Following Christ in a faithless world is a theme that seems to be all caught up in what we do. But as we listen to Jesus speak with his friends, Mary and Martha, he tells them that there is one thing that is needed, and that is sitting at Jesus' feet and receving his Word. What busyness keeps us from listening? And why is it so vitally imporant that we know his word? Find out in this final sermon from Pastor Jansen here at St. Michael's.
"And who is my neighbor?" The law-minded man wants to make sure that he's giong to the limits of the love that he's supposed to show to certain people. But Jesus, by the parable of the Good Samaritan, shows that there are no limits we are to show to the people of the world.
Following Christ Moves Us to Support Gospel Ministry
What does it mean to follow Christ in a faithless world? Jesus sent out the seventy-two in order to prepare the towns and places that lay ahead of him. He instructed them not to take along their usual provisions for a journey. He wanted them to learn that they would trust in God, and receive their compensation for the message that they brought. Are we ready to support such Gospel ministry?
Jesus calls us to take up our cross daily. Is our Christian walk partial or sporadic? Jesus impresses on us that we must be completely committed as we follow him. When we do not, see what his own commitment achieved. He set out resolutely for Jerusalem... for you! To save you!
If you hear the term, "Theology of the Corss," you might guess that we're talking about Christ's cross. After all, can you imagine our Christ without the cross? But the Theology of the Cross is really the teaching that weach one of Jesus followers must take up a cross as well. Can there be such a thing as a cross-less Christian? See what it means to follow Christ in a faithless world.
Faith is only as good as the one in whom it trusts. Who is this Jesus character? What shall we make of him? True Christian faith doesn't just trust in some god or higher power. It trusts in the God who forgives even the worst of our sins.
What flies in the face of faith? Often, it's personal experiences that bring pain and heartache. I believe in God. What good does it do me? But God gives us a glimpse of what we have to look forward to. By raising the son of the widow of Nain, he demonstrates his compassion and his power over death. Therefore, our faith can fly in the face of death.
The centurion thought more highly of others than himself. Why? His faith saw what he was. Though he was powerful, he was a sinner - not worthy of having Christ come into his house. Faith raises others above ourselves, and praises God above all.
Understanding the intricacies of the teaching of the Trinity can be hard. That doesn't mean that we can't believe in it. (Should I assume I, a mere human being, could be able to comprehend God?) But what's also hard is seeing what the Father, Son, and Spirit had to do because of our sin. How it hurts! They act so that they can heal.
We often think about giving offerings to God. Do you ever consider yourself to be and offering to God? That is how Jesus our Great High Priest, sees you. He offers you, cleaned, forgiven, and made beautiful to the Father.
If we could see the angels all around us, would we still be afraid? Perhaps not. Elisha's servant is comforted in seeing that those who were with them were more than the enemies. But if that gives us comfort, what about a God who promises to be ever near, even after Christ's ascension? The blessings may be unseen, but they are real, and they are there.
Jonathan displays what love in a friendship truly looks like. He knows love, because God has loved him. We know love too. It is not a half-hearted attempt to be nice to people. Real love pours itself with all our hearts, just as God loved us with all of his.
God loves to use beautiful imagery to describe his love for us. The Good Shepherd is a lovely picture, as long as we can get past being called sheep! Here in Ezekiel, he paints a scene where everything that's wrong is gone, and everything that's right comes near. This is the work of Jesus Christ, the one true Good Shepherd.
There are many kinds of blindness. Saul (later Paul) was struck with temporary physical blindnessd. He and the others with him had trouble spiritually "seeing" who it was that spoke to them. But what about Christians? Ananais had a kind of blindness himself, that God could and would completely transform the life of someone like Saul. What do your eyes need to see?
Abram (a.k.a. Abraham) saw many amazing things in his lifetime. But the grandest thing for which his heart yearned is something he would never see in this world. After routing an alliance of kings, God tell him not to fear. Why not? God always keeps his promises.
Do you like a good mystery? One of the greatest mysteries is this: "What happens to us after death?" One person came back from death and tells us - Jesus Christ, who died, and more than that, was raised back to life. He takes away the mysterious part of the mystery, and promises eternal life to all who believe in him. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
There are a thousand things that could capture our time and attention this blessed morning of Christ's resurrection. This morning, we focus on the love - the love of Mary Magdalene for her Lord, the love of Christ for her and his disciples, and the love of Christ for you. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
There is only one God and one Savior. That means that all of salvation hinges on him and him alone. As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, everything is riding on him this Palm Sunday. Will he succeed? Jesus takes his victory lap, even before he has finished his work. This is the confidence of God to fulfill all that he has promised to bring us the victory!
Sometimes our rebellion is big and obvious, like it was for Korah and his followers. Sometimes its small and hidden, right in our own hearts. A great and powerful judgment came upon Korah for his rebellion. What about the rest of the people? They run in fear, though they went where God said they would be safe. We need a Savior for our big rebellions and our small, that we might trust in Christ alone.
You've heard it said, "Don't shoot the messenger." Why not? It never changes the message. The people of Israel shout to Jeremiah the prophet, "You must die!" But can they kill the message? Let us repent for the times we think that we are merely dealing with a "preacher" or a "church" when they speak something we don't like, when in truth, it is God's own message. Rather, let our hearts be open to his Word, and accept it for what it is.
One man toyed with temptation and gave in. An entire nation suffered becasue of it. How serious is it when we face things that seem like they would be "victimless crimes" or "victimless sins?" God shows us their severity in the account of Achan, and begin a series that looks forward to the One who became a victim for us for all of our sins - Jesus Christ.
Do you remember that time Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with two stone tablets in his hands? No, not that time. The other time. The second time. He face was glowing with glory. On Transfiguration Day, our Savior's appearance changed as well. What does it all mean? As we learn, one thing is for sure - don't ignore the glory from the mountain.
Is there a place where we can go from which God cannot bring us back? Before Israel even enters the Promised Land, he sees a time when he will need to expel them again. They will be scattered to the corners of the heavens. They will, as a whole, cease to exist. And what does God do? He calls them to return, heart and soul. No matter where you have been, what you have been, or what you have done, God wants you to return.
Life-threatening moments might lead to the cry: "We're all going to die!!!" When Manoah, Samson's father, realized that he had met the Angel of the Lord, his response was not, "Wow, that's great!" Instead, he concluded that we're all going to die. How can we, sinners, approach the holy and almighty God and not come to the same conclusion? Come and find Christ, who remvoes our sins, and brings us safely into the Father's presence.
Have you ever wondered if your time was up? Things are not always what they seem. God may use hardship in our lives for any number of reasons. What is God directing you to see in your life? Whatever it may be, he leads us to trust completely in him.
Pastor Jansen apologizes for his voice. He was fighting a cold that weekend.
Do you ever cry when you read God's Word? The people of Israel did one day. Why? Some of God's Word, his law, crushes us when we realize, "That's me. That's my sin he's talking about." But that all serves a greater message of God's Word, and the prophet Nehemiah wants the people to put their weeping aside. Are you ready to let the Lord's joy be your strength?
Water changes to wine. Water changes to blood. God has power over nature. But is that the only power out there? What about the other powers we see put on display during Epiphany? What should we do about temptations to dabble with those powers? We see that Satan's power always destroys, but God's power transforms.
At Epiphany, we see non-Jewish people come and celebrate the "Gentile Christmas." The Queen of Sheba goes to witness the wisdom of Solomon. Wise Men go to Bethlehem to see the newborn King of the Jews. All were filled with joy. Why? The circumstances are so different? They all see the connection, a relationship rooted in the work of God.