Sermon for March 26, 2017

Sermon for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

March 26, 2017, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Ephesians 5:8-14

Sermon Theme:  “Are We Children of the Night, or Children of the Light?”

 (Sources:  Anderson’s Cycle A Preaching Workbook;  Emphasis Online Commentary; Emphasis Online Illustrations; “You Stupid Darkness,”; original ideas; Nelson’s Three-in-One; Believer’s Commentary)

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

           A little girl walked around her house singing a song which she had learned in Vacation Bible School:  “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.  This little light of mine; I’m, gonna let it shine, let it shine, shine, shine.”  Her parents enjoyed hearing her sing.  One evening she got into a terrible fight with her brother and she was sent to her room.  The next morning she was in a bad mood.  Seeing this, her mother said to her, “What happened to my happy, singing girl?  What happened to that shining light?”

To this the young girl replied, “My brother blew it out!”

Paul says to us in today’s sermon text, “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true).”  In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells His followers, “You are the light of the world. . . . Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Continue reading

Sermon for March 19, 2017

Sermon for the Third Sunday in Lent

March 19, 2017, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Romans 5:1-8

Sermon Theme:  “Don’t Keep Clutching the Hot Pot”

(Sources:  Anderson’s Cycle A Preaching Workbook; Emphasis Online Commentary; Emphasis Online Illustrations; Lutheran Cyclopedia; Footnotes, Concordia Self-Study Bible; Footnotes, Life Application Study Bible; Harper’s Bible Dictionary; Original Ideas; Westminster Dictionary of the Bible)

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thousands of books have been written about “justification,” probably enough books over the years to fill a library.  In chapters preceding our sermon text, Paul has attempted to explain “justification,” and much of the letter to the Romans is about justification. Harpers’ Bible Dictionary devotes almost a whole page to defining “justification.”  On our own turf, The Lutheran Cyclopedia gives one definition of “justification,” followed by eight explanations.

Here’s the official definition of The Lutheran Cyclopedia: “’Justification’ is a judicial act of God which consists of non-imputation of sin and imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”  Clear as mud, huh?  We’re better off sticking with Paul’s definition.

What the Lutheran Cyclopedia meant is that we are by nature sinful and incapable of obeying God’s Laws ourselves.  God is moved to justify us, that is, declare us not guilty, by grace through faith alone.  The righteousness of Christ is given to us by God (that’s what the Lutheran Cyclopedia means by “imputation” of Christ’s righteousness), by His grace, by the sacrifice of Christ, through faith.  Justification is then ours.

Today’s text is about the blessings we receive from justification. Continue reading

Sermon for March 12, 2017

Sermon for Second Sunday in Lent

March 12, 2017, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  John 3:1-17

Sermon Theme: “The Born-Again Metamorphosis”

(Anderson’s Cycle C Preaching Workbook; Emphasis Online Commentary; Emphasis Online Illustrations; Online Christian Jokes; original ideas; Harper’s Bible Dictionary; What Luther Says; Luther’s Small Catechism)

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

When God changes a human being by replacing the “Old Adam” in him or her with the “new Adam,” we Lutherans like to compare that to the metamorphosing of a an ugly caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.  We tend to shy away from the stronger imagery that Jesus uses in our sermon text of being born again.  No, it’s not just Baptists who use that term, “born again,” Jesus used it long before they did.

In our sermon text, when Nicodemus asks, ‘Can a man enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?,’ Jesus replies, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

If you’re wondering, does “water and the Spirit” refer to the receiving of the Holy Spirit during the Sacrament of Baptism, the Apostle Paul clears that up for us in Romans 6:4, where he says, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”  Paul calls Baptism a “washing of regeneration” in Titus 3:5.  “Regeneration” is also the term Christians use for “conversion” or “being born again,” – we Lutherans tend to prefer the terms “regeneration” and “conversion” to “being born again.”  Whatever you call it, conversion involves a metamorphosis, or change, — it’s never too late, while walking this earth, to become a beautiful butterfly.

Walking through the forest, an atheist heard a rustling in the bushes.  Turning, he saw a massive grizzly bear changing toward him!  He ran as fast as he could but tripped over a stump and fell.  As the bear raised a hug paw to strike, the atheist shouted, “God!  Help me!”

