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Light of the Valley Lutheran Church
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Shining the Light of Jesus in the Layton area and beyond!
Shining the Light of Jesus in the Layton area and beyond!

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"Revealed by Fulfilling"
Sermon video from Sunday, January 27, 2019 based on Luke 4:14-21.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qa2Ur8w3NO0
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Revealed by Fulfilling
Sermon from Sunday, January 27, 2019

Luke 4:14-21 (NIV)
14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. 16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place
where it is written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Do you live for the future, your eyes always looking to the horizon? As Monday rolls around, do you start thinking about what you will do on the weekend? Do you get through today by looking at the next day as a fresh start? Did you come to December 31, 2018 only looking at the prospect of a new year? Are you looking forward to a day where you no longer have your aches or pains, your sadness or crying?

Every generation of people looks at what the future might hold. The prophet Isaiah did the very same thing. The future that God allowed him to see was filled with both good and bad. Isaiah told the Jews that God was going to bring judgment on them through the Assyrians and the Babylonians. Jerusalem would be destroyed. The people would be led away into exile, into captivity. The future looked bleak.

But Isaiah also announced a future with good news, where they the prisoners would be freed, the blind would see, and they would enjoy the year of the Lord’s favor. The year of the Lord’s favor was a special event that God’s people celebrated every 50 years. In that year, all financial debts were forgiven totally and completely. All property that had been sold or seized was returned to the original owner. All slaves were set free. This was something that anyone in debt, anyone enslaved, would look forward to. It was a future of hope. I mean, don’t you wish our government would give us this every 50 years?

It is good to look to the future and the hope and good news that it offers, but we can’t only look to the future. If we are always looking to the future to make us happy, then we are never satisfied with what we have today. If we are always looking to the horizon on what will come next, we miss what is right in front of us. If we are always looking to the future, then the good things are always just out of grasp, the future never comes, and we are never satisfied. Only looking to the future, we begin to lose hope, despairing of a day when our future hope becomes a reality.

So, what do we have today? In our Gospel reading from Luke, we recount a day when Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth after he had started his public ministry of preaching and teaching in synagogues. He was already gaining much popularity. So, the people of Nazareth were looking forward to the Sabbath day when Jesus was in town, thinking of how Jesus would blow their minds with what he had to say.

When the proper time came in the service, “He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down... He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” (verses 16c-20a,21)

With these words, Jesus revealed to his hometown crowd that he himself is the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ. He is the one that they had all been looking forward to for centuries, millennia. He is the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied some 700 years earlier. They had been looking forward to this day for so long, and now the day is here. This Jesus is the anointed one, the real deal! He frees you not from a physical captivity or oppression as the Jews had experienced under the Assyrians or Babylonians. No, he is here freeing you from spiritual captivity.

We don’t have Jesus’ full sermon recorded here, but we know it began with the reveal that what people had been looking forward to is now here in front of them. This fulfilled prophecy from Isaiah about Jesus applies just as much to us as it did to those people in Nazareth on that day. We know a prison and oppression by sin. We came into this world spiritually poor, unable to free ourselves from sin. We did not enter the world holy or with the Spirit of God. No, we entered this world bound to sin, enslaved by it. We did nothing but sin. We were blinded by it. We still feel the fingers of sin’s captivity when we realize that the good I want to do, this I do not do and the evil that I do not want to do, this I keep on doing. I fall into sin’s trap day after day, seemingly unable to break free, hoping that one day I would no longer be a slave to sin.

That day has already come. That day came when Jesus read from Isaiah 61 and announced, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (verse 21) He is the anointed one, the Christ, who brings freedom to the prisoners, who brings good news to the poor. Jesus announced to those people in Nazareth that today is the year of the Lord’s favor. This is the day when all your debts of sin are wiped out by what he is here doing right now. He is fulfilling all righteousness right here before you. He is perfectly completing all of God’s laws for you and for all people right in front of you. As of now, sin is no longer your master because Jesus has been tempted and he has overcome the devil for you. You live in the year of the Lord’s favor right now because Jesus fulfilled this Scripture!

You are now free to love God and follow him. In fact, by Jesus’ perfection which releases you from your slavery to sin, Jesus has brought you into the family of God. You are restored to the perfection that he created you to be, to live in. You belong in heaven with God. That is your citizenship right now because today Jesus has fulfilled in your hearing his mission that Isaiah prophesied.

