Sermon teaser ~ The Feast

The following is the opening paragraph of the sermon I am preaching tomorrow; Sunday, October 11, 2020, on Matthew 22:1-14 – the Parable of the Wedding Feast. To God be the glory!


We live in the here and now, but through faith in Jesus, we also live with one foot in the Kingdom of God and with our noses enjoying the savory fragrances of the Wedding Feast. We are not yet seated at the table, but the invite has been proclaimed. All is ready. Come to the Wedding Feast. And so that savory fragrance is a reminder of our King’s grace and faithfulness as we live in the hope that everything has been prepared for us. And upon entry into the Feast, a garment will be given. No, not something from Macy’s or dare I say, Kohl’s, or anything else of our creation or effort, but rather something far more glorious. Something that only can come from the King of kings. It is a garment like none other, washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. But in the meantime, our Shepherd sets a table for us in the midst of our enemies; anointing us with oil and refreshing our souls, until that day we dwell in the house of the Lord forever, feasting sumptuously on fine wine and fine food. Come all is ready. Come to the Wedding Feast.

Prayer for Christmas Preaching

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.

Facts

It saddens me when churches lose their way and stray from THE mission to proclaim Jesus Christ, born, crucified and risen for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus and him alone is our hope. He is our peace. It is Jesus that gives joy that is untouchable. It is through Jesus that we see the full expression of love, for God is love. Therefore, it behooves us to stick to the facts and let everything else fall into place to the glory of God. The Church is not called to get involved in political advocacy. There are groups that specifically do that. The Church is different and needs to stay different:

Preach the Gospel and let the transformed lives of sinners through the Holy Spirit respond to the world around them as God calls them.
Preach the Gospel and don’t tinker with it – it’s perfect the way it is.
Preach the Gospel and don’t try to make it say something it doesn’t say.
Preach the Gospel with all humility and gentleness but also with boldness.
Preach the Gospel and do not fear the backlash from the world.
Preach the Gospel for that is the only way sinners are saved.

Church – stick to the facts and let God be God.

FACT: You are a sinner.
FACT: You cannot save yourself.
FACT: You are a sinner (did I say that already?).
FACT: You deserve eternal torment in hell.
FACT: You are a sinner (yup, this is important).
FACT: Jesus was born of a virgin.
FACT: Jesus is the sinless Son of God.
FACT: Jesus took your sin upon himself.
FACT: Jesus was crucified FOR YOU.
FACT: Jesus died and was buried.
FACT: Jesus smashed the gates of death.
FACT: Jesus lives.
FACT: You are a sinner (just in case you forgot).
FACT: Through faith in Jesus you are forgiven.
FACT: Through God’s grace you are saved.
FACT: This is indisputable.
FACT: God is love.
FACT: This Gospel is awesome!!!
FACT: You are a sinner and thus you need Jesus.

Stick to the FACTS and you’ll be fine.

To God be the glory!!!

Thanking the Lord

I thank the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight…

Thanksgiving has come and gone and thus the Christmas music season has begun. Overheard on my Pandora Christmas music station this morning were the above lyrics. Being the feisty pastor that I am, I immediately took notice –

thanking the Lord above that Santa Claus is coming tonight.

Hmmm, but I really should not be surprised by this because, after all, that is the mentality of our culture today: Materialism. Children clamoring and begging for the newest toys and gadgets. Adult scrambling for the best Black Friday sales. And apparently buying your spouse an expensive car for Christmas is so common place that car manufacturers produce Christmas commercials urging and supporting such a practice. [heavy sigh]

Yup, people left and right are thanking their lord (notice the small “l”) that new stuff is coming soon.

Each and every year I am reminded very quickly of the mission field in which we serve. You see, you don’t need to create opportunities to witness your faith – those opportunities are all around you. People are begging for meaning and purpose. They are grasping for something to which to cling. Your friends, family and neighbors are thanking the wrong lord. Make it a point this Advent and Christmas to thank the Lord (notice the capital “L” this time) above that Jesus Christ is coming to town…soon.

Yes, Jesus is coming. Through his death and resurrection (The best “door buster” ever), Jesus has conquered death and now is THE Way to eternal life. This is awesome news – that Jesus is coming to bring you home. And that my friends, is the best Black Friday deal around. There is no waiting in line for that. Just receive Jesus as your Lord, confess your sins and receive forgiveness, and repent – giving him thanks and praise.

Every Black Friday deal of this world will fade away and fall into obscurity. Jesus Christ is you Life and Hope and Salvation, forever and ever.

I thank You, Lord above, that Jesus Christ is here and coming to town for me, that I may live with him in everlasting peace and joy. Amen!

