Sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:20-28, Last Sunday of the Church Year 2020 (A), "All Rule Returns to Him"

  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Ever since the dawn of mankind, people have tried to push aside God’s rule in favor of our own rule. God’s rule in the Garden of Eden was perfect, harmonious, blessed and peaceful. But Adam and Eve rejected God’s rule in favor of self-rule or autonomy. The logic of sin is: “Better to make our own rules and ignore God’s command.” But the new rule that they ushered into the world was not friendly. Sin and death entered the world and became Adam and Eve’s new slave masters. The question of “Who will rule us?” echoes down through the Old Testament. When the Israelites were ruled by literal slave masters of Egypt, God rescued them. B ut they couldn’t bear the responsibility of freedom and grumbled to have their old easy life of slavery back—craving easy food more than freedom. When they were finally a free nation, they were ruled by Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and prophets like Samuel, un

Sermon on Psalm 143, for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Wonderful Openness"

 Sermon notes ·          Read Introit with reference to Hebrew poetry parallelisms. Explanatory, deepening, reflective. Praying the Psalms is an exercise in meditation. Explore in this Psalm how a relationship in prayer creates a wonderful openness between us and God. May He create in us a clean spirit! ·          Context of Psalm: relationship between believer and God. Like many Psalms, shows God’s qualities and the posture of the praying believer. ·          V. 1-2 Humility and repentance before God’s judgment, seeking God’s mercy, faithfulness, righteousness. Acknowledging guilt. No false standing before God. When have you been crushed by your sin, your guilt and failure, and utter unworthiness before God? We cling to His mercy. ·          V. 5 Remember, meditate, ponder—days of old, all you have done, the work of Your hands. A reflective, focused state of mind, purposefully examining what God has done in your life. Like tasting a fine wine, or some other fine delight, concent

Sermon on Matthew 25:1-13, for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "The Final Cut-Off Date"

  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Today’s parable of the Ten Virgins is a parable of readiness and faith. God has set a day known only to Him as a definitive, final cut-off date. Judgment Day, or the Day of Christ’s Second Coming, when He returns to judge the living and the dead. We confess every week in the Creed that “ He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead”. The final judgment. On that day, God will finally determine who are the just, who will join Him in eternal life, and who are the unjust, who will be sentenced to eternal punishment. The Parable of the Ten Virgins symbolizes this “final cut-off date” when the Bridegroom arrives for the wedding celebration. Upon His arrival, five wise virgins are ready, prepared, and waiting. Five foolish virgins are not. They’ve left just before His arrival, and it is too late to enter in when they return. Pleading at the door emphasizes the finali

Sermon on 1 John 3:1-3, for All Saints' Day 2020 (A), "Children of God"

    Children loved by God: grace and peace to you! In a past sermon I talked to you about two different worldviews—a flat, 1D worldview, that revolves around us and what this world has to offer, and a 3D worldview, that revolves around Christ and what His kingdom offers. Faith is like our “3D glasses” to see the spiritual dimension behind things; that there is more to life. A God-centered way to live life, that helps and serves others. It’s the same world, but the believer sees by faith, eyes open to the spiritual struggle between good and evil. Today on All Saints’ Day, we can see something similar at work in 1 John 3:1-3. Believers with their 3D glasses are “children of God.” But unbelievers stuck in 1D aren’t seeing who God or Christ, or even who Christians really are. They may even be antagonistic to Christians. Read 1 John 3 with our 3D faith glasses on: “ See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are .” “See” is an i

Sermon on Romans 3:19-28, for Reformation Day 2020 (A), "God's Righteousness"

  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. What does God have to prove? He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, right? He’s GOD after all. But in Romans 3:19-28, it says twice that God proved or showed His righteousness (v. 25-26). What did He do and why? God showed His righteousness by justifying believers in Jesus. On Reformation Day, we continue to contemplate that great word “righteousness” as today we reflect on God’s Righteousness. As we zero in on this aspect, many other facets of this beautiful diamond sparkle unseen. We are only glimpsing the great gift of God’s Righteousness from one angle. Righteousness is a central theme of Romans and Apostle Paul’s ministry itself. It became central to Martin Luther’s Reformation 500 years ago. Not only Paul and Luther beat that drum. This theme of righteousness runs all through the Bible. Two key points today: 1) God’s righteousness is His character, and 2) He imputes or credits His righteousness

Sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Righteousness in Action"

  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. We continue our Reformation month theme of “righteousness”. We opened by checking two very different claims we can make before God. Only claiming Christ’s righteousness by faith meets God’s approval. Last week in the wedding parable we saw the robe of Christ’s righteousness is the only acceptable garment at His banquet. Today, we’re going to talk about a different aspect of righteousness. Those first two weeks focused on righteousness as God’s gift—the righteousness that comes by faith. We call this “passive righteousness”, because we didn’t do anything to deserve or receive it—it’s simply GRACE—God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. But today I want to talk about “active righteousness” or “righteousness in action.” Consider, if faith is a channel or receptacle for God’s gift of righteousness, does the received gift stay sleeping or quiet within us? No! It’s a living gift we use! Hallowe

Sermon on Matthew 22:1-10 (and Isaiah 61:10), for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Robe of Righteousness"

  Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Our Introit today says: my God has “ clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness ” (Isaiah 61:10). Keep this image of a “robe of righteousness” in mind as we discuss the parable of the Wedding Banquet from Matthew 22. A key point in the parable is when a guest without wedding garments is thrown out of the feast. Continuing our Reformation theme of “righteousness”, from last week, let’s see how that “robe of righteousness” and the wedding garment are connected. Last week we talked about two very different claims: claiming our own righteousness or claiming Christ’s righteousness. Only Christ’s righteousness gives legal standing in God’s courts. Putting clothes on that same abstract idea, Jesus’ parable pictures worthy clothes for a wedding banquet. First you may have noticed how drastic everything is in this parable. Without explanation t