20th Sunday after Pentecost
How Could This Happen?
Text: 2 Kings 21:1-15
“Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him.” That’s how the Bible describes Hezekiah, the king of Judah. As it said, he was a king unlike any other.
About 200 years before Hezekiah, Solomon died and the kingdom of Israel split in two with Israel in the north and Judah in the south. The kings of Israel were almost all awful kings that dragged the people into wicked sins. A majority of the kings of Judah in the south were also sinful. They built idols and temples to gods like Baal and Asherah. As male and female gods, the worship of Baal and Asherah often included men and women coming together to combine adultery with the idolatry. Some kings even worshiped the god Molech. That worship often included the sacrifice of humans, usually children, in fire. And if those gods weren’t enough, some Israelites even worshiped the bronze snake that God had told Moses to make in the desert. Needless to say, Israel and Judah had become lands filled with horrible wickedness and with people who knew very little about the one, true God and his Word.
But then Hezekiah came around—the king unlike any other. He tore down pagan idols and temples. He brought massive reform to the land. He trusted the Lord. He obeyed the Lord. And the Lord blessed with great success. Finally! A turn around! Finally! God’s people were rededicating themselves to the Lord and to the truth. Hezekiah was one awesome dude for the Lord.
Then there was Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, the subject of the first lesson this morning. When Hezekiah died Manasseh became king at the age of 12. Great! Another king from the family of Hezekiah! More turn around, right? More reform, right? Another great and godly king, right?
Not even close. You heard about the despicable and disgusting things that Manasseh did. He rebuilt all the heathen god altars his father tore down. He built altars to Baal and Asherah, promoting that adulterous idolatry. He worshiped the sun, moon, and stars. He built altars to false gods and the stars in the temple of the true God. He practiced sorcery and divination. He consulted mediums and spiritists. And if all that weren’t enough, as if he needed more gods, he also worshiped Molech by sacrificing his own son in the fire. 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
3rd Sunday in Lent
Jesus Helps Us See
1. His power
2. His love
Text: John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
I think it would be safe to say that there is no person in this world who does not suffer from some sort of physical ailment. We heard the morbid words on Ash Wednesday, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” We are reminded of our mortality nearly every day as we each struggle with our physical problems.
Everyone has at least something that causes suffering. Cancer. Heart problems. Strokes. High cholesterol. Acid reflux syndrome. Allergies. Gluten or dairy intolerance. Arthritis. Failing eyes. Failing ears. Bulging discs. Pinched nerves. High anxiety. Depression. Migraine headaches. I won’t go on. We might start hurting just thinking about all of our various problems.
Needless to say, we all know what it is like to suffer. This means that we also all know what it is like to need help. We have impairments and ailments and handicaps and shortfalls. So we beg for people to help us. We beg for God to help us. “Help please! Take away this suffering!”
1. To see the light
2. To share the light
Text: Isaiah 60:1-6
I can’t stand it. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard. Good morning to you. Good morning to you. We’re all in our places with bright shining faces. Good morning to you! Ah! It sends shivers down my spine and makes my arm hair stand up like porcupine needles.
Every day of elementary school, especially on Sundays, I wanted to sleep. I was a growing boy. I needed rest. So when I didn’t listen to my alarm, my mother would call out, “Wake up. It’s time to wake up!” But her soothing voice was like listening to rainfall. I kept sleeping. Next would come the little rub on the back. “It’s time to get up. Wake up, Philip James.” (Apparently I got the full name only in the mornings or when I was in trouble.) But even a pat on the back and the full name didn’t faze me. A simple roll over cured that.
Then the parenting was taken to the next level. The light was flipped on. “Wake up. You’re going to be late,” they would say sternly. But I was equally adept. The pillow and covers went over my head and I was back off to Never Neverland like Peter Pan.
This now is when drastic measures were taken. The song. “Good morning to you. Good morning to you. Rise and Shine!” I’m not sure if I so much wanted to go to church as I wanted to run away from that song, but I was up. Regrettably.
Sometimes it just feels better to sleep. Sometimes it feels better to stay in the darkness. Sometimes you simply want nothing to do with the light. 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