FW: The Lutheran Hour: June 15, 2014

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Subject: The Lutheran Hour: June 15, 2014

The Lutheran Hour with Rev.Gregory Seltz
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Sermon Text for June 15, 2014

"Living Life in the Power of His Name" #81-41

Presented on The Lutheran Hour on June 15, 2014
By Rev. Gregory Seltz, Lutheran Hour Speaker
(Who Are The Most Unreached People Today?)
Copyright 2014 Lutheran Hour Ministries

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Text: Matthew 28:18-20

Christ is risen, He is risen indeed, and living life in His Name is a mission of mercy for others. Amen.

Did you hear it? Did you understand what Christ just said? He is making available a new humanity, a new community, real, meaningful change and it comes in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the living, active Triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit, three Persons, One God in action for you.

The words of our lesson today are the most decisive words of mission from Jesus for us and for those whom we love. Why? Well, Jesus has created a new community through His life and death, Jesus has earned the right for entrance to that community through His death and resurrection, and Jesus, now in these words of invitation, offers this new life, new community in Him, through Him to those who believe. And to those who believe, He invites us all to live this life this side of heaven on His mission for all. As His people, we get to live lives in grace so that others might know His grace for them too.

Gary Thomas, in his book Authentic Faith, describes a friend of his named Mike. He met Mike when he went to college. Mike was a leader among students. He had everything: a contagious personality, athletic ability, good looks, and a natural appeal. And everybody wanted to be around Mike. Everyone wanted to be like Mike.

But a few years after college, Mike suffered a brain hemorrhage, and, as a result, he lost everything: his handsome appearance was gone, his voice was slurred, he couldn't teach any more. Everything that others admired in Mike was now taken from him.

His treatment required months of grueling therapy, but eventually he was able to function again. 
The devastating effect on his body was paralleled by an equally powerful change in his spirit. He still attracted followers, but he was no longer focused on himself. He was focused on God. Gary Thomas says, "In college, when I was around Mike, I wanted to be like Mike. Now, after spending time with Mike, I want to be more like Jesus."

That's life in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That's real solutions to real problems, real forgiveness, real life, real purpose amidst real challenges in His Name alone!

Jesus said, "While you're going, make Disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

To receive and live the Christian life one must be gifted! To accomplish the mission of Christ, to share His love with the world, one must be gifted, and we are!

Gifted, now, please understand, I'm not about our natural gifts, physical, emotional, etc., I'm talking about the life and status of Jesus being given to us by faith as a gift! One of my professors at the Seminary, Dr. Norman Nagel, used to say it succinctly "the Christian is one who is given to, given to by a gracious Savior through the gifts of Word and Sacrament, gifts that He authors, that He delivers for us and for our salvation!"

When you know and believe in God by faith in Jesus Christ, His perfect love overcomes your sin and temptation, and when it comes to living life in grace, His perfect love for you drives out fear and trepidation. 

There is no fear. There is always persevering love received by faith. Jesus has a promise for all who believe in Him: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me," so go! Jesus says, through it all, "I will be will you always even to the very end of days." 

It is not an ideology. It is not a philosophy or even a religion that compels us. It is Jesus, our Living Lord and Savior who is the enduring, empowering reference point for life, for salvation, for mission.

At first that unnerves people. As sinners, we are completely vulnerable to God. We have no stake or claim on Him and our sin rebels at His authority at every turn. I just read a humorous quote about why God has never been granted tenure at any public university. The ten reasons are as follows: 
1. He had only one major publication, The Bible.
2. It was written in a foreign language that most people don't read anymore.
3. He quoted no references in His work.
4. It wasn't published in any certified academic journals.
5. Some doubted that He actually wrote it.
6. Sure He created the world, but what has He done since then?
7. The scientific community cannot replicate His results.
8. He had His Son literally make history rather than investigate it.
9. His office hours were irregular and were sometimes held on a mountain.
10. There were only ten requirements and all the students failed.

All authority, it rocks us until we see what He used that authority to do. God came to save, to serve, to suffer, to die, to rise again so that sinners could have a real chance at life and salvation.

