Sermon – January 26, 2020 – Stewardship 3

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Vicar Lindemann † ~  Stewardship 3 Sermon  ~†  January 26, 2020

For Generations to Come

17“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus….24“Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” – Acts 3: 17-20, 24-26

You are standing on the shoulders of giants. That’s one of my favorite pictures; are you familiar with it? You have Jack (and the beanstalk) standing next to a giant. Which one can see farther? The giant, obviously. Until, Jack climbs up the giant, stands on his shoulders and now he can see just as far. You have Dad and his toddler. Who can see over the tall fence? Dad clearly. Until, Dad puts the toddler on his shoulders and now she can see even farther than he can. By themselves, the little ones have no chance to see, but with the giants, they can see as far if not farther. This picture is also used for knowledge. Isaac Newton said that he was standing on the shoulders of giants, when he made one of his scientific discoveries – implying that he would never have figured it out without the discoveries made before him. You are standing on the shoulders of giants. You have stood on the shoulders of your parents, or grandparents or whoever has shown you how to live in this world. And you have someone who has shown you how to stand on the shoulders of the giant of God’s Word. Peter also had this, and he wanted to share it. Early in Peter’s ministry, he appreciated how important it is to make known what God has done for generations to come. His message is to promote awareness for the next generation and to set an example for the next generation.

  1. Promote awareness for the next Generation.

Peter and John had just healed the lame man. In the verses just before ours, the disciples passed by a beggar who couldn’t walk. Instead of giving him money, Peter said “In the name of Jesus, get up and walk.” And the man went walking and leaping and praising God. The people were amazed and they all came running. Peter saw this as a great opportunity to promote awareness for the next generation. He wanted to show them that what had happened actually wasn’t as amazing as the amazing things God did in Jesus. But then Peter reminds the people of what happened to Jesus. “You handed him over, you disowned him; you killed the author of Life. But, God raised him from the dead, and we saw it happen. Faith in Jesus made this man strong again.”

But Peter did not come to bring fire and brimstone to these people. He wanted to bring them up to stand on the shoulders of giants with him. He showed them Jesus. Now he tells them what it means for them. “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.” What is Peter trying to say here? I know you were ignorant, and you didn’t know what you were doing, so it’s ok? No, ignorance is no excuse for sin. Is he saying I know it wasn’t really you, it was your leaders who killed Jesus, so no worries? No, they are both equally guilty.

This is more like trying to start a lawnmower for the first time, when you crank on the string and you can’t get it to start. You try and try at different speeds and methods, with nothing happening until finally even if you got it started, it’s too late now. And someone walks up and sees your frustration and says, “You really have no idea do you?” And he flips the lawnmower to on, gives it one simple pull and it fires up. Just like you had no idea that you needed to turn the lawnmower on before you pulled the string, these Israelites had no idea what they were doing with Jesus when he came to save them.

The people didn’t think they were ignorant. They thought they were doing fine, they thought they knew how to start the lawnmower; that’s what their leaders told them, too. They thought they knew God. They thought that since they had Abraham as their father, that’s all they needed. They thought they were pleasing God. They thought that if they followed all the laws as best as they could, that God would be happy with that. They thought that they had nothing more to pass onto the next generation than facts. But they were so ignorant. Their ignorance about what God’s Word means for them caused them to commit sin after sin after sin, and, as Peter pointed out, to even disown the Savior that God had promised in his Word.

Peter wanted to remove their ignorance, and he wanted them to be aware of this, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” Now that you know, repent! Peter gives them God’s sweet Gospel. Even though they were ignorant and their sins should have stayed on them, Peter gives them God’s amazing invitation to repent. Their minds are changed with God’s work, and now what they were ignorant of was revealed to them. Jesus was appointed for them, even though they didn’t deserve him. Through Jesus, their sins could be forgiven and they could know the truth about God. Then times of refreshing would come from the Lord. They would know that Jesus forgives them.

How aware is this generation? How aware will the next generation be? Maybe you have a feeling that it’s not too bad, certainly better than the last generation. Maybe you are less optimistic when you talk to a younger person about Ancient Rome, or an older person about Disney+ and they have no idea what you are talking about. We don’t like to be in the dark about anything. As soon as we find out there’s something we don’t know, don’t we want to find out as soon as possible? If everyone knows who Wilford Brimley is except for me, I’m going to google him within ten seconds to find out.

But what about the things we think we know about? That’s a little harder to get excited to learn about, because I already know that stuff. I know about Jesus, that’s all I need, right? Surely the people who go to church are aware of God, aren’t they? You have all the facts!

But church isn’t all about facts. Your walk with God in this life is not over when you collect enough Bible facts. We promote awareness for the next generation to show everyone what God’s Word really means for them. The Israelites thought that all they needed were the facts of God’s Word, but didn’t know what they meant. To avoid ignorance, we strive to be spiritually aware. That’s why it’s important for us to encourage new confirmands to continue to attend church and Bible class. That’s why it’s important for me to come back and here the same story. Because even if it’s the same old story, the Holy Spirit interacts with you in new ways through his word. We need to treasure our interaction with God’s Word, not take it for granted. When we take our own knowledge of God for granted, then we become like those Israelites to whom Peter preached. We start to think that since our parents were Christians, we have all we need. Or that if we try hard enough, we will be good enough. And our ignorance causes us to commit sin after sin, when we thought we knew what we were doing.

