Author Archives: Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church

About Pastor Jim Driskell, Lutheran Church

I am the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Chestertown, Md. I pray that you will come and worship with us, worship is 10 am Sundays. We are a renewal church and we are lifting God up in classical worship, and being faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. 101 Greenwood Av, Chestertown. Plenty of parking behind the church.

Paul’s Damascus Road experience Acts 9

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who were brought to Jesus by the Holy Spirit said … AMEN !!! The Easter season, we continue to remember, commemorate the resurrection of Jesus, the ultimate event of the Christian faith, it is the ultimate event of the world. The resurrection is God the Father’s ultimate answer it decides where we will ultimately be. It is to remember Jesus’ final time with His disciples. It is the lead up to Pentecost. Pentecost is centered in Acts, our readings in this season are in Acts and also the final coming of Jesus in the Book of Revelation. Luke, describes in the Book of Acts, the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit reveals Himself. He is sent, as promised, by Jesus to His disciples. Does that mean to just the people, and there would have been men and women in the room when the Holy Spirit arrived, who were in that room? Or is this the time when the Holy Spirit starts everyone off at the same time. From there God brings us to Him, makes us His disciples, gives us our new birth, we are reborn in the “Spirit” who comes to those born in Him in order to guide us and provide for us.  The Book of Acts has come down to us with different names. None of Scripture is “titled” the titles were given when they were included in the canon. Some are obvious, Matthew’s Gospel is:   ευαγγελιον κατα μαθ’θαιον [1]   “The Gospel according to Matthew”. Acts, has a few names, you see them used in different editions of the Bible. “The Book of Acts”. The Acts of the Apostles, the Acts of the Holy Spirit, the Acts of the Holy Ghost, the Acts of the Paraclete. I know what you’re thinking, did he fire… oh, sorry, “you’re thinking” what is Paraclete. The Holy Spirit in Acts in the Greek is refered to as pneu,matoj a`gi,ou. What English word can you think of that starts with “pneuma”, pneumatics? Power tools powered by compressed air. I’m sure you are all familiar with the power of the wind. Try riding a bike in 15mph wind for an hour and a half. Wind can be incredibly powerful, those going to North Carolina will see the effects of wind there. I’ve been in Kansas after a tornado hit, saw destruction caused by a relatively minor tornado. Wind is destructive. But air/compressed air/wind can be very useful. Most of man’s commerce was conducted using wind power, back when the ships were made of wood and the men were made of steel arrrrr. Sailing ships powered by wind. The Greek word para,klhtoj which is only used by John in his gospel and 1 John. But the word is related to the Book of Acts, because we see “Acts” being about the Holy Spirit. The word para,klhtoj means “comforter” which is how John uses the word, it also means “advocate”, one who advocates for us with the Father, this also describes Jesus, who is also an “intercessor”.

For those who saw: “Paul the apostle of Christ”, movie saw a sharp presentation of what is described in today’s Acts passage, often called “Paul’s conversion on the Damascus Road”. For those who had a profound conversion experience, they often describe that experience as a “Damascus Road” experience.

I was, at best, nominally Christian. Wasn’t part of a church, kinda/sorta attended one church, a very old the congregation went back to shortly after the pilgrims, so it was also… well, let’s just say, not inviting, stereotypically aloof, very infocused. None of us were counseled, suggested to be a member of that church, frankly we felt little relationship to that church. My father was, at the time, just not interested, but interestingly enough said more than once, “they never even invited us to be a member”, which considering his antipathy I thought was a little odd. Were at best C & E, Christmas and Easter Christians and I can’t say I went to Christmas and Easter in the same year. The following is my Damascus Road, I am not comparing myself to Paul who God used to profoundly change Christianity and western culture, but this is my story: “It was in October mid-80s, we were out the night before until about 2am working a case, kind of nice out, no reason to worry about the weather. On Sunday since we had been out most of the night, the boat crews were sleeping late, then the SAR alarm ripped through the station, if people are asleep, hold it down a longer make sure everyone hears. I remember falling, most of my uniform still on, sliding into my boots, run as fast as I could.

