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Showing posts from February, 2014

Sermon on Matthew 5:38-48, for the 7th Sunday after Epiphany, "Perfect Love"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. Welcome again to all our preschool families, and we’re glad to worship God with you today! The Bible lesson for our message comes from Jesus’ teaching in Matthew chapter 5. We’ve been reading through sections of this for the last several weeks, and they all come out of Jesus’ great “Sermon on the Mount.” In the section from last week and this week, Jesus is reviewing the Law of Moses and responding to popular opinions of it. So Jesus says several times, “You have heard that it was said…” and then either quotes and Old Testament law and/or a version of what people in His day thought it meant. Last week He was teaching on the commandments against murder, adultery, and lying, and showed how God’s Law is not only concerned with what we do on the outside, but also with the thoughts and intentions of our heart. Rather than “lowering the bar” and “opening loopholes” in the Law to make it easi…

Sermon on Matthew 5:21-37, for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany, "Law and Gospel"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. In the Gospel reading today, we hear a section of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount, where He teaches on the 5th, 6th, and 8th commandments in particular. The commandment on murder, adultery, and lying. Jesus’ teaching will confront us on many angles and leave us all convicted of our sin. He is rooting out our sinful human tendency to try to escape from God’s law by various tricks. Sometimes we try to narrow down God’s command into a category that doesn’t apply to us, so we don’t recognize that we’ve disobeyed. In particular, when we think of the law only outwardly, and not applying to the heart and mind—or when we try to find loopholes that will justify our behavior, saying the law doesn’t apply to our situation, so we can still feel we are righteous. But instead of allowing that, Jesus closes all the loopholes, leaving us condemned by the law. The law finds us out, and there is no escaping it. If the Law was our…

Sermon on 1 Corinthians 2:1-12, for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, "Wisdom from the Spirit"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. There are many things that the church—both worldwide and in the local congregation can do, according to the varied gifts and talents that God entrusts to individuals and communities. They can sponsor schools, hospitals, ministries to the disabled, the homeless, to youth or to families. But there is above all, one thing that the church must do, and that is to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Without this central message, without Christ crucified filling and shaping the church’s life, it ceases to be church, and becomes something else. It disconnects from the wisdom of God and pursues in vain the wisdom of the world. Without Jesus Christ and His cross, the church loses its reason to exist. Paul said it very clearly to the church in Corinth: “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He likewise told the Romans: “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for…

Sermon on Luke 2:22-32, for the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of our Lord, "Do you see what I see?"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Today is a minor festival, that doesn’t often fall on Sunday: the Purification of Mary and the Presentation of our Lord. Before we zoom in on the details of the story, let’s first zoom out and see the big picture, and the importance of the setting. This took place at the Temple in Jerusalem, which was the center of all the worship life of the Jews. At the Temple God located Himself for His people. At the Temple God placed His Name and His presence, to hear His people’s prayers, to receive their repentance and accept sacrifices for purification and for the forgiveness of sins, and to make His Name great throughout the earth (2 Chron. 6). The significance of the Temple as where God located His mercy and forgiveness is huge—and especially when we consider that the New Testament teaches that this “located-ness” of God’s mercy moves from the Temple to the person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14; 4). This transfer or movemen…