Sermons

Generosity Isn’t Fair!

Our reward for being called to work in God’s kingdom does not change based on how long we have been in our Lord’s service. After all, we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Isaiah’s call for the wicked and unrighteous to return to the Lord shows God’s immense compassion for all people, no matter when they return to Him. God’s ways are not our ways, yet we continue to work in His kingdom until He calls us when we die. Paul is struggled with a desire to depart and be with Christ and a desire to go on living and laboring for the Lord. Death and life content, but Paul knows life will win. He knows that Jesus will return, raise the dead, and dwell with them forever.

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You Are Not the Judge

The Readings for the weekend focused on living together under the kingship of God. Joseph forgave his brothers, even though they had sold him into slavery. Paul urges us not to quarrel over opinions about earthly matters, but to honor the Lord in all we do. Jesus tells a parable about God’s overwhelming forgiveness and how such forgiveness leads us to forgive others. We can live under the kingship of God only because He has forgiven our sins. In Jesus, God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. We practice such forgiveness with one another, living together as the family of Christ. Praise God!

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Perpetual Mercy

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). It is of great comfort that almighty God treats us as His dear children. As the hymn says, although “He knows how frail our powers,” still “His grace remains forever” and “His rule is over all” (LSB 820:3-4). Yet while we rejoice in God’s tender mercy for us, today’s Readings remind us that God intends that same mercy for those around us, our family, our own children, and our brothers and sisters of the household of God. As John said, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). In other words, we who have received mercy are the very channels and messengers of that same mercy to others. We renounce disgraceful ways that allow sin to drag either ourselves or others down, and we bring God’s merciful forgiveness of sins to everyone.

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Stumbling Along

“How often might you feel lost – lost among the confusion and details and busyness of life? When someone is lost, they forget or do not know where they should be going. When someone loses money, their health, or a loved one to death, everything from anger to despair to fear take over, and we are tempted to think there is no hope. That’s why Jesus’ statement “whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” sounds so strange, so backward. We lose our life by daily contrition and repentance as the old Adam is drowned. We find ourselves given the gift of eternal life as the new man daily arises, and we escape death forever! Praise God!”

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Solid as a Rock!

There are many different opinions in our world about who the Lord is, and many of those opinions are based on who people want the Lord to be. What a privilege and joy it is that as we gather we don’t need to try to seek and find the Lord and His attributes on our own. Instead, He reveals Himself as who He was, is, and ever shall be, in and throughout Scripture. We hear this today in our Old Testament Reading as God, through Isaiah, calls His people to look and listen to Him as He seeks and makes us His redeemed children (Isaiah 51:1–6). As His children, we are part of His Body and blessed to complement one other in faith and fellowship (Romans 11:33–12:8) and in the confession of who our Savior Jesus Christ truly is (Matthew 16:13–20). As He continues to seek and to find, and by the calling, gathering, and enlightening by His Holy Spirit through His Word, we worship in that promised grace giving certain hope now and in the future.

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Have Mercy on all the Dogs

The inscription on the Statue of Liberty invites all “yearning to breathe free” to come to America. Our families all were from somewhere else sometime in history. And all of us in the kingdom of God were once foreigners as well. In the Old Testament Reading today, God anticipates gathering people from every nation to join Israel, and Jesus finds great faith in the Canaanite woman in the Gospel. In the Epistle, Paul even finds good news in the rejection of Jesus by God’s Old Testament people, for “God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all” (Romans 11:32). We were all once foreigners, but now we breathe in the freedom of God’s gracious rule, His love and mercy for Jesus’ sake.

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Dance Band on the Titanic

All of our prayer and praise is only our response to what God has said to us. Through the revealed Word of the Bible and the incarnate Word, Jesus, God has talked to us about sin and grace. Our talking back to Him, unfortunately, can be back talk, with all the negative connotations of that term. That’s fine when we deserve to hear the Law, as Job does in today’s Old Testament Reading. But when we have truly heard God’s gracious invitation, as Paul reminds us in the Epistle and Peter heard while in his boat, our talking back to God is humble thanks for His grace and mercy. We have the opportunity again today to hear Law and Gospel and to give God the faith-filled back talk He wants from His forgiven sons and daughters.

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Jesus Feeds the 5,000

We face so many arguments about food these days. Go organic. Go gluten free. Go low carb. Go vegan. Go GMO free. Our culture is deeply concerned about what sort of food we put in our bodies, because the old saying “you are what you eat” is fairly accurate. While what sort of food we put into our bodies is an important concern, Jesus compels us to make another kind of food an even higher priority than the food we chew and digest. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus feeds five thousand people, thereby revealing that He is the Word of God Incarnate, the food that feeds more than our stomachs. Jesus feeds our souls. This was foreseen by the prophet Isaiah who wrote, “Come, everyone who thirsts . . . incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live.” The food we put into our bodies is important. Even more important is to gather in church for food that feeds the soul!

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What Was I Expecting?

“There are many expectations we have of the kingdom of heaven alive at St. Paul Lutheran Church and School. Some expectations never materialize. People aren’t always the way we expect them to be. That is a reality that gives us a goal to change, to grow, to transform. We shall build up our trust and faith in God while we increase our desires to care and love one another. We will believe that marvelous things can grow from something tiny, and that we will invest in that in which we find the treasures of faith.

God has a purpose for us. That purpose truly is being the living witness of Christ himself, being the certainty that God desires all things come together for the good of his people and creation. This good begins with each of us today. It matters not how many times we hear it from the pulpit, how fresh and new, surprising and delightful is God’s love. I’m hoping I will have been able to preach that good news at least 50,000 times. What I never expected was adding to the count at St. Paul Lutheran Church and School in Hilton!. I’m glad I can. The Lord be with you, and me.”

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Parole or Not?

With the whole creation we groan together in birthing pains, waiting for the redemption of all things. Things are not how they were intended to be. We are not home yet. This sad state of affairs is the result of people who are not God playing God. The devil is in on this, sowing weeds throughout the field of this world. But there is no God besides God the Holy Trinity, not in heaven above nor on earth below—not you, not me, not anyone. The real God has appointed that we and all humanity are saved in hope through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our true home is the kingdom of God introduced by Jesus. Along our journey home, even when we do not know what to pray, our hope is sustained by the intercessions of God the Holy Spirit, whose groanings on our behalf are deeper than words can tell.

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