On the way out, people are yelling at us 44!, 44!, meaning what boat to go to. The 44 Motor Life Boat is designed to go into heavy seas, up to about 50 foot, mostly to go out and recover persons in very immediate danger. Overnight the seas got very stirred up because of a large storm far off the coast, enough to really make the water rock and roll. After we passed Boston Light going south, seas were between fifteen and twenty feet high. We were getting rocked back and forth, doused with sea water, north of Cape Cod is significantly colder than south. Everything is an effort, we had to use lineman belts to move around the boat. High seas are deafening, communicating required constant yelling. Everyone but one guy was sea sick, my first experience with “dry heaves”. This was before the Coast Guard required real exposure suits, so we were getting hypothermic too.

It’s really miserable, what would normally take an hour, took over three hours to get where we had to be. The 44 wasn’t a fast boat, make it plow through 15 foot seas, it was much slower. At some point, I made a “vow” to God. If He got me out of this, I would go to church the next Sunday. I didn’t know what that meant, but, sometimes you don’t see a choice. After what took about 8 hours, we were back at Station Point Allerton, went home fell into bed, couldn’t stand the sight of food. Went to the regular job the next morning. True to my vow, I was at a church the next Sunday with Marge and our children Erica and James. From there God took me on a faith journey that has led to ministry and to coming here. Dr J Vernon McGee writes: “Paul recounts this incident [Damascus Road] twice more in the Book of Acts … We find him going over it again in his Epistle to the Philippians … [2] God does work in crazy ways. Speaking of the Coast Guard my big brother who I have known for forty years is watching his daughter dying of cancer. Your prayers for Marianne and her parents Jerry and Dawn would be most appreciated. The Book of Acts describes the birthday of the church, starting with Jesus’ ascension, the appearance of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the start of many missions, especially Paul’s who is the most profound theologian of Christianity and most prolific writer in the New Testament. Where God the Holy Spirit moves and dwells in each of us in Jesus, where He moves and guides each of us in our Christian journey to the resurrection. Where we remember all who set in place the church. We remember the church and all the blessings we receive from the church and even in terms of renewing our commitment to the Body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ that has blessed us and continue to bless us. The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/books/titles.pdf

[2] J Vernon McGee “Thru The Bible Commentary Acts Chapters 1-14” p 105

Shepherd of the Shepherd Psalm 23

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who are thankful to God for their moms and wives said … AMEN!

“A census taker was making his rounds in the lower East side of New York, he interviewed an Irish woman bending over her washtub. “Lady, I am taking the census. What’s your name? How many children you have?” She replied, “Well, let me see. My name is Mary. And there’s Marcia, and Duggie, and Amy, and Patrick, and…” “Never mind the names,” he broke in, “just give me the numbers.” She stood up, hands on hips, a twinkle in her eye, said, “I’ll have ye know, sir, we ain’t got into numberin’ them yet. We ain’t run out of names!” The image of God as the Good Shepherd tells us that is the way it is with God. He knows us by name.”[1]

Pastors are shepherds. You will see many references to pastors being “under – shepherds” to Jesus who is the over-shepherd, the high ultimate pastor. I see pastors as sort of spiritual referees. Referees enforce the rules,… big reason to enforce the rules? No one gets hurt. Everyone can play the sport to the best of their ability, not breaking the rules or making it my way. Having a “level-playing” field. There are exceptions, Lebron James being one, yap, yap, yap. I will concede that it’s odd having NBA playoffs and no Lebron, but fer sure, do not miss the yap. Respect yes, but not a fan.

I do respect, referees, officials, well there was this one back in York…[sounding like Lurch], but they have a tough job. Most of them have been athletes so they know the thrill of accomplishment and sports is so much of that. Not to the point society has confused it today that sports is some be all, end all, but something that allows for achievement, don’t get me started on “participation” trophies “everyone’s a winner”. In a sense they are, those who actually get out there, put their best effort forward, except on Sunday mornings and week days when I’m having confirmation class. I have a “love- hate relationship”, in this for me. Pastors are kind of referees, and we’re also supposed to be coaches, genuine leaders, and a lot more, all wrapped up in one for Jesus. The referee part? There are rules, these are rules that have developed over hundreds, if not thousands of years. Rules were given to us by God. You could say rules have been changed in a lot of things. We know longer throw basketballs with laces on them into peach buckets. Dr James Naismith did not speak to Red Auerbach from Mount Sinai to receive the rules of basketball: “thou shalt not put an elbow into your opponents face. Thou shalt not, like LeBron, run from the top of the key to the basketball shoving everyone out of the way holding the ball the whole way and then yap at the ref that someone fouled him. I am a little hung up on Lebron.

