Text: Romans 8:18-27
Exegetical Point: The glory of God is revealed in his time and by his plan both universal scale and in the individual.
Focus Statement: God works through creation and us, even when we don’t understand.
Function Statement: That my hearers would trust that the will of God is for their good.
I used Long’s four pages of the preacher as a general structure. The general direction of the passage and of the sermon takes us from looking at the entire creation to looking at our lives with the Holy Spirit at intercessor. The law sections can be rough, but I did not think they were out of balance with the Gospel. I also felt that there were enough playful moments interspersed with serious parts to keep balance. I also felt that the Gospel sections were multiple (thus partly breaking Long’s structure) and specific. The day after delivery, I still like this sermon. Usually I dread thinking about them because you then know what could be improved.
If you look at the sidebar you will find a new catagory and a couple of new links. I wanted to give a description of them and why they are on the site as they branch out beyond the narrowly sectarian and purely bible links I started with. It won’t be a common thing, but these two seem to deserve a nod.
The first one is GetReligion. It is a blog by a group of religion beat reporters whose main beef is that scare-quotes ‘mainsteam reporters’ just don’t get religion or the religious. The lack of understanding colors all the news that we receive as their metal filters never get or even inquire about the religious angle. This site is their attempt to point eggregious examples and to encourage better understanding.
The second site is On Faith. This is a response by the Washington Post and Newsweek to ‘get religion’.
Neither site is written from a strictly Christian viewpoint (GetReligion might be closer than On Faith), but both are well written attempts to treat religion as something other than a ghetto or subculture story.
Joshua 4:19-5:1, 10-25
Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. That is the end of the Romans passage, and it is incredibly hard. The moral calculus says he/she hurt me, so I have a right to strike back. The law even contains the phrase lex talionis, a tooth for a tooth. The Gospel is unnatural, and not possible without the Spirit indwelling. When a husband tell jokes about his wife with his budies or wife runs down her husband to her friends, it may feel good for a short time, it may even be a tooth for a tooth, but both acts are evil. Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good. Try praising your wife during the next round of jokes, or complimenting your husband. And pray for each other constantly. Good is not natural to us, it takes practice.
May you have the opportunity to overcome evil with good in your life today.
Joshua 3:14 – 4:7
In the Romans passage Paul address the body of Christ. Many gifts have been given. Not all the same and not equally distributed, but with some regard to the measure of faith. Those gifts were given to the body of Christ, the church, but they are in possession of an individual. The command is to use them. If prophecy, in proportion to the faith, if service…if teaching…exhortation…contributions…hospitality…mercy…do them with zeal and cheerfulness. The talents are not ours to hoard. How strong would the body of Christ be if we thought this way. These are not my knowledge, skills and abilities but those God has given for the good of the total body of Christ? When we withold those skills, or make poor use of them, we not only hurt the body but we hurt ourselves as we are members of that body. Is there a ministry that is struggling and you have the talent that it needs? Prayfully consider using it, with zeal and cheerfulness.
May the Lord richly bless you and give you the opportunities to use your talents.
Apologize in advance. This is late and short. The Matthew passage rings with the hiddenness of the kingdom. Those who are in the kingdom, don’t always recognize what they are doing, and those out of the kingdom reply when did we not help you, Jesus. If we had only known we would surely have helped. And that is part of the problem. Are our responses and actions based solely on utilitarian concerns? If we had known this was important we would have done it, is the damned response. The answer is that we know loving our neighbor is important. The response is more specific, when did we see you (Jesus) naked? If we saw The LORD of the Universe we would sure stop. That kingdom this side of the new creation is hidden. We see the LORD in the vulnerable and suffering. That is what HE chose. Those in the kingdom also say when did we see you (Jesus). We did those things to help our neighbor. We did them by the urging of the Spirit. But the Kingdom was hidden in those acts.
May the Lord allow you to see the revelation of the Kingdom.
Paul’s central images of the Christian life are communal. He speaks of being joined to the body of Christ. In today’s reading he picks up Jesus’ metaphor of the vine and the branches. Paul is talking about gentiles and jews as wild olive branches and cultivated olive branches. The point that jumps out is that they are all branches, some more able to be grafted than others, but branches. Paul starts by saying if the root is holy, so are the branches. Our holiness, our forgiveness is not becuase of anything we do, or any fruit we bear, it is becuase of the root we are attached to, and that root is Christ. In Paul’s metaphors there is no personal righteousness or private relationships as we share one root or the same head. That type of communal understanding is just foreign to the modern world and especially to Americans. We just don’t think that way of someone picking us out and grafting us onto a root or into a body. We think that we made a choice. We think we are individual sovereigns. But Paul’s message doesn’t allow that thinking. We are saved by being connected to Christ and a member of his body. What effects the body effects all parts.
