180415 Acts 4:8-12

Sermon Text: Acts 4:8 – 12

Theme: Confidently Confess Christ!

During my sermon on Easter Sunday, I referred to the survey by the Barna Group that is mentioned in the bulletin today. One of the sad conclusions of that survey is that "those who celebrate Easter because of the resurrection of Christ are not particularly likely to invite non-churched friends to worship, suggesting that their personal beliefs about Jesus have not yet translated into a sense of urgency for having spiritual conversations with their acquaintances."

Certainly my prayer is that this is not true of you or me. I pray that you and I ARE filled with a sense of urgency to tell people about Jesus, because as Peter confesses in God's Word before us "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." The encouragement you and I receive from God's Word is to be like Peter; not the Peter who denied his Savior three times; rather, the Peter in our first reading today from Acts, chapter 4. Today, you and I receive the encouragement to CONFIDENTLY CONFESS CHRIST!

Read more: 180415 Acts 4:8-12

180408 John 20:19-31

Text: John 20:19-31
Theme: Peace Be With You!

I think that almost everyone assembled here this morning could come up with a working definition for the word, "persecution." We know what persecution is, but how many of us know how persecution feels? To the point that our freedoms are taken away. To the point that we find ourselves in real danger. To the point that we lie awake at night knowing that our enemies could break down the door at any moment and carry us away.

The vast majority of American Christians have never faced that kind of persecution. Coming to church this morning didn't put us in any great danger. We don't have to keep an eye on the exits to plot out our escape routes today. Physical persecution isn't a part of our for-the-most-part comfortable, uneventful lives.

The disciples, on the other hand, knew what persecution felt like by personal experience. On Easter Sunday, on a day that should have been a day of open celebration, the disciples were huddled together behind locked doors. Why? Only two days earlier, the authorities had put Jesus to death, but they weren't finished. Their Lord was gone, and his followers feared that they would be next.

Imagine the joy that filled their hearts when Jesus himself appeared in that locked room. The same eyes that had witnessed his suffering, the same eyes that shed tears of sorrow now saw Jesus alive. They touched him with their hands. They listened to his comforting words. To hearts that were caught somewhere in between doubt and despair, the risen Lord brought a message of peace.

We may not face the same level of adversity today, but our lives are not trouble free either. We are free to worship God wherever and whenever we choose, but followers of Jesus still face persecution in more subtle forms. When we are discouraged, when we feel like we are fighting a losing battle, when we feel like we are all alone, our risen Savior comes to us too, and he proclaims a message of peace:

Peace Be With You!

I. Doubt destroys our peace
II. Jesus destroys our doubts

Read more: 180408 John 20:19-31

180401 1 Corinthains 15:19-20

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:19-20
Theme: Christ Has Indeed Been Raised From The Dead!

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Do you know who Daniel Edwin Barker is? Daniel Barker was a Christian preacher for 19 years, until he left Christianity in 1984. Now, he and his wife Annie, are the co-presidents of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Back in 2003, Mr. Barker is quoted as saying, "During the 19 years I preached the Gospel, the resurrection of Jesus was the keystone of my ministry. Every Easter I affirmed the Apostle Paul's admonition: 'If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.' But now I no longer believe it. Many bible scholars and ministers...reject the idea that Jesus bodily came back to life. So do 30% of born-again American Christians!"

And, sadly, that number is growing. Back in 2010, the research group, Barna, conducted a survey of adults asking them what Easter means to them. Here is one of the conclusions from that survey: "While a majority of Americans indicated some type of spiritual connection with Easter, the research also showed that a minority of adults directly linked Easter to the Christian faith's belief in the resurrection of Christ. In all, only 42% of Americans said that the meaning of Easter was the resurrection of Jesus or that it signifies Christ death and return to life." Did you catch it? This means that over half of the adults in our country, do NOT make a connection with Easter and the resurrection of Jesus! And the sad fact is that they are passing on their unbelief to their children!

I wish I could tell you that all this is just a bad April Fool's Day joke. But, sadly, I can't. A growing number of people believe that that the resurrection of Jesus is only a myth; a legend; a made up story! A growing number of people call you and me fools for being here this morning celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.

But, you and I know that the teaching of Jesus' resurrection is one of THE key teachings in all of the Bible. If we empty the resurrection of Jesus of its meaning, and simply call it a "myth" or a "legend" or a "story" which may or may not have happen, then, as Paul says in our reading, "We are to be pitied more than all men." Why? This is the question we want to spend some time answering this morning. By the grace of God, you and I know the Good News of the Gospel; the Good News that Jesus Christ lives! As you and I gather together on this Easter Sunday, we do so rejoicing in the wonderful Good News that CHRIST HAS INDEED BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD!

Read more: 180401 1 Corinthains 15:19-20

180329 Mark 14:12-26

Sermon Text: Mark 14:12-26

Sermon Theme: Tonight We Enjoy a Feast!

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." (Mark 14:22-24)

What picture does your mind pain when you think of a feast? Maybe you think of the meal that you are planning for this coming Sunday; a table filled to over-flowing with food, with people sitting all round the table laughing and talking with one another, enjoying the meal and their time together.

Tonight, you and I have the opportunity to enjoy a meal that at first glance doesn't look like much of a feast. There are only two simple items set on the table; bread in the form of small wafers and some wine. It doesn't look like a great banquet that is set before us. It doesn't look like a lavish dinner. But it is a celebration meal. On this Maundy Thursday, TONIGHT WE ENJOY A FEAST!

Read more: 180329 Mark 14:12-26

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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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