Yes, basketball rules, ways that we do things, all sorts of man-made rules that get changed, most for good reasons, a lot for bad reasons, “that was the popular thing” is usually a bad reason. The Christian Church has rules that come from a much higher authority than James Naismith, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, whichever boogey man du jour is. As a pastor, that under-shepherd, the one given the authority to guide Jesus’ church, wherever that may be, I am required to abide by God’s authority given to His church in order for His church to function properly. There are people who will tell you what it’s really about and don’t let the facts get in the way. Much like Lebron and his helping the referees after every single play. We played a school in Arkansas, apparently the refs there either had different rules or early dinner reservations. They weren’t calling any fouls, and so I was put in to start the second half in order to push back. For my very first play I literally clotheslined the guy coming down the baseline with the ball. I raised my arm expecting to be called for the foul and the play was already past half court. Obviously these guys weren’t really concerned for the well-being of the players or for an orderly, competitive game. They had other interests and if someone got hurt, well Que Sera. Way too many people in the world like that. Too concerned with making their life easier and happier and if someone gets caught up and hurt in it, hey, not my problem. As Christians we are called to the highest authority, pastors are more so called. The under-shepherd is not there to blow the whistle on every ticky-tack traveling call. Probably one way that many in the church, and especially those that call themselves churches and have pastors who have little or no genuine training and pretty much “teach” what they “think” people should hear, instead of the time tested teachings that the church holds as truth. The church exists to provide leadership and protect in God’s teachings, which includes men who are truly qualified and enjoined to teach truth. Protection ultimately comes in the truth and we under-shepherds are about your spiritual protection and doing what is necessary for you to be delivered into eternal salvation. Any playing around with those instructions by a pastor leaves you unprotected and raises grave questions about the pastor. Those are questions I want to answer as forthrightly as possible when I stand before God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The word in the Hebrew is y[iªro÷ ”Roeh” describing someone who is responsible to “pasture”, to “tend”. Interestingly the Hebrew also “to associate with, to be a friend”. The shepherd not only knows the name of each sheep, but has a particular whistle for each sheep. Many of the most memorable passages of Scripture come from the Psalms, I can’t help but refer to Psalm 23. Certainly it is about the Lord being my shepherd on this “Good Shepherd Sunday”. Dr Martin Luther writes: “The 23rd psalm is a psalm of thanks in which a Christian heart praises and thanks God for teaching him and keeping him on the right way, comforting and protecting him in every danger through His Holy Word.”[2] That comfort, protection is to get us to that idyllic place promised by the psalmist. “laying down in green pastures”, beside still waters” to the post- modern ear doesn’t sound all that whoopee do! But if you look at the cover photo, one I took in Israel, does not look very inviting. Imagine how content the sheep would be if they had nice thick, lush grass to eat and lie down on. Further the shepherd leads them besides still waters. This may be a statement of complete, almost unattainable bliss. Dr McGee writes that sheep are frightened by turbulent water, can’t drink comfortably from turbulent water, but they don’t like stagnant water either. In Israel there isn’t a lot of in between. Most water is pretty stagnant in Israel or a few rushing rivers like the Jordan. I’m the under shepherd here, doing my best to lead everyone besides those parts of our lives that truly glorify God, give Him thanks for all that we have, but just like the shepherd, prepared to defend the flock, to do all I can to keep the wolves, bears of the world from scattering and feasting on the flock. Who’s the Good Shepherd in every home? Yea, dad/hubby, he leads us to those green pastures, to those still waters as best as he can. We husbands serve our wives to the best of our ability, often without getting a lot of notice, but let’s face how much recognition or appreciation does the shepherd get from a flock of sheep. Godly moms and wives know how much their shepherd serves them and make sure he knows they are grateful for their service. We show our appreciation to our mom and wife for all they do, but doing all we can do to serve with our lives and our works to make her life better. As Christian men we are called to serve our wives every day, and our wives give us the respect we need. As shepherds we take the lead as the shepherd does when he is moving his sheep in Israel, in order to lead our wife and mother to green pastures and still waters. In the eternal resurrection, the world will be so lush fields, the still waters. Dr McGee writes: “When sheep are lying down in green pastures, it means they have their tummies full. And Christ is our sufficiency…” Total, complete contentment. There is nothing else that is needed, complete peace, everything is provided for you. The contentment of being in the very presence of the Good Shepherd, who has given us the assurance of our complete peace and provision. There will be no wolves or bears, there will be nothing that will lead us to sin or separation from God. We will be completely protected from sin and there will never be any threats to our living in the very presence of God who has lead us to safety, peace and eternal perfect life in the new world of the resurrection. We will know that peace and contentment in the world of the resurrection.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] Donald B. Strobe, Collected Words, www.Sermons.com

