“What We Are Now and What We Will Be” (1 John 3:1-7)

Third Sunday of Easter
April 15, 2018

“What We Are Now and What We Will Be” (1 John 3:1-7)

Last week we began a series of six straight weeks of Epistle readings from 1 John. Our theme last week was “Fellowship through the Word of Life”: We have fellowship with God and with one another through the Word of Life, enfleshed and proclaimed. Now today we want to find out more of what this fellowship with God means for us, both for now and for the future. And in today’s lesson the apostle John tells us: “What We Are Now and What We Will Be.”

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Published in: on April 14, 2018 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Fellowship through the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1 – 2:2)

Second Sunday of Easter
April 8, 2018

“Fellowship through the Word of Life” (1 John 1:1 – 2:2)

Today on this Second Sunday of Easter, we begin six straight weeks of Epistle readings from First John. This is quite appropriate for the Easter season, since First John is all about a real crucified-and-risen, flesh-and-blood Savior for real flesh-and-blood sinners. In his epistle John is telling us that this is the only way to have fellowship with God and with one another: It is through Christ, the eternal Son of God, coming in the flesh, shedding his blood for us, and rising from the dead bodily, to give us eternal life. We have fellowship with God and with one another only through the enfleshed and proclaimed Word of Life, Jesus Christ. And so at the beginning of this epistle, John announces his theme: “Fellowship through the Word of Life.”

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Published in: on April 7, 2018 at 11:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“He Is Risen: No Fooling!” (Mark 16:1-8)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
Sunday, April 1, 2018

“He Is Risen: No Fooling!” (Mark 16:1-8)

Alleluia! Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed! Alleluia!)

Yes, it’s true! This is no April Fools’ joke. Jesus really is risen from the dead! Just like he said he would. Just like the angel said he had. But who believed this? Do you believe this? This is no joke. This is the most serious–and yet at the same time, the most joyous–fact in the history of the world. And it is the most important reality for you, when I say, “He Is Risen: No Fooling!”

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Published in: on March 31, 2018 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“It Is Finished” (John 19:17-30)

Good Friday
March 30, 2018

“It Is Finished” (John 19:17-30)

“Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” This is our text.

“It is finished”: one of the last words of Jesus on the cross. But just what kind of a statement was it, this “It is finished”? What is it that is “finished”? What was Jesus talking about? How did he say, “It is finished”? What did he mean by that? Was it a statement of defeat and resignation? A statement of final relief? And whatever it was that was finished, and however Jesus may have been saying it, what in the world does it have to do with us? As we’ll see now, the answers to these questions are all wrapped up in this one little word: “It Is Finished.”

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Published in: on March 30, 2018 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Love Received, Love to Give” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

Holy Thursday
March 29, 2018

“Love Received, Love to Give” (John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” Yes, Jesus did that. And he also tells his disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” And so our message tonight is all about love: The love with which Jesus loved us, and then the love he would have us give to one another. “Love Received, Love to Give.”

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Published in: on March 29, 2018 at 12:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Annunciation, Acclamation, Crucifixion” (Luke 1:30-33; Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39)

Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion
March 25, 2018

“Annunciation, Acclamation, Crucifixion” (Luke 1:30-33; Mark 11:1-10; 15:1-39)

Today is a day in the church year that goes by two names, “Palm Sunday” and the “Sunday of the Passion.” This is Palm Sunday, the day when our Lord Jesus Christ rode into Jerusalem, and the crowd spread palm branches before him and acclaimed him as their coming king. But today also serves as the Sunday of the Passion, the first day of Holy Week, looking ahead to Christ’s suffering, which will culminate in his crucifixion on Good Friday. The Scripture readings we have had so far in the service today have brought out both of these emphases: the Processional Gospel for Palm Sunday and the Holy Gospel for the Sunday of the Passion.

