Sing, A New Song – 500th Reformation Anniversary
Text: Acts 7:51-60; Joshua 2:1-21; Matthew 14:22-32 Speaker: Pastor David Ude / Pastor Mark Bernthal / Pastor Micheal Eichstadt Festival: Reformation Passages: Acts 7:51-60; Joshua 2:1-21; Matthew 14:22-32
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51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”
The Stoning of Stephen (Listen)
54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together1 at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
Rahab Hides the Spies (Listen)
2:1 And Joshua the son of Nun sent1 two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.
8 Before the men2 lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction.3 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”
15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said4 to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear. 18 Behold, when we come into the land, you shall tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household. 19 Then if anyone goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be guiltless. But if a hand is laid on anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head. 20 But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be guiltless with respect to your oath that you have made us swear.” 21 And she said, “According to your words, so be it.” Then she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.
Jesus Walks on the Water (Listen)
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way1 from the land,2 beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night3 he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,4 he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
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Christ Changes Our Tune – Pastor David Ude
There are really only two songs in the world. The old and the new. Everyone starts with the old. It is a song of fear, a song of oppression and terror and anguish and woe. It is a song that Martin Luther knew all too well. It was the song of his terror midst lightning and storm. The only song he knew as a moody monk. It was all “I’m not worthy” and “Why can’t I be good enough.” “God is holy so he sure must hate me.” It’s hard to imagine that monastic Martin drinking a beer or telling a joke or even cracking a smile.
But one day he learned a different tune. A new song. Well, new to him anyway. Many many people had heard that song before. One was Rahab. Martin Luther may not have been a prostitute but he might as well have been. For he and Rahab were two pathetic peas in a pod. Two sinners sinking in the same boat. Two hopeless souls singing the same sad song. Fear. Helplessness. Death.
Rahab says it in our text. 2:9-11, “ “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
This woman having heard of the mighty deeds the Lord had performed had been convinced that He was the only true God. She knew his power and feared it. She says “our hearts melted” and “the fear of you has fallen upon us.” She, like Luther was singing the song of the demons. They knew who God was. And trembled. What else is a sinner to do before the Holy God?
But then something changed for rahab. Like when you stumble upon some great piece of music whether by bach, beethoven, or even the beetles and you think “that’s new. I’ve never heard that before.” And so a classic becomes yours. Rahab suddenly heard a new song. The news of what the Lord had done for his people brought her to trust that this God could be her God. That these people could be her people. That His promise could be for her.
In faith she acted, hiding the spies. If the people of Jericho were alive today they would no doubt call her traitor much as the Catholic Church calls Luther the “Chief of all heretics.” But what Rahab did she did in faith. A faith given by God. A faith born from hearing that new song. The song of the wonderful works of God.
The same song that would one day play in Luther’s mind when he read those words “The just shall live by faith.” When he realized the righteousness which God requires is also a righteousness which God gives. Martin and Rahab both found a God who was not all fear and dread. But a God who smiled in the form of a cross and an empty tomb. A God whose spirit sang to them the most beautiful song to ever grace this world. A song about a red cord of promise. A song about a righteousness not my own. A song about Jesus Christ the righteousness of God made flesh. The smile of the Lord in human form. Whose life was a virtuostic splendrous symphony of grace and peace and life. Whose coming is God’s answer to your cry. God’s yes to your no. God’s forgiveness to your sin. His faith to replace your fear. His life to your death. His symphony to your dirge.
That was the song they both sang the rest of their lives. ANd it showed. It’s like when you see someone jammin out to their favorite song in their car. Or when they’ve got their head phones on and crack that peaceful little smile. We know luther as a beer drinking, good natured, gentle, and laughter filled man because for the rest of his days he had this best of songs. The new song of God’s WOrd in Jesus Christ. A song heard by many before. ANd many since.
A song which is yours as well. It is God who brings this song to each of our hearts. No one can hear it for us. And as long as it has been around each one of us needs to hear it new. It must be your song. Through the Word God says “I am your God.” “My Son is your savior. These promises are for you. This Song is for you.”
A Song Of Praise For Deliverance – Pastor Mark Bernthal
In Christ Jesus, who is our strength and ever present help in time of trouble, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Ever have one of those awe-filled, stirring moments? You know when your heart pounds, you get a lump in your throat, goose bumps up and down your arms, maybe even tears in your eyes? There are many things that can cause such a reaction. In life it could be a marriage proposal, the birth of your first child, a wedding or a graduation. In sports it could be a walk-off home run or a last minute touchdown pass. In the world it could be living through a hurricane, witnessing a horrible car accident or being saved from a near death experience.
Well the disciples were going through one of those awesome moments that they no doubt never forgot. As they struggled with the storm on the Sea of Galilee they saw what they thought was a ghost walking on the water, but it was Jesus. Then they saw their fellow disciple Peter get out of the boat and also walk on the water, for a ways, and then begin to sink. They saw Jesus grab Peter and they heard Him say “O YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT?”