[2] Reading the Psalms with Luther p 59

Peter rise, kill, eat Acts 11

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit, amen!

We don’t observe most of the Old Testament laws and ceremonies. Why? As Luther put it, most of these were a foreshadowing of Jesus. OK, so… We have Jesus, if you want to mix the fibers of your cloth for your clothes go ahead. Peter, Paul, especially have to deal with what Luke calls the “circumcision party”. “Party” sort of the sense we have Republicans/ Democrats today. The Pharisees were a “party”, the Sadducees. As Christianity grew, different factions arose, the “circumcision party” is referred to as Judaizers by Paul. They would say sure Jesus is Messiah, but in order to progress up to Jesus; “…those Judaic Christians who insisted that Gentiles could come into the new people of God only via Judaism, i.e. by submitting to circumcision and the law of Moses…”[1] That was not a big selling feature to become a Christian! Adult men aren’t going to flock to a group that insists they be circumcised first. According to Wikipedia “The tradition that 613 commandments (Hebrew: תרי”ג מצוות, taryag mitzvot, “613 mitzvot”) is the number of mitzvot in the Torah, began in the 3rd century CE, when Rabbi Simlai mentioned it in a sermon that is recorded in Talmud Makkot 23b.”[2] All of these rules  are summarized in Jesus. Christianity is not a legalistic religion. To be a good Christian you don’t have to accept all the Jewish laws, imagine having to know 613 “laws” in your life? One could then progress from Judaism and all of the traditional law to then the understanding of Jesus. We Christians observe the law given to Moses, in the form of the Ten Commandments. “Do we suffer a witch to live”? Exodus 22:18 Today we do. Laurie Cabot was the “Official Witch of Massachusetts”. It’s interesting to note the Cabot family is a very old blue blood family of Massachusetts who would have been around at the time of the Salem witch trials. In the “odd” world of the blue blood families of Massachusetts that go back to the Mayflower and the ones who settled Boston and Salem, the Cotton Mathers, needless to say having one of their own as the “official witch of Massachusetts”? We’re talking about the “birth” of the church. There isn’t a big book of doctrine, Book of Concord, to tell them what was true, studied, examined, worked out doctrine. It can certainly make sense; this is what we’ve been doing for 3,000 years, dietary laws probably more for protection no one knew about trichinae in pork or how shell fish can harm a person. God said we would be recognized as His by our circumcision, laws about witchcraft to protect from those who try to force their way using the occult, laws such as stoning rebellious children again to protect the group. We don’t seem to get today how a person can drag a whole group down because of their faulty behavior. Families torn apart regularly by a child or spouse who insists on their way What is there about the Church of Christ that makes it that way? Jesus, He did everything for us, we don’t need to go and make sacrifices of sheep, doves, we know how to prepare food so it won’t hurt us, and if there was some symbol of sacrifice in circumcision, Jesus is now all that is necessary. Caroline Anderson sums it up: “As Christians, we are able to enter God’s presence at any time… (Heb. 4:16) because we have been redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice (Heb. 10:1–10). Goats and calves were not sufficient, so “he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). Jesus’s sacrifice ushered in a system whereby we don’t gain God’s affections through our attempts at righteousness. Faith in the risen Christ is all we need for unfettered access to God, who permanently views us through the lens of his Son’s righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21Rom. 3:21–261 Cor. 1:30).”[3] The Judaizers can debate; “Jesus sure, but, God didn’t tell us to stop circumcision, we have to keep doing it.” We have “Christian” churches today that still, essentially, teach the same things. Seventh Day Adventists, in addition to moving back to Saturday worship as the Sabbath, also have strict dietary laws and some of the orthodox and African Christian churches require circumcision. But as Jesus Himself said in our Revelation reading: “Behold, I am making all things new.” The 3,000 year old laws no longer apply. Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected for the hope and promise of eternal resurrection. From the perspective of people who held beliefs that dated back 3,000 years, laws that were given to Moses their great law-maker, laws given to him by Yahweh Himself, they would not see any reason why any of these laws would all of a sudden no longer apply. Having said that, is there a sin that Jesus didn’t die for? If I eat a spiral ham or a lobster, does that condemn me, if I take a sheep to the temple to be sacrificed will that save me? No. Even if I wanted to sacrifice a sheep, there is no temple to go to, to sacrifice. “Behold, I am making all things new…” What Jesus did was profoundly new, perhaps no one realized it until people showed up wanting to be a part of the church. Many, actually most, were Gentile believers in Jesus, not Jewish believers. While Messianic Jews were the first Christ believers, who were basically running the Christian church, they were becoming a minority. Gentiles certainly understood what Jesus was teaching, and Jesus made it abundantly clear that His disciples: “ESV Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” All nations means everyone in the whole world. There were not many Jews, the church did become dominated by Gentile believers. The Gentile Christian church in Acts was based in Antioch in Syria, while the Jewish /Christian church was in Jerusalem. Jesus’ brother James was, effectively, the bishop of Jerusalem, while he initially scoffed at the idea of his “brother” being the Messiah, he rapidly came around after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He, however, was a very faithful and observant Jew and did not see that Jesus changed anything. He led the circumcision party that criticized Peter in our reading for eating with Gentiles. John MacArthur writes: “The Jewish believes were outraged over such a blatant breach of Jewish custom. It was difficult for them to conceive that Jesus was equally Lord of Gentile believers.”[4] Ok, Jesus said for us to go to all the earth and make disciples, but He didn’t say we had to eat with them. 3,000 years of practices that said you don’t interact with non-Jews. Peter explains about what he saw in chapter 10 when the sheet with the animals came down to Peter. Pentecost was back in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit has arrived, they all know that they are guided by the Holy Spirit. Peter in Joppa, now is summoned by the Holy Spirit to go to Caesarea, which was in Israel, but was built and occupied by Romans. Peter had this vision that turns upside down the idea that they can’t eat certain things, now the Holy Spirit comes to him and says, to meet and eat with Gentiles, being faithful to the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, the Holy Spirit says by the example of what Peter may eat, that the old laws don’t apply, Jesus has made the complete sacrifice for all things. He is called to Cornelius a Roman centurion, an important man who lives in Caesarea, “And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction.” That is, whoever Peter is guided to by the Holy Spirit, it is his responsibility to present the Gospel to them without getting tangled up in 600, man made laws, rules that are no longer valid because Jesus saves us, we are completely saved in Him and not by what have now become meaningless laws. Jesus has arrived, died was resurrected; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loves the world, Jew and Gentile. Jesus died that the sins of the world are forgiven. All sins, but only for those who know Jesus is the Messiah, for those in His church who are baptized in the Triune God, become part of His church, eat His Body and drink His blood, hear His preached word. That was a difficult paradigm shift for people to accept, understandably, Yahweh told them one thing 3,000 years earlier. God the Son has now appeared, to be the redemption of the whole world, the sacrifice system was no longer necessary because Jesus is the ultimate complete sacrifice. Eating unclean food no longer applies because God the Holy Spirit tells us; “What God has made clean, do not call common.” God the Father has changed everything, changed it so that now it is all in Jesus and is complete in Him in this life and into the life of the everlasting resurrection.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] Roehrs Franzmann Concordia Self Study Commentary  p 112 New Testament

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/613_commandments

 

