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Archive for January 7th, 2020

Image result for jesus studying in the temple

Sermon Text, from St. Luke chapter 2:

40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

The Lord said to Solomon: “Ask what I shall give you.”  Wow. Solomon did not ask as the Lord said, “… long life or riches or the life of (his) enemies”.  Solomon knew when it comes to being king, “I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in.”    At this time, Solomon was an adult, had a child himself, his father was none other than King David,  but Solomon knew, that “… your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.”   He confessed to the Lord that he was overwhelmed being ruler. He knew his limitations.  If only in today’s Old Testament reading could our presidential candidates be taught…and to see in Solomon’s life how great the fall from grace can be.  Solomon knew by faith His Lord and by that faith is salvation. For the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and so Solomon prayed for wisdom to discern between good and evil. So, the Lord granted Solomon his prayer, and He so answered Solomon’s prayer because he did not ask for long life and wealth and his enemies, so the Lord gave Solomon wisdom…and then some, the Lord gave Solomon the promise of long life, wealth and his enemies as well!  Is this the genie granting three wishes and then some or what?! No.  This means that long life, wealth and conquering one’s enemies are a snap compared to having wisdom, knowing the difference between good and evil and especially, avoiding the evil and doing the good.

 First, what is wisdom? Just as Solomon asked:   Godly wisdom is discerning between good and evil.  How do we know the difference?  Answer: God’s Word, that is, His Law, the 10 Commandments.  To do the good:

  1. fear, love, and trust in God above all things
  2. call upon the Lord’s Name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks
  3. hold God’s Word  sacred and gladly hear and learn it, the Scriptures which make us wise unto salvation
  4. honor our father and mother, and others in authority, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.
  5. help and support our neighbor in every physical need and so promoting life from conception to natural death
  6. husband and wife love and honor each other.
  7. help our neighbor to improve and protect his possessions and income.
  8. defend our neighbor, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.
  9. help and be of service to our neighbor in keeping his neighbor
  10. but urge our neighbor’s servants, employees  to stay and do their duty.

If you haven’t caught it, I just went through Luther’s explanations of the 10 commandments in the Small Catechism.  The discernment of good and evil means to do the good and avoid evil.  So simple, huh? It is…but not so easy and this the reason why Solomon prayed for wisdom from the Lord. We know a lot of stuff nowadays, we can fix computers but not the heart, we can go to the moon but forget to go to our neighbors in need, we know how to prey upon each other but not to pray to the Lord for our neighbor, we can build skyscrapers reaching into the heavens but not build each other up, edify each other on the way to heaven. I know how to be a wise guy but not be wise. I can have all knowledge but if I have not love, then I am sounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

First, Biblical wisdom to do the good and avoid the evil. It is simple but by no means easy.

Second, we can do God’s good to a point.  I may refrain from calling someone a jerk, but I’ve already judged the guy 8 ways to Sunday, well, actually, FROM Sunday.  The Lord in His Law shows me my heart and the Gospel shows me the heart of God for us sinners: His Son, Jesus Christ.

Therefore, third, we must pray because first we are commanded, invited and inspired by the Lord to so pray  and we pray for God’s wisdom, from the Epistle of James,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 

This, writes James, is asked in faith as the Lord gives wisdom, the wisdom of His Word and now in the fullness of time, the wisdom made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord. As true man, He grew in wisdom and as true God taught us the wisdom of God as He is the wisdom of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1)

Later in James,

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 

Our Lord taught clearly on prayer,

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (St. Luke 11)

Fourth, wisdom is taught.  And Jesus increased in wisdom…. Even sinless flesh needs to be taught wisdom, to avoid the evil and do the good, how much more you and me! And He alone can teach us to avoid evil and do the good, as in prayer, Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, For Thine is the Kingdom, Thou are our King, rule and reign in us by Thy Word.  The work of the Holy Spirit is to teach us the wisdom of God, Jesus Christ, the power unto salvation, wise unto salvation. Only in His grace we grow.  This is the reason why the Lord directed us to pray for the Holy Spirit. The Lord Holy Spirit has a lesson plan for our lives to grow in faith and the love of God and neighbor:  The Word of the Lord, made flesh and written, the Lord’s eternal text book, the Bible. In

“… the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.  (Ephesians 1)

His lesson plan is from the Lord’s free and freeing library His Book is always on loan to us.  Jesus increased in wisdom…The Word of God is not a magic bean that grows overnight. It takes time to grow a plant. The Word of God so germinated grows in good soil which is to learn and be transformed in the renewal of your mind which is yours in Christ Jesus. From James: Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  And just before that verse, James outlined the problem: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  In this age of rage in which so many have a hair-trigger response of anger, we are called by the Lord in His so great a salvation to respond in wisdom not rage. We need His wisdom as does the world.  Not   Jesus that day in the Temple listened to the teachers first, quick to hear.  Hearing in order to be taught by the Lord in His Word.

Oh how I love your law!
    It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
    for it is ever with me
. (Psalm 119)

Let us ever attend to His Word, in the Divine Service and the Service of the Word in teaching the precious truths of God.  A pastor’s cincture is a rope.  My cincture is doubled and it can remind us that God’s Truth in the Scripture is likewise two-fold:  the Word of the Law and the Word of Promise/the Gospel, yet one cord. By the Law we know our sin and the way to live and by the Word of Promise we know our Savior and the power to live in Christ Jesus.  As we are encouraged in Ephesians 6:  Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truthThe belt is part of the listing of the “whole armor of God” in Ephesians 6.  Generally speaking, a belt at that time was used to hoist up one’s robes so as not to trip.  God’s Truth of Law and Promise keeps us from being tripped up by falsehood and unbelief.  The Roman soldiers’ belt was to hang his sword.  And the Christians’ sword is, “…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6: 17). In His Word is the wisdom of God and in Christ all the wisdom of God. As the Lord prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (St. John 17: 17).  In the Name of the Father, and of the +Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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Image result for young frankenstein stay close to the candles

In one of the many funny scenes in Mel Brooks’, “Young Frankenstein”, Frau Blucher encourages Dr. Frankenstein, Inga and Igor, as they go up the castle’s narrow steps, with no railing, to “Stay close to the candles. The stairway can be… treacherous”, except, the candles are not lit!

Yes, the stairs can be treacherous. Yes, stay close to the candles but if they are not lit…sounds like, in a more serious vein that the problem is correctly stated but the vain and various and many solutions and salvations of man are like those candles: nice show but no light. Scientism, selfism, and spiritualisms are all candle with no light.

Epiphany Season is about the light and the light has a name: Jesus Christ. Stay close to the light because the world, the flesh and the devil are treacherous. We need this encouragement in these dark days. Remember as the Lord tells us in His Word, Ephesians 5: 8: “…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light”. We stay close to the Lord in the means He has given us: Baptism and Holy Communion and along side and through the Sacramental life of the Church: He feeds us His Word, written, preached and taught, through prayer and godly conversation. He does this to save us and also to save us for others: to walk with a light step that others may see Christ, the light of the world.

Like a long lit votive candle’s wax becomes clear near the flame, the Lord purifies His children to stay their falling, and when fallen to pick them up again in joyous repentance and forgiveness. Stay close to the Light and the Light will guide you along the Way and will light the way for a fellow family member and friend to their Lord and God.

O Christ, our true and only Light,
Enlighten those who sit in night;
Let those afar now hear Thy voice
And in Thy fold with us rejoice.
  LSB #839, “Mission and Witness” hymn section

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