You see, by faith in Jesus, there may be awe and wonder but there is no fear! By faith in Jesus, there is confidence that He is risen, ascended, and reigns even now and that confidence can be for all who trust in Him. By faith in Jesus, we can be about the tasks of sharing His Good News to others; knowing that whatever we face, it is merely a challenge, one that becomes an opportunity to love others as God in Christ loves us. To that end, we cannot be stopped, we cannot be defeated. Fear subsides, not because the battle wanes or is less intense; fear subsides in knowing Christ is always there!

Admiral Horatio Nelson, (September 29, 1758 - October 21, 1805) was a British admiral who won fame as a leading naval commander. He is famous for his participation in the Napoleonic Wars, most notably in the Battle of Trafalgar. Even today he is honored by the London landmark of Nelson's Column, which stands in Trafalgar Square. There was a confidence to sail with Nelson, there was a power to fight with Nelson, Sir Robert Stopford once wrote about what it meant to be at sea with Nelson, he said, "We are half starved and otherwise inconvenienced by being so long out of port, but our reward is that we are with Nelson."

That's what the presence of Someone who cares, who leads, who has authority and wisdom, that's what their presence can do in the midst of battles and struggles. Imagine then the confidence and joy to follow the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth, who loves you with an everlasting love and calls you to live life in the confidence of His Presence, a Presence that is with you always! 

Dads, this is a day when we celebrate you. But realize today, that your spiritual leadership is one way that Jesus blesses your families with this kind of confidence and strength. It's His gift that makes life possible again for all who believe. To our Dads out there, thank you for showing us what it is like to trust Him.

For the source and strength of the Christian life, then, is not to be seen in our own physical talents and abilities. Such strength will always fade. Even in our text it says that on this incredible day of being in the presence of the resurrected Jesus, being commissioned by Him for ministry, there were still some who doubted! Frail, sinful humanity on display even here, right to the end.

There they were, worshipping and still struggling. There are going to be times of strength in your life, there are going to be times of weakness in your life, times of joy, times of sorrow; living the Christian life is living through all of those times in the strength and power of Christ alone.
Instead of pointing the disciples to themselves, Jesus gave them a much greater strength, His strength by the power of the Spirit; His Word, His Name, His baptism, strength for life, strength to live life in His Name for others.

That's why Jesus said, "While you're going, make disciples of all nations, by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and by teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you."

So, let's get going! With His authority, with His Presence, Christian life is the exciting life of living in the confidence that Jesus has done all things perfectly for us. If someone asks you, "What can I do to be reconciled to God, to make things right between God and me?" Answer, "You can do nothing." But God has done it all for you in the Person and work of Jesus the Christ!

That might shock a person when they hear it. I know it shocks me. But, by the way, it's not that nothing was done; in fact, to be reconciled to God it took incredible effort. It literally took God in the flesh to accomplish the task! To be reconciled meant that things needed to be done perfectly, excellently, flawlessly. God doesn't fudge when it comes to the things that matter. It's just that Jesus did what we couldn't have done. He lived our life, He died our death, and He gives us His life! That's the work of the Father through the Son by the power of the Spirit so that you might be saved. 
He did it all; the strength and power of the Christian life, then, it's Jesus, it's always been about Jesus, the One who loves you, He loves me, He loves us all.

Whenever you're sharing thoughts about God with others, then, remember it's about how strong Jesus is as your Lord and Savior, as their Lord and Savior, too. Life in His Name is to be lived with His gifts, His blessings in all things. When you hear God's Word, when you receive that washing of Baptism in His Name, when you receive His supper, you might say that it's like receiving the kiss of grace from God!

At age 16, Andor Foldes was already a skilled pianist, but he was experiencing a troubled year. In the midst of the young Hungarian's personal struggles, one of the most renowned musicians of the day came to Budapest. Emil von Sauer was famous not only for his abilities; he was also the last surviving pupil of the great Franz Liszt. Von Sauer requested that Foldes play for him. Foldes obliged with some of the most difficult works of Bach, Beethoven, and Schumann. When he finished, von Sauer walked over to him and he kissed him on the forehead. "My son," he said, "when I was your age, I became a student of Liszt. He kissed me on the forehead after my first lesson, saying, 'Take good care of this kiss--it comes from Beethoven, who gave it to me after hearing me play.' I have waited for years to pass on this sacred heritage, I now feel that you can carry on that legacy." 