[3] https://www.imb.org/2017/12/22/jesus-made-final-sacrifice/

[4] John MacArthur  The MacArthur Bible Commentary p 1456

So long as you do what you’re told there will be peace

I really appreciate this comment from Judy Wu Dominick writing in Christianity Today November 2018: “(Matt 10: 34-36) Initally it seems ironic that Jesus, whom we hail as the Prince of Peace, announces that he will disturb the peace. But I’ve learned that what he disturbs is an artificial peace, one achieved through conformity  and uniformity – foundational characteristics of the Tower of Babel (Gen 11: 1-4). Since it depends on establishing and maintaining sameness, this peace can’t offer a violent  and divided world healing or reconciliation, not even when it’s embraced by people who happen to identify as Christ followers.” ( p 55)

Even more to the point, the idea that Jesus was all about “peace” is fallacious. Sure He brings peace, but in  Matthew 10: 34-36 (ESV) Not Peace, but a Sword

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 

It’s certainly not that Jesus brings trouble, but because He is so counter the world, the world is going to fight back against Him. The world is certainly not going to submit to Jesus, Satan has nothing to gain by submitting to Jesus, the alternative is violent response.

However if we just submit as other beliefs require non-believers to do, you won’t be killed, there won’t be anymore violence. Sort of how the politically correct movement of today functions. Do what we want, accept what we proclaim and we won’t riot in the streets, such as has been happening in Portland, Or, for months now. We aren’t interested in discussion, we expect complete submission and there will be peace.

Satan has imposed an environment in the world, where everyone is mollified in their sin of choice, but hey at least there’s peace. The Neville Chamberlain, peace in our time, peace at any price mindsets. This is also the same idea as the opium dens of China. Just use whatever will sedate you, and let us self-appointed ones decide what needs to be done.

We are described as God’s treasured possession five times in the Old Testament: Exodus 19:5, Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, 26:18, Malachi 3:17. God does not concede us to the evil of the world, the evil of Satan. He describes Himself as a “jealous God”, we are His and He is not going to relinquish us, especially to violence or the other tactics of evil. Jesus is only described as “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9:6. He certainly is “Prince of Peace”, but that is not defined as resignation, passivity, peace at any price. It means He is jealous for His own, and He will fight for us. That we who are His will also have to stand up to the hate, duplicity, evil and violence of the world. Often that means aggressively pushing back.

Christians don’t want “war”, but as we’ve seen repeatedly in world history, the world is replete with evil. The evil of the world has no compunction about violence. The secular humanism of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot Che Guevara, Castro, Islamo-Fascism has murdered millions and won’t stop until the world is subdued. We were never called to be passive, or allow ourselves to be lulled into a false peace that only surrenders to evil. That’s not peace, that’s disavowing Christ.

We are a kingdom and priests Revelation 1:6 Trinity Lutheran Church April 28, 2019

[click on the icon for the audio of this sermon]

We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know that they are priests in the Royal Priesthood of believers said … AMEN!

I am not about the mystical issues surrounding the Book of Revelation, I had the opportunity to hear lectures from one of the foremost authorities on the Book of Revelation, Dr Brighton who was brilliant, fascinating to listen to, also tell stories about living in sub-zero temperatures in Saskatchewan where he grew up. Dr Brighton starts his commentary where Jesus started His revelation with the Greek word Apoka,luyij which means a revelation, a disclosure. What English word comes to mind? Apocalypse… Which has come to us to mean end times, what will happen in the end times. This is what Jesus is revealing to John in his vision of what John discloses to us of end times, what we call the apocalypse. Dr Brighton writes: “…the revelation comes from Jesus and it is a revelation about Jesus Christ. Through everything that Jesus Christ reveals, he reveals (that is, unveils) his exalted glory and dominion … the unveiling of Jesus Christ in his glory at the End…” God had always intended His people to be a chosen people, a Kingdom of priests. ESV Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” Israel has always been? …Jesus! The Church is the Body of Christ, that means that those in the Church, the Body of Christ are Israel and Jesus is making it clear in the reading His revelation is for His people, His priests and we are responsible for proclaiming Christ and His revelation.  In October, I preached on Jesus being the “Great High Priest”, Hebrews 4:15. If Jesus is our “Great High Priest” He must have junior “priests”. All in Jesus are “priests”, you and I equally priests before the Father. Jesus is our great High Priest, intercedes for His people, equally before God. We have people in authority over us in the church. We trust those people to “minister” to us according to church doctrine, and Christ’s Word in Scripture. In their vocation they are trained and ordained in order to properly serve Jesus’ church. We want people like that, we need people who are properly and sufficiently trained in Scripture and in the church to properly serve Christ’s people in His Church. There is a lot of nonsense out there by people who either don’t have a clue, really don’t care, have made it up to what they think makes people happy and hang a shingle saying they’re preachers. In York, I had a lot of people who were never around unless something serious happens, then there they are expecting I’m supposed to turn and burn for them. They knew I was well trained, that what I said was true Gospel, and when they needed authenticity they came to me. Otherwise, they preferred the church that told them what they wanted to hear, made them “happy” and convinced them everything was hunk-dory with Jesus. They had no intention at all to serve, certainly not as a priest, it was what they wanted, when they wanted it. One of the highest accolades I received was in my time in the York Police Dept as a chaplain. There were usually 9 serving as chaplains and we rotated duty, on 24 hour call. Both the police lieutenant and chief of chaplains said they had such confidence in me and my training and experience they would sometimes call me, even though I wasn’t on call, to come and minister. They knew I had the best training. I was called for a homicide on Good Friday, number of suicides, one involving a police officer in a town outside York, a number of overdose deaths. As a “minister”, qualified and responsible for teaching, preaching, administering the sacraments to serve you to the best in order for you, as priests, to grow in Christ and serve those around you as priests in Jesus.

