To Be a Witness

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
[Luke 24:45-49]

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
[Acts 1:8]

Holy God,
through Jesus Christ
You have called me to be Your witness
to the ends of the earth.
And why not, for…
I have seen your glory,
I have heard the truth,
I have tasted that You are good,
my sins have been forgiven,
I have been given hope,
I have been redeemed.

This is joyous news, so…

May the Good News of Jesus,
that has transformed me, now,
always be upon my lips.
Reveal to me opportunities to witness to the resurrection
that those who see and hear
may be drawn to You.
May I never hold back.
May I never seek self-glorification.
May I never twist the truth.
May I never judge.
For I am called to be a witness,
to all the world;
to all people.
All worship, praise, honor and glory
be unto You,
o
h God,
through Christ Jesus my Lord,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser ~ The world’s “Psalm 23”

The following is a work in progress as I talk about those that enter the sheepfold by anyway other than the Door (Jesus). This is “Psalm 23” as told by those who would deceive the sheep; stealing them away and thus leading them to be killed and destroyed.

A lord will be your shepherd
you shall not want because you will have lots of stuff.
He makes you lie down in luscious homes
with big fences so you will be at peace.
He will cause you to be happy.
He leads you in paths of success
for your name’s sake and for your heirs.
Even though you will walk among those who would oppose you,
you will fear no one,
for your many friends will give you meaning;
and thus you will live in comfort.
Your enemies will be defeated
for you will be among the privileged
and therefore your cup will overflow with fortune.
Surely success and money and fame
will follow you all the days of your life
and you will dwell in the biggest house in your neighborhood
(until you die).

Scary how true this is for many.

The Pastor -|—

An Easter Prayer of Faith

Holy and awesome God,
We come to this place this morning to worship YOU
because of the LIFE we have through faith in Jesus.
But I am keenly aware,
oh God,
that there may be people here this morning
only because they are visiting family
or because grandma and grandpa said,
“You’re going to worship this morning”
or because they were taught this is just what you do on Easter.
Whatever the case,
oh God,
I pray that the words I speak here may have power,
not because I say them,
but because they are ordained by YOU
and infused with Your Holy Spirit.
If it be Your will,
may someone who doesn’t know You come to faith,
so much so,
that they proclaim Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
May people be drawn to You
that You may be glorified.
And so, may the words of my mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to You,
oh God,
our rock and Redeemer,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser for Palm Sunday

Here is the opening paragraph for this Sunday’s sermon. May God be glorified…

The holy bookends of Palm Sunday and Easter, encapsulate a holy drama that ends in a sure and certain hope through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus rides into Jerusalem as the king of peace, is later mocked as the King of the Jews and then bursts through as the victorious King; one who obliterates sin, death and the power of Satan. We enter this morning in jubilation but leave somber and reflective as we contemplate the events of Holy Week. We enter worship this morning shouting, “Hosanna” which means “save us now” and leave hearing how Jesus does just that. The scope of this day is a microcosm of the holiest week of the year but may we not be satisfied with only this, rather, may we encounter the Passion of Jesus Christ anew as we listen to our salvation unfold and the power of death crumble into oblivion.

May God bless you as you journey through Holy Week; coming through the darkness and emerging into the Light of Easter morning.

The Pastor -|—

Death is No More

Death is the stark reality that we must face every single day, and therefore this is the motivation behind Jesus’ ministry. He was on a death-destroying mission. So when Jesus comes face to face with death, while at Lazarus’ tomb, he is moved to deep and powerful emotion that gives us a glimpse into what kept him focused on the cross. Jesus is so angry at sin that he is obedient to the Father’s will and stays on the cross even though he had the power to call down a legion of angels to protect him. Jesus remains on the cross because the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23) Jesus defeats death and thus we have hope. Now, our weeping is not over death’s victory. We weep because we will miss our loved ones but also, through faith in Jesus, we can weep tears of joy over what God has done for us through Jesus Christ.

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

Cling to the hope of the resurrection, oh weary soul.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon teaser for John 11:17-44

This week I get the privilege of preaching on John 11:17-44, twice; this Sunday and then again on Tuesday during our last midweek Lenten worship service. The following is the opening paragraph for Sunday. For more, keep an eye on my congregation’s website:
http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com

The raising of Lazarus gives us a sneak peek into the death-destroying, Satan-stomping, sin-eradicating power of God through Jesus Christ. The disciples knew Jesus as someone who could do amazing miracles, but really had no idea the length and depth of his power. Martha had an idea as she says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Martha dared to believe that if Jesus asked God for the life of Lazarus, that God would grant his request. That is a bold faith, but even Martha had no idea the lengths that Jesus would truly go to destroy death’s grip. In this story, Jesus overcame death’s hold on Lazarus, but through his own resurrection, Jesus would proclaim his victory over death and death’s hold over all those who believe in him.

The Pastor -|—

 

Sermon Teaser for John 9:24-41

Jesus says of himself that he is the Light of the World; that all who follow him will not walk in darkness. One would think that would be enough to clue people in that maybe Jesus is worth following especially considering the dark world in which we live. Liberalism is constantly telling us that we are evil and bigoted and therefore demand that we be tolerant or shut up. The forces of evil seem to be ramping up their fear tactics. Satan’s prowling is ever more present. Darkness is darker than ever. But Jesus came to reveal the Truth by opening people’s eyes, but if you refuse to acknowledge that Truth then you are truly blind. Unless you acknowledge that you are as dependent as sheep, and trust him with all your heart, you will never truly know the peace that can only come from Jesus. May we truly open our eyes.

The story of the man born blind is one plump full of Gospel truth for a messed up world. Jesus is the Truth, period. I look forward to unpacking this text more over the next few days.

The Pastor -|—