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Showing posts from October, 2011

Sermon on John 8:31-36, for Reformation Day, "Slavery, License, and Freedom"

Sermon outline
-freedom turned toward sin and evil purposes ceases to be freedom

1. Truth is under fire today. Can truth be known? Obstacles and bias, mind of flesh doesn’t understand the things of the spirit. Always asking from our direction...but what about from God’s direction? Can God make His truth known to us? Some would say no. When someone tells you that it’s impossible to know the truth, ask is that because they have trouble knowing or finding truth, or whether God is somehow incapable of making truth known. God’s hands seem to be tied. But this falsely limits God’s power just because we recognize our own limitations of knowledge and truth. Such a God is “too small.” The true God can and does communicate His truth in a knowable and meaningful way. Didn’t just leave it up to our “best guess.” Abide in Jesus’ word, be a disciple >> know the truth >> truth will set you free.

2. Blindness to slavery (of sin), and the true nature of freedom. Slavery in Egypt, in Babylon;…

Sermon on Matthew 22:34-46, for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, "Who Fulfills Love's Duty?"

Sermon Outline:

1. “Question everything”—worldly motto: t-shirts, bumper stickers, script of TV sitcom. Healthy philosophy to live by? Suspicion of authority, media, ivory towers, sources of knowledge. Not all questions are of the same stripe. Skepticism? Distract? Avoid an issue? Trip up, entangle, embarrass? To learn?

2. Questions for Jesus, finally dared ask Him no more. But here, a really profound question: which is the great commandment in the Law? Hoped to catch Him. Jesus gives a straightforward answer, nonetheless one which astonished the Jews for its wisdom. Always brought things back to the central point, not getting side-tracked by distractions or evasions.

3. Question was not asked as a question about salvation, per se, but really a question of duty. The commandments were a question of our duty to God.

4. Answer leaves out nothing and includes everything. Brilliant! “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great…

Sermon on Matthew 22:15-22, for Children's Sunday, "Minted In God's Image"

1. Intro: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Famous saying of Jesus, response to those who were trying to trap Him in His words about taxation. Paying taxes was never very popular. Often used to prove that Jesus supported the legal authority of governments to tax the citizens, and the citizens’ duty to pay their taxes (Minor point). Major point= render to God the things that are God’s.

2. Render means to pay, or to give back. What you owe, what is due. The reason Jesus gave for the government’s right to tax, was the inscription and likeness of Caesar, the emperor, on the coin. They had minted the coin. To ‘mint’ a coin is to stamp or press an image onto a piece of metal. The coin then has the “likeness” or picture of whatever person was used. Abraham Lincoln on a penny, George Washington on a quarter. On the back, it has the inscription of the United States of America. Image shows ownership.

3. On to the major point! Jesus “caught” H…

Sermon on Matthew 22:1-14, for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost, "Dressed for the Wedding"

Sermon outline


1. Parable built on OT picture, here of heaven. King= Father; Son= Jesus; invited guests = Jews/Jesus’ original audience; wedding feast = end times celebration of Jesus joined to His bride, the church (foreshadowed in Is. 25:6-9); Wedding hall = kingdom of God/church; Abuse/rejection/murder of servants = reaction of Jews to prophets/Jesus.

2. What kind of incredible honor it was to be invited to the King’s Son’s wedding? Royal feast, spared no expense, finest food and everything prepared. Only come, enjoy and celebrate my son’s wedding with me! What an insult to refuse the invitation? Imagine being given the exclusive invitation to the wedding of the President’s child, and you said you couldn’t come. Made some excuse about needing to clean your yard or do your chores. Had to work late. Seems unimaginable enough by itself, such an insult. How much unimaginably worse if one were to abuse and murder the messengers? Yet this is just what happened when it came to God’s invitat…

Sermon on Matthew 21:33-46, for the 16th Sunday after Pentecost, "The Vineyard"

Sermon Outline

1. Jesus’ several vineyard/vine/fruit parables. Recent parable about a vineyard—hiring workers for the vineyard (kingdom of God/church) and rewarding all equally. Compassionate employer. Different angle today. Retelling and adaptation of Isaiah 5. Condenses OT history of Israel. Servants (prophets) killed and beaten and ignored. Obvious parallel to son sent and killed, with Jesus’ life.

2. Fruit that is desired: obedience to God’s law. Good works (described as fruit in many places). In Isaiah 5—fruit is bad (wild grapes), finding bloodshed, violence, and injustice. In Matt, no fruit is given back from the renters. The vineyard of God’s kingdom will bear fruit. Prepared, ready, planted, all the “prep-work” done—only tend and give back the fruit it bears. The kingdom will bear fruit, but God will give the stewardship to those who bear fruit, and take it away from those who do not. We’ve been given the source and the blessing of all fruitfulness, Jesus, the Vine.

3. Do we o…

Freedom from or for what?

October newsletter

We are a country of people who ostensibly love freedom. We take pride in the Declaration of Independence and it’s proclamation that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” We consider liberty or freedom to be the freedom from oppression, tyranny, unjust laws and taxation, etc. From this founding document others later argued against the injustice of slavery and inequality. Thus, when we talk about freedom, it is usually understood as freedom from something. Freedom from what constrains, holds back, imposes expectations or limitations on us.

Yet even in a free society, we recognize that this freedom is not completely unbounded. As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. humorously put it: “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.” We also talk widely about freedom of expression, and as that is practiced in countless forms, we see…