New Year’s Eve
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
Text: John 14:1-4
Things were not right and they knew it. Everything was screaming trouble to them. Clearly enemy opposition was at an all time high. It may have almost seemed dangerous to be around others. Then there was all this talk about suffering and death. Now there was talk about leaving and going away. What was going on here? What was going to happen?
On a quiet Thursday night long ago the disciples had heavy hearts that felt like a shaken champagne bottle. Everything was all mixed up, shaken, bubbling to the top, and about to explode. They certainly could see and sense the seething hatred of Jesus’ enemies boiling over. Jesus had been talking more and more about suffering and dying. Now minutes before he had just said that he wasn’t going to be with them any longer. Here they had this quiet little Last Supper together in an Upper Room but it certainly had the feel of Jesus’ last will and testament. Talk of betrayal and death. Judas had run out of the room for whatever reason. Talk of leaving. What was going on here? What was going to happen?
Almost two millennia later and here you are on a quiet Thursday evening and you feel exactly the same. Things are not right and you know it. Everything is screaming trouble to you. Read the rest of this entry
12th Sunday after Pentecost
Take Courage. It is Jesus.
Text: Matthew 14:22-33
It was a special day, about 15 months ago. We knew it was coming, but the kids didn’t. They had been asking and asking. Now was finally the time. We surprised them and went to Disney World. The looks on their faces were priceless. They were so excited and all day long they were acting like, well, like kids at Disney World.
They had been asking for more than a year. They would even find pennies on the ground and give them to us telling us to save up for Disney. Finally we went and it was a blast. By the time we went home though, they were passed out and asleep. Within a few days the Buzz Lightyear and Minnie talk had died down. Now, 15 months later, we hardly ever hear anything about it. It’s almost like it never happened.
How could that be? They had wanted to do this for the longest time. They finally got to see one of the coolest, most amazing things they could ever imagine. But now it’s like it never happened. They don’t thank us for taking them to Disney anymore (that stopped pretty much the next day). They don’t talk about Disney anymore. I know they were there. Did they forget it happened? How could that be? Read the rest of this entry
2nd Sunday of Easter
Believe the Impossible . . . Or Impossible to Believe?
Text: Genesis 15:1-6
It happens all the time. Something good happens, maybe even something great. A great success. A great victory. A great blessing. You are soaring as high as can be. Your heart is beating with a vibrant faith and trust in God. God is good. Your faith is good. Life is good. You are filled with joy and peace.
But what almost always seems to come next? Something bad. Something disappointing. Something frightening. Suddenly the heartbeat of your faith is nearly flat-lining. The once vibrant faith and trust turns into doubts and worries. Is God really good? Life doesn’t seem very good. Now you are filled with anger, frustration, and those powerful doubts and worries.
It happens to us all the time. Why?
When things are going well, when your faith in God seems to be strongest, Satan knows that is the ideal time to tempt you. When better to tempt than when our guard might be down? When better to tempt than when we might be a little overconfident? When better to tempt than when Satan can make us fall the farthest? And like a fish gobbling up a sparkling lure, our sinful selves love to chomp down on doubts of God’s promises. Read the rest of this entry
Text: 1 Peter 1:16-21
“I’ll believe it when I see it.”
That’s the American way! We want proof. We want evidence. We want empirical data. Even photos or video footage aren’t good enough. Those can be doctored up and edited. Thus, we won’t believe anything until we see it first!
We can understand why the lessons for this coming Sunday are so important. They all revolve on trusting in things we haven’t seen. Abraham believed promises from God that seemed impossible. Thomas didn’t believe his disciple buddies had seen the risen Savior Jesus. And in the present, we face a similar challenge: We haven’t ever seen our Savior and our God Jesus Christ!
Peter gives us great encouragement today. The words of Scripture aren’t made up like Harry Potter playing Quidditch. This isn’t the Hunger Games. Peter and the other apostles were eye witnesses and ear witnesses of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We can be sure that Scripture is true and that Jesus is truly our Savior because these are real things that real people saw and heard. Ever wonder why there are four gospel accounts? We would call that today in our culture corroborating evidence!
Even more, Peter continues to assure us about the veracity and validity of Scripture by informing us that these weren’t made up or embellished stories, either. Rather, the prophets and apostles spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. God inspired and helped write every single word–every single letter even–of his Holy Word.
We weren’t around when the Bible was written. We have never seen Jesus. But yet we still trust. This is called “faith.” What a blessing to have this gift of faith given to us by God to believe what we have never seen which such sure confidence!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I have never seen you. I have never heard your voice. Yet continue to give me a sure and certain faith that sees and hears you through the pages of Scripture. Give me a confident trust that you are my Savior and that your words in Scripture are true. Erase my doubts and strength my belief. In your name I pray, AMEN.
2nd Sunday in Lent
The Lord Will Keep His Promises
1. Remember them
2. Respond to them
Text: Genesis 28:10-22
Twenty-four billion dollars. That’s billion with a “B.” That’s how much one magazine has estimated the inheritance to be for Prince William and Kate Middleton. He didn’t do anything special. He didn’t invent something. He isn’t a savvy business tycoon. Simply because he was a male born into the right family at the right time he is set to inherit control of the royal treasury, the crown jewels, and eventually the crown as king in England. Not so bad, being an heir and being promised a fortune!
Paris and Nicky Hilton are similar. They certainly have not done anything special. They won’t be winning any Oscars or Grammys any time soon. But they were born into the right family. The heiresses of hotel maven Baron Hilton, they both were promised to inherit hundreds of millions of dollars. Interestingly, having lived life excessively and indulgently, it is said that Paris Hilton has had most of her inheritance taken away. Read the rest of this entry