07-14-2019 Sermon - Taking On False Teaching

We may not be as concerned with false teachings and false teachers as were the Apostles and our Lord Jesus Christ, but I suspect that has to do with the touchy feely, emotional, and experiential appeals to the faith that dominate pop culture today. But as Luther so clearly saw, false belief and despair are serious temptations, the results of which could move us from the only sure and certain hope that is in Christ alone. Paul writes a personal letter to a church that was being exposed to false teachers. They had not succumbed yet, but Paul is not taking any chances. He wishes to expose the falsehoods by reaffirming the one true faith that they had been given and established in. The same false teaching still confront the church today...

07-07-2019 Sermon - The Danger of Going Native

For a letter in which the Apostle Paul seemed very concerned that its recipients might be trusting more in their works than in trusting what Christ freely accomplished for them, he sure does end up with lots of admonitions. As but two examples, he encourages his readers to be sure to walk by the Spirit so as not to gratify the desires of the flesh; and, he instructs them not to tire in doing good deeds for in due time they would be amply rewarded. How are we to understand these encouragements? Well, I have an idea how we might view them. But we can rest assured we are not being told there is something we must do in order to become a child of God and an heir of the kingdom. For a little hint, there is such a thing as the danger of "going native"...

06-30-2019 Sermon - For Freedom We Have Been Freed

There is the appearance of freedom that is not freedom at all. Someone says, "Nobody tells me what to do." And the challenge needs to be, "So if nobody tells you what to do, then don't do what sin tells you to do. See if you can be truly free from sin for even one day." To be free to sin as you please is the worst sort of bondage, particularly when you able to see that sin leads you to death, and that under sin's sway you are also under the dictates of the devil. When Christ sets us free from sin, death, and the devil we are enabled to come under his sway, unless of course, we prefer to go back to the devil. Under Christ's sway we can know peace and life and have a particularly bright future to contemplate.

06-23-2019 Sermon - Baptized Heirs of the Kingdom

In most households there are certain rules the children have to abide by. At the same time no child thinks they belong to their family because they make their beds, help with dishes, come when they are called, and so forth. They know they are a member because they were born or adopted into the family. Furthermore, young children are often left with a babysitter who for that evening have more privileges than do the children. And the sitters are in charge and give orders. And yet when the children are grown they, unlike the sitters, have all the privileges of the household and are included in the will. God's family is much the same. We are born into this family through Baptism by Faith. So why would we ever try to earn ourselves into the family! It would be a little like grown children wishing they were still under the authority of a baby sitter...

06-16-2019 Sermon - Trinitarian Faith in One God

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The religious leaders were ready to stone Jesus to death. And it was not because he was one of the nicest men to ever live. Nor was it because he was one of the most gifted teachers ever to have taught. And it was not because of the fine example Jesus set by his lifestyle. No, it was for none of these reasons. But it was related to some of the audacious statements he made about himself. "I am the light of the world." "If anyone continues in my word he will not taste death, but will live forever." And, "Before Abraham was, I am." In short, he claimed to be the preexistent Son of God. It is from who Jesus is that we begin to learn a central doctrine of the Christian Faith, that of the Holy Trinity...

06-09-2019 Sermon - What Is A Paraklete?

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Jesus had promised his disciples that when he ascended into heaven he would send them another helper to be with them until the end of the age. This helper is none less than the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit. And he was poured out upon the believers in a rather dramatic fashion on the Day of Pentecost. Some English translations use other words for "helper" to describe the Holy Spirit. For instance, some use the word "comforter", others "counselor", and still others "advocate". They are all good words which each shade part of the meaning of the Greek word being translated. That Greek word is, transliterated, "Paraklete". Literally, a Paraklete is "one called along side of". This morning we will discuss how the Holy Spirit is the second one sent from the heavenly Father to advocate for us. We will also talk a little of his particular role is advocating for us.

06-02-2019 Sermon - Never Despair to Pray

Most of us find it a source of great comfort and strength to know that we are being prayed for by family, by friends, and by the congregation. But did you know that our Lord Jesus himself intercedes for us daily at the right hand of the Father? This morning we catch a glimpse and overhear one of the things Jesus mentions in his prayers for us. With Jesus praying for us and giving us the words to speak in prayer, the Lord's Prayer, we can rest assured that our heavenly Father hears our prayers. We need never despair to pray!

05-26-2019 Sermon - What the Mission Looks Like

In the four Gospel Accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John we learn of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. And in most of the rest of the New Testament we have the letters written to different churches by Apostles such as Paul, Peter, and John. But only in the Book of Acts do we have any kind of an account of how after Jesus' death and resurrection these churches came into existence. So in participating in our Lord's mission to redeem a lost world, we learn best from the Book of Acts what that mission looks like. And our present lesson is a case in point...

05-19-2019 Sermon - The Restored Heaven And Earth

The Book of Revelation is a bizarre Book! It contains startling images, highly symbolic language, and depictions that are ironic. Last Sunday's reading from Revelation involved a slain, then alive, lamb shepherding a flock. In today's reading we have a city descending from heaven adorned as a bride! One thing is for sure, the pictures are memorable! And as long as we get our doctrine from the Books in which it is put forth directly, then I think we can benefit and receive comfort from the strange pictures in Revelation, especially those that unmistakably point to the victory we share in as Christians when Christ returns again at the end of the age.

