“Faith to Run the Race” (Hebrews 11:17-31; 12:1-3)

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 18, 2019

“Faith to Run the Race” (Hebrews 11:17-31; 12:1-3)

I read recently that Rosie Ruiz died. Who was Rosie Ruiz, you ask? She was the woman who cheated in order to win the Boston Marathon in 1980. She had jumped out of the crowd about a half-mile from the finish line and just ran that little distance. But at the award ceremony, when they put the laurel wreath on her head and she raised her arms in victory, it appeared strange that she had no sweat under her armpits. She was not breathing hard, either. After an investigation, she was stripped of her title. And it turned out she had cheated in the New York City Marathon the year before, in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. In New York, she rode the subway to a point near the finish, and did the same thing there, only running the last little bit. Rosie Ruiz did not have the endurance to go the distance, so she cheated instead.

Dear friends, the Christian life is like running a marathon. Only, you’ve actually got to run the race. You can’t ride the subway for the hard part. And most of life is the hard part. So how are you going to make it to the finish line? Brothers and sisters, you will need endurance.

Our reading today from the Book of Hebrews is about finding the endurance you need to run the race and cross the finish line. The race is not easy. It will be arduous. There will be obstacles in the way, things to slow you down. You will break a sweat. The race will require your sweat, your tears, and maybe even your blood. But God will provide you with the endurance necessary to finish the course. And here is what you need: “Faith to Run the Race.”

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Published in: on August 17, 2019 at 6:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Behold the Man: A God Who Prays” (Exodus 28:1-12; Hebrews 7:20-28; John 17:1-26)

Ash Wednesday
March 6, 2019

“Behold the Man: A God Who Prays” (Exodus 28:1-12; Hebrews 7:20-28; John 17:1-26)

“And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.” Well, that must’ve been quite a sight. I wonder if the Israelites in the wilderness protested at the elaborate details and the exorbitant expense of making such vestments for Aaron. I wonder, did they have to scuttle these plans until the voters could approve the design and expense? Did they put it out for bids to see if someone had a source for pure gold or blue dye, so they could come in under budget and then put the rest in a CD? “I don’t know why one priest needs to be dressed in something way more elaborate and costly than anything we buy or make for ourselves. Does Aaron think he’s better than us?” “I don’t see why we have to use all this gold. Tin would look almost as nice for a tenth of the price!” I could just imagine the grumbling Israelites talking like this.

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Published in: on March 6, 2019 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Drawing Near” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost
November 18, 2018

“Drawing Near” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

“The day is surely drawing near,” we sang in our opening hymn. And our Epistle reading today, from Hebrews 10, closes with similar words: “as you see the Day drawing near.” “The Day”? What day? Notice, it’s “the” Day. Sounds important. So let’s find out what that “day” is. And let’s also consider what the implications are for us as we see that day approaching. For our text also tells us about another type of “drawing near.” It says that we should “draw near.” “Let us draw near,” it says. Thus our theme this morning: “Drawing Near.”

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Published in: on November 16, 2018 at 11:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“A Caravan of Pilgrims–with Homeland Security!” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

All Saints’ Day (Observed)
November 4, 2018

“A Caravan of Pilgrims–with Homeland Security!” (Hebrews 11:13-16)

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about “the caravan.” I’m referring of course to the migrant caravan working its way up through Mexico, heading for the border with the U.S.A. These are not U.S. citizens. Now many of them may be seeking a better life here in America and have good intentions. But there could also be MS-13 gang members, criminals, drug dealers, terrorists, and others who do not want to enter legally, mixed in the crowd. Therefore, immigration officials and Homeland Security would have to screen these people before they let them in. And with such a huge number of them, it may not be manageable.

So the question is: What will happen to the people in the caravan when they get there? Some think we should just let them in. Others say we cannot just let people waltz right in. If they want to enter, they will need to get in line, wait to be processed, and then, if they qualify, they can enter, legally. We’ll see what happens.

