“God Desires All People to Be Saved” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 18, 2022

“God Desires All People to Be Saved” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

From time to time the Pew Research Center, an organization that tracks religious trends in America, comes out with a new study. This past week they issued their latest report, called “Modeling the Future of Religion in America: How the U.S Religious Landscape Could Change over the Next 50 Years.” Based on findings from recent decades, they are projecting how things could look in the future if current trends continue. The main question in this study is what percentage of Americans will identify as Christians in the future. Going back to the 1970s and even into the early 1990s, 90% of Americans identified as Christians in 1992. That number started to drop in the mid-’90s. By 2002, the percentage had dropped to 78%. Now, in 2022, the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians is down to 63%. From 90% to 63% in just thirty years. Meanwhile, the percentage of “religiously unaffiliated,” the so-called “nones,” has risen to approximately 30%.

Now what if these trends continue? In this study, the Pew Research Center says the most likely scenario is that by the year 2050, Christians will lose their majority status in America and be down to only 47% of the population, barely outnumbering the 43% who will have no religious affiliation at all.

So how do we react and respond to these discouraging numbers? More important, what does God think about it? And the good news is that, in the words of our Epistle today, “God our Savior . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And God has provided the way for that to happen. And so our theme this morning: “God Desires All People to Be Saved.”

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Published in: on September 18, 2022 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Sound Doctrine: Applying Law and Gospel” (1 Timothy 1:5-17)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 11, 2022

“Sound Doctrine: Applying Law and Gospel” (1 Timothy 1:5-17)

Sound doctrine: When you hear that phrase, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of a proud, triumphalistic claim: “We in the Missouri Synod have the pure doctrine, not like those other churches!” Maybe you think of sound doctrine as having all your facts in order, in your head, in a sterile, intellectual way, unrelated to real life. Or you think of sound doctrine as unloving, not caring about people, only about guarding the truth. Well, I’m here to tell you that nothing, none of that, could be further from the truth.

This stereotype of a concern for sound doctrine as being cold and unloving, all head and no heart, impersonal, uncaring–this is a caricature that people use to excuse their lack of concern for right doctrine and practice. We are accused of being obsessed with “incessant internal purification,” at the cost of being “missional.” But that is not the case. In fact, in our Epistle today, from Paul’s letter to Timothy, we will see that concern for pure doctrine and caring for people–that these two go hand in hand. And so our theme this morning, “Sound Doctrine: Applying Law and Gospel.”

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Published in: on September 10, 2022 at 8:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Delightful Meditation” (Psalm 1)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 4, 2022

“Delightful Meditation” (Psalm 1)

Our psalm today, Psalm 1, begins as follows: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Today I want to tell you about the kind of meditation this psalm is talking about: what it is; why we delight in it; and how to do it. What, why, and how; so here we go. Our theme this morning: “Delightful Meditation.”

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Published in: on September 3, 2022 at 1:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“God’s Open, Narrow Door” (Luke 13:22-30)

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
August 21, 2022

“God’s Open, Narrow Door” (Luke 13:22-30)

In our text today, someone asks Jesus a question: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” Well, that seems like a reasonable question, something you might ask a visiting rabbi. An interesting academic question, to be sure: “Are only a few people going to be saved?”

But what was the question behind the question? Why did the guy ask this? Let’s consider the possibilities. Was it just idle curiosity, like, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” Could be. Or maybe this fellow thinks God is too loose, letting in all the riff-raff he sees hanging around Jesus. A righteous God shouldn’t be that soft in his justice.

On the other hand, perhaps he asks his question in order to put God on trial. Maybe he thinks God is too strict. If God were really a decent God, he would let everybody in. You know, there are lots of people who think that way today. “God wouldn’t dare to send anybody to hell! The God I believe in wouldn’t do that!” That’s how people think today.

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Published in: on August 20, 2022 at 11:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“By Faith Let Us Also Run the Race” (Hebrews 11:1 – 12:3)

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 14, 2022

“By Faith Let Us Also Run the Race” (Hebrews 11:1 – 12:3)

Whether you like it or not, you are in a race. It’s a long-distance race, more like a marathon than a sprint. It will not be easy. It will take endurance to complete the course. Do you have what it takes? That’s an important question, because it is imperative, it is absolutely necessary, that you make it to the finish line. If you don’t, if you drop out of the race, you lose everything. But if you do cross the finish line and reach the goal, you will gain a victory that is better than any other. That’s how important this is.

