Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sermon Audio: Romans 6:1-11, January 12, 2020

A sermon preached by Pastor Lewis Polzin on January 12, 2020 at St. Peter–Immanuel Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, on Romans 6:1-11. The text of this sermon may be found by clicking this link and you may play the audio of the sermon here.

Sermon Text: Romans 6:1-11, January 12, 2020

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text this morning is from Paul’s letter to the Romans, the sixth chapter:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 
Thus far the text.

My dear friends in Christ,
     The Baptism of Jesus is always an interesting festival to celebrate, because it always seems like no one knows what’s going on!  Not John, not the people, not us.  But, in reality, it’s one of these incredible things in the Scriptures that we hardly pay attention to.  We want to explore more of this so that we can see why it is that Jesus is baptized.

     Suffice it to say, Jesus is baptized for us.  He lives for us, He dies for us, He rises for us, He is baptized for us.  It’s the whole of His life that everything He says and does is for us, it’s for you.  It’s hard to see that, though, because we know what our baptisms today do and wonder with John, why does Jesus need to be baptized?  Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  He is sinless.  What does He need to repent of?  And, of course, the answer is nothing.  But, again, that’s because we have our Baptism, which the Lord gave us, and it’s hard to see Jesus’ baptism through anything but that lens, it’s so ingrained in us.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sermon Audio: Matthew 2:1-12, January 5, 2020

A sermon preached by Pastor Lewis Polzin on January 5, 2020 at St. Peter–Immanuel Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, on Matthew 2:1-12. The text of this sermon may be found by clicking this link and you may play the audio of the sermon here.

Sermon Text: Matthew 2:1-12, January 5, 2020

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text this morning is from the Gospel according to Matthew, the second chapter:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “ ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ” Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. 
Thus far the text.

My dear friends in Christ,
     Something really important in Matthew to remember is that this is written by Matthew, Levi, the apostle who was a tax collector.  Matthew was seen as a traitor to the Jewish people as he worked for the Roman government.  He would collect taxes for the Romans for the Jews and that was a rough trade.  We think paying taxes today is hard, but in Matthew’s day, it worked like this: the Roman government would basically sell a trader’s license, saying that they wanted, let’s say, $5000 in taxes.  Certain people would bid on that license and the highest bid won.  So, Rome would get their $5000 plus whatever else was promised.  But, the tax collectors had to make a living for themselves.  So, not only would they collect the tax bid, but they would have to collect even more.  A $5000 license could easily mean that the tax collector would bring in many times that because the tax collector would bilk the people many times over for it.  If they owed $100 to Rome, the tax collector, with the authority of Rome, and with Roman muscle behind him, could collect $300, $400, $1000 if he wanted.

     The Jews saw this as theft.  The Law of God demanded that they have certain tithes and offerings that they would give to the Temple and to the kingdom for the purpose of being Israel.  But, now they were occupied by a foreign government demanding new taxes.  There wasn’t much left for them to live on.  God is good, and there arose lots of ways for them to get by, but it was hard.  In their eyes, not only were they to pay an occupying hostile government money, but then, if a Jew was collecting it, that man was seen as a great traitor, working against God and His kingdom.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sermon Text: Isaiah 63:7-14, December 29, 2019

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The text this morning is from the prophet Isaiah, the sixty-third chapter:
I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel that he has granted them according to his compassion, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, “Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely.” And he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses and his people. Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his Holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like livestock that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the Lord gave them rest. So you led your people, to make for yourself a glorious name. 
Thus far the text.

My dear friends in Christ,
     They aren’t the happiest of readings this week, with the people rebelling against God in Isaiah and the blessed child martyrs found in Matthew.  But, our Epistle reading gives us the key to understanding them and receiving them with joy, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman… to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption.”  Keeping this in mind is key to understanding our text for today.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Sermon Text: Matthew 13:23, John 1:1–18, Come, Lord Jesus to Him Who Brings the Enlightening Word, December 25, 2019

This Christmas Day sermon is taken from and based on Concordia Seminary's Series, "Come, Lord Jesus" for Advent and Christmas. The text of the sermon is found here and you may play the audio of the study here or by clicking the post's title.

Sermon Text: Matthew 13:23, John 1:1–18, Come, Lord Jesus to Him Who Brings the Enlightening Word, December 25, 2019

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The texts for today’s sermon are from our texts this morning:
As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. 

Thus far the text.

My dear friends in Christ,
     It is a marvelous thing, to be surrounded by candlelight in a dimly lit church, where the sparkling lights of the tree give us feelings of joy and happiness.  I think you can mimic that feeling a bit in your own homes or driving down a nicely decorated street.  Sometimes, depending on how many people have cut me off, I even get that feeling driving at night on the highway, surrounded by red lights.  But, you know, I think it’s the light that really drives the feeling.  When we’re surrounded by darkness, a light shining around us seems so much brighter than it does in the day time.