Category Archives: Sermons

God’s Good Order

Biblical Text: Mark 10:2-16 (Genesis 2:18-25)
Full Sermon Draft

Reflecting Chesterton, it isn’t that Jesus’ teaching on marriage and sexuality is hard to grasp and not worth the time, it is that it is easy to grasp and not desired to give it the time. The teaching is real simple. Marriage is a first thing; sexuality is part of marriage. It is the desires of our heart that wish to make marriage one potential form of a sex life. It is the desires of our heart that take God’s good order and wish to remake it in some other design. This sermon has three parts. The first is an examination of the heart, “where does sin come from?” The second is an examination of Jesus’ teaching from the text and also how it is taught clearly through the church’s wedding liturgy. The last part is an attempt to reconcile “what do we do” when we are so far away from that teaching.

Worship Note: I haven’t been leaving in the music sections as much because the recordings haven’t been as good. I’m not sure this one a great recording, but I want to mention the hymn. It was our opening. I’ve moved it to the end in the recording. LSB 858, O Father, All Creating. It is a marriage or wedding hymn, but we so rarely sing at our weddings anymore as they are special occasions and not congregational celebrations anymore. This particular song is not so specific to a bride and groom standing before the gathered as to prevent general use. It appropriates a good hymn tune familiar from The Church’s One Foundation. And the text well celebrates both the biblical foundations and directions of marriage, and the prayers that we would ask of God for our individual marriages. And our organist had a wonderful introduction.

A Salty Peace

Biblical Text: Mark 9:38-50
Full Sermon Draft

Living the Christian life isn’t always easy. I’m not talking about easy choices like things coded into the 10 commandments or lines of the creed. Those things are easy. I’m also not talking about those times of clear persecution. Those are easy in the way I’m talking about, but hard in reality. What this sermon addresses is what the text addresses which is the normal life of discipleship. Jesus’ words put a couple of things in tension. On the one side discipleship is a serious thing. I call it the discipleship of commitment. We are to be committed to each other in that we are responsible for our brother’s faith. Likewise we are to be committed to holiness for the sake of our own faith. Jesus is serious as a literal hell. On the other side, this commitment never excuses a lack of openness or grace. The disciple, as long as who they are interacting with in not against Christ, is to act as if they are with you. What that will lead you into sometimes is getting burned. But that is to be expected as Jesus says “we will all be salted with fire.” We are to be living sacrifices. Salted in ourselves. Ready to be at peace. This sermon expands on that and explores what that might mean in concrete situations.

Overrated/Underrated

Biblical Text: Mark 9:30-37
Full Sermon Draft

The text is the second passion prediction of Jesus. The first one ended in Peter attempting to rebuke Jesus and Jesus calling Peter Satan. The point of all these passion predictions has to do with the question “where do you find God?” It is natural to think you find God in the power and the glory – at the top of the mountain. The point of the passion predictions is that God in this world is found most securely on the cross. In out lives, the place we are most likely to find God is not in the mountaintop experience. In fact those mountaintop experiences are often false or even manufactured by the enemy. In our lives the place we find God is in service to our neighbor. So while the world is obsessed with status, and that is what the disciples are discussing on the road. Who has the most status after Jesus? The Kingdom of God abides by a different idea. The idea that our status chase is an unnecessary fear, because the Father watches even the sparrow. The son embraces the least among us.

The Faithful One

Biblical Text: Mark 9:14-29
Full Sermon Draft

I like this one. If I was going to edit a volume of sermons this one would go in there. It is built around what I think are the three big lines of the text.
– O faithless generation, how long will I remain
– All things are possible for the the faithful one (my translation, listen to the sermon)
– This kind only comes out with prayer
Each one of these lines addresses a problem of faith. Each one of them points us as the solution which is Jesus himself. We think of the exorcism as the healing here, but the true healing was done to the father and the disciples. The child was the sign. The child was the proof that Jesus is the faithful one.

I didn’t leave it in simply because of recording quality, but the hymns today were perfect. I was a very good day.

Hearing the Signs, Fearing their Silence

Biblical Text: Mark 7:31-37 (Isaiah 35:4-7)

Full Sermon Draft

This was our “Rally Day” or recognition of the start of School week. (We delay a week typically due to the labor day weekend.) So, there are parts of the service – like the installation of Sunday School teachers, and blessing of backpacks – that I couldn’t get on the recording. Physically we did them down in front where our various mic’s don’t capture too well. That blessing was probably the key to thinking about this sermon unfortunately.

In my head the sermon is an existential one. It points out a common thought, looking up at the night sky and what do you see? There are naive answers, but nobody really holds those long. That is the purpose of the Lion King reference. The existential question of that sky (a sign) is: is their order or is it all just chaos?

The answer revealed to us by the Word of God is that there is an order. In our sinful condition we are like the deaf and mute man in our text, unable to hear the music of the spheres. But Jesus has come to give us back the ability to hear. That same Word that tells us of God’s loving order, opens ears and loosens tongues. And in the application to educating, learning/education/wisdom which is based on that word is a worth endeavor, because God desires to be known just as we are known by Him. The universe makes sense, the foundation of which is revealed to us in the Word of God, so we can grow in Wisdom just like Jesus. It is not the dark forest nor the great filter that haunt our minds when we tune out the music of the spheres.

