Category Archives: Sermon prep

Who are You?

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Can you answer that question? I am not talking about the first question he asks which is, “Who do PEOPLE say that I am?” That’s an easier question to answer, but not the one a follower of Jesus needs to answer. Who to YOU say that Jesus is?

Father God,
You are holy.
You are mighty.
You are love.
Through Jesus Christ,
You are Life.
You are hope.
You are grace.
I ask, oh God, that each and every day
You reveal to me who You are
and then may I live in that revelation
in order to bring glory to Your holy name.
Oh God,
I worship You for You are my all in all;
more than words can describe.
In Jesus name I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Facing Jesus

I was struck by a convicting thought during our congregational text study this morning. The Gospel text for Sunday is Matthew 14:22-33; Jesus walking on the water. As we were discussing this I began to think about facing fears. Peter was afraid in that boat as the wind and waves were causing havoc out there on that sea. To top things off, a “ghost” was heading straight towards them. Upon seeing it was Jesus, Peter asks to be near Jesus and thus it happened. Instead of facing his fears, Peter was facing Jesus and eventually, face to face with him out there on that stormy sea. It wasn’t until Peter looked at the wind; his fear, that he began to sink.

As we continued to discuss this text the issue of North Korea came up. All the talk about them attacking Guam and potentially the main land of the United States. It’s kind of scary when you dwell on that but why am I dwelling on it. I began to reflect on the fact that I normally close my day by watching the news and then going to bed. On many nights, the final images and words in my brain are the crap going on in the world. How dumb is that. It seems like a no-brainer. Face my fears or face Jesus. The answer is pretty simple.

[Click]

Off went the T.V.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m climbing out of the boat…

The Pastor -|—

 

Hang in there

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. [Matthew 10:24-25]

Doing some reading for this Sunday’s sermon, I came across this little nugget from Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew“Everyone who wants a safe, carefree life free from danger should stay away from Jesus. The world responds with hostility  to Him. So as we are conformed to Christ more and more, the world will respond to us more and more as they responded to Him. If you want to avoid being betrayed, hated, or persecuted, then don’t become like Christ.

Yup, sounds about right.

Oh, and one more thing. Jesus also said to his disciples, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Don’t forget that promise.

Basically, if you are doing things right then the world will definitely let you know it, but don’t be scared away. He who is with us is greater than they who are with them. Glorify God through standing firm.

The Pastor -|—

Sermon thoughts ~ John 11:1-41

In John chapter 11, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. He hears that Lazarus is sick and then waits four days. Had he left earlier, Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying, but Jesus waits that God may be glorified. Upon arriving, Jesus meets Martha and then Mary ~ “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Upon asking where they have laid him, they say, “Come and see”. At this we have one of the most famous verses in the Bible, probably because of it’s brevity.

“Jesus wept”

Question: Why did Jesus weep?

Jesus is the Son of God
Jesus can raise the dead
Jesus seemed to know that his delay would end in the dead of Lazarus
Jesus knows what he can do

So, why did Jesus weep?

I contend that Jesus is not weeping over the death of Lazarus but rather over the hopeless weeping that the others are doing. Do Mary and Martha not know Jesus well enough to know that he can raise Lazarus?

So Jesus raises Lazarus. He walks out of the tomb and he tells the people to unbind him. Word then begins to spread, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders. When you see people in hopeless despair, how do you show them Jesus? How do you show them that there is hope? How do you help people move from tears of despair to tears of Joy?

Just some thoughts. What say you?

The Pastor -|—

Speaking ~ good; silence ~ bad

I am finishing the sermon for tomorrow and wanted to share this little tid bit with you before I posting the prayer I wrote for the closing of the sermon:

In the Gospel of Mark, chapter 14, Jesus is on trial before the high priest. During the trial, (false) witnesses came forward with testimony against Jesus, but with one glaring problem: Their testimony did not agree. More witnesses came forward but still could not agree. And when asked by the high priest to answer these charges, Jesus remained silent. At this point, there was nothing to convict Jesus and thus remaining silent could have meant his freedom because after all, the truth was on his side but also THE Truth was on his side, and thus silence is not an option.

So the high priest eventually chimes in to ask if Jesus was the Son of God, and Jesus breaks his silence to speak the Truth; signing his own death certificate. All Jesus had to do, to save his life, was remain silent, but he spoke the Truth to set you free.

And what about you, do you remain silent about the Truth of God; about the Gospel. Sure, it may be easier to remain silent in this world that is hell bent on discrediting Christians, but what does that silence achieve? To remain silent may secure your comfort but it may mean eternal death for someone else if they don’t hear about Jesus. Silence may be easy for you but it may come with a high cost for someone else.

