“Day of Judgment, Day of Redemption, Days of Distress” (Malachi 4:1-6; Luke 21:5-36)

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 13, 2022

“Day of Judgment, Day of Redemption, Days of Distress” (Malachi 4:1-6; Luke 21:5-36)

“Day of Judgment, Day of Redemption, Days of Distress”: We hear about all of these days in our readings today. All these days are guaranteed. God’s word makes it so. All these days will happen. In fact, some of them are happening already. But there is a day ahead that is not yet here. It’s still to come. And we need to be ready for it. Let’s find out.

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Published in: on November 12, 2022 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“God, Be Merciful to Me, a Sinner!” (Luke 18:9-17)

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 23, 2022

“God, Be Merciful to Me, a Sinner!” (Luke 18:9-17)

“So this Pharisee and a tax collector walk into a temple. . . .” No, this isn’t the start of some kind of a joke. Rather, it’s the start of a parable that Jesus tells. And this story makes a very important point. So we will be wise to listen up and take it to heart.

Our text is the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, from Luke 18. And we’re told why Jesus proceeds to tell this story. It’s because there were people “who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt.” Now I don’t suppose there are any people today who have that kind of attitude, are there? Oh, you and I both know there are. And in fact, sometimes we ourselves–that could describe you and me, that we think we’re pretty good in ourselves, and we look down upon others. So the parable that Jesus is about to tell is very relevant to our day and to our own lives.

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Published in: on October 22, 2022 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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“But the Word of God Is Not Bound!” (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 9, 2022

“But the Word of God Is Not Bound!” (2 Timothy 2:1-13)

Do you ever feel constrained or held back, like you’re the prisoner of things that are too powerful for you to overcome? Maybe it’s age. You feel the advancing years taking their toll on you. Maybe it’s sickness. You get over one thing, and then it’s something else. More pills, more trips to the doctor. You feel like a prisoner in your own body. Or maybe it’s a guilty conscience weighing you down. You sense your own failings. Your past sins keep on dogging you. Then there’s the approach of death. We don’t know when that will come, regardless of our age. It’s like how Scrooge saw Marley’s ghost, shackled with chains, rattling and haunting him in the night. The inevitability of death can haunt us like that. All these things–the sadnesses and sorrows of life; the lack of connectedness with people we know we ought to be closer to; the sense of alienation from God, tucked in the back of our head–all these things are like chains wrapped around us, holding us back, weighing us down, binding us up.

“But the Word of God Is Not Bound!” And it is through this word that God frees you from your chains and makes you alive in his love. Today I want you to hear this freeing word that God has for you. And you can hear it in all of our Scripture readings today.

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Published in: on October 7, 2022 at 1:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost
October 2, 2022

“Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith” (2 Timothy 1:1-14)

In today’s Epistle, Paul writes to Timothy to encourage him in his faith. Paul also reminds Timothy of the ladies who passed on the faith to him. Their names were Lois and Eunice. One was Timothy’s mother; the other, Timothy’s grandmother. Let’s see, now which one was which? Here’s the way I have of keeping them straight: “Lois” sounds like “oldest,” so she was the grandma. “Eunice” sounds like “youngest,” so she was Timothy’s mom. So now let’s hear more about “Timothy and the Women Who Raised Him in the Faith.” Let’s hear what that faith is, and what it means for us today.

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Published in: on October 1, 2022 at 9:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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“The Poor Man and Rich Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31)

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 25, 2022

“The Poor Man and Rich Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31)

Our text today is the story commonly known as “The Rich Man and Poor Lazarus.” But I’m going to suggest to you today that we could just as well call this story “The Poor Man and Rich Lazarus.” As we shall see. So let’s go.

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Published in: on September 24, 2022 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“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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