Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sermon for Trinity 9 August 4-5, 2012

9th Sunday After Trinity                                   Luke 16:1-13  
“Steward of Unfaithfulness or Faithful Steward”        August 4–5, 2012

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Why did the Lord Jesus Christ present this parable to us? What was His purpose? Surely He did not approve of the unrighteous servant who cheated his master, who is caught with his hand in the cookie jar, as they say, and when he is fired he sticks his hand into the cookie jar again instead of making up for his transgressions from his own means? Why does the Lord set this parable before us?

In the parable of the servant of unrighteousness, we see a certain rich man who has found out that his trusted steward has been squandering his possessions, and therefore his wealth, by mismanaging his affairs. The rich man fired the steward telling him he “can no longer be steward.” (Luke 16:2) The rich man called the steward to an accounting and the books were about to be opened and examined. There was about to be an audit.

But, this steward was a shrewd character. After some quick weighing of his options, he quickly came up with a plan. He knew he could neither dig nor beg. Both options were a bit distasteful to him. Instead, he called all his master’s debtors to him and reduced the amount they owed so that they would look favorably on him when he was out of a job.

Not only had this steward cheated his master once, but also when he was found out, he cheated his master again, so as to preserve his comfort to which, I am sure, he had become quite accustomed. But the astonishing thing is that the rich man then commends the steward for his shrewdness. To this Jesus says, “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in their generation than the sons of light.” (Luke 16:9) So again I ask…why does the Lord set this parable before us?

In a worldly sense, the shrewd steward acted very wisely. But Jesus seldom, if ever, praises the world and certainly the wisdom of the world is chided by His Apostles in the epistles of the New Testament. So while this steward in our text might have made an excellent CEO at any major corporation, Jesus certainly is not promoting his corruption. What, however, Jesus does commend is the man’s shrewdness. He used his master’s riches to ensure that he would continue to be provided for after losing his position in his master’s company.

The point Jesus made here is that non-believers, or children of this world, are much more adept at using the unrighteous things of the world to better themselves, to selfishly improve their position and temporal lives, than children of the light are at using the same things for love and in service to their neighbor. The sons of the world far surpass us when it comes to a single-minded dedication and zeal for using worldly wealth to gain a  temporary advantage for themselves in this life, than we believers are when it comes to using the same gifts for the good of our fellow men and women, for our neighbors, and for the Church.

Jesus encourages His listeners to imitate the steward, but not by being unrighteous. “The sons of this world” are “more shrewd” in worldly matters because they know how to be unrighteous—to bend the rules, play the game, or beat the system—in order to accomplish their goals. But Jesus wants those who follow Him to be ignorant or unlearned in the practice of such unrighteousness, because it is advantageous only in this “generation,” this present age, this life, and is actually harmful for those whose hope is in the age to come. “The sons of light” are to be shrewd by recognizing that true riches are to be found in heaven and maintain their focus on where their hope truly resides…in Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

You see, there comes a time for everyone, no matter how wealthy, when worldly possessions, even our most treasured possessions, become meaningless. Those of you who have sorted through things that belonged to someone who is now dead may understand what I mean. I know that I was struck by the meaninglessness of worldly possessions when, after his funeral, I sorted through the things that had once belonged to my father. I realized that they never really “belonged” to him a t all. At best, he possessed these things only on temporary loan, for they are still here in time, while he is there in eternity. Our possessions cannot provide for our eternal future. They fail us when death comes into view…and often, even before. What is important then, is not how much we have, but what we do with the things we have while we have them.

Jesus said, “Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:11-12) In other words, “If you can’t be faithful in what I have loaned to you in this life for use in service to your neighbor and the Church, how can I trust to you the true riches of everlasting life?” What is Jesus’ conclusion to this question? “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13) If our true Lord and Master called you to an accounting today, if He opened your books and did an audit, if He looked over your use of the time, talents, and treasures He has blessed you with, would the books balance? Is there any justification for a charge against you that you have wasted God’s goods? The steward of our Gospel text was intent on providing for himself alone. He had been charged with wasting his master’s goods. I wonder. “Are we any better than the steward?”