Time froze.   The bear became immobile, the forest was silent, and the river stopped running.  Then the atheist heard a powerful voice:  “You have denied my existence for years, taught others I don’t exist and credited my creation to a cosmic accident.  Why should I help you?”

“It would be hypocritical to ask you to show mercy on me,” the atheist agreed.  “But perhaps you could make the bear a Christian/”

At that, the noise of the forest resumed, the river ran, and the bear dropped to its knees, brought its paws together, and said, “Come, Lord Jesus, be my guest, and let this food to me be blessed.” Continue reading

Sermon for March 05, 2017

Sermon for First Sunday in Lent, March 5, 2017

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Matthew 4:1-11

Sermon Theme:  “Get Thee Behind Me, Satan!”

(Sources:  Anderson’s Cycle A Preaching Workbook; Brokhoff, Series A, Preaching Workbook; original ideas; Emphasis Online Commentaries; Emphasis Online Illustrations; “Temptations,”; Temptation jokes from Hee Haw)

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

On the TV show, “Hee Haw,” Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places.  The doc replies, “Well, then, stay out of them places.”

He may have something there.  There is no way we can regularly put ourselves in the face of temptation and not be affected.  When faced with the problem of temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice and “stay out of them places.”

We begin this first Sunday in Lent with Satan’s temptation of Jesus, which calls to mind the temptations we are confronted with.  The question I had as I began to prepare this sermon was, “How do we pastors prepare ourselves and others to withstand temptation?”  In one of the sources I used to prepare this sermon, the commentator wrote, “If you’re looking for illustrations on the meaning of Lent, then you might as well start where it begins, by looking in the mirror.”

In other words, don’t lecture others about not being able to resist temptation, when you yourself might be guilty.  You want an illustration?  Use yourself.  It struck me as funny that one pastor preaching a sermon on resisting temptation began, not by using himself as an example, but his wife.

This poor country pastor, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck, confronted his wife the day he received a bill for a $250 dress she had bought.  “How could you do this?!”  he shouted, unable to control his anger.

“I don’t know,” she said, sobbing.  “I was standing in the store looking at the dress on sale.  Then I found myself trying it on.  It was like the Devil was whispering to me, “Gee, you look great in that dress.  You should buy it!”

“Well,” her pastor-husband replied, “you know how to deal with Satan!  Just tell him, “Get thee behind me, Satan!”

“I did,” replied his wife, “but then he said, “It looks great from back here, too!”

That takes me back to the question, why should Lent begin with each of us looking in the mirror?  Continue reading

Sermon for February 26, 2017

Sermon for the Transfiguration of Our Lord

February 26, 2017, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Wallis, Texas

Sermon Text:  Matthew 17:1-9

Sermon Theme:  “Do We Have to Come Down from the Mountain?”

(Sources:  Emphasis Online Commentary; Emphasis Online Illustrations; Anderson’s Cycle A Preaching Workbook; Brokhoff, Series A, Preaching Workbook; original ideas; Short’s The Gospel According to Peanuts; Footnotes, Concordia Self-Study Bible)

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

So Jesus takes his three best friends, Peter, James, and John, to the top of a high mountain where they meet up with Moses and Elijah, — that’s how Matthew starts to tell the story of the Transfiguration.  It almost sounds like the start of a joke, — like, “Did you hear the one where three nuns and a penguin walk into a bar? . . .”  It has all the elements of a joke:  there’s a normal setting (a mountain), the people you’d expect (Jesus, Peter, James, and John), — and then there’s the kicker:  Moses and Elijah!

It’s got to be a joke.  Those things don’t go together.  Just like three nuns and a penguin don’t go together, four New Testament leaders of the Way don’t join two Old Testament prophets on top a mountain.  So you wonder what’s the punch line, — but there isn’t a punch line, because this isn’t a joke.  In fact, it’s one of the most serious activities Jesus has involved his disciples in thus far.

This very serious activity, the Transfiguration, took place for three reasons:  ONE, it was to reveal the glory of the Son of God, a glory now hidden, but to be revealed fully when Christ returns at the End of Times; TWO, to serve as proof of the difficult-to-understand teachings of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi; and THREE, to uplift the disciples, to give them a shot in the arm, so to speak, after learning that Jesus would suffer and die in Jerusalem. Continue reading