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Showing posts from October, 2018

Sermon on John 8:31-36, for Reformation Day, "What is True Freedom?"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. “Freedom” is, at least in principle, highly prized by Americans. Judging from the attitudes and answers of the Jews who listened to Jesus’ teaching in John 8, 2,000 years ago, they also highly prized freedom. The question is, do we truly understand the nature of freedom Jesus teaches, any better than they did? Freedom and slavery are opposites. To understand one, you need to understand the other. Jesus is talking to new believers in the crowd, when He says “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The word “abide” or remain, talks about continuing in something, or living together with someone. When Jesus calls His true disciples to “abide in my word”, He’s saying His Word is their continuing life. Jesus calls this vital relationship being living branches connected to the Vine. Outside the vine, disconnected from Christ and His Word, we wit…

Sermon on Ephesians 6:10-17, for the 21st Sunday after Trinity (1 Yr Lectionary), "Your Spiritual Battle"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Every day we are engaged in a spiritual battle. We may or may not be conscious of it. But Bible passages like Ephesians are meant to wake Christians up, to be alert and engaged in the spiritual battle. You can guess how well the spiritual battle will go for us if we are sleepwalking, unarmed and unprepared, vs. being watchful and alert, armed and ready. To this end, Ephesians 6 tells us what the lay of the battlefield is, who our true enemies are, and what armor God equips us with. Last week at my drill with the National Guard, I talked in my sermon about how soldiers are issued a uniform, and expected to report for duty or ceremonies dressed in their uniform. Just like the wedding guest in last week’s parable did not wear the garment that would have been issued by the host. I also made a stop by the supply room, where they took my sizes to issue me a helmet, vest, and other gear. I neither make my own uniform an…

Sermon on Ephesians 4:22-28, for the 19th Sunday after Trinity (1 YR lectionary), "Put on the New Self"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. A year ago we marked the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, when Martin Luther brought the light of Scripture back to the church. One of the discoveries that jolted Luther as he studied the New Testament was that every Christian struggles with an ongoing battle—between the saint and sinner in us. Or as Paul puts in in Romans 7, the battle between the spirit and the flesh, or the new self and the old self. So long as we are alive we have this constant struggle against our old sinful nature, tugging and pulling us toward all manner of sin, selfishness, greed, and impurity. And the new nature that seeks after holiness, righteousness, and God’s Truth. That struggle only ends in the grave, and after the resurrection of our body, to the sinless eternal life in Christ. But the new self is already implanted and germinated in us in Christ Jesus. So day by day we faithfully struggle against …

Sermon on Deuteronomy 10:12-21, for the 18th Sunday after Trinity (1 Yr Lectionary), "Generation to Generation"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Today’s message is from Deuteronomy 10. You might be forgiven for wondering what Deuteronomy has to do with our lives today. It is Moses’s sermons to the Israelites, around 1406 BC. That’s over 3,400 years ago, if you’re keeping track. Moses was teaching the Israelites a final time before they entered the promised land, after 40 years of wandering in the desert, because of their unfaithfulness. A new generation of Israelites, were trying to learn from the mistakes of their parent’s generation, and recommit themselves to faithfulness to God. So how does that tie in with us? First a few more facts about Deuteronomy’s importance. In all the Old Testament, it talks the most about passing on the faith to the next generation. A duty for every generation. Also, it strongly promotes the truth that God had specially chosen Israel, of all other nations—as God’s elect people. They weren’t elite, …