What a kiss, right? A kiss with authority, a kiss with blessing. Well, dear friend, Jesus wants His kiss of grace to be yours today too. When you listen to His Word, it is literally the words of Jesus by the power of the Spirit, a faith giving kiss. When you receive His washing, His baptism in His Name, you receive His forgiving kiss. When you hear His Word of forgiveness through the ministry of His grace, you receive His empowering, encouraging embrace. When you come to His table, He literally pledges anew that He will never leave you or forsake you. 

That's how strong our Savior Jesus is. He is risen, ascended, and seated at the right hand of the Father, coming to judge the living and the dead, and He's right here, right now, for you, too. 

Matthew 28 is often called the mission text of the Bible. People say that it gives Christians their marching orders to go, to evangelize, to share Christ's good news. It does all that, but I would like you to think about it a little differently. It's really a call for God's people to invite others into the wonderful journey of living life by grace in Jesus. Jesus is telling us, "Hey, you have all that you need with me, I will be with you through it all, so live life boldly, confidently by my grace, obediently by my Spirit, by my Word, and by the way, invite others to this way of living too." 

The rest of the world is still trying to live life on their terms, with inept political ideologies, with deficient, enslaving philosophies of libertinism, with religious practices that don't empower, but often dominate our spirit. Haven't we had our fill of human opinions and human solutions? Haven't we had our fill of people telling our children there is no God, no morality, no sin, no grace, and then asking them to act like human beings of great worth? Now's the time to proclaim that there is one offer of life and salvation that is radically different. It comes through a cross with the very power of resurrection life. It comes through a Savior who could have dominated but served. It comes through a church that lives by grace alone, and takes up the cross of service in humility to share all that we've been given with anyone who wishes to receive it by faith as well.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, when asked why Russia had declined, why it had lost a generation, why there was such suffering under Communism, he said very simply, "We forgot God!" Is the United States listening? Is the western world listening? Is anyone listening? Well, good news, that doesn't stop God from coming and delivering His grace; that doesn't stop His people from speaking. God is on a mission for us all, and it is an invitation to life by grace in Him, to life in obedience to Him.

Life in Christ; that's the life that reclaims human dignity, that proclaims the value of human life, that lays the foundation of family, that puts godly gifts of virtue, morality, knowledge, puts them to work in service to others. With His authority and presence we are on a mission; or better, we have an embossed invitation from the One who makes the joy and life of the party possible again! Let people know of His invitation!

Jesus says it plainly, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me...." So, get to living your life with confidence in Him, with trust in Him, with power that He can make available to you in and through His Word! To be Christian, to live the Christian life, is to live in the certainty of Jesus and His grace, the power of His Name! The question is not "what can I do, but what can He do through me?

Pat Summerall spent 50 years with the National Football League. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1952 and he played with the Chicago Cardinals and the New York Giants until 1961. After his retirement from the game, he joined CBS as a broadcaster and in 1993 switched to Fox. During his CBS years he and a fellow broadcaster partied hard off the field. They felt strong and invincible! He said, "We raised Cain. I was the first guy at the bar and the last one to leave." But, Summerall was told that if he kept on drinking, it was going to kill him. 

To overcome the addiction he checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic. But there he got more than just help for his problems. He got the gift of life, period! His counselor urged him to seek a better life through faith. And, at age 66, Pat Summerall was baptized into the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In USA Today he told a reporter that when the minister "leaned me back in the water, I never felt so helpless." But he also testified, "I knew I just became a Christian. I can't tell you how great life has been since then."

At the point of his absolute weakness, Summerall realized the strength of the power and the grace of God for him in Jesus Christ. That's living life in the power of the Name. 
That's Christ's invitation to you today. That's Christ's mission through you for others. For the need has never been greater, and His promises never more sure! So, in a spirit of confidence and sureness of victory promised by His Name, let's get going, let's get to living life in the power of the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit for us all.


LUTHERAN HOUR MAILBOX (Questions & Answers) for June 15, 2014
Topic: Who Are The Most Unreached People Today?

ANNOUNCER: Now, Pastor Gregory Seltz responds to questions. I'm Mark Eischer. Pastor, it's been said the United States is one of the world's largest mission fields and I'm wondering who are the people most unreached by the Church today? 

SELTZ: That's a great question, Mark, and I'm glad someone is conscious of the fact that mission is not only around the world, but in the United States. There are so many people who need to hear and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, right here. 

ANNOUNCER: All right. Well, let's talk about who some of these people might be? 

