“Living as Children of the Day” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30; Zephaniah 1:7-16)

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 15, 2020

“Living as Children of the Day” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30; Zephaniah 1:7-16)

“Christ has brought us out of darkness, made us children of the day.” The hymn we just sang was written to go with the three Scripture readings assigned for this day. Each stanza corresponds to one of the readings. The point of the lessons and of the hymn is this: The day of the Lord–that is, the return of Christ–the day of the Lord is drawing near, a day of both judgment and salvation. For us it will be a day of joy, because of what Christ has done for us. And our waiting for that day will not be a slothful, dreary time of inactivity. No, it will be an active waiting, using the talents God has given us, faithfully serving our Master. And we have a hope to sustain us as we look forward to that day. And so our theme this morning: “Living as Children of the Day.”


Published in: on November 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Will Surely Do It” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

Midweek Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“He Will Surely Do It” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

This has been an Advent series about the Second Advent, the Second Coming of Christ. Each Wednesday we’ve looked at the Epistle reading from the previous Sunday, and the connecting theme that runs through all of them is the idea of “Waiting for the Day of the Lord.” We began two weeks ago by unpacking the biblical teaching about the day of the Lord, that it is “A Day of Judgment and Salvation.” Last week we saw that when the Day of the Lord finally comes, God will bring about “New Heavens and a New Earth.” Now today we close out this series on waiting for the day of the Lord by looking at how God will sanctify us as we wait and keep us blameless at Christ’s coming. Yes, God is faithful, and “He Will Surely Do It.”


Published in: on December 20, 2017 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Christ Has Brought Us out of Darkness” (1 Thess. 5:1-11; Matt. 25:14-30; Zeph. 1:7-16)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 16, 2014

“Christ Has Brought Us out of Darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30; Zephaniah 1:7-16)

Well, here we are in the middle of November. It’s cold. It’s dark outside. The trees are growing bare. The days are growing shorter. The earth seems to be dying. Darkness seems to be winning. So it seems appropriate that at this time of year–every year, in November–in the church we focus our attention on the end times. We’re coming toward the end of the church year, before Advent comes and we start all over again. The end times, the last things, Judgment Day, the Second Coming of Christ, and what to do while we’re waiting for Christ’s return–these are all themes we get on these Sundays in November. And rightly so, for these are all major themes that we find in the Bible, and our readings today are good examples of that.

The way it is in nature in November is the way it is in the spiritual realm in our world: The days are growing shorter. The earth seems to be dying. Darkness seems to be winning. But as we look at the Scripture lessons for today, we will hear this good news: “Christ Has Brought Us out of Darkness.”


Published in: on November 16, 2014 at 7:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The True Rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
November 9, 2014

“The True Rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Maybe you remember a bumper sticker that was popular a few years back, which read: “In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned.” What that bumper sticker meant is the idea that when Jesus comes again, all the Christians alive on earth at that time will be “beamed up” suddenly, leaving the rest of the people on earth behind. That’s why the cars and airplanes and so forth will be vacated when the Christians vanish. This is the so-called “Rapture theory,” and it has been the basis of a veritable industry of popular books and movies and TV programs and radio shows. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the best-selling “Left Behind” series of books and a couple of “Left Behind” movies, one of which came out just recently. All of these books and movies and so on have at their core this idea of the Rapture as the moment when all the Christians will be taken up and disappear, and everybody else, all the unbelievers, will be left behind and not know what just happened.

So that’s the Rapture theory, and it’s usually associated with several other things taking place, which we will get into. And the thing is, there is a Bible verse that does talk about the Rapture. In fact, it’s in one of our readings for today, the Epistle from 1 Thessalonians 4. However–and it’s a big “however”–what the Rapture crowd thinks is going to happen and what the Bible actually teaches, those are two very different things. And so today I want to help you to see the difference, so that a) you will not be misled by what people talk about as the Rapture, and b) you will be encouraged and strengthened in hope by what the Scripture actually does teach. And so our theme this morning: “The True Rapture.”


