Showing posts from December, 2011

Sermon on Isaiah 40:10-11, for Christmas Eve, "Like a Shepherd"

Sermon Outline:  1.       This night shepherds came to greet One who would be a shepherd like them. As their dark night flashed into brilliance and joyful sound with the arrival of the angels and their announcement, these shepherds jumped up to run and see a miracle. God’s Son, born into the world, bringing peace and goodwill to men. They would come and find a shepherd par excellence. One who would excel in their profession. Jesus probably never tended the four-legged variety of sheep, but this child was born to shepherd His people Israel, and also others not of that flock (the Gentiles He would later call). 2.       Shepherd needs to be strong and brave to ward off danger and protect the sheep. Strength of His arm against foes, but safety for the lambs gathered in His arms. Like young David fighting off wild bears and lions to protect his flock. Not a weak or timid God. Jesus showed His strength and bravery in a remarkable way, by laying down His life for the sheep. Unafraid to

Sermon on Luke 1:26-38, for the 4th Sunday in Advent, "Finding Favor"

Sermon Outline:  1.       This last week before Christmas, our telling of the Christmas story begins with the visit of Gabriel to Mary. “O favored one, the Lord is with you!” “You have found favor with God.” Mary is troubled. Taking notice of me ? What did it mean for Mary to find favor with God? 2.       For us, in everyday life, “finding favor” can sometimes mean “working hard to impress someone.” A new worker trying to prove his worth to his boss—advancement. College student trying to impress and pass with a tough professor. Politicians rising in the ranks among their fellows. 3.       But this isn’t what “finding favor” in God’s eyes meant for Mary. Indeed she was chosen by God for her purity and virginity, as a fitting vessel for God’s service, and for the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy that the Savior would be born from a virgin. But she’s not credited by the angel for greatness of life. No mention of her deserving it—only that God had shown favor to her. What did th

Sermon on Isaiah 40:6-9, for Advent 3, "Lift Up Your Heads Ye Mighty Gates"

Sermon Outline 1.       Frailty and shortness of our own flesh and life contrasted with the Word of our God will stand forever. This is not any word of God that stands forever, but the word of the covenant God, Yahweh, who graciously reenters into a relationship with Israel to bestow his gift of double comfort. The psalmist says, “This is my comfort in my affliction, your word brings me life” (Ps 119:50). 2.       The entire book of Isaiah is dominated by a profound theology of Yahweh’s word. Creative Word. Word going from Jerusalem to call all nations to learn Yahweh’s ways of peace (2:1–5). Spiritual life is depends on hearing and responding to this word (37:33–35). 3.       As all flesh, all human achievement, effort and striving could be seen to wither and fade away around them, the Israelites left in exile in Babylon were despairing, longing for home. They wept as they remembered the “good old days” when they worshipped in the splendor of Solomon’s temple, worked and sho

Sermon on Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, for the 3rd Sunday in Advent, "God's Anointed"

Sermon Outline: 1. Prophecy from Isaiah: about what happens/will happen when the Anointed One, the Messiah enters on the scene of history/our lives. The Anointed One/Messiah/Christ—God’s chosen Savior for us. Jesus. Interesting, Trinity in OT. LORD God-Father; the Anointed One—Jesus; Spirit of the Lord. A scene of hopelessness, despair, of brokenhearted-ness and bondage is transformed into a scene of hope, life, gladness, praise and confidence. 2. The Jews who were the original recipients of this message, as said in previous sermons, where on such a scene of wreckage/hopelessness. Is your life the scene of hopelessness or despair? Surrounded by the wreckage of sin and a broken world? We have suffered under the heavy hand of the Law, which convicts our consciences of sin. Trampled down under life’s heavy burdens or griefs. Imprisoned in cages of sin of our own making. Only one can free us. One alone is strong enough to break our chains, proclaim God’s favor to us instead

Sermon on Isaiah 40:3-5, for Advent 2, "Prepare the Royal Highway"

Sermon Outline: 1. What’s in a highway? Part of our everyday landscape—don’t think about it much. But roads are the quintessential sign of rule and dominion. By roads a kingdom is made. Joined together, united for trade, travel, military, communication. Isaiah 40 speaks of preparing the “The Way of the Lord” (not the people of Israel), make straight in the desert a “highway for our God.” It’s the way of God back to Jerusalem, to visit His people restored from exile. The way of God to our hearts. “Make straight the way for God within, and let us all our hearts prepare for Christ to come and enter there” (On Jordan’s Bank the Baptists’ Cry) 2. Part of God’s plan is to level the “mountains” of human pride, in His way to their heart. Repentance is to clear, straighten, level the highway to our heart. 3. Resistance to repentance. Obstacles we raise: “mountains of pride,” crooked hearts, stubborn hearts and stiff-necks. Sin tries to blockade God out of our heart. This

Sermon on 2 Peter 3:8-14, for the Second Sunday in Advent, "Eagerly Waiting"

Sermon outline: 1. “The hardest part is the waiting.” Young children—5 minutes or 1 hour can both seem an eternity. Waiting for the birth of a child. Waiting while a loved one is undergoing surgery. Waiting with someone who is dying. Time stretches and lags. Or it can fly by if we are enjoying ourselves. Contrast the “eternity” of waiting to the “joy” of arrival. Of a healthy birth, of a return from successful operation, or arriving at the gates of heaven after your death—the joy makes all the waiting worth it. Can even fill the waiting itself with joy. 2. The Lord Jesus clearly promises He will return, but at an unknown time. Unexpectedly like a thief in the night. Waiting. Time seems to drag. When will the promise be fulfilled? Is God slow to keep His promise? God does not perceive time as us. Time does not pass more slowly or quickly for Him. He is just as close to the first man Adam, as to the last person to be born in time. Outside of time. We experience it in seque

Sermon on Isaiah 40:1-2, for Advent 1, "Comfort, Comfort Ye My People"

Sermon Notes drawn from the series "Savior of the Nations Come" by Dr. Reed Lessing, of Concordia Seminary St. Louis, MO. Preached for the first Wednesday in Advent. Illustration from Alfred Hitchcock show about a woman trying to escape from prison in a casket, to be buried and then dug up...finds that she's buried with the caretaker who was supposed to be her rescue…ever been buried? Ever been buried like that before? Sure you have, and so have I. We’ve been buried in questions: “If God is so good, why do I hurt so bad?” “If Jesus is the light, why am I in the dark?” We’ve been buried in disappointment: “You’re just not like your older brother!” “You’re just not like our last boss!” We’ve been buried in responsibilities: “Here’s a 30 page case study—be ready to discuss it tomorrow.” “Honey, the kids have softball and baseball games tomorrow.” We’ve been buried in the past—the minute we lost our temper, the hour we lost our purity, the day we lost control, the