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Which is Better? Life or Death?

3rd Sunday after Pentecost – Confirmation Sunday

Which is Better?

Text: Philippians 1:18b-26

Intro

Today is a special day for Christ the King.  We haven’t done this before.  Strange enough, in the six year history of Christ the King today is our first ever confirmation Sunday.  We’ve had plenty of adults join our church when standing up here to confirm their unity of belief and dedication to the Lord.  I’m privileged to have taken most of you adults here today through those instructional classes.

We’ve also had plenty of young’uns at Christ the King.  Hence the herd that stampeded down the hallway to children’s church a few minutes ago.  But we’ve never had eighth grade students go through catechism classes and confirmation.  Today, we have our first three.

The practice of catechism classes and confirmation is not something unique to Christ the King.  It’s not even specifically Lutheran.  In fact, the practice is as old as the Christian church itself.  Just before Jesus ascended into heaven he told his disciples, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing the in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  You heard those words this morning and saw that command carried out with Lucy’s awesome baptism.  But Jesus also continued that command saying, Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing the in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  So Jesus’ disciples and the early Christians began to thoroughly teach everything Christ taught. Read the rest of this entry

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The Lord Declares: You Will Live!

The Festival of Pentecost

The Lord Declares:  You Will Live!

Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14

Intro

The foot bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the knee bone, the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone connected to the back bone, the back bone connected to the neck bone, the neck bone connected to the head bone, Oh, hear the word of the Lord! 

Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!”  Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!”  Ezekiel cried, “Dem dry bones!”  Oh, hear the word of the Lord.

You’ve probably heard this popular children’s song before.  Maybe you knew the anatomical lyrics before (The foot bone connected to the leg bone, etc.), but did you know the refrain and what the song is about?  This old African-American spiritual is actually about the Old Testament lesson today, Ezekiel and the Valley of Dry Bones.

Many people have heard the song and some have heard about the story, but few understand it.  Today we take a look at this incredible real-life story and hear an even more incredible declaration from the Lord:  You Will Live. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on Ezekiel 37:1-14

Text: Ezekiel 37:1-14

When Jesus was on this earth he often taught in stories. Stories have a way of making abstract ideas concrete in our minds. I could spend all day telling you the facts of the kingdom of heaven, how it is perfect and precious and loving but those terms will always remain abstract to a certain degree. Now if I say that the kingdom of heaven is like finding a buried treasure, if I begin to embellish that story by adding the details of the excitement felt when the treasure is first found, the lengths to which the finder will go to make the treasure legally his, then that story about the precious nature of heaven begins to resonate with people of differing ages, IQ’s and socioeconomic classes. Go ahead and read through the Bible, God has always had a knack for telling a good story. God’s stories are told for more than just entertainment, they are teaching stories. His stories are lessons for all people of all times, lessons that teach the real history of his loving plan to make this world whole again.

Read Ezekiel and you will read what I think are some of the most fascinating stories in the Old Testament. Ezekiel got to see some amazing things while he carried out his work as a prophet of the Living God and he recorded them so that we too could see and learn from the story of his life. The story from Ezekiel 37 is just one of those amazing stories; a valley of bones comes to life. Ezekiel watches as the inevitable effects of decay on a dead human body are reversed.

What’s the point of this God-given story? Right now we are dead in sin. Soon enough, because of our sin, we will all be dead in the ground. God promises that just as he took that valley of bones and put them back together, “I will put my Spirit in you and you will live.” At your conversion God sent his Spirit to put tendons, flesh and the breath of life on your dead spiritual bones. We are alive because of the love of God. We are spiritually alive and though our bodies may die God will make us whole on the last day and bring us to heaven.

A pretty cool story with a pretty cool application… In God we are made alive!

Prayer: Heavenly Father our sins have guaranteed that we will die, our bodies will decay and our souls ought to perish forever but your love has brought about a different end for us. Forgive us when we forget your tremendous love show to us in Jesus. Send your Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may be comforted in hope of the eternal heaven that awaits us. We will not remain in the grave but will spend all eternity proclaiming what you have done for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

19th Sunday after Pentecost

To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain

Text:  Philippians 1:18-27     

I.

“I’ve had enough.  I can’t take it anymore.  I don’t want to be here anymore.  I just want to jump out my car windows while driving or throw myself in front of traffic.  I can’t go on living any longer.”  So said the homeless person who stopped in at church this last Thursday.

About seven months ago he was living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Then the April tornadoes struck.  He claimed that he lost his house which was completely destroyed and he was buried in the rubble.  He lost everything, including a number of friends.  He came to Florida looking for jobs—first in Tampa, then at all the theme parks in Orlando, then here in Flagler County.  I told him this was probably the worst place to look.

But this man had enough.  He lost everything.  He was living in his car.  He had only one or two changes of clothes.  He was almost out of food.  He had no job.  He wasn’t sure where to go or what to do, so he wasn’t sure if he wanted to live any longer.

What do you say when words aren’t quite enough?  Where do you go when no place brings you comfort?  What do you do when everything brings you sadness? Read the rest of this entry

Live a New Life . . . Today and Forever

Easter Sunday

Live a New Life . . . Today and Forever

Text:  Romans 6:1-11

Intro      

Have you had enough?  Are you sick of it?  Have you had enough with bills?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you were financially stable and you didn’t have to pay for your house, your car, insurance, cable, internet, medical bills, and food bills?  Are you sick of the economy?  Don’t you wish that things were stable these days—that you had job security, that the stock market would rise, that homes and vehicles actually had value?

Are you worried by all of the problems around us?  One day Japan is nearly leveled by earthquakes and tsunamis.  Then the entire government is threatened and rumored to shut down.  Then half of Texas goes up in flames with wild fires.  Before you know it there will probably be another terrorist attack somewhere in the world, or in this country.  When will it ever end?

Don’t you wish you could catch a break?  Someone in your family is always sick.  First it’s cold after cold after cold.  Then it’s the flu, or even the swine flu.  Then someone gets cancer.  Your To Do List is a mile long.  There aren’t enough hours in a day or a week to do everything you have to do.  And it seems like every other day you or someone you know hears more heart-wrenching news.

Have you had enough?  Are you sick of it?  Are you tired?  Worn out?  Wearied?  Beat down?  Don’t you wish sometimes you could just start all over?  Wouldn’t it be nice if you could live a new life?  Well you can!  Listen to the words of Romans 6 this morning on page 9 of your service folder.  You can Live a New Life . . . Today and Forever. Read the rest of this entry