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Speak, Lord, for Your Servant Hears

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“And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears’” (1 Samuel 3:10). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Biblical illiteracy is a growing problem in our nation and church. That probably doesn’t surprise you. But a recent survey shows just how far biblical knowledge has declined. The survey found that fewer than half of all adults can name the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of Jesus’ twelve apostles. 60% of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. And 82% of Americans believe “God helps those who help themselves” is a Bible verse. I think it is safe to say that we’re drawing ever closer to the state that Samuel found himself in as a young boy. Do you remember what it said in verse 1? “The Word of the Lord was rare in those days.” I think you could make t…

Buried with Christ, Raised to Walk in Newness of Life

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“We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! He’s everything they’re not. And more. Do you see that crowd on the banks of the Jordan River, listening to John the Baptist? They’re the kind of poor, miserable sinners that the world just doesn’t get. Hey, look around and you’ll see what I mean. If you’re a sinner, what are you supposed to do about it? The old-school notion is that you pick up the pieces, ignore the past, and get on with the future. In terms of psychology and sanity, that’s a pretty good way to live. The popular option today, of course, is to parade your sin as blatantly as you can. You can boast in it, daring others to call it wrong. You can excuse it, claiming yourself as a victim. You can use it for personal gain. If you p…

Walt's Place: Sermon for the Funeral of Walter Edward Bauman

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Click here to listen to this sermon. Dear Bette, Linda, Bryan, Nancy, other family and friends of Walt: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! In some ways, I feel a bit like an intruder on this occasion. I only met Walt a little over a year ago. I didn’t know him for years—or even a lifetime—as many of you have. I didn’t know Walt the husband, the father, or grandfather. I didn’t know Walt the farmer or business owner. I never got the chance to go fishing with him. But I count myself fortunate because I came to know Walt in a way that many of us never have the chance to know others in the distractions and daily grind of life. I came to know Walt at a time in his life when his thoughts were focused on what was most important to him—his family and, most of all, his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I came to know Walt as a fellow redeemed sinner and child of God. Each time I met with Walt, we would first talk about whatever sport was in season and then fishing.…

The Word of the Lord Came

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“But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan” (2 Samuel 7:4). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! It just wasn’t right, and David knew it (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16). The enemies were conquered, the kingdom was secure, and he lived in a beautiful palace made of cedar in Jerusalem, but the Lord’s house was still the tabernacle. The house of worship for the one true God was still a tent, just as it had been for 400 years. It didn’t look right: it looked like David thought he was far more important than the one true God, and David wanted to fix it. He called Nathan and announced his plans. He was going to build a temple, a huge temple, the most glorious temple ever! One can imagine his excitement. Oh, to be there when the building was finished, when the Lord appeared in a glorious cloud, overshadowed the temple, and then entered it! It sounded perfect, and Nathan gave his blessing. What proclaimer of God’s Word doesn’t …

The Word among Us

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What Child Is This?

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“But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! At first hearing, it seems as though Mary must have gotten it all wrong. I mean, isn’t Christmas a time for celebration? And here, Luke tells us that “Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” The contrast is striking. While every year the Christmas retail season starts earlier and earlier and the hype gets more and more intense, the first Christmas was not an intense affair at all. If anything, it seems to be quite calm and quiet in comparison to today’s festivities. Now, of course, you can’t blame people for trying to make a dollar. And we have probably all fed the beast of the commercialization of Christmas to one extent or another. But we’ve not come here to fight the “war against Christmas” or the bogeyman of big business; we are here to get away from the busy-ness of our h…

A Good Life and a Blessed Death: Sermon for the Funeral of Dorothy Williamson

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“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Dear family and friends of Dorothy. Sometimes people will say about someone who has died, “She had a good life.” There’s a problem with that. The world’s understanding of a good life is at best inadequate, compared to God’s understanding of what constitutes a good life. Now there could be several similarities. A person who has a good, God-pleasing life might be blessed with a loving and caring spouse, loving and respectful children, a job or vocation that brought meaning and fulfillment to her life, enjoyable hobbies and interests, and more than adequate material blessings. By those definitions, I think you could say that Dorothy had a good life. Married to Elmo on June 14, 1946, the couple enjoyed over 60 years together in a union which has been further blessed with four children, twelve grandchildren, and twenty great-grandchildren. A farmer’s wife, who took on all the a…