170319 Romans 8:1-10

Preacher: Seminarian Jordan Bence
Sermon Text: Romans 8:1-10
Sermon Theme: We Have a New Strength in the Spirit!

Believe it or not when I was a child I didn't always make the best choices. One of the worst choices was made in my younger years after a brief dispute with my mom. After much time was wasted trying to explain to her that I had the world entirely figured out by the young age of eight, I realized it was no use. I decided it would be much better for me to take on the world alone so I was going to run away from home. As I planned my escape I filled my backpack with all the essentials; a handful of Legos, hot wheels cars, basketball cards, and a Kool-Aid burst and granola bar in case I got hungry on the trip. By the time I reached the end of the road I realized I had made a mistake. On my own as a young boy vs. the world I was powerless. I was powerless to feed myself. I was powerless to clothe myself. I was powerless. I denied the strength and help my parents could give. In a similar way when we take on this world without God we are powerless. We deny the help and strength our almighty God gives to us. When we take on this world by ourselves we will long for the desires of our own sinful flesh and flee from the perfect desires of the Spirit. In chapter of 8 of Romans Paul reminds us of the great strength and power of the Spirit that is ours through Jesus. We have a new strength in the Spirit. We see what Christ has done. We have his Spirit at work.

Read more: 170319 Romans 8:1-10

170312 Genesis 12:1-8

Sermon Text: Genesis 12:1-8

Sermon Theme: Promises! Promises!

Which do you think is easier to do: to make a promise or to keep a promise? Of course it is easier for us to say the words, "I promise!" But it may be more difficult for us to follow through and keep the promises we make to others. If you fail to keep your promises too often, someone will say, "Promises! Promises! You say 'I promise', but then you never keep your promise." In our worship services this weekend, you and I have the opportunity to hear promises that we know will always be kept. Today you and I take a few moments to consider the promises of our gracious Lord. It is the Lord who makes them and then we respond.

Read more: 170312 Genesis 12:1-8

170305 Matthew 4:1-11

Text: Matthew 4:1-11
Theme: Trust Triumphs Over Temptation

If someone asked you what was at the center of the Bible, how would you respond? Maybe your initial thought, and it would be a correct one, is Jesus. From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures are about Jesus. Old Testament believers looked forward to his coming. New Testament believers anticipate the day when he will come again. For these reasons, the Bible is sometimes called a Christo-centric (Christ-centered) book.

But what if the question was literal? What if the question was: "What is the exact center of the Bible?" Finding the answer to this question might take some work. If a person started at the first verse of Genesis and the last verse of Revelation and gradually worked to the center verse by verse, the middle would be (at least according to the work done by some) Psalm 118:8,9: "It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes."

We shouldn't read too much into this because the Bible isn't a book of secret messages. There is no code that needs to be cracked to understand what it says. The verse divisions we use today were added centuries after the Bible was written. Still, it is interesting that these two verses are in perfect harmony with the main message of the Bible: trust, trust in the Lord above all things.

Trust also lies at the heart of today's text. Jesus had just been baptized by John in the Jordan River. The Holy Spirit came down on him in the form of a dove. And the Father voiced his approval from heaven: "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). But hardly before his baptismal water had a chance to dry, Jesus was put to the ultimate test.

The devil was very much aware of what was going on. He knew why Jesus had come to earth. He knew that the Son of God had appeared to destroy his work. And he wanted to stop God's plan of salvation in its tracks. He wanted to stop Jesus before he got started. And a single victory over Jesus would mean death and defeat for the entire world.

Satan tempted Jesus on many different occasions, but three specific temptations are recorded in the Bible to give us a glimpse of what that spiritual struggle was really like. We see the craftiness and cunning of the devil. We see the strength and resolve of Jesus. But what is most important and what gives us reason to rejoice is the final outcome, where God allows us to see how...

Trust Triumphs Over Temptation

1. When Jesus was tempted to distrust God
2. When Jesus was tempted to put false trust in God
3. When Jesus was tempted to trust in a false god

Read more: 170305 Matthew 4:1-11

170301 Luke 18:9-14

Sermon Text: Luke 18:9 – 14

Sermon Theme: Repent: Turn to Jesus and Not to Yourself!

This year in the Lutheran Church, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. 500 years ago, on October 31, Dr. Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses, or statements, to the bulletin board of the day, the doors of the Castle Church. Luther's goal was to have a discussion on the truth of God's Word with the church leaders of his day. At the heart of the 95 theses was this practical question: What does it mean to repent? In the very first statement Luther wrote, "When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, 'Repent' (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. (Luther, 95 Theses, No. 1)

What is repentance? Repentance is confessing that I am a sinner. Repentance is sadness over my sins. Repentance is trusting that Jesus Christ has paid in full the price for all of my sins. Repentance is a desire to turn away from sin. Repentance is the focus of our worship on this Ash Wednesday. Repentance will be the focus of all our mid-week Lenten worship services this year. Throughout the next six weeks, by the Word of God, you and I will be encouraged to repent and turn to Jesus. Tonight, based on the Gospel Lesson that we just read, God's Word encourages you and me: Repent: Turn to Jesus and Not to Yourself!

Read more: 170301 Luke 18:9-14

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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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