And so Peter also says to you, “I know you acted in ignorance. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” This is God’s sweet gospel to you. God removes all ignorance! God’s power causes a changing of our minds. The many ways that we take our awareness of God for granted burdens us, and makes us realize our great need to repent. He reveals the ignorance of our sin and offers full and free forgiveness through faith and repentance. Repent of taking knowledge of God for granted, and have all your sins wiped out by Jesus’ perfect love and death. Then you will be refreshed by the Lord. With your sins forgiven and your ignorance removed, you can enjoy the knowledge of God, and be reinvigorated to grow in that knowledge and share it for generations to come.

God’s Word removes our ignorance about him. When we stand on the shoulders of God’s Word and are aware of what God has done for us, we want to promote awareness for the next generation. What is the best way to promote awareness? Speaking about God, and encouraging with words is one way. A better way is to model what it is to know what God has done for you. Modeling, not mouthing will get the job done. Because after all, you and the next generation are co-heirs of God’s promise.

   2. Set an example for the next generation.

We are familiar with how heirs work. We usually think of an heir as someone who receives an inheritance from someone who has just died, called the benefactor. The heir benefits from the work that the benefactor did in their lives. Peter calls the Israelites heirs. He told them, “And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers.” There was a grain of truth in the lie that some of the Israelites believed about their Jewish descent. They believed that they were well off because they were heirs of believers. But it is important to realize what the people were heirs of, whose shoulders they were standing on. It wasn’t their ancestors’ work, it was God’s work, his promises. They were not heirs of the Father because of the work of their fathers. The Israelites did not receive the good works of the prophets, rather, they received the good news about God. It wasn’t merely facts that the prophets were relaying, it was the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word. It was the promises of God that the heirs receive from the prophets.

And by God’s grace, you too are heirs. You also receive the good news that the prophets gave and all the promises of God. You stand on the shoulders of the 66 books of the Bible that reveal how much God loves you. They show the great things that God has done for you – to use his almighty power to protect his people, to come into the world, to live for you, to die for you, and to rise for you. God, by the power of his Word, makes you an heir.

It is a great privilege to be an heir of God’s Word. You are not an heir of God because you are a 3rd or 4th generation Christian. You are not an heir because your parents are Christians. You are not an heir because you happened into Grace. You are an heir because of Jesus’ work, because Jesus chose you to be an heir. He wanted to give you forgiveness of sins, new life, and salvation because of his great love for you.

That’s why you act like an heir, because you are an heir, along with those believers before you and the next generation of believers after you. How can an heir of God’s promises act like an heir? By refocusing on your Father and reevaluating God’s Word. God’s Word is the reason you are an heir, so grow in your knowledge of that Word. Expand your grasp of your Father’s Word by making learning about him a priority in your life through church, Bible study, and reading his Word on your own. And also reenergizing the work being done in your church. How can you encourage your brothers and sisters to stand on the shoulders of your heavenly Father with you? We have Adult and Family Nurture groups here. All they do is encourage our next generation to be good Christians. Take advantage of opportunities they give like Bible class, fellowship events, and the organization of those events.

Those are just a few of the many opportunities you have to be an active member of your church. That’s the example for the next generation of leaders. And you next generation, you high schoolers and grade schoolers, look for those examples. You have the privilege not only to figure out how you are going to serve God in your life, but have the next opportunity to be the leading members of the church. You can prepare for that, not by slinking away from church, but by seriously considering all the great things God has done for you, finding those examples of faithful members, and being a strong church that can faithfully make known what God has done to the next generation. All of you have the opportunity to model what God has done for you to set an example of what it means to you that you are the heir of God’s promises.

God’s Word will endure forever, and by God’s grace, we get to stand on the shoulders of God’s Word. We will not be here forever, God has better things in store. But there will be another generation here, and God gives us the privilege of sharing with them what Jesus means for them in real life. We have the privilege to promote awareness and set an example for the next generation, so that we don’t take God’s Word for granted, but model how to treasure God’s Word and reflect his great love for generations to come. Amen.

Sermon – January 19, 2020 – Stewardship 2

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Pastor Jacobson  †~  Stewardship 2  † ~ January 19, 2020  ~†  Acts 3:1-10

1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.



“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). That’s where we left off last Sunday in our Stewardship Series called The Externally Focused Church. What an awesome time to be a part of the church, don’t you think? New people! Daily! Being Saved! Imagine that many new people in our church! Not just 10 new people on a Sunday, but new people every day! Wouldn’t that be great?

New people are great, but new people are also challenging. It’s challenging to put names and faces together and then to remember that match after the service. It’s challenging to find out where people are at in their faith and to help them through our Super Saturday Bible Instruction class and our weekly Bible classes. It’s challenging to help new people find their way in church so that they don’t come in through the front door of faith only to slide out the backdoor of doubt and discouragement.


