160717 Revelation 3:1-6

Text: Revelation 3:1-6
Theme: From The Savior With Love: Sardis

If you have been worshiping at St. Matthew's this summer, there is a good chance you noticed something different when you walked into the sanctuary today. The color for the Sundays after Pentecost is green, and for seven consecutive Sundays green has been draped over the altar and the pulpit and the lectern. Green has been hanging around the pastors' necks and projected up on the screen. But this morning the screen looks different, doesn't it? The background is brown, not green.

How many of you think that background is a picture of a piece of wood? In spite of appearances, you are all wrong. The picture you see is not of a solid piece of wood. It is what is commonly called a veneer. A veneer is a thin decorative covering that is laid over coarser wood or some other material that isn't wood at all.

Veneer covered products are popular because they give the appearance of solid wood construction at a fraction of the cost. But if you have any veneer covered cabinets or other furniture in your house you know there is a downside. After a few months of use and abuse, the truth comes out. Scratches and stains reveal a product that is much cheaper than it appears, a product that doesn't stand up to normal wear and tear, a product that is far different from what it looks like on the surface.

Because of that, the word, "veneer" is sometimes used in a figurative sense to describe people who make themselves appear a certain way to others, but deep down they are very different. If someone ever compares you to a veneer, you shouldn't take it as a compliment. Being compared with a veneer is an insult, and it is probably not an accusation any of us should ever make because we can't see inside people's hearts.

But God can. He knows us. He knows everything...everything about us. And when the Lord took a closer look at the church in Sardis, he was able to see beneath the veneer. He saw a congregation that looked strong and healthy on the outside but was wasting away on the inside. He saw church members who were on spiritual life support. He saw Christians who desperately needed to be roused from their spiritual slumber. And because he loved them Jesus wrote them a strongly worded letter, a warning for them to wake up before it was too late, a warning that we dare not dismiss as if these inspired words could never apply to us...

FROM THE SAVIOR WITH LOVE: SARDIS

Read more: 160717 Revelation 3:1-6

160710 Revelation 2:18-29

Text: Revelation 2:18-29
Theme: From The Savior With Love: Thyatira

As we come to the halfway point of our sermon series on the letters to the churches in Revelation, it becomes apparent that these seven congregations had much in common. They were connected geographically, sometimes separated by less than a good day's walk. They were connected politically as subjects of the emperor in Rome. Most importantly they were connected spiritually. No matter what their places of worship looked like on the outside, they were all built on the same solid foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.

But even with all these similarities, each congregation had its unique blessings and challenges. Jesus praised the Ephesians as champions of orthodox Christian teaching, but to their dishonor they had forsaken their first love. The church at Smyrna was about to come under attack and needed the encouragement to remain faithful even if it meant dying for what they believed. The Christians in Pergamum had already passed through the fires of persecution, but the flames of false teaching continued to burn in their midst.

Today we travel to Thyatira, a city about twenty miles southeast of Pergamum, a city that was known for its trade guilds (today we might call them unions). The church in Thyatira was unique, but it was not radically different from any gathering of believers that worships God and battles Satan, any congregation that is made up of less than perfect people, any group of sinner/saints like you and me. And so it is in our best interests as twenty first century Christians to listen carefully and learn from this first century letter...

FROM THE SAVIOR WITH LOVE: THYATIRA

Read more: 160710 Revelation 2:18-29

160703 Revelation 2:12-17

Sermon Text: Revelation 2:12-17

Sermon Theme: From the Savior with Love: Pergamum

As we continue our look at the 7 letters written at the beginning of Revelation, each letter begins by making it clear who the author is. It is the Lord of the Church, Jesus Christ. What is different in the letters that we have looked at so far is how the Savior identifies himself.

In his first letter to the Ephesians, the Lord reminded them that he is the one who walks with them each and every day; and he encouraged them to continue in that close, loving relationship with him.

In the second letter (which we looked at last week), the Savior reminded the Christians in Smyrna that he is the eternal God, "the First and the Last, who died and came to life again." It is this living Lord who wrote to them that because of his faithful love for them, because of the forgiveness of sins that he won for them, that they would receive "the crown of life" and live with him forever at his side in heaven.

Now we come to the third letter, and this time Jesus identifies himself as the one "who has the sharp, double-edge sword." This reminds us of what we read in Hebrews chapter 4, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." The double-edge sword of God's Word is his Law and Gospel. The Law cuts and causes pain as it shows us our sins and the need you and I have for a Savior. The healing cut of the Gospel is that through our one and only Savior, Jesus Christ, we enjoy the forgiveness of all of our sins. From the one who holds his Word in his hands, from the Savior with love, we read verses 12-17 of Revelation chapter 2:

To the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city--where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Read more: 160703 Revelation 2:12-17

160626 Revelation 2:8-11

Sermon Text: Revelation 2:8-11

Sermon Theme: From the Savior with Love: Smyrna

Last Sunday we began a sermon series based on the seven letters written to seven 7 different pastors and congregations recorded for us in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Last Sunday, Pastor Pagels focused on the first of these 7 letters written to the Christians in the city of Ephesus. Today, we consider letter number two. From the Savior with love, we read from Revelation chapter 2, verses 8-11:

To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

Read more: 160626 Revelation 2:8-11

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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.

 

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

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

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818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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