130804 Luke 12:13-21

Text: Luke 12:13-21
Theme: God Wants You To Be Rich...Toward Him

"God Wants You To Be Rich." Those words are printed in big, bold letters on the front cover of the New York Times best-seller by author Paul Zane Pilzer. And the words printed on the back cover provide some insight as to what the title means.

"Even successful people sometimes view the desire to get rich as something shameful. Having been taught that we live in a world of finite resources they never achieve the complete success they deserve because they believe it comes at the expense of someone else. But now Paul Zane Pilzer...explains how and why God wants each of us to be rich, in every possible way–in health, love and peace of mind, as well as material possessions. An individual's success is good for all of society, argues Pilzer, because wealth begets wealth for everyone....Provocative as well as practical, God Wants You to Be Rich offers a cornucopian view of our society–a new theological and economic understanding of why and how to accumulate wealth."

Actually Pilzer's views aren't all that new. They are a part of a growing movement in the Christian church that goes by various names: Health and Wealth, Name It and Claim It and Prosperity Theology. Championed by televangelists in the 1980s and refined by 21st century mega church preachers like Joel Osteen, prosperity theology teaches that a God who loves you doesn't want you to be broke. To support their contention prosperity preachers invoke the words of Jesus in John 10:10: "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

The question we need to consider is: Do those words really support that claim? Would Jesus commend Pilzer and others like him for raising people's sights to see what is possible, or would the Lord condemn them for leading people down a dark and dangerous path? And what would Jesus think of that book title? Would he endorse it, or would he reject it? Does God want you to be rich?

We don't have to speculate about what Jesus would or would not say. We don't have to wonder how Jesus would answer the question because he tackles the issue head on in the gospel lesson for today. And the Lord's answer is a clear and emphatic "Yes." Yes, God wants you to be rich...

GOD WANTS YOU TO BE RICH...TOWARD HIM

Read more: 130804 Luke 12:13-21

130728 Luke 11:5-13

Text: Luke 11:5-13
Theme: Let Your Every Prayer Be A Bold Prayer!

I'd like to begin this morning with a short and perhaps somewhat humorous poem about prayer:

"The proper way for man to pray," said Deacon Lemuel Keyes; "The only proper attitude is down upon his knees."

"Nay, I should say the way to pray," said Reverend Doctor Wise, "Is standing straight with outstretched arms with rapt and upturned eyes."

"Oh, no, no, no," said Elder Snow, "such posture is too proud. A man should pray with eyes fast-closed and head contritely bowed."

"It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front. With both thumbs pointing to the ground," said Reverend Doctor Blunt.

"Last year I fell in Hodgkin's well headfirst," said Cyril Brown. "With both my heels a-stickin' up, my head a-pointing' down; And I done prayed right then and there; best prayer I ever said, The prayin'est prayer I ever prayed, a-standin' on my head."

What is the proper way to pray? That is what the five men in the poem were arguing about. Does a person have to kneel to be heard? Should we bow our heads in humility or lift them up in the direction where the prayer is going? Do we need to fold our hands or at least press them together before we begin?

Truthfully I don't think the Lord really cares. He doesn't care if we kneel or sit or stand. He doesn't care what we do with our head or our hands. He doesn't care if our eyes are open or closed. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray he didn't give them specific guidelines for proper prayer posture, but he did give them (and he gives us) some guidance as to what constitutes a proper prayer.

Read more: 130728 Luke 11:5-13

130721 Luke 10:38 - 42

Text: Luke 10:38 – 42
Theme: Only One Thing is Needed!

When I sat down to write today's sermon message, the temperature outside was over 90 degrees; and the "heat index" said it was well over 100 degrees! What one thing do you need when it is that hot outside? A shady spot under a tree? A glass of ice-cold water? A cool, air-conditioned space? Now...let's think about this on a spiritual level: How are you and I able to be sure that, when our time of grace here on this earth comes to an end, we will not have to spend our eternity suffering in the heat of hell? On a weekend when we as a congregation are celebrating "Christmas in July", reminding ourselves once again of the wonderful Good News that our Savior was willing to leave his throne in heaven and come into this world as that baby born in Bethlehem; on a weekend when we are installing Mrs. Katie Schlomer as our new 3rd grade teacher, reminding ourselves of the importance of sharing the message of God's Word with generations to come through the ministry of our Lutheran Elementary School, we will see from God's Word that only one thing is needed.

Read more: 130721 Luke 10:38 - 42

130714 Luke 10:25-37

Text: Luke 10:25-37
Theme: A Lesson In Love

Jesus. Sometimes that name is invoked with reverence to express the highest form of praise. Jesus. Other times the same name is spoken with obvious contempt. But for me "Jesus" wasn't a word I threw out carelessly to express my frustration. Jesus was the source of my frustration, and I'll explain why.

It wasn't exactly what Jesus was doing because he actually did a lot of good. He helped people. He healed people. On at least one occasion he fed thousands of people. And so it's no surprise that people were attracted to him. Many followed him, and they listened to him because he spoke with authority.

But that's the problem. Jesus had no official authority. He wasn't an expert in the law like I was. He had no formal training. He hadn't gone through years and years of schooling. He was a carpenter's son from Nazareth. And so he had no right to be teaching people or sending out disciples in his name.

Jesus needed to be brought down a couple notches, and I decided that I would be the one to do it. Little did I know that I would be the one who would learn a valuable lesson that day. By telling me the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught me and he teaches all of us...

A LESSON IN LOVE

Read more: 130714 Luke 10:25-37

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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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