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
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Am I Safe?
Text: Romans 7:1-8
Where were you? That was the big question to ask this last week on Thursday. Where were you 13 years ago on September 11, 2001? Every year Americans take time to reflect upon one of the greatest tragedies on American soil in U.S. history. Some of you were there in New York. Some of you know people who were there in New York. All of us remember where we were, what we were doing, and how we found out.
None of us will forget the feeling either. It was so terrible an attack and so personal an attack and so close to home that no matter how many years pass by we will not forget. The destruction. The dust. The deaths. The sadness. The tears. The anger. The fear. This is the terror that terrorism brings, and we all experienced it personally.
Now here we are 13 years later and still waters are starting to break again. For 13 years we have had relative peace. Yes, there have been attempts at attacks. Yes, there has been war in the Middle East. Yes, soldiers have lost their lives. But we have had relative peace and quiet, especially here in America. Now though, the glassy sea of peace is being disturbed by waves of terrorism.
Our archenemies are at it again. Muslims, worldly enemies to Christians for some 1,400 years, have another faction of militant soldiers taking arms against us. Thirteen years ago it was Al-Qaeda. Today it is Isis. This group is taking up jihad—holy war—in active, aggressive, and frightening ways. They are hunting down Christians. They are marking their homes with that U-shaped symbol you may have seen (which stands for the word Nazarene in Arabic). Men, women, even children are not safe as they are brutally slaughtering any they find. The public nature of these attacks and the video footage they purposefully share strikes fear. Now rumors are spreading about Isis living among us in the United States and immanent and impending attacks. There’s a reason they are called terror-ists. It makes a Christian wonder. Am I Safe? Read the rest of this entry
4th Sunday of Easter
Your Good Shepherd
1. Listen to Him
2. Follow Him
3. Trust Him
Text: John 10:22-30
It was December, wintertime in Jerusalem. The Jews were celebrating the Feast of Dedication. This was not a God-ordained festival, but man-made festival. During the Feast of Dedication, also known as the Festival of Lights, also known as Hanukkah, the Jews commemorated Judas Maccabaeus. In 165 B.C. Judas Maccabaeus led the Jews in driving the Syrians out of Jerusalem and purifying the temple. The Jews, still to this day, light one candle or a seven-candle menorah to commemorate this event.
Once, Jesus was in Jerusalem during the celebration. While the Jews were celebrating this joyous event, they couldn’t help but think about things that Jesus had been saying. Seeing Jesus in the temple during Hanukkah, they could hardly keep quiet. Verse 24: “The Jews gathered around him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’”
Normally Jesus would have given a very clear and simple answer. In John 3 Jesus had a meaningful conversation with Nicodemus about who he was. In John 4 the Samaritan woman at the well said she was looking for the Christ to come and Jesus said, “I who speak to you am he.” But his answer was different this time. Verse 25: “Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.’”
Jesus had told them plainly and often that he was the promised Messiah. Not only did he tell them often, but he also showed them often with powerful miracles. They didn’t need any more testimony from Jesus. They would have only hated Jesus more. They didn’t know how good the Good Shepherd is because they weren’t his sheep. They simply didn’t believe in him. Read the rest of this entry
Easter Festival Service
I Will Sing
1. Because the Lord is my strength
2. Because the Lord is my salvation
Text: Exodus 15:1-13, 17-18
We live in the United States of America—the land of the free and the home of the brave. We cannot fathom what it is like to be a slave. We read about the Civil War and we watch movies on the Civil War. But this many generations removed from the 1860’s, we don’t really know what it was like. Slavery is something that we haven’t experienced.
Not for a few decades or for a hundred years in America, but for 400 years the Israelites were in slavery in Egypt. It was merciless slavery, too. They were beaten and whipped and driven beyond their limits to hand-make bricks, build homes and buildings, and do much more menial labor. And when the Israelite nation grew too large for the Egyptians, they worked them even harder and tried killing every Israelite baby boy that was born.
Four hundred years of oppression. Four hundred years of bondage. Four hundred years of slavery. God’s people cried out to the Lord for help and deliverance. God listened. Read the rest of this entry
Thanks Be to God! He Gives Us the Victory through Jesus Christ Our Lord!
Text: 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
It hurts, doesn’t it? Death. It hurts. A lot. To see your grandmother lying lifeless, to see your father no longer able to play catch or give piggyback rides—it hurts. To have your sister, your child here and then gone—it hurts. To see the person you love so much reduced to a pile of ashes in an urn—it hurts. A lot.
We human beings are so smart and so advanced. We have phones that talk to us and computers that solve problems for us. We can split atoms. We can fly in planes. We can walk on the moon. We have cures for all kinds of sicknesses and diseases and miracle anti-aging creams and gels. But we can’t seem to stop death. It doesn’t matter who you are or how powerful you or how rich you are. You can’t stop death. Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth in St. Augustine is as pointless as paying the money to see the cheap tourist trap. Everyone will die. And it hurts. A lot.
Death devastates us. Death shakes our equilibrium and shatters our spirits. It brings oceans of tears and waves of emotions. It leaves gaps in our lives and holes in our hearts. Death hurts. It aches. It burns. It stings. A lot. Read the rest of this entry