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
The 4th Sunday of Easter
The Lamb is Our Shepherd
Text: Revelation 7:9-17
It’s dark, isn’t it? The valley. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and it is so dark. The darkness is so thick, sometimes I feel like there is no light in my life at all. The path is rough, rugged, and runs every which way. With with darkness surrounding me, I hardly know where I’m going. I stumble and fall a lot. Even worse, I know as I’m walking through this dark valley that I’m a sitting duck, or a sitting sheep I suppose. I’m an easy target. I’m weak. I’m vulnerable prey. There are dangers all around me. There is darkness all around me. I’m lost. I’m alone. I’m afraid.
Ever feel that way? There’s a reason why Psalm 23 has some of the most popular Bible verses in the world. Even people who don’t believe in the Bible will quote it. Perhaps the most striking picture that people know is in verse 4: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” That verse is so popular because all people can relate to it. Read the rest of this entry
The Wonder of Easter
Text: Luke 24:1-12
I wonder. I wonder if you have ever seen anything so amazing before. It would have taken a forklift to pick my jaw back off the ground. I was so filled with wonder and awe that I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know where to go. I just stood there, filled with wonder.
Have you had that feeling before? Maybe you stood at the rim of the Grand Canyon looking at the bottom a mile and a half below and at the other edge 15 miles away. Wow! Maybe you stood at the foot of the Rocky Mountains looking at a peak 14,000 feet above you. Wow! Maybe you get that feeling every time you stand on the beach and watch the mighty waves come crashing down on your feet. Wow! Maybe it was watching the miracle of childbirth. Wow! I’m sure that at some point in your life you have been filled with jaw-dropping wonder and amazement.
Yet I’m not sure you could comprehend the wonder I saw. In fact, when I was first told about it I didn’t even believe it. It sounded too good to be true. Some friends told me that they had seen it with their own eyes. That still didn’t convince me it was possible. After all, it was a group of ladies that told me what they had seen. And you know how women can be. Once they start talking, then they start getting excited, then they start exaggerating a little bit. My ears heard what they were saying, but my mind didn’t understand it and my heart didn’t believe it. I had to see it with my own eyes. Read the rest of this entry
The New Covenant that Changes Everything
Text: Hebrews 10:15-25
613. Jewish tradition teaches that there are 613 commandments in the laws of Moses. Could you even imagine keeping straight 613 commandments? Most people I’ve met don’t even know all 10 Commandments. How could you keep straight 613? There were laws about cleanliness, laws about family, laws about civil justice, laws about worship and festivals and sacrifices. 613 laws to obey.
These laws served as a sort of hedge for the people of Israel. They set them apart as being “different” than all the other people of the world. They were cleaner. They were more pure. They were more sanctified in their living. They were more dedicated to their God. Thus, God told them that if they obeyed he would be their God and they would be his people. If they obeyed, that is.
When they didn’t obey, that’s what the system of sacrifices was for. If you committed this sin, then this sacrifice was required. And if you committed that sin, then that sacrifice was required. The message was loud and clear: God is holy. If there is sin, there must be death and bloodshed to pay for it. Read the rest of this entry
The King Comes! Praise God!
Text: Luke 19:28-40
The hour had come. It was now time to go to Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples approached the city from the East crossing over a little mountain that rose 2,500 feet above sea level. It was called the Mount of Olives. That coming week Jesus would spend a lot of time at that Mount on the western side in a little garden called the Garden of Gethsemane. On this day, as Jesus ascended the Mount of Olives he came upon two villages, Bethphage and Bethany.
Jesus sent two of his disciples ahead to go and get a young colt that had never been ridden. Possibly this had been prearranged with the owner. When they returned with the young donkey they put their cloaks on it as a makeshift saddle and spread their cloaks on the ground as a makeshift royal red carpet.
As Jesus road along on the Mount of Olives and came to the point where the road begins to go down the other side, surely many had in mind the words of Zechariah 9 that you heard earlier today. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” As Jesus, who had done so many wonderful miracles, rode on toward Jerusalem on a colt, the foal of a donkey, how could those words of prophecy not come to mind? Read the rest of this entry