SELTZ: First, the sad fact is about the general population. I remember reading a recent Barna survey that indicated over half of the people in the United States said that churches were not important. Only two out of ten people under 30 years of age think that church, the Christian church, is important. There seems to be a movement away from the practice of faith in our nation. 

ANNOUNCER: Why do you suppose that's happening and how could we reverse the trend?

SELTZ: Well, in some cases, there is a negative view of people who call themselves Christians. While many loving and caring people are devoted to the church, there are people who have been hurt or disillusioned by Christians. 

ANNOUNCER: People might view the institutional church as sometimes judgmental, hypocritical, meaningless, and perhaps even boring. 

SELTZ: I hear that too; but whether it is true or merely a caricature, we need to let that motivate us as God's people, to get back to the basics of hearing God's Word and putting it into practice. Showing the self-sacrificial love of Jesus, along with our proclamation of that gift, it will go a long way in dealing with such perceptions.

ANNOUNCER: Besides people who are disillusioned with the church, who else does the Church need to reach?

SELTZ: I would call the second large group of unreached people: "the least of these."

ANNOUNCER: And what do you mean by "the least of these"?

SELTZ: Do you remember how the Bible says that Jesus reached out to the poor, to children, to the outcasts, to the tax collectors, and to sinners? We need to ask who are the "least of these" in our time.

ANNOUNCER: Who would you include in that? 

SELTZ: Here we can draw some parallels from our age to Jesus' day. For instance, Jesus cared about children. He lauded the faith of the little child. We need to remember that the Gospel is for children too. We can't forget them. Whether it's sparing the lives of children in the face of our abortion culture, or protecting children who are abused and neglected, or making sure that children especially hear about the love of Jesus for them. 

ANNOUNCER: As we think about the breakdown of the family and how parents today are just so busy all the time, it's easy for children to become neglected in their spiritual formation. 

SELTZ: That's right. So with children especially, the church can focus on caring for these who are most vulnerable in our society. But, Mark, I would also include the elderly in the list of "the least of these."

ANNOUNCER: The elderly? In what way?

SELTZ: You know we're living in a youth-oriented culture. Too often the elderly can be marginalized and left alone. If every church decided to offer weekly worship, Bible study, and fellowship at a local nursing home or adult day care, many elderly people who either have never heard the Gospel or become disconnected from it would be blessed with the love of Jesus.

ANNOUNCER: I would hope that our program, The Lutheran Hour, could somehow be a blessing to them as well. 

SELTZ: In fact, I hear that our program is often piped into the nursing homes and it's a real blessing to people.

ANNOUNCER: Who else do you think of when it comes to outreach?

SELTZ: I think of the people we place on the fringes of society. Who are the people we treat like tax collectors and sinners today? Do we shy away from showing love to the poor? Do we push other cultures to the sidelines? Are we fearful of people who are not well versed in our belief system? Now, I'm not talking about compromising Biblical truth or watering down the Gospel. I'm simply talking about the crowds of people in our communities who may need to see a genuine demonstration of God's love and hear the encouraging Word of Jesus' grace from us. 

ANNOUNCER: Jesus cared about people who were considered to be out on the margins. He ate with them, He talked with them, He healed them, and He also helped them. 

SELTZ: He did; and now as His people, we can bring Christ's gifts to those in our midst too. There are so many people who need the blessing of hope in Jesus all around us. We need to creatively and courageously try to build relationships with "the least of these."

ANNOUNCER: So as we're thinking about the most unreached people, those who are disillusioned, those who find themselves on the margin, we find that there's plenty of work here worth doing not only for their sake but also for ours! 

SELTZ: Boy, that's sure right.

ANNOUNCER: Thank you, Pastor Seltz. This has been a presentation of Lutheran Hour Ministries.

Music Selections for this program:

"A Mighty Fortress" arranged by Chris Bergmann. Used by permission.

"Glory Be to God the Father" arr. by William Heyne. Used by permission.

"O Holy Blessed Trinity" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

"Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word" From The Concordia Organist (© 2009 Concordia Publishing House)

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Prayer request for the FAMILY of MARGARET KOHRS

 Please pray for the family of MARGARET KOHRS as she passed from death to eternal life this morning after a long battle with Alzheimer's.   Pray especially for her husband Ed as he hasn't been able to see her for the last month because he's been in and out of the hospital and nursing homes for the last month.