People of the world are willing to go through many trials just to enjoy a few fleeting moments of pleasure. How many lives have been destroyed by alcohol and drugs? How many families have been destroyed by adultery and pornography? How many people have died or been made sick because of illicit sex? How many have lost everything— family, home, job, career, and reputation— because of gambling? People risk families and careers and their very lives all for the pleasures of this world. Yet, where is the Christian who is prepared to risk all for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Where is the Christian who is willing to give up his job, his friends, his family, to have the Gospel, to hear Christ’s life giving Words preached into his ear, to receive Jesus’ very Body and Blood into his mouth? Where is the Christian whose heart aches as much when he hears false doctrine, as it aches when he hears that his 401k has gone down again? Where is the Christian today, who is willing to give up the things of the world so that he may keep his immortal soul? Where is he who is willing to say, “Lord Jesus, in you I put my trust” ?

Oh that we Christians were as zealous for God as the worldly are for earthly gain. But we are often lethargic and careless in divine matters. We struggle with the old Adam, to do what is truly good, right, and salutary in the sight of God— to meditate without ceasing on the Word of God, to teach our children the faith, to serve the people God has put into our life with patience and gentle love. Even to spend just two hours a week in worship and in study of the Word of God is too much for some of us. We have other concerns. Other things capture our attention, other things seem so much more important, taking hostage our time and our lives…and in the end, our eternal lives.

The children of unrighteousness, like the steward of unrighteousness, do indeed set a good example for the Christian in terms of their shrewdness and persistence in worldly endeavors. We, who are the baptized children of God, are called to do no less in spiritual, eternal realms. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail, they may receive you into an everlasting home.” (Luke 16:9) We are to be shrewd in material things, but not in the way of the steward of unrighteousness, but in the way of Christ: not selfishly, but selflessly. All that we have is the Lord’s. He may have made us stewards, but He is the Master and Lord. We are to use His possessions for the good of our neighbor and the proclamation of the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. In this way, we are selflessly using the possessions Jesus provides us in faith, trusting in our Master to provide all that is needed for this body and life.

So we come to the second reason for the telling of this parable. Jesus commended the steward of unrighteousness not only because of his shrewdness, but also because of his faith in the mercy of his master. He believed that this master, who did not throw him into prison when he could have done so for the waste of his possessions, would be merciful to him by honoring the reductions in debts the steward had agreed to, though he was under no obligation to do such a thing. He truly believed his master to be a man of generosity and forgiveness. On that, he staked his future and his salvation. He did well, for it is that faith which his master praises.

So, too, we trust that our Master is a God of mercy who will forgive our debts through Jesus, that we may be received into our everlasting home. (Luke 16:9) In this, our hope is certain, that God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We believe that God the Father will be merciful to us because of the debt paid on our behalf through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is that faith that our Father desires and praises. We have squandered our heavenly Father’s possessions in selfishness and sin, but Jesus, who is the Steward of Righteousness, has cancelled our debt, knowing that His forgiveness will be honored by the Father because of His holy suffering and death upon the cross. Jesus made eternal friends of us, not by hoarding things for Himself, but by living as one with no home of His own, having no place to lay His head. He became poor so that we might know and receive the riches of His mercy. He even gave away His own Body into death, that through His atoning and all-sufficient sacrifice we might be cleansed from all unrighteousness. Yes, Jesus relied on the Mercy of His Father. He trusted that the Father would honor His death in our place to cover the debt we owed.

So come now and receive from the hands of this steward the marks of your zero balance account. Know that by receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord that your account of sin has been closed. It is my privilege to announce unto you the grace of God and to place into your mouth that which declares your debt fully paid. Kneel down, take your bill and write…paid in full. Your books are balanced. Your account reads zero. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. 

Sermon for August 11-12, 2012 Trinity 10

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
The Tenth Sunday after Trinity
August 11 – 12, 2012
Luke 19:41-48

In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Why does our Savior weep?

He does not weep for pride or scorn. He does not weep in frustration or despair. He does not weep to think of the torture He will endure.

As He enters into Jerusalem to lay down His life on the cross, He weeps in mourning. Many of those whom He loves will endure needless suffering and death. He weeps for the people of Jerusalem. He goes to die for them, to pay for their sins, to reconcile them to His Father. But they choose their own way, their own gods. They reject the Lord in their flesh. His visitation and peace are wasted on them for they choose war. They will suffer terribly in the siege to come. But what the Romans do to them - as bad as it is, and it is bad as anything mankind has ever known - cannot compare to what Hell has in store.