But really, if you truly know the Truth of God through Jesus Christ, how does one keep silent. Speak, for the truth has already set you free. Let’s pray…

All honor, glory and worship be unto You,
oh God,
for the awesome gift of life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
All thanksgiving be to You
for giving us Your Holy Spirit to sustain us.
All praise be to You,
Holy God,
for receiving redeemed sinners into Your presence through Jesus.
May we be so bold to speak and abhor silence when it comes to the Good News of Jesus.
May proclaiming Your grace and love be as natural to us as breathing,
as we look forward to that day when we begin worshiping You
forever and ever
in Your glorious kingdom.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

I S_ _ _ at Sermon Writing

One of my favorite things to write about or tweet about or Facebook about is the process of sermon writing. It’s a process that never fails to amaze me. For each time a sermon comes flowing out of my fingers it is due to the Holy Spirit taking my fingers and putting life into them. And so hopefully you are not tired of this topic. For me, I am just tooting God’s horn and give God praise through the work of the Holy Spirit.

————————

So today is Thursday, my sermon writing day at my favorite coffee shop. I am once again at my favorite table by the front window that looks out onto the sidewalk and the one-way main street. Vehicles line the street and there is a somewhat steady flow of activity. And in the midst of writing spurts I find myself looking out onto the world to day dream and reflect. And then after my “commercial break” ends the Holy Spirit returns me to the regularly scheduled programming (sermon writing). The characters may vary slightly, the plot is the same but the way I arrive at the message varies week to week. And despite the sameness in the “programming” I never lose interest (and hopefully those listening on Sunday don’t lose interest either).

And as I reflect on this amazing process of sermon writing I am reminded of something my wife’s uncle once asked me: How do you come up with all those sermons? Without batting an eyelash I said to him, God. To which he responded, I know that but how do you come up with a sermon each week? Me: God.

I think that frustrated him enough as our conversation quickly ended through some “diversion” that caught his attention. I think what he wanted to hear about was some skill or resource that I drew upon. He was amazed but amazed with the wrong person. As Martin Luther says in his sacristy prayer, If this task were left up to me I would surely bring it all to ruin. And that is the case with sermon writing. Because believe me, when it comes to writing and public speaking,

I suck (sorry about the language).

And so without sounding cocky or proud or anything like that, I am glad I suck at writing and public speaking. For as the apostle Paul says, when I am weak it is then that I am strong. That strength?

God

But really, where does your strength come from?

God

That’s it.

Now it time to return to the regularly scheduled programming. Come, Holy Spirit…

And have a great day 🙂

The Pastor -|—

Holy Saturday ~ Limbo

I feel like I am in limbo today.

The past two days we traveled through the cross of Jesus and now today ~ Nothing. Jesus has been crucified and buried, but tomorrow, though, is the joyous celebration of his resurrection. But I’m still in today ~ so nothing, at least for now.

And so I am here in my office reflecting on the cross, my sin and Jesus’ willingly going to the cross for me. And as I reflect on this I am polishing off TWO Easter sermons.

That’s right, I am just crazy enough to do that 🙂

This is something I have never done before. You see, I have two Easter services here at Salem Lutheran Church and one out at Belmont Lutheran Church. Every year I have written one Easter sermon and preached it three times. But there are a couple “problems” that I have never addressed before:

(1) Some people that come to the Sonrise worship service at Salem will come back for the Festival worship service later (I lead the Sonrise service at Belmont in between). And so those people hear the sermon twice, not necessarily bad since I need to hear something more than once to really get it, but I have heard comments.

(2) The crowd at each service is generally different (with a few the same). And so with a different crowd, a different message is needed; a different focus, if I am going to be contextual.

And so I felt the Spirit move stronger than ever, this year, to write TWO sermons. Besides, there shouldn’t be a problem, since I have plenty of material 🙂

Praise be to God!

And so this “nothing” day is turning into something. I am reflecting on the cross and preaching to myself an Easter message in two ways (but yet the same) as I get ready to lead God’s people in worship tomorrow.

What a day
Nothing to something ~ yup, that sounds like God

Holy Saturday, a day of limbo, but also a day of great expectation and hope as we know what is coming, and I am not talking about tomorrow.

God bless you as you wait expectantly for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Come, Lord Jesus, with your glorious Kingdom and praise be to God!

Living God, what a roller coaster ride this week, and now we wait for the glorious return of our Lord Jesus. Bless our waiting, Oh God, and may we feel the passion to share this Good News every single day. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

The Pastor -|—