May The Root keep you connected in both spring growth and summer trimming unto the harvest. Amen
The account in Joshua is one of the Bible’s great confessions, and it comes from the Canaanite Rahab. Rahab hides Joshua’s spies in Jericho. Rahab begs for the life of her family or more aptly her household in the face of the LORD. The spies reply ‘our life for yours.’ Matthew’s geneology of Jesus in Matt 1:5 records one of the great surprises and hints of the LORD’s plan. Rahab is listed in Jesus’ geneology as the mother of Boaz. Boaz with Ruth the mother of Obed, Obed of Jesse and Jesse the root of King David. Rahab, described as a Canaanite harlot, is given a strong confession, and recorded as the ancestor of David and Christ. Talk about life for life. Part of the great reversal and the universal claims of the LORD. Sinners are called, sinners from all corners. Come as receive the waters of life.
May the LORD bless your work this week.
Text: Matt 13:1-9,18-23 (OT lesson Isa 55:9-11)
Exegetical Point: The word, the message of the Kingdom, is received in multiple ways. We don’t know until the harvest (the yield) which is which, but we are guaranteed a crop.
Focus statement: God sends out his Word into all kinds of soil
Function Statement: That my hearers may share the word
The sermon is set up as a simple text-application. When I was finished drafting, I liked the text portion. I set up the reading in the larger context of Matthew’s gospel. My proofreaders liked the application section which I thought might have been a little weak. What do I know? The Children’s sermon I did probably was better. Object lesson, so not really for the kids, but focusing on how water/snow from the OT lesson alters the ground, even hard pack.
Final thoughts. This sermon touched on important points, but in my view too specific on the law, but not specific enough on the gospel. The gospel went warm-fuzzy relying on the hearer to supply their specific definition of grace. It could be better. All that has to be balanced with the fact that the part I’m dumping on is what my proof readers liked best.
Deut 31:7 – 32:4
The Matthew reading is one that is often referred to by Pentecostals or “Left Behind” evangelicals. We’ve got terrors and false Christs, and abominations and prayers and the sun going dark – quite the sceen. Professor Gibbs would say we miss something. Everything before verse 29 refers to AD 70 and the destruction of Jerusalem. Already happened. Everything after verse 29 is typical Jewish apocalyptic phrasing for the Great and Terrible Day of the LORD – i.e. still to happen, but over the top images for things we just can’t fathom. Dr. Gibbs wrote his dissertation on it and he is a very wise and pious man. So he’s right. What is less sure is what role does an AD 70 play in our lives? How many ‘small letter’ great and terrible days of the LORD reflect AD 70 when everything that came before gets flattened and the abomination seems to rule? On a national level does 9/11 count? WWI would sure looks like g&tdot LORD. Was their a personal time in your life that everything changed and all that was left was prayer? When you last parent passed away, or your spouse left you? The sun sure feels dark. It is in those darkest times that Jesus is there. The correct question is not why is this happening, but where – where is God? And the answer is right beside you. I’ve just allogorized and caused a wise and pious man to scream, but as we all together wait for the G&TDOT LORD it helps to find our place and our identity in the g&tdof LORD that we experience if only as a shadows.
May the Lord keep you steadfast through your great and terrible days.
It is not on the reading list, but it should be. Hebrews 11:13 – All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not recieve the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And so in Deuteronomy we have Moses, 120 year old Moses, 40 years in the wilderness Moses carrying the burden of prophet, priest and king for Israel, we have Moses being told no, we’ve been over this by the LORD. You didn’t follow my word, so you will not enter the land. Give the charge to Joshua. And Moses goes to the top of the mount and sees the land from a distance. It doesn’t seem right. Where is the promised land? Is it some 100 square miles between the sea and the Jordan? Moses is standing accross the Jordan, and God tells him to look east, west, north and south. Does it include Jordan? When we look at the land currently, we look at the wrong thing. The promised land is not the desert and rocky palestine, but a land flowing with milk and honey. The land of the new creation of which Christ is the firstfruit. I can’t prove it, but I but Moses was looking at a different topology from the top of that mountain. With physical eyes it doesn’t seem right that Moses would not get to enter the land. With the eyes of Faith he welcomed the land from a distance. We too with faith welcome the approach of the New Jerusalem. Come Lord Jesus.
May the Lord give you the Faith to welcome the land from a distance.