Repent. Jerusalem is a warning. Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into the kingdom of heaven. It sounds most unLutheran to say it, but not everyone who is baptized will be saved. Hitler was baptized. So was Stalin. So was Judas. Caiaphas and all the Sadducees were circumcised. It is possible to deny the faith, to turn away, either in a conscience decision for power and evil, or by a slow seduction to sin and a lackadaisical approach to faith.

Just because you were confirmed, or your dad read the Bible everyday, or you had a great pastor once, does not mean you are in the club. You have vowed to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from the faith. We vainly think, “I would die for God, for orthodoxy. I would never deny the Lord and burn incense to Caesar. But don't ask me to make a financial sacrifice. Don't ask me to give up the benefits of my dead husband's pension and marry the man I am living with, because that would mean giving up income, and surely the Lord would understand sin for the sake of money, wouldn't he? Doesn’t the Lord know that if it is for money then sins don't really count? He wouldn't ask us to be inconvenienced, would He? All that memory at confirmation was simply head-knowledge, the inflated language of pretending. You can’t expect us to believe all that nonsense. Can You? You can't expect us to actually suffer something. Isn't Christianity about being nice to one another, keeping up appearances, and promoting our world?”

Such thinking betrays who and what is really our god. You cannot serve two gods. You cannot serve God and mammon. Repent. Consider Jerusalem at the hand of the Romans. Be warned and on guard.

And yet, Jerusalem's failures and rejection did not stop our Lord. Our Lord weeps not from wrath but from love. Even though it seems futile, almost wasteful, for Our Lord to go to the cross for those who hate Him, who will not have Him, He goes. Because He loves them. He is like the mother of a rebellious teenage daughter. The daughter slams her door, yells, “I hate you,” and insults the mother. But the mother still makes her daughter's favorite dinner.

He goes to cleanse the Temple, to drive out the money changers, to make room for the Gentiles, to restore the Temple as a place where God meets His people in grace rather than a place where men vainly try to buy God's favor. He is like the father flushing the pot down the toilet even though He knows the son can get more.

Unlike our earthly, long-suffering mothers and fathers, His patience is perfect and without end. He does not grow weary or angry. His love never slackens. He keeps on because He loves us and because He loves His Father and desires to fulfill His Father's will.

It is true that sinful men, like Adolf Hitler or Judas, can reject their baptisms. But it is also true that proud, sinful men like Peter, David, or Nebuchadnezzar can be brought back to grace. In the case of evil men who choose their own way, the fault is not baptism but in the willful decisions of men. In the case of Peter and company the power is with Baptism. What Peter forgot, the Lord remembered. Baptism is not a license to sin. Having been baptized or confirmed warrants no favor with God apart from faith. What Baptism gives is forgiveness of sins and faith. We do not stand in the devil's living room, as his invited guest, wink and say, “No problem, friends. The devil can't hurt me. I am baptized. I can commit adultery, steal, lie, smoke dope, get drunk, and fight, I have immunity.” That is a lie.

But we do stand in our own living rooms or in our work places or in city hall and say, “The devil can't hurt me. I've sinned. I've done terrible things. And yeas, I've even invited the devil here with my sins. I've opened the door. I've played with fire. But God is merciful. Jesus died for me. I am baptized and I belong to God. The devil can roar all he wants, he can't really hurt me. Because Jesus has overcome him and risen from the dead. The resurrected Lord brought Peter back. He forgave his sins. He comforted and encouraged him in the breaking of the bread. He does the same for me. I am baptized and safe. He feeds me and I am safe. He forgives me and gives me the strength to carry on.”

Why does our Savior weep? He weeps for those He loves. He weeps for the lost and also for the sorrows of the faithful. That sorrow does not stop Him. He endures. He presses on. He goes to the cross. Because many in Jerusalem were lost, they would not have Him. But not all were lost. Peter was there. Mary. Nicodemus. Zachariah. Saul. And you, your parents, your children, your brothers and sisters around you today. He goes for you and them, to save us, to open heaven for free to all believers, to give power and authority to baptism, to give substance and life to the Holy Communion.

