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No Charge... No Condemnation... No Separation

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The text for this message is Romans 8:31-39. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Imagine what it was like for Casey Anthony to sit in the courtroom, day after day, and hear all the accusations and evidence presented against you.Or imagine what it was like for Michael Vick facing charges of animal cruelty.Or for Saddam Hussein sitting in the courtroom, knowing you face a grisly judgment. But, dear Christians, you don’t really need to imagine that much do you?You know what it’s like to be in their shoes.Oh, you may not be facing prison time or the death penalty, but you know what it’s like—for you are constantly sitting in a courtroom, hearing judgments against you—judgments from within, judgments from without.Daily you are judged by your friends, co-workers, employers, and family members.You are “let go” because your productivity doesn’t measure up to others.You are constantly compared to your brother or sister.You are always being told how great “so-and-…

Put Off the Old and Put On the New

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! I guess you could say that this is literally my day job.As I await a full-time call to a parish, I work overnights as a support manager at Wal-Mart.And as you might suspect, this past month has been a zoo.Extra customers on the floor making it even more challenging to get the freight out so it can be stocked.Longer lines at the checkout counters and service desks.Extra freight on extra trucks, some of them running late due to weather concerns.This isn’t surprising to any of you, I’m sure.But what might surprise you is content of the freight. You see, most of the special Christmas items—the electronic equipment, household appliances, toys, all of that came in weeks ago.The extra freight that’s been coming in the last month is gearing up for the New Year—for people’s New Year’s resolutions to be more specific.Workout equipment, pallets full of Slimfast shakes and Nicorette gum and patches, all ready for people looking t…

Reflecting on the Happy Outcome of Bearing Your Cross

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"For the Lord will not cast off forever,but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;for he does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men." (Lamentations 3:31-33, ESV)[1]

Another gem from Starck’s Prayer Book:
Every affliction becomes light when there is hope that there will be a change for the better soon.A difficult journey becomes short when it is quickly accomplished.Similarly, the afflicted should bear in mind that their misery will certainly have an end, maybe even in this life (my emphasis added).It can happen with them just as God turned to their advantage David’s flight, Hezekiah’s sickness, Job’s distress, the widow’s tears, and the paralyzed man’s pains.Most certainly, however, God will end the cross of the godly and turn it to their advantage at death, for then they shall obtain the crown, the white robe, and the joy of heaven, and He will wipe away tears from all eyes.
The afflicted should bear in m…

Let It Be to Me According to Your Word

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The text for today is Luke 1:26-38. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Six months have passed since Gabriel’s announcement to Zechariah the priest that his wife, Elizabeth, will bear a son.That, in itself is an astonishing announcement, for both are very old, decades beyond normal childbearing years.It’s the kind of biological impossibility that might make the front page of the National Enquirer—“Elderly Couple Conceives!Father Speechless!” But within the angel’s announcement is even bigger news.This son, whom they are to give the name John, will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, go out in the power and spirit of Elijah, calling God’s people to repentance and preparing them for the coming of the Lord.He will be the forerunner of the Christ. Now the Lord sends His messenger on another mission.This time Gabriel goes not to the holy city of Jerusalem, but to the backwater town of Nazareth in Galilee, a garrison town in the northern high country, one not eve…

Partakers of Grace and Peace, Partners in the Gospel

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Our text for today is Philippians 1:2-11, which has already been read. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I would guess that you’ve heard many sermons begun this way.Maybe you’ve heard this phrase so often that you haven’t really taken the time to think about what it means.It sounds like a churchy greeting, something to break the ice.Kind of like when someone says, “How’s it going?” or “What’s up?”But it’s not.Neither is it a signal for you to settle in and for the usher to turn down the lights.Nor is it just a statement about the goal of this sermon, although grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ better be the goal of this sermon and every sermon.And it’s not just a wish or simply information, either. So, what is it?It’s a benediction—a blessing that brings and bestows what it says.It’s a proclamation of God’s Word—God’s holy and powerful, creative and life-giving Word.When God speaks, things happen.And it’s no different here.Go…