When Jesus and Peter got into the boat we are told THEN THOSE WHO WERE IN THE BOAT CAME AND WORSHIPED HIM, SAYING, “TRULY YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD.”
The disciples had seen Jesus perform many miracles. They had just seen Him feed 5,000 men, not counting women and children with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. But this miracle was different. This one affected them individually and saved them. It was much like the time Jesus calmed the storm and saved them from certain drowning. At that time we were told, IN FEAR AND AMAZEMENT THEY ASKED ONE ANOTHER, “WHO IS THIS? HE COMMANDS EVEN THE WINDS AND THE WATER, AND THEY OBEY HIM.
We just heard in our first sermon that it is only through hearing the song of our father’s that we learn to know Jesus. This new song of salvation through Jesus is as old as the promise to our first parents Adam and Eve. But it is not just the faith of our father’s, but a song we need to hear, believe in, and sing too! And that is done when the Holy Spirit works on the individual heart. Then the Gospel becomes a personal gift to us, when it has been experienced in our own hearts.
What was Luther searching for in his life? Peace! Peace with God. He was in desperate need of a God who would have mercy on him, a miserable, lost and condemned sinner. He found no peace in the church of his day. He found no peace in his own heart. He only found peace in the Word of God, as recorded by the forefathers of Christianity—the prophets and the apostles. He knew the forefathers, but it wasn’t until the love of Christ came into his heart through faith that he could sing this NEW SONG of praise!
And once he learned this NEW SONG, it was his life-long mission to get that NEW SONG into the hearts and lives of all of the people of Germany and beyond. Even though some of the people of Luther’s day—and some today look upon the Reformation as a political and social movement bringing freedom and prosperity to the downtrodden, the Reformation is a matter of the individual heart being led to repent of his sins and then see in the clear Gospel message the Grace of God in Christ.
This NEW SONG of the Good News of Jesus life, death and resurrection, once it enters the heart, is not just a momentary change, it is a continuous experiencing of God’s grace in our daily lives. Much like the disciples we will stand in awe with mouths open day by day as we hear “Jesus still loves me” even though I failed again today—“Jesus still forgives me” even though I knew I was doing wrong and I still did it. How amazing it is to hear Jesus tell us over and over again, I WILL NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU.
How awesome to hear our Good Shepherd declare to us weak and stumbling sheep: I LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP…MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE, AND I KNOW THEM, AND THEY FOLLOW ME. AND I GIVE THEM ETERNAL LIFE, AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH; NEITHER SHALL ANYONE SNATCH THEM OUT OF MY HAND.
Jesus did not rebuke Peter for his attempt; but for his failure: “O YOU OF LITTLE FAITH, WHY DID YOU DOUBT?” Peter was not blamed for his getting out of the boat, but for not remaining in the ship of faith. His fault lay not in undertaking too much for the Lord but in his relying too little upon the Lord’s strength, not trusting in His Word. Jesus said that if we had faith as small as a grain of mustard seed we could move mountains. How weak and small our faith is, but how strong and great our Savior is. Notice Jesus grabbed hold of Peter’s hand. Jesus won’t let go. His holding on to our hand is what saves us, not our holding unto His. That is faith!
Jesus is the one who came to live that perfect life of obedient love for us. He suffered and died upon the cross for us. He washed us clean of all of our sins. He rose from the dead and assures us of a resurrection to eternal life. Through the Holy Spirit He has called us to be His brothers and sisters in faith. Knowing all of this, having seen and heard all of this we too will worship our Lord and Savior and say along with those stunned disciples “TRULY YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD.”
And it all leads back to the hearing and reading of His Word. The disciples were not afraid when Jesus spoke to them. Peter was confident in His Lord when he heard Jesus’ Word. We also will have the same confident, courageous faith in Christ, without the fear of our unknown future or our spiritual enemies, the more we come to Jesus in His Word. Jesus has done the impossible—saving all of us and all of lost mankind. He can and also does the impossible every day in and through us walking by faith in Him and His Word.
That power and grace that the disciples saw that night on the Sea of Galilee and again on the cross of Calvary and the empty tomb filled their lives with a New Song that they sang the rest of their lives, even moving them to give their lives for the cause of the spread of that Gospel song.
Martin Luther spent the rest of his life literally singing the New Song of the Gospel message to others as well.
May the New Song of the Good News of a Savior slain and risen again for us sinners be the song we sing this afternoon and may we not be afraid to sing it every day of our lives to all whom we meet until we can sing no more.
Then on Judgment Day the Lord will call each of us to His heavenly home to continue to sing a song of praise to Him for our deliverance throughout eternity.
How awesome is that!
A Song of Trials to Triumph – Pastor Michael Eichstadt