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 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 prayer was inspired by the sermon I prepared for today on James 5:13-20. The video of the sermon should be posted within a couple days at http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com. To God be the glory.
Holy God, You command us to pray, not in order to satisfy some narcissistic desire of Yours, but that Your glory would be be proclaimed through us. But we too often limit our interaction with You and thus we miss those holy moments. We procrastinate our prayers to a more convenient and safe time. We utter idle pastoral care type words in order to satisfy some Christian obligation to pray for one another. We miss moments of ministry because of our fear of failure. Give us faith and courage, oh God, to make much of You through unceasing prayer with one another. Open our eyes that we may see Your glory manifest itself in the everydayness of our lives. May we not miss a single moment to pray with and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. To You be all glory, honor, praise and worship through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.
The following is the prayer I wrote to pray before the sermon this morning. God help me…
Holy God, as a minister of the Gospel, I come to this task of preaching, as I do every time I step to the pulpit, with a heavy sense of awe. For it is Your Word I have been called to proclaim – Your Word, not mine. To withhold or to add to Your Word, would be to deny the truth of who You are. To twist, shape and mold to fit my agenda would be to misrepresent who Your are. Your Word is holy as it is. As the psalmist says in Psalm 19: The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. This is the holy awe with which I am faced. And so, I ask for Your Spirit to guide my words that I may not run afoul of this holy task. May I make much of You and You alone. To You be all glory, praise, honor and worship through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.
This is the prayer I wrote that I will use before I preach tonight. May all preachers grab hold of the opportunity to boldly preach the Gospel as there will, no doubt, be people in attendance who don’t know Jesus. Don’t drop the ball. Give them Jesus.
Holy and awesome God, when sin fractured Your perfect creation You immediately proclaimed hope to a fallen world. Jesus is that hope – Your Son and our Lord. We praise You for Your faithfulness to rescue a lost and fallen creation – and may Your mighty power continue this night.
If there are hurting hearts present who are mourning the loss of a loved one – comfort them. If there are un-convinced hearts present – show them the Light. If there are lost hearts present – claim them. If there are searching hearts present ~ reveal Your Truth to them. Holy God, use my words this night and may they not return to You empty, but continue to work in order to rescue lost people. Awaken hearts and enliven souls as only You can do, oh God.
And now, Father God, as the shepherds made haste to find the Christ-child, a Savior born for all, may we too join in the joyous procession – living in the joy and love of Christmas all year round. To You be all glory, honor, praise and worship through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
I am preaching on Romans 10:8-17 this morning. Earlier i posted, A Gospel Poem, that flowed from this sermon prep. Now, i have written this Holy Communion liturgy that was inspired by that text. To God be the glory, always and forever, Amen.
It is indeed right and salutary that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you,
for You have given us the word of truth that saves us our souls –
Your only Son,
And through Jesus, You have given us a “good deposit” that is to be guarded with our lives, not hidden away and protected as gold or silver, but maintained in all its integrity. For it is only through the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ that people are saved.
may You send our feet to people who have not heard –
that faith may come through their hearing of the Gospel that flows from our lips and may those who hear this Good News come to call upon Your most holy name.
You are mighty to save and thus we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…
This poem is something I wrote as I prepared a sermon on Romans 10:8-17 — thinking about “beautiful feet” carrying the Gospel. I want people to call on the name of Jesus, but first we need to constantly reacquaint ourselves with the Gospel. So the Spirit placed this on my heart. May you receive this Good News again and again. To God be the glory, Amen.
You are a sinner, that is true.
God’s wrath you’ve certainly accrued.
Condemned to die, yes, you deserve.
A judgment from which you can not swerve.
Salvation you can not obtain.
You can’t do it, i’ll say again.
You need help, you certainly do,
In order to be made brand new.
So, what’s our hope? Well, i’ll proclaim –
You’re saved by Jesus holy name.
God’s holy wrath, he took for us.
For His love is in great surplus.
Jesus took your sins to the cross.
So your life would not be a loss.
Jesus died but death did not win.
Jesus rose much to death’s chagrin.
Now look to him and see God’s grace.
For this gift is yours to embrace.
You are a sinner that is sure,
But Jesus lives so you’ll be pure.
So repent and run fast to him.
And know peace filled over the brim.
Confess your sins, Yes, every one.
You are forgiven through the Son.
Now, Jesus lives and so will you.
And it excites me to review.
You are precious – his beloved bride.
Forever with him, you’ll abide.
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.