Published in: on November 9, 2014 at 12:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Grieve Not as Those Who Have No Hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Funeral Service
Thursday, August 2, 2012

“Grieve Not as Those Who Have No Hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Louise lived a good, long life. Eighty-seven years is an above-average lifespan. And yet death always comes as a bit of a shock. True, Louise was not in good health these past few years, her heart was weak, and she was in the hospital just a couple of weeks ago. And yet–and yet her death still jolts us. That familiar face, that familiar voice–we won’t have Louise around anymore. And that hurts us. We will miss her.

And so we grieve. We feel the loss. Particularly for Louise’s immediate family, her death may mean some major changes in our life, transitions and adjustments we must now make. For Louise’s friends, for Louise’s fellow members here at St. Matthew’s–and she was a member here for many years–we too will miss her. I know I will miss her gentle spirit. I was able to visit with Louise a couple of weeks ago when she was in the hospital. She greeted me warmly, and she was receptive to hearing the word of God and grateful for the prayers of the church. Louise’s body may have been weak, but her spirit was strong, her faith was strong. There was no doubt she knew Christ Jesus her Savior.

A dear sister in the Lord, a dear mother and friend–Louise will be missed. We grieve her loss. And yet–and yet, in the words of Paul to the Thessalonians, we “do not grieve as others who have no hope.” Yes, we grieve, but at the same time we know the hope we have in Christ, the same hope Louise had and in which she died. And so my message to you today is the same as Paul told the Thessalonians: “Grieve Not as Those Who Have No Hope.”


Published in: on August 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm  Comments (4)  
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“Blameless at the Coming of Our Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

Third Week of Advent
Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“Blameless at the Coming of Our Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)

In this three-part Advent series, we have been looking at, and looking forward to, the coming of our Lord. And by that, I mean his Second Coming, the Last Day, the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns on clouds of glory to render judgment on the earth. Accordingly, we have been speaking of the need to be “Awake until, Waiting for, and Blameless at the Coming of our Lord.” This has been our series theme.

We began two weeks ago by hearing Jesus’ parable from Mark 13, about the servants whose master went away but who could return at any time and how they need to be “awake until” his coming. Then last week we went to 2 Peter 3, and we talked more about what it is we are “waiting for,” what will happen on the Last Day, both the terrifying judgment upon unbelievers and the wonderful salvation waiting for us who believe–the new heavens and the new earth, where righteousness dwells.

“Awake until,” “Waiting for”–and now today our message is–“Blameless at the Coming of Our Lord.” Will that be you? Will you be ready? Will you be found blameless? After all, that’s the only way you can get in, is by being blameless. As we read a few minutes ago in Psalm 24: “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” Likewise, Psalm 15 states: “O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right.” Dear friend, if you want to dwell in God’s presence, you need to be blameless.


Published in: on December 15, 2011 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  
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“But What Kind of Day Will It Be?” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
November 13, 2011

“But What Kind of Day Will It Be?” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

Perhaps you’ve heard of a radio preacher named Harold Camping. He was in the news, this Harold Camping was, earlier this year, when he made a prediction of when Christ would return. He even got it down to the day. After doing all his calculations, Harold Camping predicted that May 21 would be the day of Jesus’ return. Well, May 21 came and went, and Harold and his followers were not all beamed up in the Rapture. So then he revised his prediction. May 21, you see, was the spiritual Judgment Day. After that date, nobody else would be saved. The date for the actual physical return of Christ was now set for October 21. That would be the day when all the true believers would be taken up to meet Jesus in the air and all the rest would be left behind.

Well, I don’t know if you noticed it, but on October 21, nobody got beamed up. This presented a dilemma for Mr. Camping. He had already explained away May 21, but now, what to do with October 21?


Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Your Work of Faith and Labor of Love and Steadfastness of Hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 16, 2011

“Your Work of Faith and Labor of Love and Steadfastness of Hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-10)

Pastor Henrickson, to the church of the Bonne Terrians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

And as long as I’m imitating the opening of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, I’ll continue by saying to you what he said to them: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Yes, I do give thanks to God for you, the people of St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Bonne Terre, just as Paul gave thanks to God for the church at Thessalonica. And what Paul remembered in prayer for them is my prayer for you also, thanking God for, and praying that he would increase, “Your Work of Faith and Labor of Love and Steadfastness of Hope.”


Published in: on October 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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