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
17th Sunday after Pentecost
Love Looks for the Lost
Text: Luke 15:1-10
It was one of the most horrible, awful, terrifying experiences of my life. Not many things in this world could compare to the tragedy I experienced. I couldn’t believe it. I was completely devastated. I had lost my Milwaukee Brewers Starter jacket.
This wasn’t any old coat. This was a nice one. It was made out of a durasheen material so it was nice and shiny. It was warm and comfortable. It was soft to the touch. It was more expensive than a normal coat, not the kind of coat I would wear outside at school for recess. And of course, it was a Milwaukee Brewers coat!
I couldn’t believe I lost it! We searched high and low in the house. Then we realized what happened. I forgot it at the house of my great-grandmother who lived an hour away. Great-grandma Wahl knew the urgency for an impressionable young kid. Rather than wait for our next visit, she put the coat in a box and mailed it to us.
The joy of opening that box was perhaps even greater than receiving the coat in the first place. My coat! I had it back! It was gone but now it was mine again! It was lost but now it was found! There was much rejoicing. Read the rest of this entry
9th Sunday after Pentecost
The Lord Supplies Our Needs
1. A Righteous Shepherd
2. Shepherds of righteousness
Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6
The spiritual scene in the country is pathetic at best. Most people say they believe in the true God, yet most people don’t really know who that true God is. Others worship a conglomeration of gods from around the world. But in actuality, few care about religion.
Rather, money is more important. Possessions are prized. Living the good life is the ultimate goal. If that means cheating and stealing, fine. If that means drunkenness, debauchery, and a life of lustful encounters, so be it.
And in this culture and climate of pathetic immorality, worst of all—the leaders are corrupt. Conspiracy is normal. Embezzlement is common. Scandals are expected. Not just the political leaders either. The spiritual leaders are even corrupt!
What a horrible, unspiritual, sinful time . . . the prophet Jeremiah lived in! It isn’t very difficult to relate to Jeremiah. Maybe Jeremiah’s writing tablet was a scroll and not an iPad, and maybe he had actual horsepower from an actual horse rather than a hemi in his garage. But the spiritual climate and cultural situation he lived through and preached in was very similar to our world today.
How blessed we are today then to learn from Jeremiah and from the Lord’s words to Jeremiah as we see this morning that The Lord Supplies Our Needs. Read the rest of this entry
Text: Acts 20:28-32
You don’t have to be a rancher to know that sheep and wolves do not get along. Let a pack of wolves have free reign over a herd of sheep and it won’t take long before there are no sheep left. The wolves have a distinct advantage. On their own, the sheep don’t stand a chance. Enter the shepherd. Sheep need a shepherd for guidance and protection.
As you may know, the Bible often compares the Christian Church to a flock of sheep. Left on our own we sheep very quickly fall prey to the wolves of this world. Wolves that would love to steal us from God’s flock. Wolves that would love to scatter us far away from God’s sheep pen. These wolves are vicious, wanting us to perish for all eternity in hell. These wolves have a distinct advantage over us sheep because they have this whole sinful world, the devil and our own sinful natures working with them in their quest to get us to hell.
Enter the Shepherd. Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. We all like sheep have gone astray. We all have fallen prey to the wolves of this world, but our Good Shepherd would not stand by and let the wolves run off with his own, dearly loved sheep; sheep that he bought with his own innocent death on a cross. We are God’s sheep because of Jesus. We are part of the flock but the wolves would still love to take us.
Enter the shepherds. The title “Pastor” is Latin for “shepherd.” In Acts 20 Paul is speaking to a group of pastors/shepherds encouraging them to take good care of the flock/congregations that God has entrusted to them. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has placed over his flock many lesser shepherds. These shepherds/pastors are here to protect and guide you just like a real shepherd protects and guides real sheep.
Give thanks to God that he has not let the wolves run off with you. He gave his own Son to be the Good Shepherd and he has also given you your pastors to shepherd you through the trials of this life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive us when we fail to appreciate the great lengths you have gone to so that we will join you in heaven. Forgive us when we fail to respect and honor those you have called to shepherd your flock. Help us to always thank you for taking a vested interest in our eternal wellbeing. We thank and praise you for offering your Son to the wolves on our behalf. Give us the comfort that comes from knowing that as your flock we will one day join you in heaven. Amen.
4th Sunday of Easter
Our Loving Shepherd Provides All That We Need
Text: Psalm 23
Sheep are really, really needy creatures. Sheep need water. Sheep need grass to graze on. They need a place where they can find water and grass. Usually they need someone to lead them there too. Sheep need protection. They have no special talents, no special abilities. Sheep can’t shoot quills like a porcupine or run like a cheetah or envenom like a snake. They are slow. They are defenseless. They are weak. Sheep are really, really needy creatures.
Sheep are really, really dumb creatures. They aren’t especially smart like monkeys or gorillas. They don’t do tricks like dogs. They eat, they sleep, they wander around, and that’s about it. Sometimes sheep don’t even know where they are going. Many times they aimlessly wander from the pack. They stray from the care of their shepherd. Or, they follow the sheep in front of them thinking that they are being led safely. Sheep have even been known to move in a pack while looking for food or running from danger and accidentally fall right off a cliff. Sheep are not only needy, they are really, really dumb creatures.
I am a sheep. I am so very needy. I need food. I need drink. I need to be nourished and fed. I need shelter. Sometimes I think I need more than I really do. Sometimes I think I need to have the same kinds of food or drink as other sheep. Sometimes I think my shelter could be a little bigger or a little nicer, like other sheep have. Sometimes I even see what the goats have and I want that. I also need protection. I have no special talents or powers or abilities. When danger comes my way, I need help—and lots of it! I’m slow. I’m weak. I’m defenseless. I am a sheep and I am so very needy. Read the rest of this entry