“Receive the Kingdom of God like a Child” (Mark 10:2-16; Hebrews 2:1-18)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 4, 2015

“Receive the Kingdom of God like a Child” (Mark 10:2-16; Hebrews 2:1-18)

How would you like to enter the kingdom of God? I know I would. After all–literally, after all–the kingdom of God will be the only thing going. It is an everlasting kingdom, filled with peace and joy and life and blessing, and it will last forever. So who would not want to enter it? You’d have to be a fool not to. No, the kingdom of God–it’s the best thing going, and there’s nothing else like it.

So the question arises: How do you get in? How do you enter the kingdom of God? Today Jesus tells us. Basically it comes down to this. To enter, you need to “Receive the Kingdom of God like a Child.”


Published in: on October 4, 2015 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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“It Is Better for You” (Mark 9:38-50)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 27, 2015

“It Is Better for You” (Mark 9:38-50)

You don’t hear a lot of people talking about hell. It’s not a very popular topic. Modern ears are too sensitive to hear any talk of God actually judging people and sending them to hell. How dare he! Who does he think he is, God? Well, yeah. He can make that call. He is the almighty Judge, who is always righteous in his judgments.

But the Bible does speak of God’s judgment and eternal damnation. Even so, you don’t hear a lot of sermons that even mention hell. Well, today you will. Because Jesus himself talks about hell. A lot, actually. Listen again to what he says, in the reading from Mark 9: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’”

“It Is Better for You.” Notice that refrain running through this text. Over and over again, Jesus emphasizes that it is better for you to enter life maimed than to go into hell with all of your members intact. So now let’s explore why and hear how to avoid such a horrible fate. You see, there is a better outcome in store for you than to end up in hell.


Published in: on September 27, 2015 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Rhythm of the Christian Life: Repentance, Faith, and Servanthood” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 20, 2015

“The Rhythm of the Christian Life: Repentance, Faith, and Servanthood” (James 3:13 – 4:10; Mark 9:30-37)

As I was reading through the lessons for this day, I was thinking, “What would make a good message for us to hear today, something timely and fitting and that would apply to us all? What is God’s word saying to us through these readings?” And as I mulled those questions over in my mind, what began to emerge from the lessons–particularly from the Epistle of James and the Gospel of Mark–what I began to see is this: These readings portray very vividly and plainly the rhythm of the Christian life, and that is, in these three things: repentance, faith, and servanthood. So let’s look at those things now and see how they apply to us in the daily rhythm of how we live.


Published in: on September 20, 2015 at 12:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Taming the Tongue” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 13, 2015

“Taming the Tongue” (James 3:1-12; Isaiah 50:4-10)

Maybe you’ve seen it in the news this past week: There are wildfires raging throughout California, burning out of control. Large stretches of forests are being destroyed; homes are being threatened. What started these fires? Who knows? In one case, it might have been a lightning strike, starting with just one or two trees catching on fire and then spreading rapidly. In another case, it may have just been a careless campfire, left unattended. Something small like that can start and spread and cause untold damage. That’s how wildfires go.

But did you hear the other news? There are wildfires raging right here in Missouri. No, you didn’t hear about it? Well, maybe that’s because I’m not talking about the fires that destroy trees but rather the fires that destroy lives. The wildfires I’m talking about are the ones started by the human tongue, and yes, those fires are raging right here in Missouri–indeed, right here in Bonne Terre. The tongue–that is the match that sets the world on fire. It is a small instrument, but it can cause a lot of damage. And so our question this morning: What can be done about “Taming the Tongue”?


Published in: on September 13, 2015 at 3:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Deaf Hear and the Mute Speak” (Mark 7:31-37)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 6, 2015

“The Deaf Hear and the Mute Speak” (Mark 7:31-37)

Maybe you’ve seen the videos on YouTube or through your Facebook feed. They’re videos of deaf people who hear sounds for the first time. It’s really quite remarkable. You see, there are implants now that doctors can put into people’s ears, called cochlear implants, and when these devices are activated, the deaf person can immediately hear sounds for the first time. And so these videos record the reactions of these people who are hearing for the first time in their lives. They show babies who are hearing their parents’ voice for the first time. They show adults who have never heard before, now hearing. And their reactions? The babies invariably become wide-eyed, and a big smile breaks out on their face. On the other hand, the teenagers and the young adults who have gone so long without ever hearing–when they hear sounds, they become overwhelmed and have to cover their faces, and they begin crying, crying tears of joy and deep emotion. And let me tell you, if you watch these videos, you will begin to cry along with them. It’s really quite moving when the deaf hear for the first time.