1. Be intentional about your neighbor’s felt needs.

This takes us to chapter three in the Book of Acts. Verse one starts, “One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts.  When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.” Peter and John were busy with temple activity every day, but on this one day there was a Good Samaritan opportunity for Peter and John. Most people are familiar with the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan helped a stranger in need. Do you remember the other two people in the Good Samaritan story? Not the innkeeper, the men who walked by the man in need. One was a Levite, the other was a priest. Church people, very likely, headed to church, but walking right on by the person in need. Maybe they were busy. Maybe they had a lot of activity at the temple.

What would happen to Peter and John at their Good Samaritan opportunity? You know what happened to Peter and John. They loved the man as they loved their temple. They were intentional about his felt need. Silver and gold would have helped, too, but in the name of Jesus they were able to make this lame man walk. This man would now be able to work for his felt needs of food and drink, clothing and shelter.

So the lesson for us is to…learn how to do miracles? No, that is not the lesson. The lesson is be externally focused. Don’t be so internally focused on the good activity in the church that you have no time or energy for the Good Samaritan opportunities in your community. Love your community as you love your church. Be intentional about your neighbors’ felt needs.

Is our church intentional about our neighbors’ felt needs? Is our church externally focused or only internally focused? Let me ask the question differently. If our church were to close and not be in existence anymore, would our community weep? Would our church neighbors be sad? Would area businesses and schools notice? Would the poor and needy suffer?

Now, we do help our community. We help the Alpha Pregnancy Center with cash or check in baby bottles in spring and we help St. Mary’s Food Bank in the fall. Our Lutheran elementary school and preschool frequently receives calls and visits from parents who belong to our community. We have a fellowship group that meets at IHOP twice a month for food and devotion. I know Subway on Glendale Avenue knows Pastor Clark. I know Antwan’s Salon on 57th Drive knows me and my family. We do meet community needs, but can we do more? Should we do more?

This last Tuesday night our Support Board met in the Parish Center. We talked about the needs of our property and there are many. I asked them what they thought about looking for a project outside of our property, to just help a neighbor and to help our community. The Support Board loved that idea. We make lots of food here. We have a cookie line every Sunday. What if we made Christmas cookies for the homes we can see from our church? We have great teachers in our church, some of them teach at our Lutheran elementary school. Others of our great teachers work at schools in our community. We are proud sponsors of our Lutheran Elementary School and our area Lutheran High School, but could we not also proudly sponsor our Glendale Public High School and other schools? I know they teach evolution, but they need more than a lesson on creation. They need our love. Love your community as your church and maybe we will get a better hearing for our speaking of the good news.


2. Be prepared to address your neighbors’ real need.

This is how it worked out for the man in our lesson who was born lame. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. It’s entirely possible that he could have walked home. Jesus, once fed a crowd of 5,000 men and when this large group dwindled because Jesus wasn’t going to feed them again like that, he asked Peter, “Are you going to leave, too?” When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to give him thanks and praise.

When we love and serve our community we are not always going to get a conversion. We might never get a conversion. That’s okay. We love and serve our community because we love Christ. The message of salvation is the ultimate motive, but it is never the ulterior motive. Christian love doesn’t come with strings attached. Christian love comes with Christ. We love because Christ first loved us. We love to help our community with felt needs, but the real need is always our salvation in Christ Jesus.

We want to be an externally focused church and an internally focused church because we have an externally and internally focused Savior. Christ loved his heavenly Father! Christ and his Father were one together with the Holy Spirit. Christ was internally focused. And yet Christ was and is externally focused. He left his property in heaven to serve our community on earth. He fed people and healed people and he still does. He also lived and died for people. His life and death still benefits people…all people. And so continue the discussion in Bible class today, and at your Church Board meetings this month. Ask the question, “How can we better love our community as we love our church?” Let’s talk about how we can better meet felt needs so that we can better meet our world’s greater need of Jesus. Amen.       

Sermon – January 12, 2020 – Epiphany 1/Stewardship 1

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David R. Clark ~ January 12, 2020 ~ Stewardship 1 ~ Acts 2:42-47

The externally focused church in everyday life:


42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Those must have been exciting days! Tongues of fire! Different languages from unlearned men. The sermon no one will ever forget and 3000 baptized. But when it was over, then what? Pentecost was a Sunday. What happened on Monday? People who had gathered in Jerusalem went home, but what about those who still lived there? Perhaps it’s the same question we ask after the huge attendance at Christmas.

That’s what St. Luke tells us in these words. Pentecost, just like our Christmas celebration, wasn’t an end to itself. It was just a beginning. This new event, this new church, had meaning for their lives well beyond that first Sunday. You could sum up what it means with what Scripture says about it: IT’S ABOUT BEING TOGETHER.


  1. Growing together (verses 42-43)

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.

If there is one thing that Pentecost showed is that people didn’t understand things nearly as well as they needed to. Just as they had heard Peter explain on Pentecost, they continued to come back and sit at the feet of the apostles. The apostles taught them things like the importance of being together regularly to share the Supper that Jesus had shared with them and to pray together. As they did, they grew closer to Jesus and to each together in awe of all they heard and saw.

Brothers and sisters, we also need to grow closer to Jesus and each other! We do this by learning the apostles teaching – we call it Bible study. We gather together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and to pray together – we call it worship. Christmas was not enough! We need to continue to grow together.



