Sermon teaser ~ John 4:5-42

I am imagining a blogging series that will contain sermon teasers. I have been posting a sermon teaser, now and then, on my Facebook site, but I thought I would offer this to a wider audience. If you are intrigued by what you read and want to hear more, then I invite you to visit my congregation’s website at http://www.livingwordlutheranchurch.com and go to “sermons” near the bottom of the left side menu bar. There we post the audio of the sermon.

So to start things out I have the opening paragraph of tomorrow’s sermon (3/19). May God be praised:

In order to find and minister to those who are ‘thirsty’, you must be present at their well at their time. The classic evangelism blunder that many churches make is that they sit at the wrong well; their own; hoping the thirsty will just show up. What we often forget is that people are going to go where they know they will be refreshed, but yet, too many churches think that if they advertise well enough about how great their water is people will come to their well. That evangelism strategy rarely works; thus we need to be identifying the popular wells that people go to and then go there in order to reap the harvest that God has planted. The harvest is ready. Are you?

That’s it, that’s all you get…for now 🙂

The Pastor -|—

It’s All about Jesus

I attended a worship service while on vacation, recently, that left me scratching my head (and not because it inflamed my dandruff). What left me scratching was the sermon. The topic?

Ebeneezer Scrooge

I kid you not. This was part of a larger Advent theme titled, “The Redemption of Scrooge“. Now, I am not criticizing the Advent title because there is much you can do with it that is inline with the Gospel. What bothered me was the sermon content. Four times the name “Jesus” was referenced but never as the topic. I can’t tell you what the scripture text was because that was never referenced. Some other random scriptures were thrown in but I struggled to find the connection.I waited and waited. I waited for Jesus and was denied. And that in lies the problem.

If the sermon is not about Jesus, then it is not worth preaching.

I went to worship my awesome God through Jesus Christ and to hear the Gospel proclaimed to me but I left with a message about a Christmas character that is not even found in the Bible. Did that sermon really need to be preached for the advancement of the Kingdom?

No!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to criticize the above, unnamed church I attended but rather bring to light something I have heard many times before (or not heard). Too many times I have listened to a “sermon” that had nothing to do with Jesus but people left thinking so because the name “Jesus” was mentioned or the pastor was holding a Bible or because they were in a “Christian” church. I wonder, sometimes, if people are really listening to the sermon. Knowing the congregation I currently serve, if I ever preached a sermon about Ebeneezer Scrooge, I would have to answer to the leadership about my sermon content.

As a pastor, I preach the Gospel from the pulpit. The Gospel is about Jesus, period. So therefore, any sermon that is not about Jesus fails to do it’s job, period. That is why I am opposed to preaching politics in the pulpit. I will preach about biblical topics that are political but Jesus is always at the center. If I ever preach a sermon that is not about Jesus, I hope my congregation will slap me up across the head.

It’s all about Jesus.

I write this in hopes that pastors will be very aware of what they are preaching. Is it about Jesus? I also write this in hopes that the people in the pews will be aware of what they are hearing. Was that about Jesus? And if you ever hear a sermon that is not about Jesus, I hope you will feel free to talk to your pastor about it. As pastors, we need to be held accountable. We are human after all and are susceptible to being lead away.

All of life is about Jesus so make sure that Jesus is the topic and not just a passing mention. Preach Jesus, and not just pastors but everyone and give glory to our awesome God.

It’s all about Jesus.

The Pastor -|—

 

Loving God and Neighbors ~ A Prayer

The following prayer is in preparation to preach the Word of the Lord from Mark 12:28-34. This is the account of a Scribe asking Jesus what is the greatest Law; which loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength AND loving your neighbor as yourself.

So may God speak to Your heart this morning and send you out to serve Him through loving your neighbor out of your love for Him.

Holy Father,
we would not know love outside of You
for You are love.
We would not know how to truly love our neighbor outside of You
for You are love.

Many who do not know You, love others
but not in the way that brings You glory.
And so I ask that those here gathered,
who do not know You,
may come to know You in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And in knowing You,
love others with a love that only comes from You.

May You fill hearts,
so much so,
that we are driven to learn and live You holy Law;
obeying You and thus
showing love to our neighbor.
May our obedience bring You glory
and may our love of our neighbors point them to You.
I pray this through Christ Jesus our Lord,
who loved us all the way through the cross and through the grave,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

Worship Prayers for 06/14/15 ~ Sinners/Saints

Good morning sinners/saints. Once again it is my joy to share with you the prayers that have been prepared for worship this morning. Use them as you may to the glory of our awesome God.

Opening Prayer
Holy God, to come before Your throne in worship brings a sense of awe and holy fear; for we are sinners; stained, spotted, wrinkled and riddled with uncleanliness. We are unworthy to even glance in Your direction to soak in just a tiny morsel of Your holy beauty. We are unworthy to even utter Your holy name in a desperate cry for help. But You, oh God, do not turn us away; but rather receive us in Agape love. And as we crawl to you and fall at Your feet, You lift us up through faith in Your only Son, Jesus; our Redeemer and Savior and Lover of our souls. And therefore what a joy it is to gather as Your children and praise Your awesome and holy name. So receive our praise and thanks, and fill us with Your Spirit as we lay our very lives at Your feet. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Prayer before Preaching
Awesome God, mighty King, Your Word is too deep for our feeble minds to probe. Your Word is too wide for our limited understanding to navigate. You Word is too weighty for our weak faith to bare. Who can handle such an awesome Word without being crushed under the weight of its judgment? But we are not crushed for Your Word gives life to those who would receive it through Jesus Christ. So I ask that you would send Your Holy Spirit, now, so that as I bask in Your Word this morning, I may be able to impart Your Way, Truth and Life to the sinners here gathered; that they may see themselves as saints through faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ. Convict my heart and humble me in Your presence. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Post-communion Blessing
Now may the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ embolden your words and deeds as you live as forgiven sinners; saved by grace through faith, and proclaim the life and death of Jesus to the glory of God our Father. Amen.