05-12-2019 Sermon - The Lamb Shall Shepherd His Sheep

What an image in our Revelation Lesson! A Lamb is out in front of the flock leading the sheep to the living waters. And we learn that this lamb has been slain, and yet lives. A lamb as a shepherd! A lamb equipped with rod and staff and protecting the sheep through the valleys of death. This is an ironic image. But the picture lingers in the mind. And we can be reminded that this is no ordinary lamb...

04-28-2019 Sermon - Sent to Forgive Sins

Pastors in the Lutheran tradition say such bold things as, "By the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I a called and ordained servant of the Word, forgive you your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Where does this authorization come from? Well, it primarily comes from the Gospel Lesson we are considering this morning on the Second Sunday of Easter. With our Risen Lord's early appearance to the disciples we discover the implication of his death and resurrection is that his church is sent and equipped to forgive sins. The forgiveness of sins is at the heart of the Gospel. And as Luther notes, "where there is forgiveness of sin there is also life and salvation."

04-21-2019 Sermon - Christ Centered Resurrection Hope

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Everything in the Christian Faith rests on the veracity of Christ's Resurrection. If Christ has not been raised from the dead Christians are of all people the most to be pitied! So why is the Apostle Paul so sure that in fact Christ rose from the grave, and what does he mean that this resurrection is the fruit fruits to all who believe? He will write that in Adam we all die, but in Christ we are made alive. Indeed Christ himself is our greatest hope...

04-07-2019 Sermon - The Despised Beloved Son

Jesus referred to himself as the stone the builders rejected, but has proven to be the cornerstone. He further talks about this stone as that when people stumble over it they are broken to pieces, and when this stone falls on anyone they are pulverized. From the world's standpoint Jesus was rejected and as he is being led to a criminal's death on the cross he looks rather pathetic. Who would have ever surmised that by his upcoming death, death itself would be defeated? By his death sin, death, and the devil are vanquished. And we have a chance to build our lives, indeed our hope and future on this stone...

03-31-19 Sermon - Found And Reclaimed Alive!

The 15th Chapter of Luke has been called "the Lost and Found Chapter". First a shepherd finds the one sheep out of a hundred that was lost. And then a women finds the one silver coin out of ten that was lost. Finally, a father claims that not only a son dead to him was once again alive, but that his lost son was also found. Interestingly in the third case the father is not portrayed as traveling to the distant country to search for his son. So we need to discover how in fact this son was found in a similar way to the lost sheep and the lost coin. What can't be missed is how much joy it brings to our heavenly Father to reclaim that which had been lost to him. This should likewise bring us joy as well...

03-24-19 Sermon - Beware! Warning, Warning!

Immediately upon receiving news of a slaughter of citizens by the Roman ruler, Pilate, Jesus let people know that those slaughtered were not worse sinners than anyone else. The he added, "But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." You could sum up his message as "turn or burn". And just so his message was consistent with the prophets before him, and with John the Baptist who was the forerunner to the coming of the Messiah. Some are quick to call such preaching "hellfire and brimstone" and unnecessarily negative. But when disaster lies ahead, the sounding of a warning is done so in the hope that the hearer might be able to avoid disaster. If I could expand on the "turn or burn" message, it would be "turn or burn, look to the Lord Jesus to rescue you from the flame of judgment." Thank God for warning, and for the remedy!

03-17-2019 Sermon - The Open Arm Father

Body posture, especially with the use of the hands and arms communicates powerfully. Balled up fists in front of one's face indicates aggression. Holding up your arms directly in front of you with palms upright as though you were pushing something away from you indicates rejection. But arms held outward to the side and slightly elevated, with palms in an open position indicate the desire to embrace and to shelter. In our Gospel Lesson today we learn definitively of the posture our heavenly Father has toward us and why this is such good news...

03-10-2019 Sermon - Jesus Encounters the Tempter in the Wilderness

It matters how we read Scripture. And Jesus provides the clue as to how. He says the Scriptures are primarily about him! The trouble is, we tend to want to make them all about us. And the Gospel Reading this morning is a case in point. How quickly we leave the narrative of Jesus' encounter and victory over Satan in the wilderness to trying to draw lessons about what we can learn from Jesus not succumbing to temptation. There is that. But the main point is to focus on how Jesus' victory on our behalf is good news for us! Such good news that we are invited to place our faith in his victory over sin, death, and the devil, and to give up relying on our ability to defeat the devil ourselves. The Gospel is about what God in Christ has done, and is doing, on our behalf and for our benefit.

02-24-2019 Sermon - What This Family Does

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If there is one thing our fallen human nature loves, it is taking center stage and leaving God the role, if any, of being a supporting actor. If we are not careful we might read Jesus' sermon in Luke 6 in such a way that we think we are center stage. After all we are told if we love our enemies and our reward will be great in heaven, and if we forgive then we will be forgiven. If, then. I know, those are the words. But if we are not careful we will conclude that we need to step up and assume the leading role. So how might we understand our Lord's admonitions without minimizing the difficult expectations that we endeavor to follow them? I think the key is to remember who indeed is center stage, and then understand we are a part of his family. Let me explain..