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Showing posts from June, 2015

Counterfeit Christianity – Prosperity – That you can find God in the world

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Mark 4:35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, "Let us go over to the other side." 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" 41 They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" The sun is shining. It is a peaceful day. A few friends and family members are getting together inside the church for Bible study. A new visitor has even joined them on this day. But what happens when …

Worship Helps for Pentecost 6

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Daughter of Jairus Joseph Brickey
Worship Theme: What are we to think when a baby dies? Or a 12 year-old girl? Or we, at any age, see death looming? ‘Believe only’ Jesus said. Is that ‘just believe’ as if believing is something easy, or minor? No. He means no fear!  Believe only. God calls us away from all trust in ourselves or anyone else to rely only in him and his promises in Christ, our Risen Savior.
Old Testament:2 Samuel 12:11 "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.'" 13 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD sh…

The foolishness of God

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There is a hubris about our world today.  Everyone is smarter than God.  Just ask them.  Science has uncovered God’s mysteries.  Who would bother to yield to the wisdom of a book?  It’s dehumanizing and insulting - can’t you think for yourself?  Haven’t you heard?  The world has evolved past narrow minded concepts of morality - we’re more enlightened now.
There is nothing new under the sun.  The world has always been smarter than God.  Long before irreligious people were given a pulpit via social media, irreligious people were unafraid to opine on the mysteries of the supernatural, the realities of creation, and the wonders of the universe.  Sometimes they were called philosophers.  God calls them fools (Psalm 14:1).
A couple of times in Scripture God becomes exasperated enough with the stupidity of human “wisdom” that he inserts himself.  After suffering through 37 chapters of Job’s stupidity, who can forget God’s answer?  His rhetorical questions drip with sarcasm.  “You’re so smart, …

Counterfeit Christianity – Mysticism – That you can find God in your heart

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Mark 4:26 He also said, "This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain-- first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come." 30 Again he said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." 33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
Years ag…

Worship Helps for Pentecost 5

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Christ in the Storm Rembrandt 1633

Worship Theme: The world is a confusing place. We often feel it does not deal fairly with us. We go through anger, even terror, when we don’t understand the turmoil around us. But in Word and sacrament Jesus reminds us of his presence. He forgives our foolish self-centeredness because of his holy book. He opens our eyes to the rescue he has won for us. Thus he gives life in this trouble-filled world new hope and new purpose.
Old Testament:Proverbs 30:4 Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and the name of his son? Tell me if you know! 5 "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
1. Compared to God, how smart and strong are you?
2. If every word of God is flawless, what should you believe?
Epistle: Acts 27:13 When a gentle south wind began to blow, th…

Counterfeit Christianity - mysticism

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We continue this week with our sermon and Bible class series on Counterfeit Christianity. We examine the false teaching of mysticism.
Mysticism at its root – is paganism. It is not satisfied with a God who has already laid everything out for us in His Word. It doesn’t want a God that we can trust. It wants a God that we can manipulate, and contact, and control, and kind of barter and bargain with. It doesn’t want a God that says, “This is the way it is, believe it.” It wants a God that gives you the authority to find and divine the way that your world acts and connects with you.
All of us – even as Christians – desire to be mystics. We want to be like Jonah, hearing God’s voice speaking to us clearly. Or like Moses, who got to see God on the mountain. Or like Paul who knew God’s will.

But that’s not the way God works today. He speaks to us in His Word. He comes to us in the waters of Baptism. He enters our mouths in the Lord’s Supper. We hear His voice in the words of absolution and th…

Praying for your church

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Many have observed this defect of human nature: we would rather talk about other people than talk to them, especially if we would like to voice a negative opinion.  The old rule of thumb that you should always speak of the absent as though they are present is timeless advice.
That begs the following question:  how do you talk about your congregation?  How do you characterize it to your family and friends?  To your fellow members?  Is there really no better place on earth to be, or is the congregation a dysfunctional mess, unsupportive, with a bleak future?  A useful way to evaluate where you fall on the spectrum is to review your prayers.
In our Epistle lesson for this Sunday, Paul is not speaking about the Colossians.  He is speaking to them.  As he does, he tells them candidly how he speaks about them in his prayers - and it is glowingly positive.  Paul counts the blessings of God, commends the faith of the congregation and acknowledges the abundant fruit their faith is bearing.
“We al…

Dealing with legalism

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The term, “devil,” means “accuser.”  The Psalms are full of impassioned pleas for God to deal justly with accusers.  Accusations are stressful; they put us on the defensive.  They are especially troubling when they are baseless and false.
The disciples were on the receiving end of such false accusations.  Their empty stomachs prompted them to pluck some grain while they were on a Sabbath Day walk.  The omnipresent and ever-critical Pharisees immediately put an end to such mischief.  They had made special rules to safeguard the Mosaic code, and the disciples were in violation.  Apparently hungry people may not be fed if it required work on the Sabbath Day!
Jesus jumped to the defense of the disciples.  Citing an otherwise obscure Old Testament example, he wanted to illustrate both legal principle and precedent for the Pharisees.  The principle of the Sabbath Day law was not to needle legitimately needy people with the letter of the law.  It intended to provide a reasonable outlet for phy…

Holy Trinity Sunday music

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God turns our “woe” into “wow”

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Isaiah 6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord…