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Showing posts from October, 2014

The Truth That [Who] Sets You Free

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“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’” (John 8:31-32). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Our text, like many other passages of Scripture, is often misused and taken out of context. The words “the truth will set you free” are isolated, so that any learning that might help us to find “truth” (whatever that may be) is praised. We see the words on libraries and as secular college mottoes. We hear them on the lips of our post-modern intellectual leaders and politicians. But we don’t hear Whose Word reveals the truth that sets us free. We don’t hear Who is the Truth that sets us free. And we don’t hear what it means to be really, truly free. And unfortunately this is not limited to the outside world. This goes on in many a church body that calls itself Christian—even among a number of t…

The Things That Are God's

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“Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! They say that politics makes for strange bedfellows. That’s certainly the case here. The Pharisees—ardent nationalists who opposed Roman rule—team up with the Herodians whom they despise because of their cooperation with the Roman government. This would be kind of like the members of the Tea Party actively promoting Hillary Clinton for President in 2016. You know that something fishy is going on here. The Pharisees try to trap Jesus between a political hard place and a religious rock. “Teacher, we know that You are true and teach the way of God truthfully, and You do not care about anyone’s opinion, for You are not swayed by appearances. Tell us, then, what You think.” Obviously, the Pharisees are not afraid of dishing up a bit of flattery to achieve their objectiv…

Everything Is Ready! Come to the Banquet!

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The text for today’s message is the Gospel lesson, Matthew 22:1-14. Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! When the last empress of China (1835-1908) lived in the historic “Forbidden City,” she held extravagant banquets, sometimes serving as many as 150 different dishes for a single meal! It was an extremely exclusive affair. Only members of the royal family and their chosen guests were allowed to attend. For ordinary citizens there was no room!   God rules in His kingdom in a totally different way. He does not exclude ordinary people. He includes them! He invites everyone in—“the good” and “the bad,” hypocrites and sincere believers. Anyone who will accept His invitation. He has also reserved a place for you at His banquet table! Please listen to Jesus’ parable again and we’ll talk more about this wonderful, gracious invitation. A certain king prepared a marriage-feast for his son. Although it seems strange to us,…

Producing Fruits of the Kingdom of God

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Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (Matthew 21:42-43). Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! He plants a vineyard. Sets a fence around it. Digs a winepress. And builds a tower to watch for thieves and robbers. So far so good. Sounds a lot like the song of the vineyard that we just heard in our reading from the book of Isaiah, doesn’t it? Then the owner of the vineyard makes his first mistake. He leases it to tenants. He’s asking for big trouble. He should keep the vineyard for himself. Nobody else will ever care about it as much as he does. Then the owner compounds his error. He decides to go off to another country. He takes a trip, an extended holiday.…