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Showing posts from September, 2014

By What Authority: From Heaven or from Man?

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To listen to this sermon click here.
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The text for today is our Gospel lesson, Matthew 21:23-27. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Let’s set the context first: The Lord Jesus, with Palm Sunday praises still echoing in His ears, has entered the temple and toppled the tables of the moneychangers, driving out the droves of buyers and sellers. After lodging overnight in Bethany, He returns to Jerusalem, curses a fruitless fig tree, and begins teaching again in the temple. It’s no wonder that the leaders of the Jews come and challenge Jesus: “By what authority are you doing these things?” Jesus either has an ironic sense of timing or He doesn’t have a clue. With all the pilgrims in town for Passover, this would normally be a busy and profitable week for the moneychangers and the merchants. Disrupting business at the temple would be something akin to shutting down a Walmart Supercenter on the Friday after Thanksgiving. If the chief priests were counti…

The Generosity of the Lord of the Vineyard

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Click here to listen to this sermon. Or here. “Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?” (Matthew 20:14-15). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! It’s just not fair what the lord of the vineyard does! Consider it from the perspective of the workers who are hired at the start of the day—you’ll sympathize with them pretty quickly. They’re the early birds who get the worm. The lord of the vineyard comes along and offers them the standard deal for a twelve-hour shift. They’ll work in his vineyard for a day, and receive a day’s pay at the end. So, off they go. As they labor and toil, the lord of the vineyard keeps going back to the marketplace. Each time, he finds more who are idle and he calls them into his vineyard. He even goes back when there’s only one hour left in the day. The day ends and it’s time to collect. Th…

When the King Settles Accounts

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“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants” (Matthew 18:23). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Having just heard Jesus’ words about winning back an erring brother, Peter asks, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive Him? As many as seven times?” Peter thinks he is being very generous. After all, the old Jewish teaching was that three times was enough, and even then you only forgave someone if he or she first apologized. And generally, it was expected that the sinner had to make it up to you somehow. But Jesus raises the bar considerably higher: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Some translations render this 77 times. Others make this 70 x 7 times, or 490 times. Either way, it’s a lot of times. But neither number is to be taken literally. Both of them tell us to just keep on forgiving indefinitely. Don’t keep sco…

To Whom Shall We Go?

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Click here to listen to this sermon. Or here. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! There are days and times when the going gets tough. Of that you are well aware. Who would have thought less than two months ago that we would be here today? Even two weeks ago, we all had much hope for Lois’ treatment and recovery. And now you’re caught up in the swirl of thoughts and emotions that come with mourning: a deep sense of loss, confusion, or perhaps even shock, at the death of a loved one just recently so active and vibrant.  These reactions are perfectly normal and natural. It’s death that’s not normal and natural. Oh, I know it happens all the time, but death was never a part of God’s perfect plan for creation. Man and woman were made to be eternal, to live forever—body and soul—in God’s holy presence. There is something deep in the very fiber of who we are as human beings that recognizes the damage caused by sin. Even the most hard-core atheist realizes that d…

Little Ones to Him Belong

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To listen to this sermon click here.
Or here.
The text for today is our Gospel lesson, Matthew 18:1-20. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” We might think of Abraham or Moses or the apostle Paul. When the disciples asked Jesus that question, however, they wanted to know which one of them would be the greatest. They all expected to have positions of importance in Jesus’ kingdom, and each of them would have liked to be Jesus’ right-hand man. It’s natural in any social group to establish some sort of pecking order. You see it out on the playground, in the classroom, in office politics, and unfortunately, even in the church. We all measure ourselves in comparison with others. We jockey for position and hope to come out near the top. So we can understand why the disciples wondered about their positions in the kingdom Jesus was going to establish. But Jesus’ kingdom is not like any earthly kingdom. His is a kingdom…