Prayer after Communion/Closing Prayer
[Charles Spurgeon]
We cry to Thee this morning for the preservation of Thy church in the world, and especially for her purity. Oh Father, keep us, we beseech Thee, with all keeping, that the Evil one touch us not. We shall be tempted, but let him not prevail against us. In a thousand ways he will lay snares for our feel, but, deliver us as a bird from the snare of the fowler. May the snare be broken that we may escape and thus bring glory to Your holy name. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

Now may the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, strengthen you for every good work; keeping you humble so that glory may always be to God. Blessings to you this day and always.

The Pastor -|—

Worship prayers ~ God’s Awesome Kingdom

Grace, peace and love to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Below are the prayers I wrote for worship for Sunday, June 7. The text for preaching is Mark 10:23-31; talking about entry into the Kingdom of God. This is something that is impossible for man but not for God; for anything is possible with God.

And so I commend these prayers to you for the glory of God.

Opening prayer
Holy God, we anxiously await the arrival of Your glorious Kingdom as it comes in power and might; a Kingdom where Your children, through faith in Jesus, will reside in eternal joy. A Kingdom where death and sin are not even a distant memory. A Kingdom where You reign eternal. And so in the mean time we look with longing eyes for the consumption of Your glory. We listen with attentive ears for the life saving Gospel. And we worship You with thankful hearts. Receive our praise and hear our prayers as we fall at Your feet in humble submission. Turn not Your servants away but bring us close that we may be filled with Your love. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Prayer before preaching
Holy God, loving Father, Your Word tells us that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. And so I humbly ask that You may send Your Holy Spirit to enliven the words that I speak; the words of Good News of Jesus Christ, that those words may create or strengthen faith in those who are hearing. And as Your Word brings life to Your children may they be so bold to speak words of life to one another; giving You the glory. And so guide now, your servants, into Your Word and reveal to us the glory of Your Kingdom. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Post-Communion blessing
May the body and blood of Christ strengthen your faith and make you so bold to live as forgiven sinners; proclaiming the Kingdom of God until he comes again. Amen.

Prayer after Holy Communion
Holy God, you are mighty to save; and through Jesus Christ you have announced Your Kingdom. May You grant Your Holy Spirit to establish Your Kingdom in Your children now and send us forth to boldly proclaim the death and resurrection of Your Son and our Lord. In Jesus name I pray, Amen

Benediction (from “Benedictions: A Pocket Resource” by Robert Vasholz)
May the Lord grant you to see where you are lacking, that you might have everything;
May the Lord grant you vision of you poverty, that you might be rich beyond measure;
May the Lord show you that you are destitute so that you may be filled with the fullness of His supply.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

May God bless you as you bring Your worship to God as a thank offering for the blessings God has already bestowed upon you.

The Pastor -|—

Preparing to Listen/Preach ~ Holy Words

The following is the prayer I wrote to be prayed before the sermon. This was inspired by a quote I heard from a person who used to be a faithful teacher of the Bible but now says that Scripture is from human origin; basically, not the inspired Word of God. Sad really. So I couldn’t help but lament the negative conversion of this pastor and seek God’s blessing as we listen to this holy Word.

Let’s pray…

Lord God almighty, holy scripture is breathed out by you; inspired by you; and therefore are words that come from Your holy mouth. This is nothing to take lightly but yet many take Your holy words and claim they are nothing more than mindless babble from human minds long dead and irrelevant. What a travesty. May we never see Your words that way but rather see them as words of life; revealing our salvation through faith Jesus Christ. And so, speak life, oh God. Create, strengthen and nourish faith here. May we heed Your words to listen to Jesus in order to bring glory to Your holy name. Send Your Spirit now and bless these words. May they come from Your mouth and not mine. All praise, glory and honor be to You, oh God, our Rock and Redeemer, Amen.

And let’s continue praying that God’s Word is considered holy and true. It was written by men but inspired by God.

May God bless your hearing of his holy Word and the proclamation of that Word.

The Pastor -|—

Entering God’s Holy Word ~ A Prayer

This is the prayer I wrote to be prayed before I preach on Sunday. This is not a text specific prayer but rather a plea that one be faithful in the awesome task of entering God’s holy Word.

When I think about what I do week in and week out, it is mind-boggling and a little scary. I have been charged with the task of opening God’s Word and proclaiming the very words of God. And therefore I don’t want to be lax in my preparation or timid in my proclamation. I don’t want to steal glory from God or water anything down. And so I prayed and will pray as such each and every time I enter the pulpit or stand before others to teach the Word of God. Let us all do the same, for God’s holy Word needs to be taken seriously.

Let’s pray…

Holy God, it is an awesome privilege to have in our hands the very words that you have spoken. It is mind blowing that you would grace us with Your words that we may come to know Your heart and your plan for salvation. For the Bible is not just an instruction book on how to live, but it’s Your holy Word on what You are up to for us through Jesus Christ and how we can bring You glory.

And therefore to enter Your word like this is an overwhelming thing because we don’t want to get it wrong.

And so I humbly ask that you may grant me insight to proclaim this Word.
And then I ask that you may grant to those listening, the ears to hear and the faith to receive.
And then if it is not too much to ask again of You, Holy God, may you grant us boldness as we leave this place to live for you no matter what.

Thank you for the privilege to listen to your Word. Now may the words of my mouth be heard as Your Words and not return to you empty, but accomplish that which you sent them to do. All glory and honor to you, oh God, through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

The Pastor -|—