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Bear Fruits in Keeping with Repentance

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Click here to listen to this sermon. He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7-8a). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The world gets ready for this season on one level, Christians on another. The world gets ready for just one great big blockbuster of a day on Christmas, kind of an annual consumer feeding frenzy, indulging itself in stuff and more stuff. Then when it’s over, it’s over. And all that’s left of Christmas on December 26 is a credit card hangover, a big pile of wrapping paper, and trips to the store for returns and after-Christmas sales. Not so in the Church. For us, when Christmas comes, it stays. It lingers on through Epiphany, the Gentiles’ Christmas, and all the way clear through till Lent. We continue to ponder the great glad news that God has become man to redeem all humankind out from under …

The Lord Is Our Righteousness: What the Prophets Longed For Advent Series

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A Not-So-Sentimental Journey

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Click here to listen to this sermon. And as [Jesus] rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. As He was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of His disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Luke 19:35-38). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Have you ever felt like you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or like you know where you are but can’t figure out how you got there? So it seems today? Everything is out of whack. It’s December, and it’s Advent, the preparation for Christmas. We expect to be transported to Bethlehem, to a manger, surrounded by animals. Instead, our Gospel takes us to Jerusalem with Jesus riding on a donkey. Strangely enough, the traditional Gospel for the First Sunday in Advent is the same as that of Palm Sunday…

Ready for the Master's Return

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Click here to listen to this sermon. [Jesus said:] “It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest he come suddenly and find you asleep” (Mark 13:34-35). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The last Sundays of the Church Year bring eschatology, the study of the last things, into focus with the lectionary’s emphasis on death, the final judgment, and the promise of the new heaven and the new earth. These Sundays bring us to the conclusion of the Nicene Creed, “And He will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” We have said those words so often, but what do they mean? Truth be told, we are often more concerned about the judgment that comes from other human beings. We fret…

It's Hard to Bow Down with a Full Belly

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Click here to listen to this sermon. “Then one of [the lepers], when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:15-18). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! It’s hard to bow down with a full belly. Pregnant women coming to the communion rail know this. Middle-aged men trying to pick up a scrap of paper from the floor know this. And on days like tomorrow (today), with Thanksgiving dinners, there will be a lot more people who experience this firsthand. But that’s just from the physical aspect. I would submit to you that it’s hard to bow down spiritually with a full belly, too. What I mean is that it is easier to turn to the Lord…

The Last Enemy Is Destroyed: Sermon for the Funeral of Veva Mae Baden

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“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:20–26). Randy, Rhonda, other family members and friends of Veva: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! This weekend we observed the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The “war to end all wars,” it was optimistically, if not naively dubbed. At first idealistic, the term has become quite ironic. In the 100 years since the Arm…

Jesus Watches the Offering

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus watches the offering. He sees the offering made by the rich people and He watches the poor widow put in her offering. He sees who puts in a lot, and who puts in a little. He knows who has an abundance and who lives in poverty. But more than that, Jesus sees what is in their heart as they give those offerings. Jesus sees the motives for giving and the faith or lack of faith behind the giving. That should probably give us pause: Jesus watches our offering, too. Dear Christian friends: You all know the story, but you don’t know all the story. Our text that we’ll examine together this morning (evening) is the familiar story of the widow’s mite. We’ll look first at some of the things everyone knows about the text, then at something you may not know, and finally at one thing nobody knows. We’ll start with some things quite certain and move to some things less certain, and let’s see…