This is what you have right now because Jesus has come and fulfilled what was prophesied about him as the Christ. This is something to look back on, to look at as what you have today, right in front of you. You have a God who not only does miracles, who not only fulfilled all righteousness for you, but you also have a God who reveals himself to the world by keeping his Word. He does not forget what he has promised us. He does not forget you. He remembers his promises and he indeed fulfills them, just as he fulfilled the prophecy from Isaiah on that Sabbath day in Nazareth.

From what Jesus did in the past, you know that you are freed from sin today. Seeing what is before us right now gives us great reasons to look ahead to the future. Since Jesus has freed us from sin with his perfection and his righteousness, we will live with him in heaven when he calls us home. This means that, yes, one day we will not be longing for the day when we have no more pain or mourning or sadness or depression or anxiety because Jesus will keep his word to us to fulfill Scripture. One day, these scriptures that he has given and preserved for us promising these things will be our reality.

Who else do you know who struggles to get through today, hoping for a better tomorrow, a better future? You can share with them a God who fulfills his Scripture, who keeps his Word. You can share with them that same freedom that Christ brought to those people in Nazareth some 2000 years ago. Jesus fulfilled Scripture, kept his Word, in the past. This is right in front of us today. This means that he will keep his Word to us in the future. This gives all of us a sure and certain future, which gives us joy today knowing it will be fulfilled.

One day, all the temptations, all the pain, all the crying, mourning, sadness, etc., will all be done because Christ fulfills Scripture. He fulfilled it in the past on that day in the synagogue in Nazareth so that we are enjoying the year of the Lord’s favor right now with Christ having wiped out our debt of sin and freed us from sin’s captivity. He will fulfill his Word to us in the future where sin and death will be no more. Amen.

http://www.lightofthevalley-wels.org/site/outlines.asp?sec_id=180009099&secure=&dlyear=2019&dlcat=Sermons
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"That'll Take a Miracle"
Sermon video from Sunday, January 20, 2019 based on Exodus 7:14-24.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DJ0rHS8uf8
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That’ll Take a Miracle
Sermon from Sunday, January 20, 2019

Exodus 7:14-24 (NIV)
14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the river. Confront him on the bank of the Nile, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.’ ” 19 The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.” 20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. 22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river.

“That’ll take a miracle.” That’s what we say when we look at a situation and realize that the solution we want or are hoping for has a very low probability of happening and it’s what we have to say if we want any hope for a situation when everything that we observe indicates that the outcome we want is an impossibility. It’ll take a miracle, something supernatural, outside of the confines of what we know can happen, to make this happen.

We got two miracles today: turning water into wine and turning water into blood. If only we could have been there, right? If only we could have seen those things with our own eyes, then we would not have any doubts regarding our faith. If only my Mom, my Dad, my son, my daughter, my friend, my neighbor, my coworker could have seen those, then they would believe like me with no hesitation. It’s easy to come to the conclusion that seeing a miracle means that now this person has to believe in God. That’s what happened with Jesus’ disciples, right? John 2:11 said, “What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.” See. The disciples saw a miracle, and they believed in Jesus.

But then how do we explain Pharaoh? The verses immediately before this massive turning water into blood miracle was another miracle. Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh asking that he let their people go, and then they performed a miracle by the LORD‘s command. Aaron threw his staff to the ground, and it became a snake - just as the LORD told him it would. But Pharaoh’s magicians did the same thing. Even though Aaron’s snake swallowed the magicians’ snakes, Pharaoh was unimpressed. He hardened his heart and would not listen to LORD’s messengers. He would not let their people go.
Maybe it was too little a thing to turn a staff into a snake. If we saw that, we would rationalize it away saying that it was misdirection, an illusion, that any well-trained magician could pull off. We are just missing how he did it. Maybe that’s why Pharaoh didn’t listen.

The LORD then has Moses and Aaron perform another miracle in front of Pharaoh. Moses and Aaron to confront him on the bank of the Nile - a time when he would be there to check the water level, to bathe, and, yes, to worship Hapi, the god of the Nile. After pointing out Pharaoh’s hard heart, the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.” (verse 19) And it happened just as the LORD said it would. All the water from the Nile turned to blood. The fish died. The river smelled. The Egyptians could not drink the water.