But did you know that today happens to go by another name also? It is the Annunciation of Our Lord. This one happens just by coincidence of calendar, since today is March 25. Think about it. What other church festival always happens on the 25th of a month? That’s right, Christmas, which always falls on December 25. And since we celebrate our Lord’s birth on December 25, nine months before that, on March 25, is the day we remember when the angel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary that she would give birth to the Savior. “Conceived by the Holy Spirit” on March 25, “born of the virgin Mary” on December 25, nine months later.

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“The Real Jesus Is All You Really Need” (John 1:1-18; Ephesians 1:3-14)

Midweek Lenten Vespers
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

“The Real Jesus Is All You Really Need” (John 1:1-18; Ephesians 1:3-14)

In Sunday morning Bible class, we’re doing a study based on the book, “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? 12 False Christs.” And in these midweek Lenten services, we’ve been picking up on themes from the book, as well. “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? 12 False Christs.” The premise of the book is that in our society people come up with false christs to fit their own presuppositions and desires. The real Jesus does not fit their idea of what he should be like, so they redefine him, stripping away the parts they don’t like, and adding to him things they do like. And so they come up with a false christ who is different from the real Jesus we meet in the Bible.

For example, so far in the book we’ve met Jillian, the ethical hedonist, who redefines Jesus to be merely a mascot, who will cheer her on in her pursuit of pleasure. We’ve met Tamar, the religious pluralist, who reduces Jesus to just one option among many in the smorgasbord of world religions. We’ve met Mr. Darby, the possible atheist, who pays lip-service to Jesus as a good teacher but nothing more than that. And this past Sunday we met Wendy, the life coach, who sees Jesus as a sort of therapist who will help you have a happier life and who, if you yield your life to him, will move you up from being an ordinary, carnal Christian, up to being a first-class, super-spiritual Christian. That’s so far, and in the weeks to come, we’ll meet other people who redefine Jesus into a false christ of their own making.

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Published in: on March 21, 2018 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“Set Free to Serve” (Mark 10:32-45)

Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 18, 2018

“Set Free to Serve” (Mark 10:32-45)

I want to start out our message today with a little quiz. Multiple-choice. Which of these two statements is true: a) “A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none,” or b) “A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.” Which one is true? Well, this is a trick question. The correct answer is c) “both of the above.” A Christian is both a perfectly free lord of all and a perfectly dutiful servant of all. It was Martin Luther who set forth these two seemingly contradictory propositions in a treatise called “The Freedom of a Christian.”

And this idea was not new with Luther. Our Lord Jesus himself says as much in our text today from Mark 10. Here Jesus tells us two things: 1) that he came as a servant to set us free, and 2) that the way to live out that freedom is by being servants of one another. So today we want to deal with both aspects of the Christian life, both to celebrate our freedom and to grow in our servanthood. You see, because of Christ the Servant, you and I have been “Set Free to Serve.”

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Published in: on March 17, 2018 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“It’s a Gift!” (Ephesians 2:1-10)

Midweek Lenten Vespers
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“It’s a Gift!” (Ephesians 2:1-10)

You are a Christian. You are saved. You believe in Christ. You are heading for heaven. And in your Christian life, you do good works. Now the question arises: How did all this come about? To what extent does all of this, or any of this, depend on you? The salvation, the faith, the good works: Which parts are a gift, by grace, God’s doing? And which parts are up to us, our doing, our contribution to the equation? That’s what we’re going to explore today.

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Published in: on March 14, 2018 at 2:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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“The Gospel on a Pole” (John 3:14-21)

Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 11, 2018

“The Gospel on a Pole” (John 3:14-21)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” That, of course, is John 3:16, a verse you all know. Because it sums up the good news of Christ so succinctly, John 3:16 is often called “the gospel in a nutshell.” But today, instead of the nutshell, this morning we’re going to be looking at the verses right before it, what I call, “The Gospel on a Pole.”

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Published in: on March 10, 2018 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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