Doer

The preaching text for today is James 1:19-27 as I continue working through the Epistle of James. The following is the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote with this James text in mind and heart. To God be the glory.


It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, oh God, for You and You alone are worthy. But words are not enough to fully express our worship, and so may we not get caught up in only spouting off words of doctrine – falling into complacency – but may we also be doers of the Word. May we control our tongues, care for the vulnerable and be holy as you are holy. Oh Lord our God, Creator and Redeemer, Shepherd and Fortress, our hope and salvation. You call us to action and thus grant us Your Spirit that we may respond and so glorify You. And so with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise.

Trials

This is a poem based on James 1:1-18 – the sermon text for Sunday, Sept 15 as I being preaching through the book of James. To God be the glory.


Lead me by the hand,
when trials come my way.
Hold me close to You,
So I’ll not go astray.

For You have a plan,
in all that I will face.
Trials have a goal,
Please help me to embrace.

I want to grow strong
For Satan tries to stop,
May I lean into You,
So I’ll come out on top.

Jesus is my Lord.
I know I’ll see some strife.
But, through my trials,
there lays the crown of life.

Content in You

[Communion liturgy based on my sermon text from Philippians 4:10-20; the “secret” of being content.]

It is indeed right and salutary
that we should at all times and in all places
give thanks and praise to you,
oh God,
the author of our peace.
For through Jesus Christ you have given us hope
so that we could live lives that bring You glory.
You provide for all our needs.
You strengthen us to do the work of the church.
You surround us with Your abundant love.
You shower us with amazing grace.
You give us Your Holy Spirit.
Through faith in Jesus Christ we are content in You
as we rest in Your mighty arms.
And so with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven
we join in singing Your unending praise…

The Pastor -|—

Working Out

I am preaching through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. The following prayer is what I am using on Sunday, Nov 4, before I preach on Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Holy God,
Martin Luther is quoted as saying,
The Bible is alive, it speaks to me;
it has legs, it runs after me;
it has hands, it lays hold of me.
Oh God,
run and catch us.
Lay hold of and keep us.
Open our eyes and ears
that we may see and hear Your Word of truth;
for Your Word is a living word.
It’s active and sharper than any two-edged sword.
Pierce our hearts and make us alive in Jesus.
Trim away the fat and make us lean.
May Your Word be all that is left in us,
so much so,
that You shine forth
and are glorified in and through our lives.
May we be so alive with Your Spirit
that we run after you;
working out our salvation with fear and trembling.
To you be the glory, now and forever,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

This Much

The magnitude of what Jesus did for us can not be overstated.
The lengths that Jesus went to can not be measured.
The depths of his love can not be gauged.
The wideness of his grace can not be seen,

The closest we get is this: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God (think about that for a moment, the form – of – God), did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, BUT

emptied himself,
by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient
to the point of death,
even death on a cross.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:5–11 ESV]

Let that sink in…

Goosebumps yet? No? Then go back and read it again and this time pay attention.
or
Goosebumps yet? Yes? Then go back and read it again and just abide in this Word.

This is how much Jesus loves you. Any questions?

The Pastor -|—

 

Coffee shop ponderings — God’s “good” plan

Here I am…posting my coffee shop ponderings from outside of Coffee Choices.  Actually…I never made it there today to write my sermon (I did make it there this morning for coffee though).  I usually start writing the sermon in my office and finish it at my coffee shop, but today was different.  I got on a roll and couldn’t stop typing.

On Sunday I am continuing my sermon series on Romans by preaching on chapter 8 verses 26-39.  I started pondering and praying about verse 28 where it says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Upon pondering this verse I started thinking how this verse is often misused (or at least used in the wrong situations).  The times I have heard this verse used is when someone is facing a devastating disaster or disease diagnosis or something else devastating.  And in times like those, Romans 8:28 is the last verse I want to hear.  If I am mourning the lost of my house and possessions because of a tornado, quoting Romans 8:28 almost sounds like that God planned this disaster so he could do something “good”.  At the moment that is not comforting.  After the fact I may be able to look back and see the good that came from that disaster, but not right now.

