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If You're So Smart...

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Click here to listen to this sermon. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “If you’re so smart, then tell me this…” Ever heard those words? They’re usually words children speak when they’re playing the game of one-upmanship. One child brags how far ahead he is of the rest because he’s been there, done that. Someone else doesn’t like the insinuation and says, “Oh, yeah. Well, if you’re so smart, then how did you get a C on that last science test? If you’re so smart, why did you have to stay in for recess yesterday? If you’re so smart…” Our Old Testament Reading contains God’s words to Job at the end of the lengthy discussion between Job and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, plus a fourth by the name of Elihu. After letting the human counselors and counselee vent for thirty-five chapters, God finally speaks out of the storm. His silence throughout the long days of Job’s illness no doubt parallels the silence of God during some of our tough times…

The Mystery of the Sown Seed

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“And [Jesus] said, ‘The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come’” (Mark 4:26-29). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Look around you. Right here. Here is the kingdom of God! It may not look like much. Then again, it may be a lot more than you think. To begin with, it sure doesn’t look like a kingdom. Not you. Not me. Surely not a kingdom worthy of God. Well, that’s the way it is. The kingdom of God can be quite a letdown. We know that we live in God’s kingdom. But when we look around, what do we see? Empty seats. (Empty seats tending to be concentrated in the front pews!) And to make matters worse, when we look at the seats that ar…

Binding the Strong Man and Plundering His House

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“But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! There are only two religions in the world. While such a statement may seem na├»ve to some, it should not sound so strange to you. For when the facade of this world is torn away, all that remains are two spiritual kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the evil one—Satan. The kingdom of God is founded on Jesus, the Way and the Truth and the Life. The kingdom of the devil is founded on a lie. His is a fallen and condemned kingdom without any hope of return to its splendor.[i] But that does not mean the devil is no longer dangerous and deadly. Satan is the father of lies and can become whatever we desire him to be. He represents himself as an angel of light to those who will receive him as an angel; he represents himself as a…

Treasure in Jars of Clay

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“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! The Cyprus National Museum in Nicosia has an interesting display—a clay pot lays on its side with a bunch of coins spilling out of its mouth. It was part of a coin hoard found nearby dating to the first century A.D. This is just one of thousands of such hoards discovered in the Greco-Roman world. The size of these hoards ranges from fifty to fifty thousand coins. The coins were buried in clay jars for safe keeping, often during times of war or instability. And it worked quite well. 2,000 years later, many of the jars and coins remain intact. Though clay jars, like other pottery, are fragile and must be handled carefully, they have proven to be quite durable and reliable. Clay jars were the common storage containers of the ancient world. The Tupperware of th…

Cleansed by the Thrice Holy God and Sent to Serve

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Click here to listen to this sermon. In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Who…

When the Helper Comes...

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Click here to listen to this sermon. “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me. And you will also bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Oh, to be there on that day! The Day of Pentecost. A large multitude gathered from every nation under heaven. Rushing wind, tongues of fire, speaking in other languages. So much excitement that some could only imagine they must be drunk. Peter preaching boldly on the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. As we gather here on this Day of Pentecost, we don’t have that, do we? The assembly can hardly be called a crowd, let alone a multitude. And we’re not exactly the poster child for diversity. Only one person born outside the borders of the United States. One who speaks fluent (Portuguese) Spanish, a few who can converse in German, and one or two wh…