now this is tradition so we can't say all of this is 1,000% accurate. But according to Jesus' own words...completely plausible. The servants were beaten, killed, and stoned. The farmers of the vineyard would even kill the vineyard owner's own son. But in that moment, outside of the vineyard...in the most tragic miscarriage of justice and act of hatred...God would bring about our eternal good. Mankind can be ugly. But God's grace transcends even the ugliest acts.
I. This is an absolute indictment of the nation of Israel. We just heard in Isaiah that the Lord took great pains in planting this vineyard but it yielded only terrible fruit. Jesus takes it a step further. Some commentators see the symbolism in the vineyard that Christ describes here. The winepress is the temple, from which God's spiritual blessings flow. The wall was God hedging off his special nation from the pagan practices of the surrounding nations. The watchtower indicates the office of prophets as God's watchmen. Could be. But Jesus ultimately gets to the treatment of the prophets. And, in a word....badly. God's prophets were an example of his love. He wanted his people to live, not suffer and die for their rebellion. Matthew includes the detal that God sent new ones, even more than the last time. God's patience for his people is remarkable. But they killed them too. We are not the Israelites guilty of this horrible treatment. But when ever we neglect God's Word, whenever we turn from what he commands, we mistreat the prophets. Jesus is the greatest Prophet. And in his Sermon on the Mount he tells us it's not enough to not murder or commit adultery but to not even do it in our heads. We neglect that...we mistreat the Prophet himself. It's kinda hard for us simply to stand back and marvel at how the Israelites treated their God with such contempt when we examine our own hearts.
II. Finally...I'll send my son. They'll respect him. Well thay shoulda. But our Father in his omniscience knew that they wouldn't. And the sheer audacity of the farmers is mindboggling. If we kill this guy, we'll get the inheritance. The vineyard will be ours now. The stubbornness of unbelief is unbelievably stupid isn't it. Even today, a world that largely refuses to even believe in a Creator will often go to foolish lengths to try to gain this world. Now Jesus finished our Gospel lesson with a powerful preaching of the law in how God will deal with those who rejected both prophet and Christ and ultimately killed the Son of the Father. But let us never forget that only our God of grace can still make a wonderful thing out of such an ugly thing. Which is why I ended my text where I did. It was an awful thing that the farmers would stand outside of Pilate's palace and scream crucify. But for we who needed this to happen, God made it a good thing. It was a twisted thing for soldiers to scourge an innocent man. But if by his wounds we are healed, God made it good for us. It was a spineless thing for Pilate to give in to the people. I mean since when did the Romans ever listen to the Jews??? But for we who rely on his condemnation, God made it good. It was a wicked thing for our Lord to be murdered outside of the vineyard in an execution on the cross. But for us...it is Good Friday.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. - 1 Peter 5:8-10
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. - Luke 12:37
We really need to upgrade our greeters around here. This one's too lazy.
23 Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus replied, “I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. 25 John’s baptism—where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?” They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin’—we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Then he said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
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It was a Christian university. I don't recall which. But it was apparently staffed by theologically liberal professors. One particular professor was explaining to the class how Christianity was only one of the various paths mankind possessed for salvation. As if it were a path on some sort of mountain that led to the mountain's summit and subsequently to God. He tried to explain that all other world religions did the same. He, of course, did not believe in hell. Well while all the students were apparently absorbing these so-called "pearls of wisdom," one young lady raised her hand with a question. And she proceeded to ask, "If there are all kinds of ways to heaven, then why did Jesus sweat drops of blood in the garden?" This very innocent and honest question was like gettin hit in the face with a 2 by 4 of truth. The professor paused, looked down, and eventually closed his notes and dismissed class. Reminds me of the delegation sent to Jesus here. The truth either hurts...or it sets free. Thankfully, we are blessed to know the latter.
I. These guys are hit with the truth. They don't accept it, but they certainy can't deny it. The Master absolutely eviscerates them by turning the tables with his own question about John the Baptizer. You see, if they answer yes...that John's baptism (and his whole ministry) was from heaven...then what John testified about Jesus had to also be true. This guy...I can't even tie this guy's shoes. He's way greater than me. And while these snakes were resisting the Gospel and outside of the kingdom of God, as sinners, we too can know yet resist the truth sometimes as well. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father controlling all things for our good. Well, I know that, yes. But when I'm waiting on the phone to ring to tell me we're FINALLY closing on our house, I sometimes kinda deny it. Jesus says do not worry. We know this, yes, but has he never heard of bills? Jesus says a man who believes in me will live even though he dies. That's an absolute fact. But we wonder sometimes, if that one sin was just too much. If we've been "Christian" enough throughout our lives. If his mercy is fully sufficient.