Published in: on September 5, 2015 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Marriage, God’s Way” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 23, 2015

“Marriage, God’s Way” (Ephesians 5:22-33)

News story from this summer: Jared Fogle, former spokesman for Subway sandwiches, pleads guilty to criminal sexual charges, and now his wife is filing for divorce. News story from this summer: Josh Duggar, one of the stars of the reality program, “19 Kids and Counting,” is discovered to have an account with a web service designed for arranging extramarital affairs. News story from this summer: The United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, strikes down state laws defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman, thus allowing same-sex “marriage” in all fifty states.

What this sampling of news stories demonstrates is that marriage–and in particular, the disregard for marriage and even the redefining of marriage–that this is a controversial issue, and that marriage is in a severe state of distress and decline in our country. And if you think it’s bad in America, it’s even worse in Europe. But then this is nothing new. Mankind has always messed up marriage, even from the get-go, in various ways and forms. So what we want to hear today, what we need to have our ears open to this morning, is what we find in our Epistle reading from Ephesians 5, namely, “Marriage, God’s Way.”


Published in: on August 22, 2015 at 5:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Wisdom for Your Walk” (Proverbs 9:1-10; Ephesians 5:6-21; John 6:51-69)

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 16, 2015

“Wisdom for Your Walk” (Proverbs 9:1-10; Ephesians 5:6-21; John 6:51-69)

If I had to sum up a theme running through our lessons for today, and one that will be helpful for you, it is that here you will find “Wisdom for Your Walk.” You see, the Old Testament lesson from Proverbs is the call of wisdom to walk in the way of insight. The Epistle reading from Ephesians calls us to walk as children of the light and to look carefully how we walk, not as unwise but as wise. And in the Holy Gospel for today, from John 6, we learn where to go to find this wisdom for our walk, by coming to the one who has the words of eternal life. So here is wisdom. Let us attend.


Published in: on August 16, 2015 at 2:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Bread of Life” (John 6:35-51)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 9, 2015

“The Bread of Life” (John 6:35-51)

Today is the second of three straight Sundays in which the Holy Gospel is a portion of Jesus’ “Bread of Life” discourse from John chapter 6. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus declares, several times in John 6, and that is the motif running through this chapter. Last week we heard Jesus say, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” And then he said, in the verse that concluded last week’s reading and also begins today’s, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” And so our theme this morning, as we continue on in this discourse, is an obvious one, namely, “The Bread of Life.”


Published in: on August 9, 2015 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Receiving God’s Gifts: Grumbling or Grateful?” (Exodus 16:2-15; John 6:22-35; Ephesians 4:1-16)

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 2, 2015

“Receiving God’s Gifts: Grumbling or Grateful?” (Exodus 16:2-15; John 6:22-35; Ephesians 4:1-16)

There is a theme that runs through all three of our lessons today. Did you spot it? It is the theme of God’s gifts. In the reading from Exodus, in the reading from Ephesians, and in the reading from John–in each of those readings, God is busy giving gifts to his people. Our God is a gracious and giving God, there is no doubt about that. But how God’s people receive his gifts–how we receive the gifts God gives to us–now that can be quite another question. Do we recognize the gifts God gives us? Do we grumble about them, that they’re not what we want, and really, God, we’d rather have some other things instead of what you’re giving us? Or do we recognize and receive God’s gifts for what they are, which is, the best that God has for us for now and for eternity, even if we don’t understand why we’re getting what we’re getting? And so our theme this morning: “Receiving God’s Gifts: Grumbling or Grateful?”


Published in: on August 2, 2015 at 12:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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“God’s Building Project” (Ephesians 2:11-22)

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
July 19, 2015

“God’s Building Project” (Ephesians 2:11-22)

“Built on the Rock the Church shall stand.” “Christ is our cornerstone.” “The Church’s one foundation.” These hymns that we’re singing this morning–they’re all drawing on the imagery of our text today, the Epistle reading from Ephesians 2, specifically, from verses 19-22: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” In other words, the church is “God’s Building Project.”


Published in: on July 18, 2015 at 11:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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