People have accused others of "being so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good." But as C.S. Lewis points out, history confirms that those who have done the most good in this age are often those who have thought the most of the age to come. All Saint's Sunday helps us to set our minds on the things above, particularly as we focus on "the communion of saints" and the beautiful portraits provided in our readings this morning. They only scratch the surface of what has been promised to us as baptized believers in Christ Jesus.
Martin Luther was terrified by "the righteousness of God" as well as he should be. He knew a righteous God could not coexist with sin, but that his wrath would be vented against sin. Gloriously, Luther came to discover in Scripture that the righteousness of God is something we are given in faith, and that even the faith needed to receive this gift was a gift itself! Truly we are saved by grace, through faith, on account of Christ and what he accomplished for us.
The way God guides and cares for us is often mysterious and not obvious at the moment. There is a word for this. The word is "Providence". And the way God would care for Israel, even in their punished condition as exiles in Babylon, is a case in point. This is especially true when we consider the promise of deliverance that Isaiah the prophet declares through an unusual messiah some 200 years beforehand...
There are a number of images of the fulfillment of the Lord's promises on that day when Jesus returns to consummate his Kingdom. One of those pictures is of being invited to a rich feast. Not only does this glimpse, light at the end of the tunnel, help to sustain us in this present age, but the Lord has already arranged to give us a foretaste of the feast to come.
One of the consistent pictures in the Bible of God's work through his people is that of a vineyard. And the vineyard is cultivated for the purpose of making wine, that which gladdens the heart, satiates the senses, and becomes important as an enhancement for people coming together and celebrating. An interesting image of salvation! But with human agency in the vineyard, instead of fine wine the vineyard yields vinegar! Find out how God uses our stubborn rejection to yet make his vineyard fruitful.
Of course it is good news that if we repent and turn from our wickedness that we can live, live eternally. But what of the fact that we keep turning away from God and doing what is right and just! Does our repentance and amendment of life depend on us? Or is there yet additional good news wherein we indeed find a gracious God in Scripture? Listen to how Ezekiel hinted at and anticipated such good news.
One of the most difficult tasks we have as Christ's disciples is that of forgiving those who have sinned against us. And as Jesus spoke to Peter, we are not to do so just once, not just seven times, but seventy times seven! So if we fail in this task does that mean our sins won't be forgiven? Is God's forgiveness conditional? And if it is, then is it something we earn?
In an age where many have grown cavalier in regards to "sin", where we may admit to making a few mistakes along the way and excuse the same saying "I'm only human"; find out why Jesus deals with sin as such a deadly serious matter! Discover our Lord's loving purpose in going out of his way to make sure we identify ourselves as the sinners that we are.
The path to the Lord's Salvation, that is his victory over sin, death, and the devil, culminated in Jerusalem on the Cross, and as believers we are headed to our own graves where in Baptism being joined to Jesus' death we look forward to also sharing in his resurrection.
In this rapidly changing world, what someone has called "liquid modernity", is there a place one which to stand? Is there anything enduring? Jesus identifies a community built upon a rock that will endure, and from which the forgiveness of sins is given. And as the Reformer Martin Luther taught, "where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation."
It takes a foreign woman in desperate need for the rest of us to recognize that even the crumbs that fall from the Master's Table are more valuable than anything this world can provide. We plead for God's mercy, not out of any sense of being deserving, but trusting in the promise of the Gospel that God for Christ's sake forgives us our sins.
Living in and among the weeds is the reality of our lives in this age. We can be thankful that the uprooting of all evil hasn't happened yet. It will at Christ's return. In the meanwhile there is opportunity to repent and be gathered in our Lord's garner as wheat, rather than to be burned as weeds.
The Word of the Kingdom, significantly that it has arrived with Jesus, is like seed. When seed finds its way into soil it will produce fruit. Just so, when God's Word finds its way into human hearts it bears much fruit.We must not get discouraged, but keep allowing the Word to be in our ears, penetrating our hearts, and upon our lips.
One week Jesus announces that he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. And the next week He invites all who labor and are heavy laden to come to Him and He will give them rest. This sounds peaceful indeed! Find out more about the rest and peace that in fact our Lord brings.
There is a consistent Biblical concern over false prophets and false teaching, from the Old Testament Prophets, to Jesus, and then by his Apostles. Often the false prophets are preferred by people over the prophets giving truthful messages. What are the marks of a false prophet? In this sermon I share with you five marks of a false prophet.
Some messages we would prefer not to listen to, such as harsh warnings or indications of punishment. But shooting God's messenger doesn't erase the message or the truth. In the end, if we welcome the bitter pill, we can look forward to the most incredible deliverance and promises.
The Bible names all believers as a priesthood of believers. Does this mean we really don't need pastors? And what are priestly duties? Pastors are just one kind of minister. All of us are to serve God and our neighbors in our vocations. We are all to witness to the Gospel. And we all are to pray for others.