Roadside Reminder

While driving to my office yesterday morning, I saw these power poles, but these are not new. I’ve driven this road for 3 1/2 years and they have always been there, but something different happened yesterday. As pole after pole went by, I no longer saw a power pole, but rather, I noticed a cross.
~ I saw Jesus
~ I was humbled as a sinner.
~ I contemplated his death for me.
~ I experienced God’s grace.
~ I heard God’s forgiveness announced.

All of this through a series of power poles that I have seen hundreds and hundreds of times. God is amazing like that – taking everyday things and people to remind you of His grace. And so, as I continued contemplating this picture and morning experience, the following poem got written.
To God be the glory!


The cross of Christ is all around me,
reminding me of Your grace.
Suffered, died and now lives forever,
that I may not be disgraced.

Thank you, Father, for these simple signs,
reminding me of Your love.
For through Jesus Christ my Lord and King,
I will live with You above.

A Gospel Poem

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.

Vastness

My family and I went to Cape Disappointment recently – a beautiful Washington State Park situated where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean. While at North Head Lighthouse in the park, I stood at the fence and stared at the vastness of the ocean. What a humbling sight. I wish my kiddos weren’t so antsy to leave so I could have gazed at this scene longer. How they weren’t amazing by this is beyond me. And so I started taking pictures (not that any picture(s) could do the ocean justice). While gazing for the short time I had, the following poem started to take shape. I just love how God works in awe-filled moments like this.


I stared at the ocean and stood there in awe,
With my gaze fixed upon what I was seeing.
The scene was vast and very overwhelming,
But then a great thing happened that was freeing.

My thoughts started to drift and wander towards You,
And in the blink of an eye Your grace appeared.
I pondered the scene that was set before me,
And now it’s Your love that’s in my brain so seared.

For I am a sinner undeserving of You.
A lost soul that ought to be left with the dead.
But that’s not my ending for You came to save.
Jesus my Savior took Your wrath in my stead.

And now I have hope that there is more to this life.
A full Life with You at Your Great Banquet feast.
So much in this life has left me in despair.
Now since I’m in Your love my fear has now ceased.

And so I thank You my God for this vast scene,
For showing me that Your grace is more vast yet.
Your faithfulness is great and so amazing.
This moment is something that I won’t forget.

A Prayer for the Church

Father God, Lord almighty, gracious and merciful, give to pastors a more intimate relationship with You that they would long to preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners; a Gospel without the bells and whistles that often distract. Give Your Church receptive and picky ears that they may desire only the pure, unaltered Gospel, not a social justice rant that can not save their souls. May leaders not desire their own glorification but rather humble themselves under the cross of Christ. Your Church, oh God, seems to long to be accepted by the world; acquiescing to its demands to liberalize its message and turn a blind eye to sin. May You convict, transform and embolden Your Church to stand out and be a lighthouse in this dark world. It’s not about being liked or being popular, but rather about being obedient to You and shining the light of the Truth through Jesus Christ. Oh God, send now Your Holy Spirit into our lives that we may draw people to the light of Your love through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Just the Gospel

From the sermon this morning. This can not be said enough. So I am going to just leave this right here…

My friends, through faith in Jesus Christ, your sins have been forgiven and thus you have been justified in the eyes of God. You cannot justify yourself. But your filthy rags have been removed and the white robe of righteousness has been placed on you. Jesus has personally dressed you with the wedding garment and has seated you at the banquet table. Through his death and resurrection, you have been made new. This is not from you. This is not something you can obtain through self-justification for you are unclean, dirty and filthy; always falling short of the glory of God. You are sinner. The justification that places you in God’s holy courts; His kingdom, is pure gift. It is all grace. Confess that you are a sinner and know a love like no other.

Light in the World

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
[Philippians 2:14–15 (ESV)]

It seems to me that many in the Church need to take these words of Paul to heart. Too Christians spend way too much time fighting and complaining about the stupidest things or whining and complaining about this and that politician. They do this all the while as this “crooked and twisted” generation is watching and thinking, “why do I need to listen to them?“. Or worse yet, this “crooked and twisted” generation doesn’t even notice the Church because it looks like everything/one else. What would it look like, though, if the Church kept the main thing the main thing and actually were “lights in the world“; proclaiming the Gospel and working out their faith with fear and trembling. What if the Church was actually holy; set apart, different from the world? What if the Church actually sought transformation through the Gospel instead of conforming to the world around them.

Hey there, Church, if you are trying to advance the Kingdom of God, stop trying to look and act like the world. Stop trying to please the world by conforming to them. Be a light in the world; lights among a crooked and twisted generation. Remember whose you are and live a life worthy of the Gospel. It’s time to grow up, Church, and be who you are suppose to be.

Rant done…now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

The Pastor -|—