I think this verse is used because of our insatiable desire to explain everything.  If we can’t explain it in scientific or logical terms we chalk it up to God’s divine plan (“I am not sure why this happened, but God is going to do something good thought it; it was God’s will.”)  Telling a parent, who’s child just died, that it was God’s will is often not the right thing to say.  Or trying telling them that God will do something good though that death.  You might get an angry response in return.  But who knows how they will look at death later on down the road.

Instead, I see Romans 8:28 as a proclamation of grace.  The “good” God is working towards is nothing else than our reconciliation through Jesus Christ.  Ever since the Fall, God has been working to reconcile creation back to himself.  And it is only though faith that we can recognize this “good”.  Sometimes the “crap” of this world can cloud our faith so we cannot see God active in our lives.  But after the dust clears, then things begin to clear up.

In a simple phrase, quoted by a friend of mine on Facebook, “It’s all grace!”  And that is so true.  God IS working for good, but let’s be careful how and when we use this verse.  We might do more harm than good.  Instead, share with people how God has gotten you thought difficult times.  Talk about God’s amazing love and how he never left you when you were going to a tough time.  Let people see the “good” for themselves after the dust has cleared.

What are your thoughts on Romans 8:28…especially in the context of verses 28 – 39?  Do you think this verse often gets misused?

SIDE NOTE:
There will be no “Coffee shop ponderings” next week as I will be on vacation up north.  Actually, there might not be a whole lot of activity from me at all next week, but you never know.  In the mean time, I look forward to reading your thoughts here.  Take care and I will catch you later.

-edh-

Monday morning check in — The law at work in us

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25)

Yesterday (July 6) I preached on the above text.  Actually…I am spending the summer in Romans with the congregation.  I haven’t done a preaching series for a while, but after preaching in Romans the last couple weeks, I decided to look ahead and mapped out a plan that takes us through August.  I taught an adult class on Romans a few years ago, but never spent this much time preaching in Romans.  This is going to be fun.

In the above text I italicized a couple phrases that really hit home for me.  The first one is Paul’s frustration that when he wants to do good, evil is always right there with us.  Paul goes on to lament about what a wretched man he is…who will rescue us?  “Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord”.  Paul’s frustration is also my frustration.  But what really bothers me is when we take this “law” (as Paul states) and take it to heart a little too much.  I mean…how many times have you said (or heard it said) “The devil made me do it“?  We resign ourselves to the fact that we are wretched and sinful people and give up.  We simply throw up our hands and go on sinning saying (or thinking) “I can’t help help it…I’m a sinner“.  Does this “law” at work in us give us an excuse to keep on sinning?  As Paul would say, “By no means!  We have died to sin, why do you live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2) 

We have a powerful law working against us, but it doesn’t mean we just give in and give up.  We have an awesome God that through Jesus Christ gives us eternal life.  That right there should be motivation enough to fight this law at work in ourselves for the glory of God.  God fought the hard fight for us so we may have life.  I mean…the cross was not easy.

Our fight against sin is one we can not win on our own.  We will lose many battles.  We will grow frustrated.  But “thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Thanks be to God that the war has been won.  Thanks be to God that God does not abandon us.  Thanks be to God that we are loved beyond measure.  Thanks be to God!

Next week the Romans text is chapter 8 verses 1 – 11.  This talks about living according to the Spirit verses living according to the flesh.  This should prove to be a good follow up and hopefully a source of strength and encouragement for the fight against sin.

Other stuff
It is going to be an ugly day here in SW MN.  The humidity is at 100% with a 73 degree dew point.  That makes for a tropical day.  With the early morning rain and the threat of severe weather looming, no work is being done on our ramp project today.  Currently the forms are set for the deck to be poured; we just need some nice weather for that part to proceed.  So because of that I don’t have any updated pictures.  When they start pouring the cement I will post some more pictures.  If you want to see some more pictures of the project, visit our church’s website at www.salemjackson.org and click on the “ramp construction” link.  It has been fasination watching this project but people are starting to get a little anixous to get back into the sanctuary (and I am too).  Another month or so and we will be back in. 

So with that…God bless you and have a marvelous day 🙂

-edh-