140525 Acts 17:22-31

Text: Acts 17:22-31
Theme: Apologetics With No Apologies

Has this ever happened to you? You were planning a trip to a place you had never been before, maybe a vacation destination that brings in visitors from all around the world. In this place you hoped to see things you had never seen before and do things you had never done before. You were excited. You couldn't wait. Your anticipation grew and grew and grew...

But when you finally arrived it was nothing like what you expected. You had built up in your mind this idea of what you thought would be an almost magical place, but what was supposed to be so great didn't turn out to be so great. And when reality set in you weren't just mildly disappointed. You were crushed.

Something like that happened to me on my second missionary journey. It was my first trip to Greece. In Philippi I was thrown into prison. In Thessalonica I was accused of starting a rebellion. In Berea things started out a little better. The Bereans listened to what I had to say. They studied the Scriptures every day to see if what I was saying was true.

I would have stayed in Berea longer, but some men came from Thessalonica looking for me. They tried to stop me from preaching the Word of God. They stirred up the Berean people against me, and I was forced to leave the city in the middle of the night.

From Berea it was a short trip to the great city of Athens, the birthplace of democracy, the home of Socrates and Plato and Aristotle. In the first century AD Athens was no longer the center of Western civilization, but it was still a center of wisdom and culture.

Even today the Acropolis remains a must-see destination in Athens, and it was no different in my day. Standing high above the city, its stone structures glistened as they reflected the light of the sun. The centerpiece of the Acropolis was the Parthenon, the temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, with its classic lines and massive columns.

The sights of Athens are impressive, but when I surveyed the city for the first time I wasn't impressed. I was actually distressed because everywhere I looked there were idols. It has been said that there were more gods than men in Athens, and I was deeply troubled because none of those men knew the true God.

I could have booked a ticket on the next ship out of town, but I decided to stay and do something about what I saw instead. First I went to the local synagogue and explained to my fellow Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but I didn't forget about the Gentiles. When I wasn't in the synagogue I was in the market place preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. And the response to my message was mixed.

Some skeptics called me a babbler, but others were intrigued. What I was saying sounded unlike anything they had ever heard before, and if Athenians loved anything it was anything new. Before I knew it I was invited to speak before the Areopagus (a group of men who gathered together to discuss the latest ideas).

It was an amazing opportunity, but it was also daunting. I was not a skilled orator. I don't consider myself to be a very persuasive speaker (I Corinthians 2:1-4). And the gospel doesn't make sense either, at least not logically. If you were inventing a new religion would you choose a crucified criminal to be your leader? You don't have to be a scholar to know that dead men don't come back to life either, and yet that was the message the Lord had given me to proclaim.

My name is Paul, and as we revisit my two thousand year old sermon this morning, I hope my words encourage you to speak with boldness and confidence when the Lord calls upon you to defend what you believe. There is a technical name for that. Explaining and defending the Christian faith is called apologetics, and my sermon today is an example of...


Read more: 140525 Acts 17:22-31

140518 John 14:6

Sermon Text: John 14:6

Theme: Jesus.

I would like to begin by having you look at this picture. [show slide] What stands out to you? I am not referring to the familiar signage and colors of a Kentucky Fried Chicken building. Rather, look at the bright yellow road sign. If you have made the trip between here and New Ulm, MN in recent years, you may have noticed signs such as this along US Highway 14 near Mankato. On the sign is a simple, clear message: Jesus. And if you look closely enough at the sign, you will notice that the word "Jesus" is followed by a period. So, this sign is proclaiming to people the simple, and yet very clear message of the Gospel: that the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in heaven are gifts to human beings because of Jesus, period. This is what the Savior himself says to us in the Gospel lesson for this weekend. The Lord's disciple Thomas had said to Jesus, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?" To which Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Read more: 140518 John 14:6

140511 I Peter 2:19-25

Text: I Peter 2:19-25
Theme: It's A Good Thing We Have A Good Shepherd

What is the theme that ties together today's Scripture readings? Even though Pastor Schmidt already announced that the fourth Sunday of Easter has been designated as Good Shepherd Sunday, the answer to that question might not be as obvious as you think.

In the first lesson from Acts there isn't any mention of a shepherd or sheep. Instead we are introduced to Stephen, a man who was full of faith (Acts 6:5) and who ultimately died because of his faith. When Stephen called his countrymen to account for killing Jesus, they stoned him to death and made him the first Christian martyr.

In John 10 Jesus calls himself the gate for the sheep, but he also talks about thieves and robbers and wolves who pose a threat to the flock. David describes the Lord as his shepherd in the psalm of the day, but in between beautiful verses about green pastures/quiet waters and dwelling in the house of the Lord forever, he recognizes the reality of the valley of the shadow of death and the presence of powerful enemies.

One of the main themes of I Peter (the subject comes up in every chapter, including today's second lesson) is standing firm in the face of persecution. Peter doesn't make excuses. Peter doesn't dance around the issues. He puts it in plain Greek: Christ suffered. You will suffer. In fact, as a Christian you have been called to suffer.

Suffering. Persecution. Danger. Intimidation. God's Word makes it clear that if you are a follower of Jesus, these things will be a part of your life. You will be harassed. You will be attacked. And you will not be able to survive on your own. This is where the theme of the day comes in. This is what makes the fourth Sunday of Easter is so meaningful. This morning Peter reminds us why...


I. He is the source of our salvation
II. He is worthy of our imitation

Read more: 140511 I Peter 2:19-25

140504 Luke 24:13-35

Sermon Text: Luke 24:13 – 35

Sermon Theme: Do You Have Heart Burn?

Have you ever suffered from heartburn? Maybe you ate some spicy food, or drank a lot of caffeine, and now you have the burning feeling in your stomach. Heartburn is not a pleasant thing. We take an antacid to get rid of it. Some people have such bad heartburn that they have to take prescription medication to help them deal with it. It is safe to say that no one here this morning would like to get a case of heartburn. But from God's Word that is before us this morning we read about a heartburn that would be good for us to get; a heartburn we would not want to stop or put out. The question that our Risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would like each one of us to answer is: "Do you have heartburn?"

Read more: 140504 Luke 24:13-35

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Our Mission Statement:

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.


Worship Schedule

8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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Oconomowoc, WI 53066




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