The difference between a priest and minister a Roman priest, Greek Orthodox priest. You come to a priest, in confession, you tell the priest your issues. He takes those “issues”, raises them up to God on your behalf, asks God to forgive you in Jesus, God forgives you. He also tells you what “penance” you are to perform in to show true contrition, pay for your sin in some sense. This was one of Dr Luther’s major beefs with the Roman Church. Do I need someone to mediate for me before Jesus? No. We are all priests, we should all go before the Father for forgiveness. We are told, Matthew 5:24, before we go to the communion rail we should leave our gift, reconcile our issues, come back and offer your gift. We understand that to mean that you come before a minister, in confession and work out some of your sin issues. It is helpful to sit with someone be accountable to in Jesus. Either way, you’re the one, as a priest, who has to reconcile your issues before God the Father. I help you do that, as a doctor would help you deal with a physical issue, but in both cases, you have to do the consultation, “confession and absolution” in this case, and have to perform the treatments. All to your spiritual health as a “priest of Christ”, as being a part of the priesthood of believers. Dr Luther writes: “All this …proves that those who serve people with Word and the Sacraments may and must not be called priests. That they were called priest stems either from the custom of the heathen or was drawn from vestiges of the Jewish people and adopted to the great harm of the church. According to the evangelical writings, they should more correctly be called ministers, deacons, bishops and stewards…” I am an ordained minister and by virtue of that bishop of this church. We don’t normally refer to a pastor as “bishop”, we do have people in higher authority usually referred to as bishop. We are all priests, my priesthood consists of serving the congregation in a way that is to build you up, support you in Jesus. In your vocation you are called to be a “priest” to those around you. They won’t know you are, but the Holy Spirit will. Often you are the only Jesus people will ever see. How are you representing Jesus in your vocation, being His priest? Many people think that the pastor is supposed to be the “church evangelist”. American culture with its bizarre idea that people in the parish are there to take in, be entertained, maybe leave with one good thought of the day and bang, out into the real world. Based on my experience, ministry, done properly is as real as it gets. Second, my primary job, as Paul writes to the Ephesians, 4: 11-12 is to “equip the saints”, that would be you fellow saint and priest. Give you grounding and support to reach those around you, most I will never meet or know. Isn’t the Holy Spirit using you, in your vocation where you work, as Jesus’ priest to reach that person who might otherwise be lost?

We are a Royal Priesthood. In our life in Jesus, He serves us, saves us, mediates before the Father for us, constantly in prayer for us. Jesus is the One who will pull you across to complete the race, to be with Him in the eternal Resurrection, where we will live our life and life more abundant. In our life on earth, we are His junior priests and responsible for serving Him and others as His priests. Take some time this week, pull out a notebook, start a journal of your life in Jesus. How are you serving Him, His church and each other as His “priests” as a member of the Royal Priesthood of believers in Jesus?  ESV 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom  Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

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