  1. Celebrating together (verses 44-46)

44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

It would have been easy to go back home and watch their favorite sporting events or reality shows or post pictures of the event on Instagram, but what had happened filled their shallow lives with something much more meaningful. They kept coming back to the temple courts, the place where Pentecost had occurred, and gathered in their homes. A spirit of love and consideration caused them to celebrate together as a large group and in small groups, too.

And isn’t that what our lives have also become, a celebration of Jesus? We love to be together with other Christians both in a large group at church or in smaller groups in our homes. We rejoice together with other Christians over the way we have been blessed and continue to be blessed. In our rejoicing we help each other. That can be food, or clothing, or emotional support or whatever, but as we do it, we celebrate together. All of this in the name of a perfect Savior who not only gave us forgiveness and salvation, he gave meaning to our lives. That’s what we share with each other.


  1. Reaching out together (verse 47)

praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

All of this changed behavior did not go unnoticed. The people of Jerusalem saw the way they gathered and celebrated together and supported each other. That made a big impact on them. When Christians explained who Jesus was and what he had done for them and that this was why they spent so much time together, others in Jerusalem were drawn to Jesus and to their fellowship.

We don’t have something as dramatic as that first Pentecost to point to today. That may make it a little harder for people outside of our fellowship to see that spirit among us. There are other ways we can do that. Be the best neighbor you can be and when the time comes, invite them. Get to know your neighbor, and after you share what you got for Christmas, share the joy of the Christmas service and how much worshiping your Savior, the baby Jesus, meant to you. Build bridges to people by taking an interest in them. That means do more listening than talking. And when there is an opportunity, explain your family traditions that show your Savior.

We might think if we only had something as dramatic as baptizing 3000 at Pentecost, it would all be easier. Maybe. But Jesus doesn’t need you to bring 3000 people. You can start with one other family or a Grace family who hasn’t been here in a while and invite them to gather together with you. Because that’s what being a Christian is all about. It’s about being together. Amen.

Sermon – January 5, 2019 – Christmas 2

Printable PDF:  1-5-2019 Christmas 2 Sermon

Pastor Mark R Jacobson † ~  Christmas 2  †~  January 5, 2020

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. – John 1:1, 14-18


It’s time. It’s time to put it all away. Climb the ladder. Take down the Christmas lights. Wrap the ornaments carefully. It’s time! Put it all away for another year. For the record, technically speaking, we shouldn’t put anything away until the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow is Epiphany, and we should wait until the wise men can celebrate Christmas, too. Epiphany is the Gentile Christmas. Epiphany is our Christmas, but with school starting back up tomorrow and a regular work week, it’s time to get back to the normal routine.


  1. See His glory in the Word.

The Apostle John wrote his Gospel at a very interesting time. At the time of John’s Gospel, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke had been around for decades. At the time of John’s Gospel, the Good News of Salvation had been told and retold by the Apostle Paul and his missionary companions. And yet as more and more of these eye witnesses were called home to heaven, more and more false teachers started to affect God’s holy church. False teachers weren’t questioning the humanity of Jesus and his great teaching and his love for people, but they were questioning his divinity, and with his divinity, they questioned what Jesus really meant for the people of this world. As more time passed the gospel of Jesus Christ became like Christmas decorations in February. Yes, Jesus came into the world and he was great, but now it’s time to move onto what we have to do.

The aged Apostle John had something to say about this false teaching. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle speaks in a simple way about Jesus’ identity: He says: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Jesus is the Word. John hides this identity very poorly because John wants to make a couple of clear points about Jesus.  

The first clear point is Jesus is God. As God, Jesus is eternal. In the beginning was Jesus. Jesus, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, created life. With nothing else but his powerful word, Jesus created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. In his infinite wisdom, Jesus not only let there be light, but he let there be light with a dimmer switch, so the greater light would govern the day and the lesser light would govern the night. In his infinite wisdom, he also made the fish fit for the water, the birds able to fly in the air, and man and woman for each other. And as he looked over all of his creation, there was nothing else to say but it was very good. His glory was on full display in the beginning.

Then Jesus as true God became flesh and made his dwelling among us. The Creator became created. While we marvel at God becoming man at Christmastime the Apostle John does not want us to lose sight of the truth: Jesus is still God. As true God, Jesus had the power to turn water into wine. As true God, Jesus knew Judas would betray him and Peter would repent of his sins. As true God, Jesus was present with his disciples whether they were out on a boat or in a locked room. As true God, Jesus is eternal, almighty, all-knowing, and always present. John says, “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the father, full of grace and truth.”

Jesus is God. That’s the first point John wants us to understand about Jesus. The second point is his word endures forever. His Word is always with us, full of grace and truth. Grace and truth didn’t run out of gas when Jesus ascended into heaven. God’s grace is not a good start that must be finished by good works. God’s truth is not a good that is dependent on how we decide how the story will end. God’s Word is everything. God’s Word is like the sun in the sky. The sun in the sky has always shone and given us warmth and always will as long as the earth endures. God’s Word was everything at creation. God’s Word was everything when Jesus was made flesh and made his dwelling among us. And God’s Word is everything as you sit in church today and contemplate your life. See his glory in the Word! Don’t put Jesus back into the box now that Christmas is over. Don’t see Jesus as occupying a time and a place. Jesus is eternal and so is his Word. His Word has meaning for your life today and in this New Year of 2020 and well beyond that.


