4th Sunday after Pentecost
How Big Is Your Debt
Text: Luke 7:36-50
Let’s say that you are the average American. As the average American, you have debt. Most people agree there are “good” kinds of debt and “bad” kinds of debt. Good debt would be your home or land mortgages, school loans, and possibly vehicle debt. “Bad” debt would be other kinds of loans and especially credit card.
Now, since you are the average American, let’s say you have $10,000 in credit card debt (which is about the American average these days). Some of you may gasp in horror at $10,000, others of you might say, “I wish!” But you are hypothetically an average person right now, so you have $10,000 of debt.
Most wouldn’t fret too much about that debt. Sure it’s debt and all, but it’s not too bad. It’s about 50 days of work, maybe a fourth of a year’s wages. Not too bad. You make some payments. Yeah, there’s interest, but you chip away. You know you’ll probably pay it off eventually (assuming you don’t spend more). As long as you make regular payments, the only penalties you suffer are a little lower credit score and lots of wasted dollars in interest. Read the rest of this entry
A Blessed Fellowship
1. With Jesus
2. With each other
Text: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
Have you ever wondered what it was like to live in the Garden of Eden? That must have been spectacular. No weeds. No sweat. No back pain or arthritis. No sadness. No stress. No calendars or appointments. No worms in your apples. No bills. No high priced gasoline. Only peace, perfection, and paradise.
But there’s one other aspect of the Garden of Eden that would have been fantastic. Perfect harmony and communion with God. Adam and Eve were created in God’s image. That means that they were perfect, righteous, and holy like God. What would it have been like to live in perfect peace with God? No fear of God because you had nothing to hide because you hadn’t done anything wrong. You knew his word and his will and you always kept them. If God showed himself and appeared, you wouldn’t run away because it was normal and perhaps even expected. You were in perfect harmony and fellowship and communion with God. What was there to be afraid of?
That’s hard for us to imagine, impossible to imagine even, because all we know is the exact opposite. All we know is fear of God and disharmony and disunity that come from shame and guilt. Read the rest of this entry
God Have Mercy . . . On Me
Text: Luke 18:9-14
Three days ago, 21 men in orange jumpsuits marched along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea on the coast of Libya. All 21 were Coptic Christians from neighboring Egypt. Each one was led as a prisoner by a masked man belonging to the terrorist Muslim cell known as Isis. You probably heard what happened next. Most, perhaps all, of the 21 were placed face down on the beach and simultaneously beheaded. Those cowardly barbaric terrorists are despicable. God, have mercy on them.
Of course, there’s plenty of shame to be found in America too. How about Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber? If you don’t know who Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber are, don’t worry. Your life is better for it. What a bunch of young punks they are, thinking they can gallivant the globe like untouchables above the law. Their behavior is the epitome of a mostly pathetic young Hollywood. God, have mercy on them.
Oh and Hollywood. Have you ever been there before? I think it’s disgusting. It’s filthy. It stinks. There are adult stores and venues on every street. It reminds me of a lot of other places I’ve been to, like Las Vegas or New York or New Orleans. Lots of fun to be had in those place, but even more sin. God, have mercy on them.
Oh, and speaking of New Orleans. How about Mardis Gras? What a fine, family-friendly celebration that is, isn’t it? People partying it up until the wee hours of the morning, drinking like fish, exercising zero inhibitions or control. Women proudly wearing beads like badges of honor, with every necklace clearly telling you how many times they “worked” to get those beads. How convenient to “get it out of your system” at Mardis Gras and on Fat Tuesday just in time for Lent to start. God, have mercy on them.
But that’s the problem with our world today, especially with our country. What a fruit basket upset America is these days! What a bunch of crooks we live with! What a bunch of evil, wicked people in our country! What a bunch of idolatrous, adulterous people we live among. God, have mercy on them all.
Yes, God, have mercy. God, Have Mercy . . . On Me when I think like this because I’m acting just like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable this evening. Listen again to what happened in the story, starting at verse 10: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fas twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’” Read the rest of this entry
The Baptism of Our Lord
The Father is So Pleased
Text: Mark 1:9-11
What does it take to make someone happy? It depends on the person I suppose. It used to be that you could give almost anyone on our staff a Big Mac and a Large Fry and a Diet Coke, and we would all be pleased as Punch. A new year and a few resolutions later, now most of us would be pleased with something that A) we are allowed to eat that B) actually tastes good, too.
Ladies, what does it take to make a husband happy? Probably not much. Fill his belly and let him be a scrubby bum on the couch watching the NFL playoffs maybe? Then he would be pleased.
Guys, what does it take to make a wife happy? Oh boy, where do we start? (No, we won’t say that!) This is a little more challenging though. Don’t forget her birthday . . . or an anniversary . . . or Valentine’s Day . . . or any other possible day you could give flowers and a card. Help with the wash and the dishes. Listen without watching TV at the same time. Let her hold the remote control. Communicate. Maybe (hopefully!) then she would be pleased.
But what would it take to make God happy? How could you please God? Jesus had a conversation with a man about this one time. A suitable answer was given: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. Read the rest of this entry
18th Sunday after Pentecost
A Lesson in Love
Text: Jonah 4:5-11
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” We call that the Great Commission. Jesus has commissioned us, sent us, to share his Word with all people. The Great Commission makes us kind of warm and fuzzy inside. What a neat thing that God wants us to share his Word! How wonderful that God loves all people! What a loving and gracious God!
God certainly called his Old Testament people to preach his Word, too. Moses told the Israelites to talk about God’s Word when they got up in the morning and went to bed at night, to talk about it when they walk down the streets, to teach it to their children, to put it on their doorposts and bind it on their foreheads if they had to. Surely the Israelites felt warm and fuzzy inside when they heard the Lord tell them that he is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love. How wonderful that God loves all people! What a loving and gracious God they had! Read the rest of this entry