140921 Matthew 16:21-26

Text: Matthew 16:21-26
Theme: Christianity Comes Down To The Cross

The Christian faith is rich in symbolism. If you want proof, look no farther than this sanctuary. Without a word, Bible doctrines are being taught here. The triangle on the banner over my shoulder represents the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three sides equal three persons. One shape equals one God.

The symbol hanging from the lectern is much smaller, but it is no less significant. The anchor brings to mind last Sunday's sermon and the inspired words of Hebrews that compare our hope to an anchor for the soul, firm and secure (6:19).

Symbols like these are important. They have meaning. They enhance our understanding of God and God's Word. But no image is able to capture the essence of our faith like Christianity's most popular symbol.

We see it when our worship begins and ends. It stands over us at the communion rail and the baptismal font. And it has a permanent home above our altar. Originally this symbol was formed when two pieces of wood were fastened together, but now it is not unusual to see it in gold or silver or polished brass.

The cross is a powerful symbol, but it has no power in and of itself. It is not an idol to be worshiped. It is not a relic to be adored. The cross is important to us only because of what it represents. The cross is something Christians display in their churches and homes because of the world-changing events that took place there.

As Jesus began to prepare his disciples for his suffering and death on Good Friday, he also wanted them to be ready for the hardships they would have to endure as his followers. The words he shared with them serve as a timely reminder for followers of Jesus today.

Our faith, our confidence, our lives in the present, our hope for the future, everything we hold near and dear to us as disciples of Jesus comes down to this...


I. Christ carried a cross to his death
II. Christians carry a cross in life

Read more: 140921 Matthew 16:21-26

140914 Hebrews 6:19

Guest preacher: Tutor Matthew Rothe
Text: Hebrews 6:19
Theme: Hope: Not A Scheme, Not A Sigh, But A Statement and An Anchor

If you asked him, he'd be honest with you. One of the reasons why he married his wife was simply because her beauty took his breath away. As a young man Abram looked at Sarai and said to himself, " This is the lady I want to start a family with." But the prime of their lives had passed them by and here they were... He was 75 and she was 65 and they had nothing. Oh sure, they had some things: they had money (and lots of it), they had land, they had servants, and sheep, and goats, and cattle more than they could count. But all this amounted to nothing. For you see, a couple [and especially for the woman] in those days they got their heritage, their sense of pride, their sense of self-worth, and their social status based solely on whether they could produce an heir, a child. So having no kids meant Abram and Sarai had nothing and were on the verge of becoming a no one...

And it was to this nobody who had nothing that God appears in Genesis Ch. 12 and says, "Pack your things, Abram. Leave the faithless land in which you live, your family, and go where I show you." God promised him saying, "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing" (Gen 12:2). To which Abram replied, "Yea, that sounds good. I'm in. Tell me when we leave."

And you have to love how this story unfolds with all its twists and turns. Genesis records how this old boy from the boonies becomes the Patriarch of all Israel, really the father of all those who believe in Christ, and no details get left out. Romans 15:4 tells us this story, as well as all the others recorded in the Bible, was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Hope...that we might have hope is the reason God gave us Scripture. And it is that word – it is that idea of hope –I'd like us to focus on this morning, for you see, the word 'hope' has gone through a world of hurt and come out misunderstood and often meaning something that God never intended.

God and humans define hope differently. Human "hope" needs no foundation, no factual basis, and no historical proof, and that makes human "hope" uncertain. For instance, most of us here hope the Packers play better today than they did in week 1, and there are others here who hope they won't ever have to hear another Packer reference from the pulpit again, but there is some serious doubt whether either side will get what they hope for. You hope so, but you aren't sure, for doubt has been injected into a word that God intended to have no doubt. Human hope is cloud based - and no I don't mean it's safe like cloud based computer storage – I mean you cannot stand on a cloud.

God's hope, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. God's hope means something will surely happen. God's hope is certain for it has its foundation in Christ our solid rock. And so we turn our attention to the story of Abraham where God teaches us all about what hope is and what it is not.

Read more: 140914 Hebrews 6:19

140907 Matthew 15:21-28

Text: Matthew 15:21-28
Theme: Jesus Wants You To Be A "Crumby" Christian

It's a fairly common English word, but it is hardly ever used in conversation with its original meaning. I'm sure that you've heard it before. There is a good chance that you have said it before. The word I am thinking of is "crumby."

According to the dictionary "crumby" means "to be covered in crumbs." But the word also has a secondary definition, what we might call a slang definition: to be inferior or worthless. If you look out the window in the morning and see nothing but gray skies, you might think to yourself that it's going to be a crumby day. If your boss is unhappy with your performance at work, he/she might tell you that you are doing a crumby job.

You get the point. "Crumby" is not a positive word, and no one would ever use "crumby" as a compliment, no one except maybe Jesus. In the miracle account before us today, Jesus had a spiritual conversation with a Gentile woman. He didn't exactly tell her that she was crumby, but he did use an illustration that had to do with crumbs. And when the woman responded, she used the same word picture to demonstrate her faith in Jesus, the kind of faith that Jesus himself described as great, the kind of faith that Matthew holds up as an example for us today.

And as you listen in on this conversation between Christ and the Canaanite woman, you will understand what I mean when I say that...


I. Don't be afraid to ask him for help
II. Don't be discouraged if nothing seems to change
III. Don't be surprised when you are blessed

Read more: 140907 Matthew 15:21-28

140831 1 Kings 19:9-18

Text: 1 Kings 19:9-18
Theme: What Are You Doing Here?

One of the attributes of God that is well-documented in the Scriptures is his omniscience, which literally means that God is "all-knowing." He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows when your life will come to an end. He knows when this world will come to an end. Simply and accurately put, God knows everything.

But if God is omniscient, did you ever wonder why he asks so many questions? In the beginning, right after Adam and Eve fell into sin God was walking in the Garden of Eden, and he called out to Adam: "Where are you" (Genesis 3:9)?

Not long after Peter denied that he was a follower of Jesus and swore that he didn't even know Jesus, the risen Lord asked him not once, not twice, but three times: "Do you love me" (John 21:15,16,17)? And in our text for today, the Lord came to Elijah in a cave and asked him: "What are you doing here" (1 Kings 19:9,13)?

The Lord doesn't ask questions because he doesn't know the answers. He asked Adam where he was because he knew what Adam and Eve had done, because he wanted to give them a chance to repent. Jesus repeated his question to Peter, not because he didn't hear Peter the first time, and not because he doubted Peter's sincerity. He was giving his fallen disciple a chance to confess his sins. He was giving his future apostle another chance to confess his faith.

The same is true with the question that appears two times in today's text. The Lord knew that Elijah was hiding in a cave. The Lord was well aware of the events that had brought Elijah to that cave. God asked Elijah that question for Elijah's benefit, to make him think, to give him a chance to reflect.

In the New Testament letter that bears his name James tells us that Elijah was a man just like us (5:17). Because we live in the same sinful world, because we are confronted by the same temptations, it would be good for the rest of us to reflect on the same question...


Read more: 140831 1 Kings 19:9-18

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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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