14th Sunday after Pentecost
Choose to Follow Christ!
1. A decision enabled by God
2. A decision that flows from faith
Text: John 6:60-69
This is not easy. This is difficult. This is controversial. This is a hard teaching . . . The silence was deafening. Jaws were dropped. Eyes were darting. Brows were furled. Heads were scratched. This didn’t make sense!
Jesus had fed thousands of them with a few loaves of bread and two fish. Maybe Jesus could give them some more food. And if Jesus could give them food, maybe Jesus could give them some other things they needed, too. They had diseases to be cured. They had Roman taxes to be paid. They needed to refinance the loans on their donkeys.
But then Jesus told them that they shouldn’t work so hard for bread. They shouldn’t chase after things that spoil. Instead they should work for bread that comes from heaven. What did that mean? Then Jesus said that he was bread from heaven. How could Jesus of Nazareth be from heaven? Read the rest of this entry
13th Sunday after Pentecost
The Best Meal You’ll Ever Eat
Text: John 6:51-58
I have a guilty pleasure to confess. I like chocolate. No, I love chocolate. Kit-Kat, Snickers, Reese’s Pieces, Baby Ruth, Three Musketeers. It doesn’t matter. I’ll eat them all. I find it ironic how they produce those little “fun size” candy bars, but there’s nothing fun about them. The big ones are the fun size candy bars! And I don’t eat M&Ms one at a time. No, I take the bag and pour a pile in my hand to eat them all in one gulp. Chocolate bars. Oreos. Chocolate cake. You name it. As long as it doesn’t have coconut wit it, I’ll love it and I’ll eat it.
That’s not the only guilty pleasure I have. I also love potato chips. Barbeque chips. Sour Cream ‘N’ Onion chips. Especially Doritos. I love chips. My family of four can easily slam an entire bag of chips in a few minutes on a Saturday night.
I’m also from Wisconsin. So I love cheese. I love cheese curds. I love deep fried cheese curds. At the Wisconsin State Fair they deep fry everything—cheese, pickles, steak, Twinkies, Oreos. And yes, I love it all. Read the rest of this entry
11th Sunday after Pentecost
Learn from the Past! Eat Food that Will Last!
Text: John 6:24-35
For centuries people around the globe enjoyed the frothy, filling, and fresh drink that amazingly is produced by cows and many other animals—milk. And for centuries, people enjoyed this creamy beverage fresh from the cow. Then a man came around in the late 1800s by the name of Louis Pasteur. He discovered that fresh, raw milk can be unsafe because it contains so much bacteria. Milk consumption has never been the same as we have learned the benefits of pasteurized milk. Only “da crazy Norderners from Wisconsin and Minnesota” drink unpasteurized milk.
A beautiful, pear-looking fruit called ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica. But ackee is banned in the United States because it was discovered that it contains toxins that can cause your blood sugar to plummet to dangerous levels, possibly even leading to fatality.
Sassafras oil is an extract from the roots of the sassafras tree. It was once popular in making tea and root beer. But since it was found to be a potential carcinogen, sassafras oil has been banned since the 1960s. Now the only sassafras I know is my two-year-old daughter.
Over the years, through experience and through testing, we have learned about foods and drinks that might be dangerous to us. Taking in all the evidence of the past, it would be foolish for us to ignore everything we have learned and to consume those foods anyway. We would be disregarding our own health. We would be putting ourselves in the way of danger. We would be knowingly causing ourselves sickness or even death. How foolish that would be.
So today, being wise and astute Christians, we will do well to listen carefully to the words of Jesus and Learn from the Past and Eat Food that Will Last! Read the rest of this entry
Text: John 10:11-18
He didn’t have to die… you know that don’t you? When the crowd mercilessly shouted, “He saved others but he can’t save himself,” well, they didn’t know what they were talking about. Well before he was dragged before rulers and courts, well before he was brutally beaten, well before he was sentenced to death Jesus made one thing very clear, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.”
He didn’t have to die… so why did he? Jesus’ willful surrendering of his own life seems crazy to our selfish minds. I mean sure, I would die for my son or my wife but would I be so willing to take the electric chair for a man who killed my son or wife and showed no sign of repentance? Jesus wasn’t dying for a group of pretty good people who needed just a little bit of extra help to get to heaven. Jesus was going to willingly die for a world that hated him, a world that wants nothing to do with him.
He didn’t have to die… but he wanted to. He wanted to because he is the Good Shepherd. He willingly faced the wolves because he loves us. He willingly died because in his death he could secure for us pleasant pastures in heaven. It defies reason, but God has made clear that he was pleased to save the world through such an outwardly foolish and simple truth. Your Good Shepherd died for your sins. He didn’t have to but he did and that is the Gospel Truth; that is all you need to know. Heaven is your home because of your Good Shepherd Jesus.
Prayer: My shepherd will supply my need –Jehovah is his name.
In pastures fresh he makes me feed beside the living stream.
He brings my wand’ring spirit back when I forsake his ways,
And leads me, for his mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace.
When I walk through the shades of death, his presence is my stay.
One word of his supporting breath drives all my fears away.
His hand, in sight of all my foes, will still my tables spread.
My cup with blessings overflows; his oil anoints my head. Amen.
4th Sunday of Easter
Remain in the Vine!
Text: John 15:1-8
“I am the bread of life . . . I am the light of the world . . . I am the gate . . . I am the Good Shepherd (that’s next Sunday) . . . I am the resurrection and the life . . . I am the way, the truth, and the life.” This week we hear the last of Jesus’ seven dearly loved “I am” statements. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.”
Of the seven “I am” statements, this might be one of the most challenging for us to understand. We don’t live in an agricultural society. Most of us have no clue about growing things like grapes on a vine. We go to the store and pick out the fruit that looks juiciest and ripest and we take it right home to eat. We never even think about the hard work put in, the care and attention given to the branches, or the importance of the vine that the branches grew on. All we care about is the product, the fruit.
Yet while farming isn’t in our DNA, this is a metaphor that is simple enough for us to understand what Jesus is saying. It comes down to one key phrase that comes up over and over again—eight times in eight verses. Jesus tells us: Remain in the Vine! Read the rest of this entry