Showing posts from February, 2012

Sermon on James 1:12-18, for the 1st Sunday in Lent, "Born By God's Will"

Sermon Outline: 1.       Two outcomes set before us: death and life. James charts the path to both. First the role of temptation/testing. Different in origin and purpose. Testing: from God—to strengthen faith, create reliance on Him. Temptation: from the devil (or our own desire)—to make us fall, weaken faith, death. God will work through tests and trials in life to accomplish His purpose in us, and to teach us that His grace is sufficient—His power made perfect in weakness. 2.       Devil ultimately wants us on the path to death, but James reminds us that we’re quite determined/capable on our own of choosing that path. Starts with our own sinful desire. Desire is tempted—put your hope for satisfaction in sinful pleasures. But when we seek to satisfy in sinful ways—greed, lust, anger, selfishness—the satisfaction is short-lived and empty. Driven to pursue it more, with less satisfaction. Law of diminishing returns. Racing down a slippery slope, chasing the carrot temptation dangl

Sermon on Jonah 1:1-3, for Ash Wednesday; Jonah, The Survivor Series: Part 1: “God is Calling!”

The following Lenten series I will be preaching on is taken from Dr. Reed Lessing's series on Jonah the prophet. Dr. Lessing is professor of Old Testament at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.              Do you ever wonder what it would be like if God called you? I mean directly spoke to you in audible and unmistakable words? How would we respond? How would we treat the call? Would we take our cue from everyday life and “screen the call” or let it go to voicemail? Most of us can relate to avoiding our calls at one point or another. What if we found we were doing the same thing to God?             Welcome to the world of Jonah! Let’s begin at the beginning! When God calls Jonah to go preach in Nineveh, Jonah high-tails it in the opposite direction. The author highlights the irony of this effort to run away in a way that we wouldn’t catch—that in their time, boarding a ship for Tarshish was the cultural equivalent of boarding the Titanic for its maiden voyage. A trip doomed

Sermon on Mark 9:2-9, for Transfiguration Sunday, "Jesus Only"

Sermon Outline: 1.       Encountering the miraculous—foreign to our everyday experience. Skeptical. Miracles strewn through Jesus’ life. Public miracles…private: only the inner circle of disciples. Miracles bound up with His identity. Followers were eager to proclaim it—enemies grudgingly admitted it. Enemies gave unflattering explanations, but had to admit the miracles. To take Jesus’ identity seriously, we must take account His miracles. What do they tell or prove about His identity? 2.       Jesus’ puzzling command after this particular miracle. Why not rake in the glory and attention from this miracle? Why tell them in the verses that follow this story, that He would first have to suffer, die, and be raised from the dead before they could talk about it? Why put this glorious experience beneath the cross? 3.       Even after all the cross and resurrection when Peter wrote about it, he was reluctant to make too much of this glorious personal experience, instead pointing us t

Sermon on Mark 1:40-45, for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany, "Putting Words in Your Mouth (and in your ears)!"

Sermon Outline: 1.       Not something you’d normally recommend doing—I’d like to put words in your mouths. Generally we get frustrated when people put words in our mouth, and rightly so. But let me explain. Two lepers: one prideful (at first) wishing to be clean but on his own terms, the second humbly begs for healing. “If you will, you can make me clean.” He approaches Jesus humbly, begging on his knees, trusting that Jesus can heal him. 2.       The words that I would put in your mouth is that plea to Jesus: “you can make me clean.” Humble words of repentance, seeking mercy and help. Nowhere else to turn. Recognized he couldn’t “clean” himself, or would have long ago. No one else, only Jesus. How many hold back from coming to God, for fear that God wouldn’t receive them? From shame over their sin, uncleanness. Maybe too stubborn to accept help, like Naaman. Unwilling to humble themselves before God. Or a lack of having the words to say to God. We feel distant, separated, outcas

Sermon on Isaiah 40:21-31, for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, "Comfort for the Weary"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Our text today is the reading from Isaiah 40. It’s scarcely possible for us to contemplate the vastness of the universe and the majesty of God’s glory that it displays. The incredible window seat God gave our earth to view the depths of the universe through telescopes and space exploration has stunned countless humans with the realization that those tiny twinkles of light that pepper the nighttime sky are all giant, burning stars like our sun—and often many times greater in size. And yet they are at such great distances from our own solar system, that it staggers the human imagination. Perhaps if it does not fill us with pride, we might say that because we have those glimpses of the grandeur of the universe, we can even better appreciate Isaiah’s words: “It is [God] who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them li