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Showing posts from June, 2020

Sermon on Matthew 10:34-42, for the 4th Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Divided; United"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. There’s a hard lesson about division and judgment in today’s Gospel: Jesus talks about how He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Divisions in the world, the family, and ultimately divisions from ourselves. Divisions are a tragic symptom of our sinful condition. Selfishness, rivalry, divided loyalties, and much more come from our sinful refusal to put God and His ways first. By contrast, God’s peace comes to those who trust and follow Jesus, even while they are divided from those who won’t follow Jesus. Ultimately Jesus must divide from sin, error and unbelief. There must be a parting of ways between God’s way and the world’s way—between the devil’s lies and God’s truth. Thank Jesus for rescuing us from lies and bringing us into truth. So where does Jesus divide and where does He unite? Jesus must divide us from lies and unify us with the truth. Lies are incompatible with the trut…

Sermon on Matthew 10:5a, 21-33, for the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Turning Fear into Courage in the Kingdom"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 10 Jesus sends out His apostles on the mission of His kingdom. Life in His kingdom is not an easy mission—quite the opposite—He promises it will be hard. Expect it. Thinking of quitting or surrendering? Jesus speaks courage to your heart! He transforms fear into courage in His kingdom. Let’s see how. In verses 26-33, Jesus uses the word “fear” four times. Three times it’s: “Don’t fear”; and once it’s to “fear God.” What’s there to be afraid of? When you stand up and live for Jesus, you will be misunderstood and rejected, like Him. You can potentially face mockery, hatred, persecution, and in the worst cases, death. Many fears in life are exaggerated and blown out of proportion. But some are perfectly real. But whatever the fear, Jesus calls: “Fear not.” Virtually no one is trying to kill us because we are Christian. We live in a free country. But that kind of extreme persecution is…

Sermon on Matthew 9:35-10:8 (with frequent reference to Ezekiel 34), for the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost 2020 (A), "Christ's Compassion"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen. God sure loves sheep. All over the Bible He calls His people “sheep”, from “the Lord is my Shepherd” to the Good Shepherd searching and finding His lost sheep—God loves sheep. And Matthew 9:36 observes that when Jesus taught the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Clearly the sheep were in danger. There is a lot going on in those words. Harassed and helpless means that the sheep are being abused, exploited, or otherwise harmed, and are unable to defend themselves or rescue themselves out of the situation. “Like sheep without a shepherd” indicates they are leaderless or that their leaders have failed them.These words echo back to God’s care for His people the sheep, described in Ezekiel 34. Ezekiel 34 describes another group of harassed and helpless sheep. God rails against the “shepherds of Israel”, which means the …

Sermon on Matthew 28:16-20, for Holy Trinity Sunday 2020 (A), "Theology of the Trinity"

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, a Sunday uniquely devoted to a particular doctrine or theology—not an event in Jesus’ life, or a person, or one of God’s saving acts. But many people have no time for theology. “Abstract philosophical stuff for the libraries and ivory tower! Sounds too much like textbooks and information!” And if theology is cut off from the Living Word of God and turned into an empty pursuit, it can become sterile. But I will strive to show today how the theology of the Trinity flows from the Living Word of God and has direct relevance for our daily Christian life. So what does an average Christian need theology for? Isn’t that just for pastors and professors? Let me ask the question differently. Does the Bible speak to our everyday life and how we live? Does it have anything to teach us about life? Does God intend for the average Christian to study the Bible? And if so, aren’t …