The Temple is now clean. The Lord is risen and weeps no more. He has what He came for: you. You are baptized, forgiven, faithful by Divine decree and promise. Now He welcomes you again to His table that you would have forgiveness for yesterday, strength for today, and hope for tomorrow, and your presences fills the Savior with joy.

In the Name of the Father and of the X Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

readings for August 12-18, 2012

Our Lord wept over Jerusalem for the destruction that would soon come upon her. For she did not recognize the time of God’s visitation in Christ, who had come to bring her peace (Luke 19:41–48). Through His prophets God had consistently called His people to turn from their deceit and false worship. “But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:1–11; 8:4–12). They sought to establish their own righteousness rather than receive Christ’s righteousness through faith (Romans 9:30–10:4). So it was that God was in His temple to cleanse it, a precursor to the once–for–all cleansing from sin which He would accomplish in the temple of His own body on the cross. God grant us to know the things that make for our peace—His visitation in the Word and Sacraments—that by the Holy Spirit we may penitently confess “Jesus is Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:1–11).

Please Pray For: Emily Rodenbeck, Phyllis McElroy, Ada Dambacher Dorothy Robison, Juanita Rankin, George Van Huss, Crystal Ray, Ruth Hedrick, Walt Hedrick, Erna Van Winkle, Mary Kay Schmidt, Kathy Schmidt, John Haynes, Bill Uchtman, Colin Starks, George Shepherd, and Donna Smith.
Military: Please keep in your prayers all Military persons, especially Brittany Worth who is deployed to Afghanistan.
Hospitalizations: Please notify Pastor GeRue about any sickness or hospitalizations.

LUTHERAN HOUR August 12 "Retooled"
Lutheran Hour Speaker: Rev. Gregory Seltz, Retooled, reconstructed believers in Christ speak and act in ways that build others up with God's love. (Ephesians 4:17-5:2)
WLUJ             Springfield, IL   89.7 FM                 Sunday 3:00 pm
WLLM            Lincoln, IL         1370 AM Sunday 7:00 am & 7:00 pm
WSMI             Litchfield           1540 AM               Sunday 9:30 pm

Lutherans for Life –

Life Thought: It is easy to imitate the culture and walk as they walk. But their way is futile and dark (Ephesians :17-18). We are beloved children of God and are called to imitate our heavenly Father (5:1). Walking in Christ’s love, we can bring understanding and light and influence our culture for good.

Life Quote: “Rocks beg to be thrown. And the Gospel begs to be shared. And just as a rock thrown into a calm lake causes ripples that keep going and going, when the Gospel is shared, it causes ripples, which spread from person to person, generation to generation.” Rev. Peter Meier, assistant to the president: missions, Minnesota South District (LCMS)

Saturday     August 11           5:30 pm                            Divine Service
Sunday       August 12           9:00 am                                 Bible Class
                                             10:00 am                            Divine Service
Tuesday      August 14          6:00 pm              Unity Finance Meeting
Wednesday August 15          7:30 pm                                             AA
Thursday    August 16           7:30 am                        Virden Chamber
Friday         August 17                                           Pastor’s Family Day
Saturday     August 18           5:30 pm                            Divine Service

Vacation Bible School
Thank You to all who assisted and attended this years VBS.
Next years dates are June 17-21, 2013.
Our Theme will be “Tell it on the Mountain.”
Genesis 4:1–15, 1 Corinthians 15:1–10, Luke 18:9–14
The Lord Lifts Up the Lowly
“And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard” (Gen. 4:1–15). For unlike Abel, Cain’s offering did not proceed from a heart that revered and trusted in the Lord. Thus, the lowly tax collector who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” was the one who went down to his house justified before God, not the respectable, outwardly righteous Pharisee who trusted in himself and his own good living (Luke 18:9–14). “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:1–10). The one who penitently despairs of his own righteousness and relies completely on the atoning mercy of God in Christ is the one who is declared righteous. For Christ died for our sins and rose again the third day (1 Cor. 15:1–10). Therefore, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Readings for the Week of 10th Sunday after Trinity
August 12                    The Greatest Commandment—Mark 12:28-44
                                         Ecclesiastes 4:1-6:12, 1 Corinthians 7:17-35
August 13           Bread of Life Promises Resurrection—John 6:35-51
                                      Ecclesiastes 7:1-9:12, 1 Corinthians 7:36-8:13
August 14 The Destruction of the Temple Is Predicted—Mark 13:1-13
                                       Ecclesiastes 9:13-12:14, 1 Corinthians 9:1-18
August15                                 The Great Tribulation—Mark 13:14-23
                                     2 Chronicles 2:1-5:1, 1 Corinthians 9:19-10:13
August 16                   The Second Coming of Christ—Mark 13:24-37
                                   2 Chronicles 5:2-7:10, 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1
August 17            The Woman Caught in Adultery—John 7:53—8:12
                                      2 Chronicles 7:11-9:31, 1 Corinthians 11:2-34
August 18                                        Look ahead to Sunday's Readings
                          Genesis 4:1–15, 1 Corinthians 15:1–10, Luke 18:9–14