  1. Share His grace in your life.

As John continues his introduction to his gospel he emphasizes the continuing importance of Jesus and his work. In verse 16 he writes, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” The Apostle John is sending a strong message with the little word “all.” We have all received grace in place of grace. John and his fellow apostles now in heaven received grace when Jesus called them to be his apostles. They received grace when they listened to Jesus preach and teach. They received grace when they saw Jesus perform miracles. They received grace when they saw Jesus rise from the dead and ascend into heaven.

We have not received that exact grace, but we have received grace in place of grace. We have received their eye-witness account. We have received the eternal Word of God. We have received the forgiveness of sins through the ministry of the keys given to the church when Jesus told his apostles, “If you forgive anyone his sins they are forgiven,” and we have received the forgiveness of sins though the sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

As John says in verse 17, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Moses was the mouthpiece for God’s holy law. The law tells us what to do and what not to do. The law does not empower us to keep God’s law or forgive when we fail. The law tells us whether or not we are guilty of sin. The grace and truth that came through Jesus tells us we are forgiven. Jesus lived, died, and rose for us as our Savior. Grace and truth helps us as we one day face God who created us.

God’s Word prepares us for facing God. John says in verse 18, “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” Who is God? What is God like? What would he say to us? We have those answers with Jesus. When I sin, God’s Word lifts my eyes to Calvary’s holy mountain to assure me that Jesus paid for my sins. When I weary under life’s temptations, God’s Word points me to the powerful Savior who knows how to strengthen me. When I worry about death, God’s Word reminds me of the risen Savior, who has defeated that monster for me.

If getting back to the normal routine is what happens tomorrow and if in a couple of weeks we barely remember Christmas ever happening, our Christmas was a failure. Yes, put away the Christmas stuff, but don’t put Jesus back into the box. See his glory in the Word, and share his grace in your life. Amen.      


Sermon – December 31, 2019 – New Year’s Eve

Printable PDF:  12-31-2019 New Year’s Eve Sermon

David R. Clark  ~  New Year’s Eve  ~  December 31, 2019  ~  Jeremiah 24:6-7


6My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.


Dear friends in our newborn Savior,

Has this been a good year for you? I know we’ve lost people. There have been illnesses and tragedies and failed marriages. There have also been births and baptisms and confirmations and marriages and graduations and new jobs and new homes. Overall I get the impression that things have gone pretty well for our people. Standing on the precipice of a new year, it’s pretty easy to look back and see all of that.

If we turn ourselves around, we can also look forward. I know we don’t know exactly what this new year will hold. But I think suggesting it’s a total mystery is shortsighted. There are things we know will happen as we look forward to 2020. That forward look is one Jeremiah shared with his people, too.


  • The Lord will watch over us.

6My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them.

At this time of year I often think back to a parsonage we lived in. The back yard had not been put in. There was no fence, no grass, nothing. Before we could put that new sod down we had to remove some very large weeds. They were so large that you actually had to dig them up. We dug them up because we didn’t want them coming up through new sod. That’s what the Lord was telling the people of Judah whom he had sent into exile. He had not torn them up like those weeds so that they would be thrown away and die. It was more like sod on a sod farm only to move them. He would bring them back and replant them.

He also promises to build them up. I read a newspaper story years ago about an historical landmark home in San Antonio in the middle of a new right-of-way. Instead of tearing the building down, they went to great expense to move that building in one piece to another site where it would rest safely and comfortably. Jeremiah tells them as they look forward that God was not going to tear them down; he was going to build them up.

The Lord also says, “My eyes will watch over them for their good.” God was not promising them if you are a believer, God is going to make everything peachy-keen. In fact, just the opposite was true. They had been uprooted and forced to leave family, job opportunities, and home behind. He promised to watch over them and keep them safe, turning evil into good. Although daily life could be difficult, they would see just how God had watched over them and guided people and governments for their benefit.

As citizens of heaven, you and I are also living in a foreign land. While we are used to that, sometimes life can be very uncomfortable while we wait for Jesus to return. Although we are living in a time of plenty, some of us still struggle financially. Although we live in a time of low unemployment, some still do not have jobs. There are marriages on the rocks. There is illness. It would be easy to either take the good for granted or be surprised when it’s not what we would like it to be.

But we are not alone. Our Lord has promised to faithfully watch over us. The Lord will not uproot us. He will build us up and return us to our heavenly home. That may be very difficult to see sometimes. But he will watch over us and build us up and plant us. This is what all the faithful can expect in 2020.


  • The Lord will draw us ever closer to him.

Those wonderful blessings can seem a little impersonal because all believers have that promise. God knows each of us intimately and desires to draw us ever closer to him. That is what this means: 7I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.

A heart to know the Lord means to know that he is the Lord – the one from whom all these blessings come. It means to know who our Savior is. It means to understand that Jesus’ blood and righteousness are ours and that this God has personally saved us.

