140302 Matthew 17:1-9

Sermon Text: Matthew 17:1 – 9
Sermon Theme: ENJOY A MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE WITH THE LORD!

Have you ever had a "Mountaintop Experience"? A "Mountaintop Experience" is any event in our life that is exciting, uplifting or life-changing. Maybe for you it was when you were actually on a mountain, say in the Rocky Mountains, overlooking the Grand Canyon. Maybe it was in your favorite spot in the north woods of Wisconsin. Maybe it was at the birth of your first child. You see, a "Mountaintop Experience" does not HAVE to take place on the top of a mountain. But today, we do go to a mountaintop. Today our Savior invites you and me to the Mount of Transfiguration to ENJOY A MOUNTAINTOP EXPERIENCE WITH THE LORD.

Read more: 140302 Matthew 17:1-9

140223 I Samuel 26:7-25

Text: I Samuel 26:7-25
Theme: The Lord's Love Makes the Impossible Possible

(Long pause.) It was that quiet as David and his nephew Abishai made their way down the mountain under cover of darkness. Outside of the crackling of burning wood and the heavy breathing of sleeping soldiers, the night was completely silent. The two spies moved through the camp without making a sound until they reached their destination. In the middle of the camp was King Saul, and lying nearby was Abner, the commander of his army. Both men were asleep. Neither was aware that they were being watched.

Abishai's eyes opened wide as he looked down at the enemy. It was a gift. It was a sign. He was sure it was the Lord's way of telling David that now was the time to take what was rightfully his. And he told David so: "Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Now let me pin him to the ground with one thrust of my spear; I won't strike him twice" (8).

It must have been so tempting for David. It must have made so much sense to David. He was tired, tired of waiting, tired of running, physically and mentally exhausted from trying to stay one step ahead of the men who were pursuing him. And he could have ended it right then and there. He could have given Abishai the order to assassinate Saul and made himself the king the Lord had promised him he would be.

But he didn't. Instead of giving his nephew permission to kill Saul, David gave Abishai a lecture: "Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD's anointed and be guiltless? As surely as the LORD lives, the LORD himself will strike him; either his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the LORD forbid that I should lay a hand on the LORD's anointed" (9-11a). And instead of taking Saul's life, the two men took the king's spear and water jug and left as quickly and quietly as they had come.

How did David do it? How was he able to spare the life of the man who was trying to take his? And how can we be like him? How can we obey Jesus' command (in today's gospel lesson) to turn the other cheek? How can we love our enemies and pray for the people who persecute us? I don't know about you, but I'm not wired that way. My brain doesn't work that way. I don't know if I should even try to show that kind of love to my enemies because I just can't.

If you feel like David has set the bar too high for us, if you think that Jesus is asking too much of us, if you are convinced that loving your enemies is impossible, it is. It is impossible... for us. But nothing is impossible with God. The Almighty can do anything, and today he uses this encounter between David and Saul to remind us that...

THE LORD'S LOVE MAKES THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE

Read more: 140223 I Samuel 26:7-25

140216 Psalm 119:1-2, 4-7

Sermon Text: Psalm 119:1 – 2, 4 – 7
Sermon Theme: How Do You Spend Your Time?

Recently someone asked me: "Pastor, how do you spend your free time? What hobbies do you have?" I just smiled and answered, "Well, like a lot of families, there is not a lot of 'free time' these days! I guess you would say that my 'hobby' is running to and from the different activities that my children participate in...for example, my 'hobby' the last couple of months has been going basketball games!" How about you? How do you spend your time? Survey after survey shows that more and more people are spending less and less time reading and studying God's Word. Today, based on the Psalm of the Day that we sang just a few moments ago, I would like you to answer this question for yourself: "How do you spend your time?"

Read more: 140216 Psalm 119:1-2, 4-7

140209 Matthew 5:13-16

Text: Matthew 5:13-16
Theme: A Good Reason For Doing Good Works

Right now I am looking out at a church full of seasoned sermon listeners. Most of you have been on the listening end of hundreds of sermons. Many of you have heard thousands of sermons. And if you grew up in the Lutheran church, or if you have been a member of this congregation for any length of time, there is a good chance that you have noticed a trend.

The sermon text changes from week to week, but the focus remains the same. The vast majority of Lutheran sermons stress the importance of what God has done for us and place a secondary emphasis on what we as Christians do for God. And there is a good reason for that.

Preachers (and I include myself in that group) never want to give the impression that our salvation depends on human performance. No matter how many good things a person does, those good things will never be able to cancel out the bad. No matter how good people try to be, on their own they can never be good enough.

Salvation is a gift of God's grace. Undeserved love. Unconditional love. A love that motivated God the Father to sacrifice his one and only Son. A love that moved Jesus to sacrifice his life for his friends, for his enemies, for the sins of the world, for you. You are saved because your Savior saved you. Period.

Unfortunately that is where a fair share of Lutheran sermons end. Maybe preachers are afraid that the precious truths rediscovered by Luther will somehow be lost again. Maybe our sermons are so focused on the work of Christ that we sometimes forget to talk about the grateful response of the Christian.

It doesn't have to be that way. It really shouldn't be that way because good works play an important role in the life of a believer. And it shouldn't surprise us that Jesus mentions good works early and often in his Sermon on the Mount. Addressing the disciples who had gathered around him that day, preaching to his followers who are gathered here today, the Lord provides us with...

A GOOD REASON FOR DOING GOOD WORKS

Read more: 140209 Matthew 5:13-16

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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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