Now today, dear friends, I want to talk to you about another caravan. This too is a large group of people all traveling together, all heading in the same direction. And guess what? You are part of this caravan! Yes, you, if you are a believer in Christ and a member of his church. A great caravan–“a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” We are all moving together, heading for a better country. And when we get there, we will not be stopped. Rather, we will be gladly welcomed in. For you and I are already citizens of that homeland. We already have security clearance. Right now, we’re just passing through, heading on our way there. Thus our theme on this All Saints’ Day: “A Caravan of Pilgrims–with Homeland Security!”

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Published in: on November 3, 2018 at 12:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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“A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas” (Hebrews 11:13-16; John 14:1-6; Philippians 3:20-21)

Funeral Service
Saturday, October 13, 2018

“A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas” (Hebrews 11:13-16; John 14:1-6; Philippians 3:20-21)

His name was “Emerick,” but everybody called him “Tex.” That was our brother Emerick “Tex” Labus. He went by “Tex” for as long as I’ve known him, and that’s been over ten years. Even though he lived here in Missouri for I don’t know how long, people still called him Tex. I guess you can take the boy out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the boy.

I’ve observed over the years that people from Texas are very proud of being from Texas. And they’ll let you know it. Maybe you’ve noticed that too. They’ll talk about how Texas once was its own country, before it joined the United States. They’ll tell you about how Texas is #1 in this or #1 in that. About how everything is bigger in Texas.

And, well, maybe Texas does have a lot to be proud of, I don’t know. But we do know that for our brother Emerick, he was happy to be called “Tex.” He was always a Texan, even while he lived here in Missouri.

But today I want to tell you about another identity Tex had. Another citizenship. Another homeland. One far greater and better than even being from Texas. And now after Missouri, this will be his next stop. His eternal homeland. Because Tex had “A Citizenship Even Bigger than Texas.”

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Published in: on October 13, 2018 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Therefore Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
November 15, 2015

“Therefore Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Last week we looked at Hebrews 9, where we are told that Christ is our high priest. Today we continue on into Hebrews 10, where the writer expands on what it means that Christ is our high priest and then goes on to say what the implications of that are for our life. And we can sum those up this morning in three ways. Since Christ is our high priest, “Therefore Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up.”

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Published in: on November 15, 2015 at 3:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Christ Is Our High Priest” (Hebrews 9:24-28)

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 8, 2015

“Christ Is Our High Priest” (Hebrews 9:24-28)

Our Epistle reading today from the Book of Hebrews talks about a high priest entering into holy places made with hands. It talks about this high priest entering these holy places every year with blood not his own. And when we hear these kinds of references, which are all over the place in the Book of Hebrews, we may be asking ourselves, “What is all this ‘high priest’ business? Where are these ‘holy places’? And what does this have to do with me?” Well, hang on, we’ll explain these things and what they have to do with us, because the point that Hebrews is making is that “Christ Is Our High Priest.”

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Published in: on November 8, 2015 at 7:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Entering His Rest” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
October 18, 2015

“Entering His Rest” (Hebrews 4:1-13)

If you’ve ever had to work and work and work, if you’ve ever been worn out and exhausted, when you feel like you can’t go on but you have to, when you’re drained and tired and spent–at times like those, you know how refreshing it is, and what a relief it is, to finally get a rest.

Rest: It can be such a welcome word. To be able to just kick back and relax. The pressure is off, the burden is lifted. Take a load off and chillax, bro! A little R & R is so welcome after an arduous ordeal.

And so our Epistle reading for today, from Hebrews 4, is about being able to get that kind of a rest. In fact, it’s about an even greater kind of rest. God’s rest. The rest that he has for us, in Christ. And so our theme this morning: “Entering His Rest.”

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Published in: on October 18, 2015 at 1:13 am  Leave a Comment  
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“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.”

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Published in: on October 4, 2015 at 4:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Miracle of Faith” (Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-16)

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
August 11, 2013

“The Miracle of Faith” (Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-16)

Sometimes I think about the impossibility of faith. I mean, if you stop and think about all the things that are working against faith, it’s amazing that any of us have it. To believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ and all that that involves, to trust in the goodness and the promises of God, in spite of all that would cause us to not believe–it’s simply amazing. And so today we’re going to talk about “The Miracle of Faith.”

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Published in: on August 10, 2013 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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