When we come to faith, it’s sort of like meeting someone at a party. You may know their name and some basic information about them, but that’s it. But if that acquaintance invites you to their home for dinner, to enjoy fellowship, and you spend a great deal of time in learning that person’s outlook on life, the major joys and sorrows and goals of their life, you get to know them even better. Maybe your relationship progresses to birthday and Christmas gifts or having them help you with some home improvement. You are no longer an acquaintance, you are an intimate of that person. The more time you spend with the person, listening and caring about them, the closer you draw to that person. You get to know him, he gets to know you. You go from acquaintances to best friends.

And that’s what God has promised you in 2020. God invites you to know him better. He invites you to his house to share his special Supper with us. He describes his thoughts and joys and sorrows and goals – even to the point of writing them down. He will listen and be with us during joys and sorrows in our lives. He will give us good gifts, not just for our birthday and Christmas, but every day of our lives. All of this because it’s not enough for him that we are acquainted with him, he wants to know us and draw us ever closer. You can count on it again in 2020. Amen

Sermon – December 29, 2019 – Christmas 1

Printable PDF:  12-29-2019 Christmas 1

Vicar Jason Lindemann ~  December 29, 2019 ~ Christmas 1 ~ Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

God Goes to Great Lengths Even After Christmas

13When they (the Magi) had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”  

19After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” 21So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Batman or Ironman or Superman finally figured out the bad guy’s plans, had their big showdown, and heroically saved the day. The imminent crisis was avoided because of the hero, and the city was safe once again. But they need to come out with another movie, so trouble comes again, and once more the hero has to spring into action, even though he just cleaned up that mess. We have something bigger than a blockbuster movie on which to focus today. By now you have extensively reviewed the great lengths that God went to in order to bring Jesus into the world. It didn’t end there. God went to great lengths even after Christmas. God protects the Christ-child from a powerful enemy and familiar dangers.


  • God protects the Christ-child from a powerful enemy. (verses 13-15)

The Christ-child, Mary, and Joseph faced a powerful enemy in King Herod. Herod was the king in Israel, including Bethlehem. He was a ruthless king. The Jews despised him, but they were also terrified of him. Rightly so, look what he was going to do, “Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Even the most hardened criminal must recognize the coldblooded evil of executing a baby. But that was Herod’s plan, because of what the Magi told him. The Magi came to worship the King of the Jews, and it wasn’t Herod. Ruthless Herod would go to great lengths to try to be the only King.

His plan, although ruthless and bone-chilling, was foolproof. Kill the new king while he’s vulnerable. Jesus was a sitting duck. The one who came into the world miraculously, through a virgin, the one who would save the world, was being protected by the arms of a young mother and the security of a simple carpenter. What lengths could they go to against a King with an army, who was infamous for killing entire households, even his own wives if he felt threatened? And no one even knew his plan. He said that he wanted to find the new king to worship him, but he really wanted to find him to kill him. The Christ-child’s chances of surviving were none.

But God’s plan would prevail. He saw through Herod’s foolproof plan. Even though Herod’s plan was hidden, God sent Joseph an angel to reveal it. Even though Herod’s plan was powerful, God sent the Christ-child and his family to a place outside of Herod’s power. Even though Herod’s plan was foolproof, God made Herod the fool.

And Joseph’s faith in God was put into action as he escaped to Egypt with his family. What great lengths God went to! That was a close call…or was it? And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” God was in control the whole time. He was so firmly in control that he predicted ahead of time how it would happen. Matthew shows us that 700 years ahead of time, Hosea proclaimed that the Christ would come out of Egypt. God protected the Christ-child, because it was not his time, yet. God’s plan for the Christ could not be stopped, even by powerful Herod.

As powerful as Herod was, you and I have an enemy who is even more powerful. Behind the attacks of Herod is Satan. The devil teams up with evil people like Herod to try to destroy us. Satan will team up with anyone to overpower us. Around the world, he teams up with governments who hate Christianity to torture and kill Christians. Right here, he teams up with people who disguise themselves as friends to tempt you to ignore God’s commands and are even willing to sin with you. And he teams up with your sinful flesh, your sinful way of thinking that makes you fall again and again into the devil’s trap of sin.

The devil sees us as sitting ducks, and we are. What defense do we have against the devil? Satan has been tricking and trapping people in sin since the beginning of time, and all we have is this weak flesh that always falls into sin.

But God sees through Satan’s plan. Even though Satan’s plan is tricky, God reveals his plan. Even though Satan’s plan is powerful, God sent his son, the Christ-child, who would overcome Satan’s power. Even though Satan’s plan is unbeatable by us, God’s plan prevails.

God’s plan is to protect you. That’s always been his plan, he tells us in the Bible. In the beginning, when Satan tempted Adam and Eve into sin, God promised to protect them from the devil, by sending a Savior. Throughout Israel’s history, God protected them from kings and armies to preserve the line of our Savior. Here, God protected the vulnerable Christ-child from a powerful king. God protects you now, because of what that Christ-child would do.

When God’s plan was ready, he sent his Son like he promised. God was and is in control. He predicted ahead of time just the way he would send him. When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law. The reason the Christchild came in such a vulnerable, lowly state was to save you vulnerable, lowly sinners. He would not die at Herod’s order, but he would lay down his life for you, according to God’s plan, because he loves you and protects you.

