18th Sunday after Pentecost
A Lesson in Love
Text: Jonah 4:5-11
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” We call that the Great Commission. Jesus has commissioned us, sent us, to share his Word with all people. The Great Commission makes us kind of warm and fuzzy inside. What a neat thing that God wants us to share his Word! How wonderful that God loves all people! What a loving and gracious God!
God certainly called his Old Testament people to preach his Word, too. Moses told the Israelites to talk about God’s Word when they got up in the morning and went to bed at night, to talk about it when they walk down the streets, to teach it to their children, to put it on their doorposts and bind it on their foreheads if they had to. Surely the Israelites felt warm and fuzzy inside when they heard the Lord tell them that he is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love. How wonderful that God loves all people! What a loving and gracious God they had! Read the rest of this entry
16th Sunday after Pentecost
Love Leads Us
Text: Matthew 18:15-20
Look around this room for a moment. Go ahead, you can actually take your eyes off me for a moment. Look at the people sitting around you in this room.
How much do you love these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Do you love them enough to smile when you arrive at church, maybe even be bold enough to say, “Good morning”? Do you love the people sitting around you enough to take it one step further? Would you ask the people next to you how they are doing—and actually care enough to really want to know how they are doing? Do you love the people around you enough to compliment and commend them—to tell them when they have done something well, that they have a beautiful singing voice, that they did something important for the church? Do you love the people around you enough to work together with them—to partner with them on a campus work day or at the kids carnival or in bringing a dish to share at an Easter brunch?
I’m guessing that you would reply “Yes” to most or all of those questions so far. Maybe you are a quieter type and you don’t always like being social, but I would guess that you would do all of these things. After all, these are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Read the rest of this entry
What a life I have lived!
I’m well past three decades in this world now and marching quickly toward four. Those 30+ years have brought a lot of life experiences. Sadly, there are so many that I am so very ashamed of.
Sometimes I truly can’t believe the things I have done.
How could I have been so disrespectful and rude to my parents at times? My son would be grounded until he has great-grandkids if he pulled some of the same garbage I did.
How could I have said and done the things I did when I was in high school and college? The bravado. The brashness. The cutting words. The sharp tongue. The uncaring heart.
Pathetic! Read the rest of this entry
4th Sunday in Lent
Lost in Sin . . . Found in Grace
Text: Judges 10:6-16
After all that God had done for his people! If you read the Bible books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and Joshua straight through, you will be impressed with a time period when God miraculously intervened more than any other time in Israel’s history. The accounts of God’s interactions with the Israelites during the days of Moses and Joshua are truly amazing.
You may be able to do a quick survey of stories in your head. First God sent the 10 Plagues on Egypt so that Pharaoh would let his people go. Then he led two million people out of Egypt and through the middle of the Red Sea on dry ground—the same sea he used to destroy their enemies.
While in the desert the Israelites whined and complained and moaned and groaned. Yet God provided water for them, sometimes miraculously turning bitter water sweet or bursting water out of a rock for them. He dropped bread called manna and birds called quail out of the heavens for them to eat every day. He revealed his glory and might on Mt. Sinai. He defeated countless enemies. He brought them to the Promised Land of Canaan that did not belong to them and defeated all those enemies. He made the impenetrable walls of Jericho fall down when Israel marched around them and even made the sun stand still for a day so general Joshua and Israel had more time to rout the enemy. Read the rest of this entry
O God, Be Merciful to Me!
Text: 2 Samuel 24:10-25
Life was good. Really good. David had been king in Israel for almost 40 years. There had been plenty of strife over those 40 years. Wars. Enemy attacks. Even a rebellion led by David’s own son Absalom. Of course there was the whole murder/adultery scandal between David and Bathsheba, too. But over time David and Israel matured spiritually, politically, and economically. Now, with the Lord bringing crushing blows to their Philistine enemies, Israel was enjoying a time of peace and economic prosperity. The kingdom was strong. The people were wealthy. Their veteran, 70-year-old king was seated securely on his thrown. Life was good.
That meant the timing was perfect. The Bible tells us about this time: “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David.” When everything was going well and no problems were in plain sight, Satan knew the opportunity was ripe for temptation.
He started amongst the people. He whispered arrogant thoughts of ingratitude in the ears of the Israelites. After defeating their enemies and attaining peace and prosperity, the Israelites didn’t thank their God. A feeling of pride in their own achievements arose. A spiritual laziness sprouted in their hearts because they didn’t really need God all that much while things were going well.
But why stop with the people? Why not shoot for the top? The best way to take down a kingdom is to take down the king. So Satan set David in his crosshairs, too. Read the rest of this entry