151129 Jeremiah 33:14-16

Text: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Theme: Counting Down The Days To Christ's Coming

Today marks the first Sunday in Advent, the first Sunday in a new church year. Advent, which means "coming," is a special time for us to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Advent is also the time when many of the faithful shake their heads at what this season has become.

I have heard quite a few sermons (and probably preached a few of my own) that lamented the fact that what was designed to be a time of quiet contemplation has been overtaken by the stress of deadlines and the frenzy of commercialism. The season of Advent has become a time to overspend and overindulge and overextend ourselves.

There is nothing wrong with warning people not to get caught up in all the planning and preparations for the holidays. There is nothing wrong with reminding people that Jesus is the reason for the season. But I do have a problem with Advent sermons (including some sermons in my personal files) that fail to offer any solutions.

Today I want to do something about that. I have a suggestion to help you keep your spiritual priorities in order for the next three and a half weeks. It isn't anything new. It isn't expensive. It isn't time-consuming. If you don't already have one, let me encourage you to go out and pick up one of these. It's an Advent calendar.

Display it in a prominent place in your home. Set aside a few moments each day to open a new door. Talk about the spiritual significance of what you find inside. And as your Advent calendar counts down the days to Christmas, you will also have the opportunity to count your blessings.

Jeremiah never had the benefit of an Advent calendar. Jeremiah never heard of Advent. He lived hundreds of years before Mary wrapped baby Jesus in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. All he had was a promise. God had given his people a promise that a Savior would come, but Jeremiah had no idea when that promise would be fulfilled.

Kind of like us. Jesus has given us a promise that he will come again, but only he knows when that day will be. And so we wait. We wait with eager expectation. We wait with Jeremiah, whose prophetic words remind us that during this Advent season we are not just counting down the days to another Christmas. We are also...

COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS TO CHRIST'S COMING

I. The day when a righteous Branch will sprout from David's line
II. The day when God's people will be given a new name

Read more: 151129 Jeremiah 33:14-16

151126 Psalm 34:8

Text: Psalm 34:8
Theme: Taste And See That The Lord Is Good

In the name of Christ Jesus, dear fellow partakers of the feast that our Savior God sets before us today:

"I do not like green eggs and ham, I do not like them, Sam-I-am." Thus begins one of the most famous children's books of all time. No matter how hard Sam-I-am tries, he cannot convince his friend to eat green eggs and ham.

He will not eat them in a house. He will not eat them with a mouse. He will not eat them in a box. He will not eat them with a fox. He will not eat them in a car or on a train or in the dark or in the rain or with a goat or in a boat. He does not like them here or there. He does not like them anywhere...

Until he finally tries them. And when he takes a bite, he realizes that green eggs and ham aren't so bad after all. In fact, he likes them. He likes them so much that he eats them until they are all gone. All he had to do was experience them for himself. All he needed to do was take a little taste.

Even though the poetry of Dr. Seuss and the sermon text for today are very different, they express a similar sentiment. The Seuss says that you can't really appreciate something until you have tasted it for yourself. David says that you can't fully appreciate the blessings of God until you have experienced them for yourself.

So on this Thanksgiving Day that is exactly what we will do. Let us...

TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD

Read more: 151126 Psalm 34:8

151122 Daniel 7:13-14

Text: Daniel 7:13-14

Theme: Are You Ready to Meet Your King?

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

During the Sundays in November, we have been observing the final Sundays in the Christian Church year. We began with our celebration of the Lutheran Reformation. Two weeks ago God's Word reminded us that the Lord will come as the Judge on the great Last Day. Last Sunday, God's Word reminded us that heaven is the home of all the Saints Triumphant who believe in Jesus Christ as their only Savior from sin. This Sunday we celebrate the last Sunday of the Church year. It is also known as "Christ, the King" Sunday. On this day, God's Word reminds you and me that the Lord Jesus is the Almighty King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling over all things. And this almighty King is coming. Are you ready? Are you ready to meet Jesus, the King? It is very important that we be ready to meet Jesus, the King; for the King will come and the King will rule.

Read more: 151122 Daniel 7:13-14

151115 John 5:24-29

Text: John 5:24-29
Theme: Every Christian Is A S.A.I.N.T.

Please close your eyes and clear your brain and get yourself ready to remember the first image that enters your mind when I say this word: "saint." It really isn't practical to ask every one of you what you saw, so let me suggest a couple possibilities.

Raise your hand if you saw a statue or painting or stained glass window depicting one of the holy men or women of the Bible. Raise your hand if you saw one of your sainted relatives, maybe a grandma or grandpa who is now in heaven. Raise your hand if you saw another Christian you know and respect and admire. And finally, raise your hand if you saw a picture of yourself.

Just as I suspected, I don't see any hands in the air for that one. Why is that? Why didn't you immediately identify yourself as a saint? Maybe it's because you remember some of the hurtful things you have said. Maybe it's because you can't forget some of the awful things you have done. Maybe it's because you know what kinds of evil thoughts your mind is capable of producing.

At the beginning of this service we confessed that we are disobedient sinners, that we have done what is evil and failed to do what is good, that we deserve eternal punishment. And so to think of ourselves as saints, to put ourselves on the same level as people like Peter or Paul or Matthew (the namesake of our congregation), would be the height of arrogance. Or would it?

Martin Luther observed that it was common for first century Christians to call each other saints, and he argued that this practice should be retained. Luther said: "When Christians call themselves holy after Christ, this is not arrogance; it is honoring and praising God. For thereby we do not praise the malodorous holiness of our own works but His Baptism, Word, grace, and Spirit, which we do not have of ourselves; He gave them to us."

Because Jesus sacrificed his life for me, I am forgiven. Because Jesus shed his blood for me, my sins have been washed away. Because Jesus lived a holy life in my place, I am a saint. And so are you.

On this Saints Triumphant Sunday we honor the memory all those believers who have died and gone to heaven, but we also recognize that this world (and this church) is filled with saints. In fact, the words of Jesus recorded in John 5 will lead us to see that...

EVERY CHRISTIAN IS A S.A.I.N.T.

I. Saved by faith, not by works
II. Alive, physically and spiritually
III. Innocent in spite of the evidence
IV. Not complacent
V. Triumphant

Read more: 151115 John 5:24-29

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Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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