Monday, August 6, 2012

Daily Readings August 5-12, 2012

“The master commended the unjust steward because he had dealt shrewdly” (Luke 16:1–9). The steward’s shrewdness is praiseworthy for two reasons. First, he knew the master would be merciful. He trusted that the master would honor the debts he forgave in the master’s name. In the same way, though we have squandered our heavenly Father’s possessions in selfishness and sin, Jesus is the Steward who has canceled our debt, knowing that His forgiveness will be honored by the Father because of the holy cross. Secondly, the steward was shrewd in using oil and wheat to provide for his earthly welfare. So also do these earthly elements aid us when pressed into heavenly use in the anointing of baptism and the wheat of the Lord's Supper. Those who have the Sacraments will have an eternal home when the earthly fails. These are our escape in temptation (1 Cor. 10:6–13). For the Lord is our strength and a shield to all who trust in Him (2 Sam. 22:26–34).—Excerpted from the LSB hymnal project.
Saturday        August 4           5:30 pm                            Divine Service
Sunday          August 5           9:00 am                                  Bible Class
                                             10:00 am                            Divine Service
Monday August 6 – Friday August 10 6:00 – 8:30 pm Vacation Bible School
Wednesday    August 8          7:30 pm                                              AA
Saturday      August 11           5:30 pm                            Divine Service

Vacation Bible School
Join us for the Amazing Desert Journey, our Vacation Bible School being held on August 6-August 10. Ask God to bring children and adults to our program so they can know and grow in Jesus, our Savior! Registration forms on the back table. See you Monday night as we kick off VBS 2012.


Our Lord wept over Jerusalem for the destruction that would soon come upon her. For she did not recognize the time of God’s visitation in Christ, who had come to bring her peace (Luke 19:41–48). Through His prophets God had consistently called His people to turn from their deceit and false worship. “But My people do not know the judgment of the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:1–11; 8:4–12). They sought to establish their own righteousness rather than receive Christ’s righteousness through faith (Romans 9:30–10:4). So it was that God was in His temple to cleanse it, a precursor to the once–for–all cleansing from sin which He would accomplish in the temple of His own body on the cross. God grant us to know the things that make for our peace—His visitation in the Word and Sacraments—that by the Holy Spirit we may penitently confess “Jesus is Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:1–11).

Collect: O God, as You declare Your almighty power above all in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Your grace that we may obtain Your gracious promises and be made partakers of Your heavenly treasures; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord . Amen.

Old Testament: Jeremiah 8:4–12
Epistle: Romans 9:30–10:4 or
Holy Gospel: Luke 19:41–48

Readings for the Week of 9th Sunday after Trinity
August 5                            The Rich Young Ruler—Matthew 19:16-30
                                                                                      1 Kings 3:16-28
August 6       Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard: Matthew 20:1-16
                                                                                      1 Kings 4:22-34
August 7     Jesus Predicts His Passion a Third Time: Matthew 20:17-28
                                                                                        1 Kings 5:1-18
August 8                    Two Blind Men Receive Sight: Matthew 20:29-34
                                                                                2 Chronicles 3:1-17
August 9                                The Fruitless Fig Tree:  Matthew 21:18-27
                                                                                        1 Kings 8:1-66
August 10               The Parable of the Two Sons — Matthew 21:28-32
                                                                                       1 Kings 9:1–28
August 11                                          Look ahead to Sunday's Readings
                           Jeremiah 8:4–12, Romans 9:30–10:4, Luke 19:41–48