God surely goes to great lengths for us. He protected the Christchild from powerful enemies, but not all the dangers we face take us by such overwhelming surprise. Some are dangers like the corner of that cabinet that juts out into your headspace – they are familiar dangers. And God protects the Christ-child from familiar dangers as well.


  • God protects the Christ-child from familiar dangers. (verses 19-23)

He protected the Christ-child from Archelaus. A few years later, after bloodthirsty Herod gave his best effort to secure his kingdom by killing anyone in his way, he died. And the angel again appeared to Joseph, to tell him to go back to Israel. So Joseph again, followed God’s plan and took the family back to Israel. But on his way back, he ran into a familiar danger. Archelaus was a son of King Herod and the person that started ruling after Herod’s death. Herod was gone, but now his sons had split up his kingdom and were ruling there. Like father, like son – Archelaus was also ruthless. Joseph trusted God’s instructions, but he was struggling with his choices within God’s plan. Was it really right to take the vulnerable Christ-child back to death’s doorstep? Where Jesus would be the only boy in Bethlehem in the age group that was wiped out to secure the throne? So God stepped in again, and allowed Joseph to go to a different part of Israel – the land north of Bethlehem, the land of Galilee, to Nazareth. Nazareth is where Jesus grew up. He was known not as Jesus of Bethlehem, or Jesus of Egypt, but Jesus of Nazareth. Matthew tells us that this was all part of God’s plan, too. This surely was the Christ, whom the prophets foretold.

What amazing lengths God went to for this family. There were so many dangers along the way. Not only a pregnant mother traveling across the country with no suitable place to stay, not only the Son of God taking on the frailty and vulnerability of a baby born to normal people, but a blood-thirsty king out to kill him, an international flight for his life, and then returning to the land where he would have death threats. And God rescued him from each one of them. He went to great lengths to keep him safe and to show us that he is in control.

This story makes us marvel at God’s power. We often marvel at God’s power when Jesus feeds 5000 people or makes the blind see. We just marveled at God’s power when we heard about his amazing birth. And now we marvel that God is so powerful that he doesn’t need to protect this baby from his enemies with walls and armies. He can protect the most important baby who existed with a young mother, a humble father, and his omniscience.

And this same God goes to great lengths for you, too. We have plenty of dangers that we face. Traffic dangers – who hasn’t had or come close to having a car accident? Every day we face this familiar danger of being a few feet from catastrophe. Financial dangers – will I have enough to retire? Or afford school? Or stay in my house? Depression dangers – every day society, the Internet, my friends, and my own voices tell me that my life doesn’t measure up. And our most familiar danger – our sinful nature that pops up every day to tempt us to sin. The Lord knows your dangers, and he rescues you from them all.

God has great power and great love for you. So much power and so much love that he sent his Son to rescue you, and his Spirit to overcome that sinful nature in you. And he works all things out for your good. How many times hasn’t your God rescued you from those familiar dangers, when there was no way you should have been safe? Yes, sometimes those dangers do harm us, but you can be sure that the all powerful, ever-loving God uses those for your good, too. Even if it feels like you’re having to run for your life like Joseph, or live in danger like the Christ-child, God is using his power to guard your soul, because he loves you as he has shown us through his Son.

God saved the day, and he does it again and again. Whether it’s Herod or Satan, God protects his own from these powerful enemies. Whether it’s Archelaus or the world, God protects his own from these familiar dangers. Take comfort in the fact that your God is in control. Thank and praise him that through Jesus, God’s plan is to protect you. Amen.

Sermon – December 25, 2019 – Christmas Day

Printable PDF:  12-25-2019 Christmas Day Sermon

Pastor Mark R Jacobson † ~  Christmas Day  ~†  December 25, 2019


Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. – Psalm 96:1-3


Carols to the Christ Child

There’s an old Christmas legend that tells how God called all the angels of heaven together for a special choir rehearsal. The first choir rehearsal took place shortly after Genesis chapter 3. Genesis chapter 3 is not a legend. Genesis chapter 3 is divine truth. Genesis chapter 3 tell us about Adam and Eve and their fall into sin. Genesis chapter 3 also tells us about the first gospel promise of a Savior. God would create enmity between the devil serpent and Eve and between Satan’s offspring and hers; the Savior would crush the serpent’s head, but the serpent would strike the Savior’s heel” (Genesis 3:15). That gospel promise is divine truth. The angelic choir rehearsal is a legend, and the legend is this: God told the angels he wanted them to learn a song, a song they would sing on a very special occasion. The angels went to work on this song. They practiced for days and weeks. They practiced for centuries and millennia. As time went by the angels practiced with greater focus and intensity. The song was perfect and then God shocked the angels. God told the angels they would sing this song only one time. The angels began to wonder about this occasion. They wondered about how large of an audience they would have. They wondered about the caliber of people to whom they would sing, probably kings and queens and prophets and priests. Then God peeled back the curtain of heaven and said, “Showtime!” And the angelic choir belted out in perfect harmony, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

As they finished their song and noticed the lack of numbers in their audience and as they noticed the lack of dignitaries they couldn’t help but wonder if God had made a mistake. Shepherds. Stinky shepherds. Shepherds who couldn’t carry a tune much less appreciate a choir that could. Not a larger crowd? Not a dignified crowd? Why? We don’t know why, but we know this: “There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).

