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Don’t Be Afraid. Just Believe.

6th Sunday after Pentecost 

Don’t Be Afraid.  Just Believe.

Text: Mark 5:21-24, 35-43

Have you been there before?  Have you been there with Jairus?  On your knees.  Begging.  Pleading.  “Please Jesus.  Please.  Help.”  You know there is absolutely nothing you can do and it is completely out of your control.  You know there is one and only one who can help.  So you beg and earnestly plead with tears flowing and humility showing.  “Please Jesus.  Please.  Help.”

When that is you, side by side with Jairus in impassioned prayer, do you actually think Jesus will help?  Do you really think he is listening?  Do you really think he will do anything about it?  Do you really think he can solve the problem or fix your trouble or heal the disease?  Do you really think he can take away the cancer or save from death’s door?  Do you really think he even cares?  Do you believe these things?

Or do you pray because it’s your last ditch effort?  Nothing else is working so this is your last chance, your last try.  Maybe, just maybe, it will work and Jesus will help you. Read the rest of this entry

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When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going . . .

3rd Sunday of Advent

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going . . .

Text: Job 1:6-22

Gone.  All of it.  All of it was gone.  People who experience tragedy sometimes say that going through it is surreal, almost like living in a dream.  Job was stuck in a nightmare that he could not wake up from.

A messenger ran to Job.  It wasn’t good news.  The Sabeans from Arabia had attacked and stolen all his oxen and donkeys and killed all the servants watching them.  That might not seem too awful to us, but Job had 1,000 oxen and 500 donkeys.  That was a lot of wealth and livelihood taken, and it would have been a lot of servants killed.

While the shock of losing money and friends was still settling in, a second messenger ran to Job.  It wasn’t good news.  Fire had fallen from skies and burned up all his sheep and the servants watching them.  That might not seem too awful to us, but Job had 7,000 sheep.  That was a lot of wealth and livelihood taken, and it would have been a lot of servants killed.

How could this be?  On the same day?  What would he do now?  All these animals were so important to working and providing food and clothing!  All these servants were so important to making his life go!  Well at least his camels . . . Read the rest of this entry

Pray!

22nd Sunday after Pentecost

Pray!

Text:  1 John 5:13-15

Intro

Wow!  That was awesome.  Were you paying attention?  Did you follow closely with the words?  It’s worth looking at again.  Hymn 443:

                  Rejoice, my heart, be glad and sing; a cheerful trust maintain,

                  For God, the source of everything, your treasure shall remain.

 

                  Why spend the day in blank despair, in restless thought the night?

                  On your Creator cast your care; He makes your burdens light.

 

                  Did not his love and truth and power guard every childhood day?

                  And did he not in threatening hour turn dreaded ills away?

 

                  He always will with patience chide; His rod falls gently down,

                  And all your sins he casts aside in ocean depths to drown.

 

                  His wisdom never plans in vain nor falters nor mistakes;

                  All that his counsels did ordain a happy ending makes.

                 

                  Upon your lips, then, lay your hand, and trust his guiding love;

                  Then like a rock your peace shall stand here and in heaven above. 

Absolutely incredible!  How does one do that?  How do you get to the point where your heart rejoices and is glad and sings and maintains a cheerful trust?  On your Creator cast your care; he makes your burdens light.  If only it was that easy!  If only I could trust that his wisdom never plans in vain nor falters nor mistakes and all that his counsels did ordain a happy ending makes.  How do I get to the point that I can trust his guiding love and have peace like a rock here and in heaven above?

Beautiful words!  They are more incredible when you know the context of who wrote them.  I’ve shared the story of Paul Gerhardt once or twice before.  This pastor in the mid 1600s went for many years without a job.  Not many churches were interested in the truth of God’s Word that he was preaching.  He was chased out of several towns.  He was very poor at times.  His wife died and four of his five children died.  Yet Pastor Paul Gerhardt could smile through the tears and still write Rejoice, my heart, be glad and sing; a cheerful trust maintain, for God, the source of everything, your treasure shall remain.

How inspiring!  But oh, how difficult!  Trust like that is the last thing my heart wants to do.  I want something solid to stand on.  I want something I can see and believe.  I want results.  I don’t want sickness.  I don’t want big doctor bills and a host of tests.  I don’t want stress.  I don’t want heartache.  I don’t want tragedy.  I don’t want death.  I . . . I . . . I . . . Read the rest of this entry

Pray!

10th Sunday after Pentecost

Pray!

1. At all times
2. For all people
3. With all confidence

Text: James 5:13-18

Intro

For all the evils that go along with technology in this world, there is plenty of good that comes with technology too.  Perhaps one of the greatest blessings of technology is that we are able to stay connected with friends and family around the world.

To say that starting a brand new church and school in Palm Coast was difficult for my wife and me is quite the understatement.  But perhaps one of the harder things has been being separated from our families living 2,000 miles away in Wisconsin.  Many of you know what it is like to be separated from family.

But this isn’t the old days where we would see each other once every few years and hope that the Pony Express gets our letters to each other eventually.  Technology has made this much easier.  Both grandmas and grandpas can see pictures of their grandchildren in Emails or on Facebook.  We can see each other and talk face to face with Skype.  We can call.  We can text.  They can watch videos of my sermons or school graduation services.  Airplanes and highways make connecting relatively easy, too.

There’s a certain comfort in being able to talk to family.  If you need to talk, they are just a phone call or Email away.  If you need comfort in tragedy, they are willing to listen.  If you need to share joy, they are happy to rejoice with you.  If you need help, they are always right there listen.

Yet sometimes family and friends fail.  They get busy.  They have to work.  They live too far away.  They don’t have time to help.  They don’t have money to help.  Some don’t have good relationships with their families at all.  Read the rest of this entry

Pray for Strength

Vespers

Pray for Strength

Text: Psalm 141

“Daaadyyy,” the young child forcefully whispers.  “Daaadyyy,” echoes down the hallway again, this time a bit louder.  Finally, an outright shout:  “Daaadyy!  Are you there?  Can you hear me?  Come quickly!  Help, Daddy!”

The father rushes in to find his child buried under a fortress of blankets and pillows.  “There’s a monster under my bed.  I think there’s one in my closet too.”  Daddy flips on the lights.  He checks under the bed.  He checks in the closet.  Then he wraps his child in a warm, firm embrace.  “Don’t worry.  I love you.  I’m here.  You’re safe.”

But what if daddy didn’t listen?  What if daddy didn’t come?  What if daddy didn’t give the support and strength the child needed?

We are surrounded.  All around us there is a mass of monsters lurking in the dark shadows.  Not Freddy Krueger or the Boogey Man.  Far worse.  It’s Satan and all his evil forces.  As he claws to claim us in his clutches forever, he uses an army of monsters.  He uses temptations to lure us into his sinful traps.  He uses our own arrogance and bravado to lead us blindly into deeper darkness.  He uses enemies of God who love doing evil and who want us to join them in their wicked ways.

We need help.  We need strength.  We need our Father. Read the rest of this entry