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
Midweek Lent 3
My Song Is Love Unknown: For His Death They Thirst and Cry
Text: Matthew 26:59-66
There was nothing right or just about this trial at all. The Sanhedrin was not ever supposed to meet at night. Due notification was required for any trial. A fly-by-night trial during the night was not legal according to the laws of Moses.
Caiaphas, the high priest who presided over this trial, also wrongfully usurped two positions at the trial. He functioned as both the judge and the prosecuting attorney in this court. There was nothing unbiased about his prejudicial actions.
Maybe it’s obvious, but this trial should never have taken place to begin with. Not only was it illegally held, not only was it unfairly judged, but the verdict was also decided before the trial even began. They didn’t have a charge against Jesus, but they knew that somehow he was guilty and that in some way he needed to be prosecuted. Read the rest of this entry
Devotion Text: Matthew 10:16-23
Could you even imagine doing that? Jesus says that, “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them.” He adds that his witnesses will be arrested and flogged and hated because of him. Could you even imagine doing that? Could you stand before a judge, Congress, the president, or the king of some other country and testify to the truth about Jesus and the Word of God? Could you imagine doing that while knowing that you might be imprisoned, tortured, or even killed? Thank God that our faith isn’t tested like that!
Isn’t it, though?
Is it any easier for you or for me to tell our family member that a wild life of sex, drugs, or rock ‘n roll will lead to hell? Is it any easier to tell our neighbors that though they are very nice, Buddhism follows the wrong god(s)? Is it any easier to tell the cursing fan behind us at the game that we don’t like that kind of language and God wants his name kept holy? Is it any easier to knock on a stranger’s door when canvassing for church and offer information about Jesus?
The truth is, we face difficult witnessing situations every single day. We may not be called before government leaders and threatened with imprisonment and death (yet!), but we still face plenty of opposition and persecution when sharing our faith. Most of us have probably found out many times over that Jesus wasn’t joking when he said people will hate us because of him.
As we lead up to the celebration of the Reformation of the Church at the end of this month, we can certainly thank God for the many faithful witnesses that have gone before us. God used people, like Martin Luther for example, to preserve the truth of his Word and to pass down that truth to future generations. Martin Luther and many others were faithful confessors of their faith–even before governments and leaders and in the face of persecution and death.
So be it before Congress or cousin, Senate or stranger, president or personal friend, we too can be encouraged by Jesus’ other promise in this section of Scripture: “Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” God give us confidence and strength to proclaim our Savior Jesus Christ to all!
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you faithful confess us to your heavenly Father to be your own brothers and sisters, redeemed by your own righteous blood. Now we ask that you fill us with strength and your Holy Spirit that we might faithfully confess you to all others in our lives. Bless our witnessing and work that more might come to know you as Savior and King. This I ask in your mighty name. Amen.
The Fifth Commandment
You shall not murder.
There are few people out there who have a strong complaint with the words of this commandment. Many people who take umbrage with the other commandments will stand outside a courtroom and demand punishment for murderers. Almost every person alive knows that it is wrong to take another human life.
Biblically, we know the importance of life. Human years on this earth are called a “time of grace.” Now is the only time we can hear about our sins and repent. Now is the only time we can hear about Jesus and forgiveness. Once a person dies he is judged. What a tragedy it is when someone’s time of grace is cut short and he never gets the chance to hear the word, repent and turn to Jesus. Read the rest of this entry
Sermon on Matthew 5:21-37
6th Sunday after Epiphany
When You Think About Jesus, Think About Perfection
Text: Matthew 5:21-37
What do you think of when you think of Jesus? Maybe you think of the Good Shepherd who gently leads and cares for his sheep. You might think of the compassionate and loving Teacher who healed the sick, fed the hungry, and took time to teach even the social outcasts. Jesus welcoming the little children into his arms often comes to mind. Around here we like to think about Christ the King who sits on his throne in heaven and rules over all things with all power and all might. Many have in their minds the gruesome imagery of the movie The Passion of the Christ and often think of that when they think of Jesus.
We all have different thoughts about Jesus that stick in our brains. We think about his love, his compassion, his mercy, his care, his help, his protection, his suffering and death. But this morning your paradigm might shift. This morning our thoughts might change. Listen to more of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount today and when you Think About Jesus You Will Think About Perfection. Read the rest of this entry