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Is the Lord My Shepherd?

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The Lord is my shepherd—or so I say. But is He really? Is the Lord my Shepherd? Am I His sheep? I say that I shall not want… not want anything beyond what my selfish heart desires, that is. I often covet that which He has not seen fit to give me, even though He promises to give me all that I need to support this body and life, and freely gives me all the gifts that I need for eternal life, including faith and forgiveness, grace and peace, His Word and Sacraments. The Shepherd makes me lie down in green pastures, but look, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence! He leads me beside still waters, knowing well that His sheep cannot safely drink from swift streams, but I see still more exciting places where I’d love to drink my fill. Besides, I’ve never been a very good follower, preferring to do things my own way. But the Shepherd restores my soul, squelching the wanderlust within me that moves me to live life the way I see fit. He leads me …

That He May Send the Christ Appointed for You

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“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:19-21). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! We need to set the stage a little bit, before we discuss our text. Shortly after Pentecost, Peter and John are heading up to the temple for afternoon prayer. A man who has been lame from birth is being carried to the Beautiful Gate of the temple court, a prime location for begging alms. Seeing Peter and John, he asks them for alms. “Look at us,” Peter directs. So the man fixes his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. And so, he does—just not what he was expecting. But something even better. Peter says, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to …

Everything in Common

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“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:32-35). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Here’s the plan. Everyone here start selling your property. Cash out your bank accounts and withdraw the funds from your IRAs and 401ks. Put your house and land on the market. And then bring in the proceeds and put it in the offering. I’ll make sure that it gets distributed to everyone who needs it. How’s that sound? You heard our text, didn…

Christ Is Risen! He Is Not Here. He Is here!

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“And [the angel] said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you’” (Mark 16:6–7).
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Hallelujah! Amen. St. Mark brings us a puzzling picture in our text. Did you notice how his resurrection account is different from the other Gospel writers in a significant way? What is different? There is no Jesus. There is no sighting of Him. St. Mark reports to us that people are talking about Jesus’ resurrection, but there still is no Jesus. This is troubling. It sounds like a myth in its infant stages. Could it be? If we do not see Jesus with our own eyes, did He really rise from the dead? You can see where this might lead, can’t you? When one questions Jesus’ resurrection, then the crucifixion must be questioned.…

The King Who Serves and Saves

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Click here to listen to this sermon. “Pilate also wrote an inscription and put in on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “Give us a king like all the other nations have,” the people demanded. Their request had to come like a vicious kick to the gut. Samuel had served Israel long and well as their judge. But the years were taking their toll. No longer could he maintain the grueling schedule he once had kept as a young man. So Samuel appointed his two sons, Joel and Abijah, to assist him. Sadly, the sons were not as unselfish as their father and not nearly as devoted to duty. They used their office for personal gain and, for a price, perverted justice. It’s difficult to explain their actions. You wouldn’t think that Samuel would be one to neglect the training of his children. After all, he had grown up alongside Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, and had seen firsthand what such permi…

The Resurrection and the Life Has the Last Word at the Cemetery: A Sermon for the Funeral of Jerry Jones

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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! Each of you here today has a special connection to Jerry and/or his family. That’s why you’re here. You’ve loved him, liked him, lived with him. You’ve worked with him in his role as City Finance Officer; he has been your neighbor or friend or family. For over forty years, I had the privilege of calling Jerry my friend, one of my best friends. The first time I met Jerry was at South Dakota Agriculture Youth Institute in Brookings. We were assigned as roommates. The first thing Jerry said to me was “I need to tell you that I’m a diabetic so that if you walk in here and see me with a syringe you don’t think I’m a junkie.” A couple of years later, we were roommates as we attended the ag program at Mitchell Vo-tech. When I was foolish enough to binge drink tequila the night of my twentieth birthday, Jerry was one of the only ones to stay at the hospital until my parents got there. We se…