Sunday, January 29, 2012


Matthew 17:1-9 - Transfiguration - January 29, 2012
We Find God’s Glory by Listening to Jesus

You can’t talk and listen at the same time.  It’s not possible.  Being raised with eleven siblings, I learned this lesson pretty well.  And now, with kids of my own, I’m trying to teach it: you can’t listen to what someone else is saying if you’re doing all the talking.  Peter was talking.  God interrupted.  What God the Father had to say was much more important than what Peter had to say.  In fact, Peter didn’t even know what he was saying.  “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Now, the first thing that Peter said was true.  It was good that he and James and John were there with Moses and Elijah, witnessing Jesus with their own eyes as He revealed the radiance of His divine glory shining forth from His own person.  It was very good.  Jesus gave to these three Apostles certain and definite proof that He was true God as well as true Man.  The same One, who would give up His life on the cross, was the very source of life Himself.  They needed to know this, and they saw it.  And it strengthened their faith in Him. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Epiphany 3

Matthew 8:1-13 - Epiphany III - January 22, 2012

God’s Will, God’s Word

The leper said to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Everything depends on God’s will.  If God doesn’t want to do something, it won’t be done.  It’s that simple.  But Jesus was willing.  He touched this man and healed him.  This is what the leper had counted on. 
The centurion said to Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.”  Everything depends on God speaking.  God says it and so it is.  This is how He created the universe.  God’s word is powerful.  Jesus didn’t have to go anywhere in order to heal this man’s servant.  He only had to say the word.  The centurion relied on the power of God’s word. 
These are the two things that our faith is concerned about:  God’s will and God’s word.  Everything depends on these.  In fact, since we’re not able to know God’s will apart from His word, as far as we are concerned, these two things are really the same thing.  We can’t know what God wants without Him telling us what He wants?  We have no access to God’s thoughts toward us apart from where He makes His thoughts crystal clear.  Nowhere else does He do this than in the words that He inspired His prophets and apostles to write.  We call this word Holy Scripture, or the Bible.  These are the two things that faith trusts in: God’s gracious will, and the power of God’s word. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Epiphany 2

John 2:1-11- Epiphany II - January 15, 2012 
Miraculous Mercy
The word miracle is generally defined as something that we can’t explain by natural cause.  But that’s not always how the word is used.  At the birth of a child, for instance, people say, “What a miracle.”  But babies are about as natural as it gets.  Sure it’s amazing, but if that’s the standard for what we call a miracle, then we should just as much call the germination of a seed a miracle.  Or the growing of a little sprout into a full-grown vine.  Or the ripening of a grape, the fermentation of its juice into alcohol, the perfection of a fine wine. Amazing! Yes.  But all of this is perfectly natural; so it’s technically not miraculous at all.  In nature, God turns water into wine every day. 
But outside of nature, God did this only once.  When we talk about miracles in the New Testament, we’re talking about specific things that Jesus did that go beyond God’s normal activity in the natural world around us.  These miracles, which the Apostle John calls signs, serve three purposes which we’ll consider this morning: 1st - Jesus’ miracles reveal His glory as the Son of God, 2nd - they were performed for the benefit of others, and 3rd - they teach something still today about His mission as the Savior of sinners. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day

Luke 2:21 - New Year’s Day - January 1, 2012 


And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called JESUS, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. 
There’s a lot in a name – what other people call you, what you call yourself.  Your name is your identity.  It says a lot about who you are.  Or maybe it says more about who your parents had hoped you would live up to.  I myself am named after the Apostle John.  If am to live up to my name, I have some pretty big shoes to fill.  It’s fitting for me therefore that my name means “the Lord is gracious.”  Thank God.  Lots of other names have important meanings too.  My daughter Nadia Christi has a neat name.  It means “Hope of Christ.”  Her name reflects that which she was given in her Baptism.  I have a brother who is visiting today whose name I have always liked: Stephen Keyser Preus.  His name means “Crowned Emperor of Prussia.”  Pretty cool, huh?  But … he’s not an emperor; he’s just my little brother.   Some names, no matter how great in meaning, do not always accurately describe who you are.  Now, although he’s done a great job so far, my brother, just like the rest of us, needs to make a name for himself, so to speak.  We all have to do this; we must imbue our own name with our own character.  And perhaps with the New Year, and with all our resolutions and stuff, we are particularly focused on this very task today. 
But of course, I am not here to give you tips on how to do that.  We’re here today to consider the name of Jesus.  Unlike the rest of us, Jesus is what His name means.  That’s why the name was given to Him by the angel Gabriel even before He was conceived.  The name Jesus comes from the Hebrew for “the Lord saves.”  Jesus is called Jesus because He is our Savior.  And [Mary] will bring forth a Son,” Gabriel told Joseph, “and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”