So to find out that there are others who have run the race and reached the finish line, you might want to know what their secret was. And, surprisingly, it’s not because they were all such talented runners. In fact, they were people just like you and me. Which gives us hope that we too can make it to the end. And so our theme this morning: “By Faith Let Us Also Run the Race.”

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Published in: on August 11, 2022 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Do Not Be Anxious about Your Life” (Luke 12:22-34)

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
August 7, 2022

“Do Not Be Anxious about Your Life” (Luke 12:22-34)

In the Holy Gospel for today, Jesus says, “Do not be anxious about your life.” Really, Jesus? Are you kidding me? “Do not be anxious”?? How can you say that? I mean, look at my life. There’s so much to be anxious about! Take my personal finances, for instance. Since January 1, year-to-date, in just seven months my individual retirement accounts are down almost $9,000. And this, for an individual approaching retirement! In these past seven months, I’ve had to buy a new phone and a new used car. During this same time, I’ve had to have a health checkup, dental work, and two eye surgeries, which were not all covered by insurance. Gas, groceries, rent–all up, substantially. Inflation this year has been the highest it’s been in decades. Well, you get the picture. And for many of you, the picture has been equally as bleak.

And what about all the people in our area who have suffered major losses from the torrential downpours and the flash flooding of the last couple of weeks? Are you going to tell them to cheer up and put on a happy face? How in the world could Jesus say, “Do not be anxious about your life”? Was he just being the Pollyanna of Palestine? Out of touch with reality?

No, far from it. In fact, Jesus was and is very much in touch with reality. It’s just that he sees a far greater reality than we often take into account. He sees the bigger picture, both for our present life and for our eternal future. And so now let’s see what Jesus sees and takes into account when he tells us, “Do Not Be Anxious about Your Life.”

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Published in: on August 6, 2022 at 12:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Distracted Discipleship and the One Thing Needful” (Luke 10:38-42)

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 17, 2022

“Distracted Discipleship and the One Thing Needful” (Luke 10:38-42)

Are you anxious and troubled about many things? Does your busy-ness distract you from the one thing needful? If so, join the club. That’s where I find myself all too often. But if that’s you too, then our message today is what you need to hear. For Jesus is in the house today, and when Jesus speaks, we need to listen. And so our theme this morning: “Distracted Discipleship and the One Thing Needful.”

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Published in: on July 16, 2022 at 7:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37)

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
July 10, 2022

“The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37)

Our text is the Holy Gospel for today, from Luke chapter 10. It’s the parable of “The Good Samaritan.” And, as often happens, there’s something that happens in real life that leads Jesus to tell this or that parable. On this occasion, it’s an interaction Jesus has with a certain lawyer in the crowd. Now when it says “lawyer” here, it’s not talking about the kind of lawyer you see advertising their law office on a billboard or TV commercial. It’s not the kind of prosecuting or defense attorney you see portrayed on TV shows or movies. No, when it says “lawyer” here, it’s talking about an expert in the Law of Moses. This would be a Jewish scholar who knows all the moral, civic, and ceremonial laws of ancient Israel, as found in the books of Moses.

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Published in: on July 9, 2022 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Peace Be to This House!” (Luke 10:1-20)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
July 3, 2022

“Peace Be to This House!” (Luke 10:1-20)

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Yes, peace to you! Peace be to this house! That’s what Jesus told me to tell you, isn’t it? He sends out his laborers into the harvest field and instructs them, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’” So today, the first thing I want to say to you is what Jesus told me to tell you: Peace be to this house.

Friends, today I want to tell you why you need this peace and what kind of peace it is. I want to tell you where this peace comes from and how it gets to you. And I want you to know how you can be sure that you have this peace. So our theme this morning: “Peace Be to This House!”

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Published in: on July 1, 2022 at 8:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Freedom, Flesh, and Fruit” (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 26, 2022

“Freedom, Flesh, and Fruit” (Galatians 5:1, 13-25)

Our text today is the Epistle from Galatians chapter 5. In this text, St. Paul takes up three points that very definitely affect you and the way you live. And they are “Freedom, Flesh, and Fruit”: the freedom we have in Christ; the works of the flesh that we are to put behind us; and the beautiful fruit that the Spirit will produce in our lives. So let’s go.

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Published in: on June 25, 2022 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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