“But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.” (verses 22-23) The whole Nile River just changed to blood, even the water in wooden and stone containers turned to blood, but Pharaoh refused to listen to the LORD in spite of the miracles.

The LORD knew, and even foretold, that Pharaoh would not change his heart even after personally witnessing miracles. So, why do these miracles for Pharaoh to see if it wasn’t going to change his heart? The LORD tells Pharaoh and us exactly why: “By this you will know that I am the LORD.” (verse 17)
Miracles, these supernatural events that God does, are meant to showcase and reveal the LORD as the one and only God that exists. No one else can do what he does. No one else is like him. He is the LORD, the great I am, the one who always has been and always will be, the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever without any change. When the LORD turns the Nile River into blood, this effectively shows Pharaoh the truth that Hapi, this Egyptian god of the Nile, is nothing. He’s dead, so to speak. The fish died in him. He smells like death. He can’t provide the life-sustaining water to the people. Pharaoh, your god is dead because there is only one God – the LORD, the God of the Hebrews. It took a miracle to show Pharaoh and all those watching that the LORD is the one and only God.

But seeing the miracle was not enough for change Pharaoh’s heart. He refused to believe what he saw with his own eyes, wrote it off as something like a magic trick that his own people could do, and he hardened his heart more.

Is there anything that we harden our hearts about? Are there certain teachings from the Bible that we simply we refuse to live out and believe, that when we hear them we reject them outright saying, “Well, I don’t believe that”? Do we refuse to believe in a six day, 24 hour creation of the world because of what others have observed even though God defines those days very clearly in his Word? Have we casually accepted sex outside of marriage since it’s the norm for so many people nowadays even though God designed this gift to be enjoyed only within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman? Do we hear God’s teaching that we are to forgive as he has forgiven us, but sometimes we let our hearts be hard and hold a grudge and refuse to forgive, that we demand some kind of way that the person makes it up to us before we forgive them?

There are so many more things that God has said and done that people harden their hearts against. Part of me wishes they could see the miracles because then they would believe, then they would no longer dismiss it. But Pharaoh saw it and still dismissed it. It’s not seeing miracles that makes people believe; it’s God working miracles in people that makes them believe.

God recorded for us these miracles so that we would have the proof and assurance that our LORD does do miracles. He did them in the past; he still does them today. They are all around us. One of the most common miracles that he does we can’t necessarily see. The LORD miraculously changes hardened hearts. We say about some of those most adamantly opposed unbelievers, “That’ll take a miracle to change their heart,” and that’s what our LORD does. He describes this miracle in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

This LORD who does these miracles to change people’s hearts is our LORD. The same LORD who changed water into wine and water into blood can certainly replace a hardened heart of stone with a soft, believing heart of flesh. And even if that person still hardens their heart in spite of the evidence of these miracles, that doesn’t negate the fact that our LORD does miracles.

Each miracle recorded for us is another opportunity for God to change a heart. Pharaoh got nine more chances after this one with nine more miracles. Sadly, by the end, the LORD gave Pharaoh what he wanted: a hardened heart. He continued to reject the evidence of the all-powerful God right before him. The LORD let him have his rejection. Pharaoh most likely died in unbelief, having rejected the LORD time after time.
When we share our LORD with others, it can be very frustrating as all we see is a heart hardened against him, not listening, not believing. Instead of growing discouraged or angry, remember that our LORD is the one who does miracles. He changed water into wine. He changed water into blood. He can change the most hardened of hearts to believe in him. So, we tell others about him because through his Word he does the miracle of changing hearts.

Lord, continue to perform miracles as only you can do. Continue to soften our hearts to always accept you at your Word. Help us to continue to share you with others knowing that you are our LORD who does miracles, including changing people’s hearts to believe in you. Amen.

http://www.lightofthevalley-wels.org/site/outlines.asp?sec_id=180009099&secure=&dlyear=2019&dlcat=Sermons
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"The LORD Looks at the Heart"
Sermon video from Sunday, January 13, 2019 based on 1 Samuel 16:1-13.

https://youtu.be/V9mnOlq0tvQ
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