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
6th Sunday after Pentecost
Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.
Text: Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
Have you been there before? Have you been there with Jairus? On your knees. Begging. Pleading. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.” You know there is absolutely nothing you can do and it is completely out of your control. You know there is one and only one who can help. So you beg and earnestly plead with tears flowing and humility showing. “Please Jesus. Please. Help.”
When that is you, side by side with Jairus in impassioned prayer, do you actually think Jesus will help? Do you really think he is listening? Do you really think he will do anything about it? Do you really think he can solve the problem or fix your trouble or heal the disease? Do you really think he can take away the cancer or save from death’s door? Do you really think he even cares? Do you believe these things?
Or do you pray because it’s your last ditch effort? Nothing else is working so this is your last chance, your last try. Maybe, just maybe, it will work and Jesus will help you. Read the rest of this entry
Last Judgment Sunday
Are You Ready for Judgment?
Text: Matthew 25:31-46
Oh boy. Here we go. The father steps up to the mic. He’s been waiting for this moment for a very long time. But he’s ready. He knows what to say. He has lots of heartfelt words for his daughter and her new husband at this wedding reception. But of course, he would be remiss on this wedding day if he didn’t show at least a few pictures. The pictures pop onto the screen. Everyone laughs while the blushing bride becomes just that. Daddy was kind enough to share pictures of his young daughter in the bathtub, pictures in diapers, and even a few pictures kissing some other two-year-old boy. “Daaad!” How embarrassing!
Old friends stop by. You haven’t seen them for ages! How fun to catch up on old times! “Oh let me tell you—did you ever know what he was really like back then?” Your friends proceed to tell your spouse some not so great stories about some not so great things you’ve done. How agonizing!
But can these embarrassing and shaming moments of life even compare to what we hear about today? Daniel painted the picture first: Thrones were set in place. The Ancient of Days too his seat. His clothing and hair were white. His throne was flaming with fire. A river of fire was flowing from before him. Tens of thousands encircled him. And the last sentence said: “The court was seated, and the books were opened.” Read the rest of this entry
2nd Sunday of End Times
Jump for Joy! Judgment Day is Coming!
Text: Malachi 4:1-3
What an awesome day yesterday! Another successful kids carnival! It’s hard for me to believe that this was the sixth one we’ve hosted already! We went from one obstacle course and three bounce houses and one face painter with 176 attendees in 2007 to over a dozen jumpers or obstacle courses, seven liver performers, a dance team, live radio broadcast, and much more with over 3,000 people attending this year! All I can say is . . . thank goodness we’re not doing another one until next year!
With all of the crazy fun and excitement yesterday, maybe we should have added one little bit of entertainment. Maybe we could have made the mission of our church a little more clear. Maybe I could have taken one extra little step. So next year, I think what I will do is get a really tall ladder (or maybe I can borrow stilts from the stilt walker) and I will get a megaphone and for four hours straight I can shout at people, “Repent! The end is near! Repent before Jesus judges! Repent or you will be in hell!” What do you think? Good strategy? After all, the topic for today is Judgment Day. Maybe that’s not so good of an idea. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Malachi 4:1-3
It doesn’t sound very exciting! In fact, it sounds down right scary!
How are we supposed to look forward to Judgment Day when God says it’s going to be burning like a furnace and everything will be destroyed and the wicked will be trampled under foot and reduced to dust?! That’s terrifying!
That’s especially terrifying because I know that I have been wicked. The things I have done in my life are too many to count and too embarrassing to share. My guilty conscience makes me fully aware of all the wrongs I have done in my life. I’m sure the same is true for you. When we read the words of the Lord in Malachi then, it can be frightening!
Thanks be to God that he doesn’t stop his prophecy there!
The Lord continues to foretell through Malachi that those who revere, or believe in, his name will be safe on the Last Day. They will bask in the glow of the sun of righteousness. That S-U-N is none other than the S-O-N of God, Jesus Christ. He brings healing and pardon and forgiveness to sinners. He makes us right with God so that we can stand before him on the Last Day with the miraculous pronouncement of “Not Guilty.”
Judgment Day will be a joy then. Judgment Day will be exciting. Judgment Day will be wonderful. That is the final day of victory for our Savior Jesus! It is the final day of victory for us!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have conquered all your enemies by your death and resurrection. Now, come quickly Lord to claim your final victory for all eternity. Fill me with patience to wait for your return. Fill me with joy as I eagerly await that glorious day. I pray in your name. Amen.