The following is the opening to the sermon that I am preaching tomorrow, May 10, on John 14:1-11. The worship live stream will start at 9:30 AM (PST) on our YouTube channel (Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA)
Fear has a way of rendering people paralyzed – unable to think clearly or make smart, rational decisions. When everything safe around you is threatened, the natural reaction is embedded deep in the primal part of our brain. It is the fight or flight response. We instinctively either, fight for the safe place we have – trying to restore order – or we retreat and search for another safe place. We do this without thinking or planning or evaluation. In a lot of ways this is a gift from God that enables self-preservation. For example, if I were to encounter one of those “murder hornets” that are supposedly here in Washington, I am not going to evaluate too long whether I should retreat or not. But sometimes this fight or flight response becomes a hinderance to common sense. For example, there are people in Washington holding “COVID-19 parties” – purposely exposing themselves to get it out of the way so they can return to their safe place sooner. Truth be told, there is no science to this and thus not safe for the public. And then, this fight or flight response often gets in the way of trusting God – refusing to believe or accept His promises – thus Jesus’ commands in John 14.
Yes, our safe places have been threatened, but God is still sovereign. And so, let us hear the Good News in John 14 so we can stop fighting or flighting (is that even a word?) and start trusting. Let us pray…
The following is the opening paragraph of the Palm Sunday sermon I am preaching tomorrow. The text is Luke 19:36-40 and the live stream will begin at 9:30 AM (Pacific) on our YouTube channel (Living Word Lutheran Church – Graham, WA). To God be the glory!
The King is coming, but is the road paved with your cloaks of homage? Are your palm branches of celebration ready and in hand? Are your voices ready to shout in worship among the crowds so that the rocks have no reason to come alive? The King is coming. The King has arrived. The King is here. And the Church has been deployed into the mission field. We always have been deployed, but now the mission field is in the midst of the battlefield – figuratively and literally. Now, more than ever, the King needs to be proclaimed. Are you ready and willing to loudly pay homage to the King? Let your voices ring. Let you shouts go out. As you lay your cloaks down. Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.
Tomorrow’s (March 29) preaching text is John 11:38-44 — the raising of Lazarus. What follows here is the opening paragraph to the sermon God has placed on my heart. May He give hope to hopeless hearts. May He lift up the downtrodden. May He speak life to dry bones. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.
Have you ever wept without hope? Have you ever stood before a proverbial cave with a weighty stone rolled in front of it?
Maybe it was the loss of a dream.
The death a loved one.
The fading away of a long-held hope.
Have you ever cried so much that your tear ducts seemed empty but there was still more crying to be done? Have you ever cried yourself to exhaustion? It is an awful place to be – standing in front of an immovable stone sealing your hope away. But God gives life to dry bones, restores lost dreams and revives sealed-away hope. God wipes away tears as He breathes the Spirit of life into the redeemed through Jesus Christ our Lord. God uses what seems to be lost and hopeless to shine the light of His glory in this sin-fallen world. Wait on the Lord and hope in His word, for He will never fail to deliver.
The following is the opening to the sermon I will be preaching on Sunday, March 22. The text is John 9:35-41 — the ending of the story of Jesus healing the man born blind. I will be live streaming on YouTube at 9:30 AM (PST). I will lead worship and we will partake in Holy Communion together. “How?” you may ask, well, tune in and find out – just make sure you have your bread and wine/grape juice (or whatever) ready to go.
The church’s website, that will give you live streaming instructions, is: http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com
People who are blind have learned to adjust to their blindness. They have learned to rely on their other senses to help them navigate their darkness. They have resources, people and other aids to help them do everyday tasks. In every sense of the word, they can lead somewhat normal lives just like everyone else. I’ve never been blind, so I am simply speaking as an outside observer – so please forgive any blindness on my part. I have, though, been in dark, dark places where I could not rely on my sight, but rather, on my other senses and knowledge of the environment – like walking through a dark room. But no matter your knowledge of your environment or the keenness of your senses, there is always a stray Lego on which to step.
Now imagine, being blind or in a dark, dark place – unfamiliar to you – and you hear a low, scary growl. That is enough to send fear coursing through the strongest of people – not knowing where to turn. My friends, we are in a dark and unfamiliar place and the low, scary growl is all around us. To whom shall we go in this darkness? To whom shall we place our trust?
To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.
The following is a sermon teaser for the sermon I am preaching tomorrow (March 8) on John 3:1-8 — Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. The complete sermon can be viewed on my congregation’s website early next week: http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com
I came across this quote from Paul Washer that he proclaimed at the 2020 Shepherd’s Conference. Paul said, “We preach to dead men, and there is no crowbar from the secular world we can use to pry them out of a tomb.” [Paul Washer, 2020 Shepherd’s Conference] – let that sink in for a moment.
You really need to listen to Paul Washer deliver that quote as it will kick you in the butt to battle the darkness. It sure kicked me in the butt.
