Sermons by “Pastor Ball”

What is Caesar’s and What Is God’s?

Our God rules the lives of His faith-filled people by grace for Jesus’ sake. It’s what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” The Lutheran Confessions call this His kingdom of the right hand. But, on the other hand, the left, He also rules through civic authorities. Through Isaiah, He tells King Cyrus that he will be His servant. And the king did let the Jewish exiles return from Babylon! When Jesus’ opponents thought to trick Him in saying something against Caesar, He taught about giving the powers that be their due. When the Church in Thessalonica spread the Gospel, they certainly benefitted from the orderliness of the Roman Empire. On the one hand, God is to be thanked for His grace and mercy; on the other hand, we praise Him for using the government that we may enjoy the physical life He gives us.

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God Gives Us Joy!

Sometimes it feels as though this time in which we live is the very first time that people directly challenge God. Yet this feeling is inaccurate. We are reminded by Ezekiel that God’s people were going around saying, “God is not just” already at the time of the prophets. Distrust of God has been around even longer, since Adam and Eve questioned the goodness of God. In the Gospel, chief priests and elders question the authority of Jesus. Nothing new. But Jesus doesn’t react angrily. Instead, He lets His actions speak louder than words. With very few words, Jesus would go on trial, be wrongly convicted, suffer beatings, be mercilessly crucified, and be raised from the grave. In Christ, we need not fear scoffers. We don’t need to respond by being snarky. We don’t need to try to silence anyone. We simply trust the authority of Jesus’ death and resurrection and follow His way of loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us. Rather than return evil for evil, we turn to the crucified and risen Jesus and live.

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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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Forgiveness of Sins

How many times have you thought the grass was greener on the other side? We sometimes feel that tension with our jobs and relationships. We might be dissatisfied with what we have now and think something better is just over there. Through our Baptism into Jesus’ name, we have the very best, because we are God’s children. Yet, we still live in this world, and the chains that once held us captive in sin seem to entice us to our former way of living. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

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Jesus is the Way!

Only after Easter were the disciples able to understand Jesus’ words. Now they knew that He was and is God in the flesh, our way to the Father. So sure were they, that Stephen could echo Jesus’ last words as he faced death. Peter, in the Epistle, was able to review prophetic words of Scripture that they now knew spoke of Jesus. Today it is our turn to proclaim Jesus as the way, truth, and life, so that our friends will also know who He is and join us to live in His marvelous light.

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It’s Not About the Nail

What a great celebration in observing our Lord’s resurrection yesterday! On Easter Sunday, Pastor Ball tells us, “We live in the full power of God, our God who is alive and who calls us to follow Him. Knowing this, we see this world as being redeemed before our eyes, as being healed even in the middle of pain and brokenness. Believing this, we live boldly, knowing that God’s love for us is stronger than any other force in this world, because our God is the God who has overcome the world.” Praise God!

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Known But Not New

“Often we come to Church for the same reason as the woman at the well. We’re seeking a little refreshment. A moment of quiet reflection. Time to be away from the rest of the world. That’s available to us here at St. Paul, but while you have come for just a sip, realize that God intends to quench your thirst for a lifetime. Because today, He offers you Living water. A washing clean of the sins of the past. An implanting of the Holy Spirit.” Praise God!

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No Secrets!

Pastor Ball tells us this weekend that “Some of the greatest taste and light we have to share comes in the form of forgiveness. And that begins here at St. Paul in the way that we treat one another. When we raise children who daily repent of their sins, we send light out into the community. Jesus’ cross, while a mystery to many, is not meant to to be a secret among us. The power of forgiveness is too life-changing not to share!”

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