Suit Up and Stand

Biblical Text: Ephesians 6:10-20 NLT
Full Sermon Draft

This sermon in the conclusion to our summer reading of Ephesians. It might be one of the most memorable texts in the scriptures. Put on the Full Armor of God. This full armor, all the spiritual virtues that it represents, are every spiritual gift that the Father has given us through Christ. And when we suit up, we are enabled to stand. When we suit up we are united under one banner. When we suit up we can give a rousing witness to those powers that be.

I included our opening hymn – LSB 668, Rise! To Arms! With Prayer Employ You – for a couple of reasons. The hymn text is a wonderful capture of Paul’s entire conclusion, but just as important that text is sung to one of the most moving tunes in the book. And our organist put a stirring longer opening, so I couldn’t snip it out.

Living Toward the Promise

Text: Ephesians 5:21-6:9 NLT
Full Sermon Draft

This sermon completes Paul’s re-upping of the moral law/10 Commandments in the Christian life. It treats the 4th commandment and how we live into the promises of God by honoring the various close authorities in our lives. Those authorities are both temporal and eternal/spiritual, and they are not always perfect. Paul discusses it all under the the banner of being in submission to each other. The world attempts to divide us and councils that we are first individuals. The wisdom of God says we live in a web of proper authority in which we look out for the other. He does this by penning what is often called a household code.

This sermon looks at the elements of that household code and what they ask of the Christian life. That includes the honor between husband and wife, and how that is a sacramental picture of something much greater. But in each case we are called to live toward the promise and not give in to the easy temptations of the way of the world.

The 6th and the 1st (Sexual Immorality, Impurity and Greed)

Biblical Text: Ephesians 5:3-20 NLT

Full Sermon Draft

The 6th and the 1st is a reference to the 6th commandment (adultery) and the 1st commandment (no other gods). In the Hebrew scriptures sins in one are directly tied or related to sins in the other. This sermon is a continuation of our reading of Ephesians this summer. In our presentation Paul had three main points. The third of them is that the Christian life is a witness to the Wisdom of God to the powers in the heavenly realms, Satan and the World. In the back half of Paul’s letter he makes concrete examples which are elaborations of the 10 commandments. This week we’ve got the 6th and the 1st. The apostle’s presentation runs smack into the wisdom of our age, which is the lies of Satan and world. Paul doesn’t back away, but says choose. Are we witnesses to the powers that be, or do we prefer their lies? Test me. Listen to it and search the scriptures. Whose story conforms better to our flourishing? What I preach after the Apostle Paul, or the world?

Not as the Gentiles Do

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:17-5:2 NLT

Full Sermon Draft

We’ve been reading and working our way through the Letter to the Ephesians this summer, and we have come to the core of the back half of a letter of Paul. If you’ve read these enough you know that the back half of Paul’s letters tend to be concrete application. What he was preaching in a rhetorical way in his intro and main points meets actual life. Earlier in the series we identified three main points.
1. The Father through Christ has blessed us with every spiritual gift.
2. We are being built together though the Spirit
3. We are being built with the purpose of showing the rich variety of the wisdom of God

Last week’s sermon looked at the concrete examples for those first two. This sermon starts Paul treatment of the examples of that third point. What does the rich variety of the wisdom of God look like? Paul’s treatment is deeply tied into the 10 commandments and Jesus’ sermon on the Mount. The sermon brings in Luther’s catechism treatment. All of this demonstrating the remarkable consistency of the order or the wisdom of God. The biggest thing that might shock moderns (as it shocked ancients) is that Paul assumes that we can change. When we were Gentiles (i.e. separated from God) it was potentially reasonable to despair of actual change. But we are not Gentile. We have put off that old life and are being renewed in the Spirit. That is Paul’s emphasis. We are being sanctified which is wild in the variety the God bring out of his free people. So, I’d invite you to listen, and to come back for the next couple of weeks. Paul challenges us who have known Christ to imitate him.

Picture of Perfection

Biblical Text: Ephesians 4:1-16 NLT
Full Sermon Draft

Picture of Perfection might not be the best title for this, although that is where is ends up. Maybe the path of maturity, or Growing to fullness. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians makes the switch that his letters often do in the second half. He has a main point to express which has been the last three weeks of chapters 1-3. The sermon does a quick recap of that before digging in. The back half of Paul’s letters turn to concrete practical matters. How does the theology that he’s just proclaimed become real in our lives both personal and congregational. In the case of Ephesians how does every spiritual gift that builds us together look?

It starts with love. It is helped by the concrete gifts of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. And when is all strives toward maturity, we get a picture of the perfection or the completion intended. A church not blown astray or led away by some pied piper because it is perfectly fit together in the bond of love. This sermon expands on this growth to maturity.