Sermon 1610 Isaiah 55.1-5 August 20, 2017
I am going to warn you ahead of time. Almost every time I get into this pulpit until Thanksgiving, I’m going to be convincing you, wooing you, selling you on the truths of the Reformation. On October 31st it will have been 500 years since a Roman Catholic monk, Martin Luther, posted his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Church, inviting the faculty to join him in a scholarly debate as to whether you could buy forgiveness of sins with money or good deeds. It seems you couldn’t even bring up certain subjects back then, either. With increasing force the powers that be tried to silence Luther. “Here I stand,” he famously said, when confronted with a choice of taking back everything he had written or face the wrath of the Empire. He would not back down. We usually hear about the Reformation one week during the year and then we go back thinking that our church is like any other Christian denomination and we all pretty much teach the same thing.
So I warn you today, we are going to hear about the truths of the Reformation whenever I get into this pulpit, not because this pulpit is Lutheran, but because it is Christian and the truths of the Reformation are the true teachings as drawn from the Bible. We are going to see that time and time again, from prophets and apostles, from the life of Christ to the life of his people. Our text from the prophet Isaiah, writing 700 years before the birth of Jesus, is a perfect example.
Sermon 1609 1 Kings 3.10-12 August 13, 2017
What would you wish for if the Lord gave you one request? Or do you think he’s too busy? What if I told you he came to King Solomon and told him to ask whatever he wanted and the Lord would do it for him. What do you think young King Solomon asked for? And why would it be in the Bible if it weren’t something we should learn from?
The short answer is God does come to us and offers to give us what we need, so ask for it! He treated Solomon that way and he will treat you, me, this congregation that way. So what should we ask for, especially on this day when we install our Sunday School teachers and Mrs. Revis as a teacher and Director of our Green Valley Lutheran Preschool and Kindergarten?
Pentecost 9 Matthew 13: Selected Verses August 6, 2017
Patience is a big issue for us. We are almost trained to be impatient. If my google home page doesn’t pop up in under 2 seconds you better believe I am going to hit refresh. If my Amazon package from China is delayed a day from and I am no longer getting 3-5 day delivery around the world but 6-day delivery, someone might be getting an email. We want things to happen conveniently for us. We want everything to be easy breezy and on time. But that’s not always how it works.
Jesus teaches us a lesson about Patience today. How do we remain patient when life is inconvenient. And how do we remain patient when life is much worse? How do we remain patient when there is suffering?
Pentecost 8 Matthew 13 July 30, 2017
Jesus tells us this story of a farmer throwing his seed and then to his disciples he explains what it means. He didn’t just tell them a story to be entertaining, he wanted to teach the disciples a lesson. He wanted to teach them about what happens to peoples faith in this world. The disciples and the church have been tasked by Jesus to spread his word. To spread the seed of faith to the whole world. To tell the good news about Jesus to everyone. And it is easy to get discouraged when we do that.
When I read verses like our Old Testament lesson from Isaiah 55 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish so that it yields seeds for the sower and bread for the eater, so my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. I get excited! I hope you do too. When it rains, plants get watered. When plants get watered and are in the sun and in the soil they grow. You don’t have to motivate a plant to grow. You don’t have to convince it to grow. That is just the way it works. Water can’t help but water things. God’s word can’t help but make faith grow.
Sermon 1608 Matthew 11.25-30 July 24, 2017
I have always viewed myself as a teacher. The public ministry is a teaching ministry. If you can’t teach, you can’t be a minister of the Gospel. And in my early years, I actually taught in a boarding high school that prepared teens to enter collegiate ministerial studies. I was part of a faculty and got to know many teachers. Over the years you always are critical of yourself. What are you teaching? Are you keeping up with the times, freshening up the material? Finally you get to the point where you look at the very heart and core of what you are. What makes a good teacher?
We Christians have great familiarity with the best teacher, Jesus Christ. What makes him head and shoulders better than every other mentor and guide in the classroom?
Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered. Those are three latin words first attributed to Julius Caesar who in the first century won a battle and wrote a letter back to Rome containing that simple phrase. In them you can hear confidence. pride. and boasting. The Roman army when they were powerful, who was going to stop them? They could show up, see a problem or an uprising or a foreign power and then just crush it. No apologies, no negotiations, just come see and conquer. And led by Caesar, a confident general who knows what he is there is do: to win, they had power. He is there for war not Peace.
Is Jesus here for War or Peace?