“Not Peace, but a Sword” (Matthew 10:34-42)

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
June 28, 2020

“Not Peace, but a Sword” (Matthew 10:34-42)

You are in a battle. It is a battle every Christian is called upon to fight, from the time we are baptized till the day we die. There is no opting out. You are engaged in this battle whether you realize it or not. So the thing to do is to fight it well. And that means we need help. For on our own we would not be strong enough to prevail.

What is this battle? The one I’m referring to today is a battle from without, that is, from the world attacking us Christians. Oh, there is also a battle from within, namely, our own sinful flesh fighting against the new persons we are in Christ. Both of these battles, the conflict from without and the conflict from within, are inescapable for every single Christian.

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Published in: on June 28, 2020 at 1:33 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Fear Not, for Your Father Cares for You” (Matthew 10:5a, 21-33)

Third Sunday after Pentecost
June 21, 2020

“Fear Not, for Your Father Cares for You” (Matthew 10:5a, 21-33)

In many of the Gospel readings during this time of the church year–as is the case in today’s reading–Jesus teaches his followers about the life of discipleship that we Christians are called to live. And this is not an easy life, this life of following Christ. For one thing, the world will be against us. And so, many of the Gospel readings this summer will describe the opposition we will get from the unbelieving world. And that opposition can be brutal, even deadly. But the amazing thing is, even though Jesus knows that people will treat us this way–indeed, he tells us they will treat us this way–even so, he tells us to fear not.

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Published in: on June 20, 2020 at 10:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Jesus Extends His Compassionate Authority” (Matthew 9:35 – 10:8)

Second Sunday after Pentecost
June 14, 2020

“Jesus Extends His Compassionate Authority” (Matthew 9:35 – 10:8)

“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” So we heard in the Holy Gospel for today from Matthew. And that particular verse, Matthew 9:35, sounds an awful lot like a verse from five chapters earlier, Matthew 4:23, where it says: “And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.” Those two verses are almost verbatim the same. What the writer, Matthew, is doing is framing this major section of his gospel, in which he recounts the early ministry of Jesus in Galilee. In this section, he shows Jesus doing these several activities: “teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.”

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Published in: on June 13, 2020 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Out of His Heart Will Flow Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37-39)

The Day of Pentecost
Sunday, May 31, 2020

“Out of His Heart Will Flow Rivers of Living Water” (John 7:37-39)

Please take a look at the front of your bulletin for today. There you will see a photograph of water flowing out in a river. And written over the picture are these words from John 7:38, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Those are the words of Jesus from today’s Holy Gospel. There Jesus says exactly that: “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But the question is: Who is it that Jesus is talking about? Out of whose heart will flow those rivers of living water? Today I want to explore with you two possible answers, either one of which will come out as good news for us. We’re going to take two different routes to get there now, but hopefully we’ll end up at the same place.

Let’s look at the Gospel reading again, John 7:37-39: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

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Published in: on May 30, 2020 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (Luke 21:5-28)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 17, 2019

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near” (Luke 21:5-28)

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near,” we just sang. Which day? The day “when Jesus, God’s anointed, in all His power shall appear as judge whom God appointed.” It’s the day when, as we confess in the Creed, Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” This is a common theme in November. We’re approaching the end of the church year, and so our readings and our hymns emphasize the end times.

“The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.” Friends, we are living in the end times, the last days leading up to the Last Day, the great and glorious day of our Lord’s return. What will things be like as that day draws near? How should we react, knowing that the end is approaching?

Jesus forewarns us and forearms us for life in these end times. He does that in today’s Gospel reading. He forewarns us and forearms us for our life as his church, living in a hostile world full of conflict and distress. Jesus tells us what things will characterize this age. He wants us to know what we’re in for, so we can go forward with our eyes open. Jesus tells us how his church should live, knowing that the end is approaching. “The Day Is Surely Drawing Near.”

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Published in: on November 16, 2019 at 11:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Sound Doctrine or Itching Ears?” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 20, 2019

“Sound Doctrine or Itching Ears?” (2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:5)

Our text this morning is the Epistle reading from 2 Timothy. In his two letters to his young assistant Timothy, St. Paul emphasizes, over and over again, the importance of teaching in accord with sound doctrine. For instance, Paul instructs Timothy to “follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me” and to “guard the good deposit entrusted to you.” Likewise, today he says to “continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed.”

Paul puts a high priority on sound doctrine. It is in that vein, then, that he gives Timothy this solemn charge: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

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Published in: on October 19, 2019 at 11:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Encouragement for St. Timidity” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 6, 2019

“Encouragement for St. Timidity” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Fear, or timidity, can paralyze a person and render him ineffective. This is true when it comes to our life as Christians. We live in a hostile world. We’re in enemy territory. The world is not friendly to the Christian faith. Where will we find the courage we need to be faithful Christians? Faithful Christians are those not ashamed of the gospel, nor afraid of suffering for it. Not ashamed, not afraid. The alternative is that we turn into tame and timid “people-pleasers.” St. Paul addresses this issue when he writes to Timothy in our Epistle reading. And the question comes to us also: Will you be a faithful St. Timothy or a fearful “St. Timidity”?

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Published in: on October 5, 2019 at 6:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“One Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 22, 2019

“One Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Our text this morning is a portion of the Epistle for this day, 1 Timothy 2, reading from verse 3 through verse 7, as follows: “God our Savior . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle. . . .”

This has to be one of the most hated passages in the Bible in our day. Think of it: It boldly proclaims that there is only one mediator between God and men, and that it is the man Christ Jesus. That is just unacceptable! It is way too narrow for most people today. “One Mediator”?

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Published in: on September 21, 2019 at 9:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“This Man Receives Sinners” (Luke 15:1-10)

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 15, 2019

“This Man Receives Sinners” (Luke 15:1-10)

“This Man Receives Sinners.” So said the Pharisees and the scribes about Jesus. They meant it as an insult: “This man receives sinners.” We hear those same words, and we take them as the most wonderful good news: “This man receives sinners!” I guess it depends on what you think about “this man,” Jesus, and whether or not you put yourself in the category of “sinners.”

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Published in: on September 14, 2019 at 11:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“‘Blessed Is the Man’: Really, Lord?” (Psalm 1; Luke 14:25-35)

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 8, 2019

“‘Blessed Is the Man’: Really, Lord?” (Psalm 1; Luke 14:25-35)

Please turn with me once again to Psalm 1, in the front of your hymnal. We sang this psalm earlier in the service, but now I’d like us to speak together the first three verses. Psalm 1, verses 1 through 3:

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.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Well, this sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Delight in God’s word, meditate on it every day, and you will be blessed! In all you do, you will prosper! Hey, sign me up! This is a pretty sweet deal.

So, I am a Christian. I believe in the Lord. I like reading the Bible. I think about it a lot. Now all my life should be hunky-dory, shouldn’t it? I should be prospering like nobody’s business. No more problems. Smooth sailing all the way.

But maybe, just maybe, my life doesn’t exactly look like that. Maybe yours doesn’t either. All this fruit I’m supposed to be bearing, where is it? Why does it feel like I’m withering sometimes? Instead of prospering, I end up perspiring. Instead of my life being fruitful, it feels like it’s futile. This is being blessed? “‘Blessed Is the Man’: Really, Lord?”

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Published in: on September 7, 2019 at 10:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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