Posts

Sermon on Matthew 20:1-16, for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), “Better than fair”

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! SHE GOT MORE THAN ME!!!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! HE GOT THE PROMOTION I DESERVED!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! LOOK HOW PERFECT AND EASY THEIR LIFE IS AND LOOK AT MINE!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! I’M ALWAYS LAST!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! I DID MORE WORK, BUT THEY GOT PAID THE SAME!” “BUT IT’S NOT FAIR! THEY DIDN’T EVEN STUDY AND GOT A BETTER GRADE THAN ME ON THE TEST!” I’m sure you can add to this list. Nothing can make us feel greedy, grumpy, whiny, jealous, or even just plain angry than perceiving some sort of unfairness. Truth be told, our eyes don’t always see the full picture. Glossy magazine or internet ads push all our buttons for lust, jealousy and greed. Our friends or even a stranger’s postings and photos only show us a “picture perfect slice” of their life. Our constant comparisons leave us dissatisfied and resentful. We cry “foul” all the time, but we make pretty poor umpires…

Sermon on Matthew 18:21-35, for the 15th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Forgiveness from the Heart"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. In today’s parable, “The Unforgiving Servant”, Jesus teaches about forgiveness. Forgiveness was a major theme in May, from John 20, where Jesus commissioned His apostles to spread His word of forgiveness to those who repent, and to withhold forgiveness (or bind sins) for those who do not repent. Matthew 18 today, is one of the major passages in the Gospel where Jesus deals with forgiveness and unforgiveness. In the parable, a servant is forgiven an enormous debt. A debt that would have taken several lifetimes over to be able to repay. There is no way on earth that he could ever repay it, but he begs for mercy from his master and gets more than he bargained for…in an incredibly good way! While the servant was hoping for an extension or some leniency, instead his debt is cancelled in full. This unforgettable and undeserved act of generosity spoke volumes about his master. How could it be …

Sermon on Romans 13:1-10, for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Under God"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Today I want speak to you from Romans 13, our epistle reading, because it’s that time of year again where politics loom close in many people’s minds, election battles heat up, and everyone gets “hot and bothered.” Romans 13 is that passage that clearly lays out a Christian’s duty toward the government, and the government’s duty before God. I need to preface my sermon with several “boundary line” statements (in no particular order), so I’m not misunderstood. Number 1: I am your pastor, not a politician, and my role is to preach God’s Truth and the Good News of Jesus Christ, not to advance anyone’s politics or party from the pulpit. Number 2: In it’s proper place, God’s Word is “upstream” from politics and culture, meaning that it should influence your life and your values and morals, before the river of politics and society branches “downstream” from God’s Word. God’s Word critiques a l…

Sermon on Matthew 16:21-28, for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Set on the Things of God"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Just last week we heard in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Since God’s wisdom and ways go far beyond our knowing or understanding, there are many things in life that just don’t make sense to us. We often grapple to understand His plan in our lives. The disciples likewise grappled with God’s mysterious plan surrounding Jesus’ death on the cross. It was a turning point in human and salvation history. Jesus tried to prepare them. In Matthew 16:21, Jesus brings it up for the first time. The Gospels record three distinct times when He openly told them about His coming death and resurrection. Listen again: “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third …

Sermon on Romans 11:33-12:8 (esp. Romans 12:1-2a), for the 12th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Launched from Grace to be a Living Sacrifice"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.·In Romans 11 and 12 Paul gushes at God’s bottomless grace. universal disobedience of humans >>> but God showed His grace to all mankindunexpected, unnatural to show mercy to rebels or love your enemies; but this is just what God did in sending Jesus. He reached down and pulled us up out of our sin, to make us His dear children. ozero in on Romans 12:1-2a, but first let’s launch from 11:35. No one could ever put God in our debt. God never “owes us” anything. §Human indebtedness: kindness, money, saved life: “I owe you my life” or “I owe you my undying thanks”, etc. Our position before God… owe our life and undying thanks, but the tables can never be reversed. nothing so dramatic that puts God in our debt. §100% pure gift of God’s grace. Not earned or deserved in any way. Salvation and forgiveness are never our wages or our paycheck from God but are alway…

Sermon on Psalm 28, for the 11th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "If You be silent to me..."

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Does God really hear or answer our prayers? Why does it so often seem like He is silent, or deaf to our pleas? Our Introit, Psalm 28, explores this common fear. David, some 3,000 years ago, cried out this theme, found in all the other readings as well. The fear of rejection, silence, unanswered requests…these themes show up all throughout the Bible. We’re not the only ones. It’s the common experience of faith. Faith lives in this tension between the invitation to trust God and call out to Him for help, and His seeming slowness or inaction. Faith lives in this real tension between our present struggles and how and when God will respond.It’s the Canaanite woman’s struggle in our Gospel reading, Matthew 15. She is crying out for help for her daughter. At first Jesus won’t even answer, then His disciples try to push her away, then when she persists, Jesus puts her off with an answer that s…

Sermon on Matthew 14:22-33, for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Eyes on Jesus"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Last week we left off with Jesus feeding the 5,000. Now at last Jesus gets to pray alone, filling that deep spiritual hunger to reconnect with God. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we do well to pray with Jesus and reconnect with God in prayer, for the health and nourishment of our soul. Prayer is 24/7 reconnection to the God Who loves us and knows all our inmost thoughts and struggles, Who graciously invites us to pray, “Our Father…”When Jesus finishes praying the disciples are several miles offshore, fighting a heavy wind on the Sea of Galilee. In Job and Psalms, we read that God “alone stretches out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8)and “The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen” (Psalm 77:18-19). G…