You see, we live in a world of darkness and we’re surrounded by people living in the darkness of their own tombs – but through Jesus Christ, the light of the world, we have the ultimate weapon to battle that darkness – The Gospel of Jesus. We must wield this weapon with love and gentleness, not with frustration and force, and let the Holy Spirit blow as it may. Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night – the darkness – and heard from the Light of the World. Let us, too, hear from the Light of the world…
To God be the glory as I fine tune this message. May the light of Jesus transform and lead us into the darkness.
The following is the opening paragraph from the sermon I am preaching on Sunday, December 8 — the 2nd Sunday of Advent. The theme is peace that only God can give through the birth of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Savior who is coming again.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. [Matthew 3:2]
Those are the words of Jesus as he prepares his disciples for this eventual departure – a death they do not and can not understand right now. But it is a death that will usher in the peace that Jesus is leaving with them ~ for he is the Prince of Peace as prophesized through Isaiah. It is a peace that goes beyond comprehension. It is a peace that can not be manufactured, copied or imitated. It is a peace that, really, can not even be imagined – only hoped for with complete confidence. And I say confidence because – well – Jesus left it and because God promised it long before the man, Jesus, came on the scene. We talk about peace, but rarely do we pursue it rightly. The world imagines a peace where wars cease, racism is eliminated, discrimination is gone. Governments try to legislate peace. Churches pass meaningless resolutions that claim to eradicate racism. Basically, they try to ban sin which cannot be done by humans. Shalom – the peace that Jesus brings is so much more and is only ushered in through Jesus and the arrival of God’s kingdom. Let our Adventing continue.
The following is the opening prayer for the sermon I am preaching on Sunday, July 28. The text is Luke 11:1-13; Jesus teaching the Lord’s Prayer and the story of the persistent friend. To God be the glory. Let us pray…
Good things. That’s what we want, oh God, is good things. But too often those good things that we desire are only for our comfort and peace; for self-glorification. We want healing. We want stuff. We want notoriety. We ask and ask and ask some more. Maybe we even recruit others to ask on our behalf, because, after all, the more who are praying the better our chances. But that’s not how it works. Convict our hearts of this error, oh God. Give us understanding. Give us intimacy. Give us Your good gifts. We ask but we are too short-sighted. We long for something and become idolatrous. Forgive us, oh God, through Christ Jesus our Lord. Give us your good gifts. Through faith in Jesus Christ, may we long for the gift that only You can give. And thus, may we be shamelessly persistent in our prayer for the good gift of You. Now may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, oh God, our rock and Redeemer. Amen.
The sermon for this morning is from Luke 9:57-62. This is about the call to follow Jesus. It is a very timely message for the congregation I am serving. The following is the opening paragraph to the sermon that God has placed on my heart. The video of the whole sermon will be posted on the church website this week. To God be the glory!
I saw an internet meme recently that said, “Raising kids is like a walk in the park – Jurassic Park.” We chuckle, but there’s a lot of truth to that. One could also substitute “Following Jesus” for “Raising kids”, and still chuckle; understanding that the meaning is still the same. You see, following Jesus is not easy. Following Jesus is not simply a peaceful walk in a beautiful park. Following Jesus has twists and turns; hills and valleys; roadblocks and straightaways. Following Jesus requires the faith of the father in Mark’s Gospel who says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus calls you to follow – now – and not to look back. But as you follow him, he also walks along side to encourage you along the way. You must never follow Jesus with rose colored glasses but understand what a life is discipleship requires: Faith. For if following Jesus were really that easy, don’t you think more people would be doing it?
Sunday, June 2 is Ascension Sunday and the text that I will be preaching on is Luke 24:44-53. The following is the opening paragraph of the sermon that God is laying on my heart. If you want the rest, you can now watch the sermon on our congregation’s website at: http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com.
The sermon should be posted next week sometime. In the mean time, here is a little sermon teaser for you…
Shortly before his ascension, Jesus issues a subpoena (You are witnesses to these things) to all who know the Father as revealed in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Subpoena is to testify to the Truth. It is not something that someone chooses. You don’t choose to be witness but rather you become one and thus are called and commanded to testify. Your testimony is not to be about your opinions or theories. You are not called to speculate or guess. You are called to testify to the Truth. The facts of the matter. And the facts are this, thus saith the Lord, Jesus has suffered and died and rose from the dead for the forgiveness of sins. He has ascended and is seated on the right hand of the Father. He WILL come again to judge the living and the dead. Amen? These are the facts. Now, what say you?
The following is the opening paragraph to Sunday’s Palm Sunday sermon. A little sermon teaser for you 🙂
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” [John 12:13]
“Save us now”, is the cry of the day. Hosanna! Blessed be Jesus, the Son of God. Blessed be Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Blessed be his name forever and ever. Amen. For Jesus comes at the will of our Holy God and Father. Jesus comes as King and Redeemer. Jesus comes to set his people free. Jesus comes to save…NOW. Hosanna! Jesus came to save miserable wretches and sinners such as you and me. He came to free those who can not free themselves. Jesus came as Messiah, not to give us our “best life now”, but to give us our best life later. Now, we live in hope; being at peace with God. Blessed be Jesus, the Son of God. Blessed be his name forever and ever…
The rest of the sermon (audio only) will be posted on my congregation’s website later.
Have a blessed Holy Week.