How has your singing been this morning? I’m not talking about your rhythm and tone. I’m talking about the attitude of your heart. Is your heart filled with Christmas joy, or is your Christmas joy starting to peter out? Are you tired from life troubles? Are you fearful for the future? Are you uncertain about everything? Perhaps our Christmas isn’t always merry because we don’t always look honestly at our sins. Maybe we view our sins as a minor traffic ticket. Or we compare our infractions against God’s holy law to the infractions of others and think God should show more leniency with us. Our sins bring us nothing but trouble. Our sins show us nothing but a scary future. Our sins call for a permanent separation from God for all eternity.

An honest look at our sins and a life without a Savior gives us all motivation to sing for the Savior who has come. When I have complete relief from life’s greatest hurt in the form of forgiveness of sins, I have a joy that no outward circumstance can take away from me. When I have the Savior, whom the Bible describes as the Pearl of Great Price, I am beyond rich, even if my earthly treasures find a hole in my pocket. When I have heaven as my final destination, I can keep singing when my life hits a pothole or takes a detour. By God’s grace I have Jesus as my Savior and in him a never-failing source of joy.

So join the carolers. Join Zechariah and Mary. Join the Shepherds and Simeon. They have made known to the nations the marvelous deeds of our Lord through their singing. May we continue their songs with the stanzas we sing and the good news we share about our Savior. Amen.

Sermon – December 24, 2019 – Christmas Eve

Printable PDF:  12-24-2019 Christmas Eve Sermon

Pastor David R. Clark  ~  Christmas Eve candlelight  ~  December 24, 2019  ~  John 3:16

God so Loved the World

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Dear friends in Christ,

John 3:16 is probably the most familiar passage in the Bible. Some might say it’s the 23rd Psalm (The Lord is my Shepherd…). Others might say it’s the account in Luke 2 that you just read through (Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you); even Charlie Brown knows that passage. But I still think John 3:16 is more familiar. It’s the only Bible reference I know of that keeps showing up on my TV screen when someone is kicking an extra point or a field goal.

Whether it is or isn’t, probably isn’t all that important. But the message it preaches certainly is. It fills a need, proclaims a truth that we need to hear over and over again. It answers a couple of critical questions.

  1. Does God really love?

Every time there is a tragedy someone asks, “Does God really love?” It doesn’t matter whether it’s a tsunami or a flood or a hurricane. It could be a drowning or cancer or a mass shooting. The same question gets posed.

I remember someone from the entertainment industry being interviewed after such a tragedy and asked if they thought God was a loving god. His answer was, “If he is, he’s not doing a very good job.” (Geddy Lee, lead singer of the band Rush).

There is a part of each of us that does that. When something bad happens we want to blame. You can blame guns or other people, but ultimately it gets down to blaming God. It’s a natural human emotion…actually a natural sinful human reaction. We want to define love, and when God doesn’t do what we want him to do, it’s because he’s not doing a very good job. Adam did it in the Garden of Eden, and people have been doing it ever since. And every time it happens, Satan chuckles with delight. What better way to drive people away from God than to blame him for the evil that Satan brought into the world. For us to blame God for tragedy is like having an adult smoker blaming lung cancer on their parents for not loving them enough. It’s all a blame game.

So let’s set the record straight. God does love because God is love. How do you know? God is the solution to evil in this world. He didn’t send an angel or a prophet. He didn’t send a miracle from his high perch in heaven. He came himself in the form of a human child. To show you how much he loves you, he submitted himself to the human birth process and was raised as a human child. You know all of the temptations you are going through and went through as a teenager? He did, too. God loves so much he sent Jesus; the very reason we are here tonight.

  1. Does God really love me?

Which leads us to the second critical question; “Does God really love ME?” Some people will say, “Well, it’s nice that he sent Jesus for all those people who are in church every Sunday. But I’ve only been in church for weddings and funerals. –or– “This is only the second time I’ve been in church all year.” –or– “I’ve never been to church before tonight. God can’t be happy with that kind of performance, so how can you say he loves me?”

That’s a really good question, and I admit I’ve fumbled my way through answers to it for years. I’m in church pretty often, since it’s the vocation God chose for me. But my conscience barks at me about other things. “Why aren’t there more people in church? Why didn’t you give better advice? People are lost, and that’s the best you can do?” It’s not just someone who is not in church regularly that struggles with this question.

That’s why listening to God rather than a guilt ridden conscience is so important. This is what God says; God so loved the world” God didn’t do this for a few good people or the people from long ago or just for little children. God loves YOU! He sent Jesus for YOU! And his whole plan to show that love really began when he sent Jesus as a human, but divine, baby.

Everybody loves little children. We love their beauty and their innocence. But this child loves YOU. You can see that in his birth. You can see that in every step he took as a child, as a teenager, and as an adult. Every step he took was another step of love for you. It looked like those steps were going to end on a cross and in a grave – but they didn’t. They continued, glorified, after he rose. Those steps lead you right to heaven. Why? For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

A blessed Christmas to all of you. God loves you. Amen.