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Wheat or Weeds?

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“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matthew 13:30). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! A man and his wife had just moved from an apartment in a large city to a new home out in the country. It was springtime and he was eager to get outdoors and work in the large flower garden the former owners had made back of the house. But everything was pushing up at once—tulips, thistles, blades of grass, hyacinths, weeds, and dandelions! And then there were those curious, fuzzy leaves that were coming up all over the garden. The garden had to be weeded. But there was a hitch—which ones were the weeds? The obvious ones were no problem. But what about those with the fuzzy leaves? So he asked his neighbor. “Oh, they’re weeds!” the neighbor answered. His wife said, “No, I think they’re…

The Sower Still Sows

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“A sower went out to sow” (Matthew 13:3). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Leaving the house where He was staying in Capernaum, Jesus went out and sat by the lake. As large crowds gathered around Him, Jesus got into a boat and sat down to teach. With the rise of land on the west serving as a natural amphitheater, the people stood on the shore and listened as Jesus told a series of parables. Parables are stories of comparison, using something familiar in human experience to teach and to bring home a better understanding of the kingdom of God. The Greek word means literally “to throw alongside,” as in “throwing” a story of something well-known alongside a corresponding lesson with a deeper, hidden meaning. So, in more ways than one, “The Parable of the Sower” is a fitting example for Jesus to use to explain to His disciples how to understand parables. A sower sows his seed, and some falls upon the hardened pathway divi…

The War Being Waged Within

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Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! There’s a war being waged in our very midst, but not many people are aware of it or they’ll try to deny it. The tyrant who once ran roughshod has been defeated for some time now, but there are still pockets of resistance. A remnant faithful to the previous regime stubbornly holds on. Insurgents stream in, wreaking havoc. Oh, I’m not talking about Iraq or Bin-Laden or any part of the so-called war on terror. I’m speaking of a war much closer to home right now in our very midst. It’s the war being waged within each Christian every day of our life.   Many people think Christian faith is about having a good attitude. Just try hard enough to follow God’s law and you’ll be able to live a Christian life. Such people haven’t truly experienced Christian faith. They don’t know how it works. Yes, Satan, that old, tyrannical dictator has already been defeated and is now imprisoned, but he still …

Jesus Has Prepared a Place for You: A Funeral Sermon

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Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Though we would each wish it might be for another occasion, it is fitting to be here in this place today. It was here in this place that the Holy Spirit worked faith in Don’s heart through the blessed sacrament of Holy Baptism on June 14, 1936. It was in this place where Don was catechized and then confessed his faith publicly in the Rite of Confirmation with the class of 1950. If you check out the north wall of the church basement, you’ll see his picture there. It was those two formative events in Don’s life and other memories of his early years at St. John’s that influenced him to request his funeral service be held in this place. But as important as this place was to Don, there is a more crucial place we will speak of today. Jesus spoke of this place in our Gospel: “In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you…

The Lord Has Prevailed

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Click here to listen to this sermon. “O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed” (Jeremiah 20:7). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ! The direction of our text is from complaint (vv. 7-10) to praise (vv. 11-13). But context is crucial. In the verses immediately following this text, Jeremiah returns to bitter complaint, even cursing the day of his birth. So, what’s up with Jeremiah? Is he unstable? Flighty? Moody? No, his story just reflects the ebb and flow of Christian experience. Our relationship with God does not always proceed in a straight line, from weak to strong. Often it vacillates, becoming under God’s grace ever stronger, but seldom becoming so in a smooth, unbroken, upward path. The verses before our text clearly show that Jeremiah had cause for complaint (at least, humanly speaking). The LORD called Jeremiah to proclaim God’s judgment against His people. He was to take witnesses, some o…

Justified by His Blood... Reconciled by His Death... Saved by His Life

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“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life” (Romans 5:9–10). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! In our Old Testament lesson, God tells Moses to remind the people of Israel how He had delivered them out of Egypt. Now, if they would only obey God fully and keep His covenant, then out of all the nations on the earth, they would be His treasured possession, His special people. “What a deal!” we might think. “Just obey God’s commandments and keep His covenant and then it’s life on easy street!” Apparently, the people of Israel thought the same. They quickly responded, “All that the Lord has said we will do.” Of course, that was a serious overestimation of their abilities. The First Commandment had bar…