II. So this delegation learned that they can't win an argument with one who was sent by God and oh by the way...they can't win an argument with God. Jesus had the authority to preach, teach, and perform miracles because Jesus IS the authority. I am reminded of song lyrics: "He's an axiom, he's the maximum, he's a Rebel and he's got a cause. Don't try to lock him up, he's the one who makes the laws." The incarnation is the Gospel here. These men had no idea who they were speaking with because they flatout didn't want to know. But by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we do know who this Authority is. God in human flesh on a very real mission. A mission planned since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. A mission that could not be handled by sinful human hands, as the disease of sin would only spread like gangrene from the murdering Cain, to the tower of babel, to the flood, to Sodom and Gomorrah, to the Israelites dancing around a calf, and to their constant rebellion. To our own sin and rebellion and our frequent refusal to rely on the truths of God. No one is righteous. Not even one. But He is. And he who has all authority in heaven and on earth would lay aside his heavenly glory to don human flesh. To preach the kingdom of heaven...the same kingdom his cousin John preached. And then to offer that life as the entrance to the Kingdom of heaven. As the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus has the authority because he IS the authority. No one can take his life from him. But he has the authority to lay it down and to take it up again. And it is on this gracious and allpowerful Lamb of God that we rely. It is in him and his sacrifice that we hope. And we will simply not be disappointed.
[09/28/20] In love a throne will be established; in faithfulness a man will sit on it --one from the house of David -- one who in judging seeks justice and speeds the cause of righteousness. - Isaiah 16:5
Christus Victor Lutheran Church's cover photo
Today the church celebrates the Feast of Saint Matthew the Evangelist. Why not pick a chapter or two of his Gospel for some daily devotion?
Christus Victor Lutheran Church's cover photo
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. - Exodus 14:14
When your sabbath is seven days a week.
Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. - Psalm 51:14
"Beagle Juice" made a buncha new buddies today @ This I Know.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
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This (below) is me at work. This...is my "coworker." As you can see, the work day is pretty much one sided. And I can't overstress how one sided it is. I have to pick him up sleeping in our bed to carry him to the truck. I then have to carry him from the truck into church. I unlock my door, turn on my pc, open the shades, and sit down to glance at unwelcomed emails. 20 minutes later he wanders into the office after napping in the narthex. Only to jump on the couch...and promptly fall asleep. All of this, of course, after I feed him with the food I pay for under the roof I pay for. It's the epitome of a one sided relationship. I do everything. He gets everything. Reminds me of the relationship between Joseph and his brothers. Pretty one sided, no? And, of course, Joseph is what we'd refer to as a "type of Christ" here. And Christ in his work for us...absolutely one sided. But like a beagle that ran away several times, we are still on the receiving end of an incredible one sided relationship. We win out.
I. You intended to harm me. Hey why not a bit of Bible history before we start our in church Sunday School next week? Y'all recall the Joseph situation. His brothers hated him for a couple of reasons. One, he was the baby and quite beloved by his father Jacob (coat of many colors). Two, because of his dreams the brothers thought he arrogantly believed he was gonna rule over them. So they plot to kill him, decided nah let's make some money off of him, and sell him into slavery instead. Just as harmful, if not even worse. A slave's life in antiquity was short. They we were worked to death, malnourished, and often mistreated. Joseph's prospects trudging along towards Egypt were grim. We would never intend to harm our Lord, right? Everytime we divert from his law for our lives...we harm our Lord. Everytime we fail to do what God would have us do, we are as one of his disciples fleeing at his arrest. Everytime we decide to do what we shouldn't, we are contributing to the awful weight of sin for which our Savior suffered and died. Joel Biermann said it best: The ONLY thing that we can ever give to God...is our sin. That's pretty one sided, considering God made him who had NO sin to be sin for us.
II. Joseph wept. Joe was an emotional guy. He wept before when his brothers hadn't even recognized him. He was moved to tears over their guilt and their need: forgiveness and reconciliation. Our Lord wept at the grave of Lazarus. And how many times do we read in the Gospels that Jesus was "filled with compassion?" Plenty. His divine and holy love for us was what motivated him to stay the one sided course of procuring our salvation and forgiveness of sin. Even when he sweat drops of blood and asked that his bitter cup be taken from him -- the cup he had to drink because of our harmful sin -- his compassion stayed the one sided course. And he allowed mere mortals to arrest him and lead him away like Joseph off to Egypt. But God intended it for good...the saving of many lives. Christ's arrest, his trial, his sufferings, and ultimately his agonizing death were the most undeserved harm in creation's history. He was blameless. But it was the only way. We could only contribute sin. He had to undertake the one sided mission to bring about the ultimate good that is free for all people of all time: Forgiveness of sin, life, and salvation. The Sanhedrin wanted to harm him. Roman soldiers harmed him. Pilate harmed him with a verdict. His enemies harmed him at the foot of his cross by mocking him. But God was using all of it for the good of many. For our reconciliation to the Father. And, as Joseph says he will provide for his brothers and their little ones and as he spoke kindly to them, our one sided Savior still does the same for us through Word and Sacrament. I'll say it again and again...I forgive you. Not because you did anything at all. But because I did it all.
|Monday||09:00 - 14:00|
|Tuesday||09:00 - 14:00|
|Wednesday||09:00 - 14:00|
|Thursday||09:00 - 14:00|
|Friday||09:00 - 14:00|
|Sunday||11:00 - 12:00|
|Sunday||09:45 - 11:00|
"Operation More Compassion" a Special Ministry, Founder, James Simmons Jr. Established 2016. To help Prevent Suicide among Military & Veterans 910-391-2528
St. Andrews UMC is a community of followers of Jesus Christ. We meet for worship every Sunday at 8:30 & 11:00 am.
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1John 4:16 God is Love, Whoever lives in Love lives in God and God in them!
Gary Leviner Pastor