17th Sunday after Pentecost
How Can I Do This?
Text: Ephesians 4:29-5:2
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The old proverb means that if you fool me or wrong me once, you got me. Shame on you for that. But if I let you do that to me twice, then it’s my fault for letting it happen again. Shame on me for that.
Usually our culture takes it to a third step after that. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a third time, and I never want to see you again.” If someone is toxic and troublesome, and continues to bring that into my life or the lives of my children, I want nothing to do with that person. “I don’t need that in my life.”
But, we are Christians, right? Christians are different. Last week we were reminded by Jesus that we confront sin. We lovingly talk to people who sin against us to win them over. When they repent we forgive them. If they don’t listen you keep trying. We don’t give up after two or three or times. As God’s people we keep trying in love to win the sinner over.
Peter seemed to understand that some people are rather hard hearted. They might fool us or sin against us once, twice, or many more times. They might not listen and keep sinning. Maybe Peter was wondering how long this forgiveness business should keep on going. Maybe Peter was tossing out a number he thought was high to sound good. “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Perhaps he was expecting Jesus to say, “Oh no, that’s too many times. Only five or six.” Or on the other hand, maybe he was expecting Jesus to say, “Seven times? You would forgive seven times? Wow! You are so loving Peter!” Whatever he was expecting, Jesus certainly gave a response that he wasn’t ready for: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Read the rest of this entry
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
The Lamb of God
1. Look to the Lamb
2. Point to the Lamb
Text: John 1:29-41
“Where are my keys?” I yell as I frantically storm through the house. “I don’t have time for this!” Where did I put them last? How am I supposed to remember that? “Are you sure you didn’t put them somewhere?” No matter what they say, I probably won’t believe the kids. They must have hidden them somewhere. “Unbelievable! Where are th . . . Oh. They’re right here in my hands.”
How many times have you done that before? You look all around. You search high and low. But you can’t see it. Then there’s frustration. Or anger. Or disappointment. Then more frustration and anger.
“It’s right there,” someone tells us. “It’s right in front of your face.” Not only with finding things, but in solving problems this happens too. “The answer is right under your nose. Look! It’s right there.”
These are the kinds of situations that make our children pout and shout, “Where? I can’t see it!” Well, sometimes adults want to pout and shout over our problems, too. “Why can’t I find the answer? Where? I can’t see it!” Read the rest of this entry
15th Sunday after Pentecost
Be a Hearer and a Doer of the Word
Text: James 1:17-27
The same old routine. Each and every week. The alarm clock screams at you with that annoying buzz. Ugh. Already? Why do they have to make alarms with only annoying noises? You throw the sheets off and somehow manage to get your feet on the floor. You stagger around for a while until groggily, you manage to get a cup of coffee going.
You shuffle through your closet. “I guess I haven’t worn this in a while. This will do.” Eventually you are dressed—and just in time to rush out the door and make it by 9:59am (maybe 10:02 sometimes). You hurriedly walk in. You greet a couple familiar faces, “Good morning. Good morning. Good morning.” You find your seat.
Alright, here we go. Opening hymn. A couple responses. Some readings. Another hymn. A few words from pastor. (Hopefully it’s short this week.) A couple prayers. Another hymn. Finally! Done! “Goodbye. Goodbye. Have a nice day. Goodbye.” “Phew! That’s over with. Glad I don’t have to do that again for another week!”
The same old routine. Each and every week. You put your time in. You do what your supposed to do. You nod in agreement with the sermon (trying to look like you’re not nodding off to sleep or staring in the corner). You get your God time out of the way and you get on with regular life and the rest of your week. Read the rest of this entry
Text: James 1:-17-27
It’s hard to stop.
It’s hard to stop when you are in the heat of the moment. When your anger is bubbling over, when juicy gossip is floating around, when your frustration is at an all time high . . . it’s hard to stop in these situations.
How do you keep the curse in? How do you keep the slander stopped up? How do you bottle the anger?
James reminds us this morning that our objective as Christians is not just to be hearers of the Word of God. We are also to be doers of the Word of God. In our culture sometimes we say it this way: Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.
So as children of God who love our Lord, we can strive to obey him each and every day. That obedience will then include thinking twice before speaking. It will include a deep breath before an outburst. It will take a conscientious focus on the peace that Jesus gives which alone overcomes our frustrations and troubles.
This is being a doer of the Word.
Here’s the best part of all . . . How do you get to be a better doer of the Word of God? Continue to be a hearer of the Word of God!
The more we listen to the Word of God and hear the good news of our forgiveness, the more we will want to obey and do God’s Word. It’s a wonderful cycle that God has established. The more you hear God’s Word, the more your faith grows!
So be in the Word of God daily. Hear the Word. Your faith will grow. Then you will do the Word as well.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, create in me a new heart that continually desires to be refreshed by your Word. As I dwell and meditate upon your holy words, work in my heart and strengthen my faith. Work in me that I may not only hear your Word, but obey your Word. I ask this in the name of our true God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Text: John 2:13-22
There is one thing in this life that is staunchly defended by almost everyone, no matter what your political, religious, or socioeconomic affiliation… this thing is children.
Almost everyone knows that it is wrong to abuse a child. Almost everyone feels a strong sense of moral outrage when the news reports another story of a child sexually or physically mistreated. This feeling of outrage, this anger comes from the simple knowledge that certain things just should not be done. Recall how you felt the last time you heard a story about a child being left in a car on a 100 degree day or a little boy being abused by an older man and you will be coming close to understanding the way Jesus felt in John chapter 2.
It’s called righteous anger. It is a side of Jesus that is surprisingly rare in the gospels. If anyone has ever had a right to be morally outraged at every single person in this world, it is Jesus. Unlike our anger, there was no sin in Jesus’ anger. As true God he created this world as a perfect place. Thousands of years later when he walked on this earth as a man he saw, heard, and felt just how far from perfection this world had come. At the temple we see Jesus’ righteous anger spill out.
Jesus has every right to use that same whip to drive all of us straight to hell. Jesus has every right to make his righteous anger spill out on all of us because all of us have failed to live as he created us to live.
But by his great grace, instead of his anger Jesus shows us his love. Instead of being driven by a whip to hell Jesus shepherds us on the road to heaven. Our God is one amazing God!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in your amazing love for us you did not treat us as our sins deserved. Instead you offered to punish yourself for all our sinfulness. Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts in an ever increasing amount, that we may strive to live as you would have us live. Forgive us when we fail you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.