"It's ok." Why do we say those words when someone has wronged us and then asked for forgiveness? It's not ok. It's forgiven! So let us say that. Let forgiveness be on in our hearts, on our lips, and in our lives, so that we don't get trapped by the devil's schemes. What are those schemes? First to think nothing of sin as we enter into one. Or then, once trapped, to believe we could never be forgiven.
Everybody's running. Why do you run, dear Christian? We do not run aimless through life after money and other things that never fill the hole we feel inside. But for God, we flee temptation and the trap of loving money, and pursue godliness and all good things that keep us close to God and His Word. Run, Christian! Run!
What does your vision of heaven look like? Who's there? God says that there will be people there from every tribe, nation, language, and people, made up of every person who calls on the name of the Lord to be saved. For this Mission Festival, are we ready to be part of the great chain that sends out people to preach, so that the message may be heard, that it may be believed, and that people may call on God's name?
At this year's Vacation Bible School, we learned that in Jesus, the victory is won! God's victories always look so strange. It's also strange that he would share it. Yet because he does, we give thanks to God, for it means that we are going to heaven, all because of his grace.
Ten lepers are cleansed. Only one returns to give glory to God. Does it matter where these things are done? Consider our Savior's disappointment that nine did not return, and what it means for where and how we worship God.
People will go to great lengths for what they call love. But not all love is equal. Any love that does not heed God and his Word is only a shadow of what real love is. Do not love the world or the things in the world. Rather, love the Father above all else.
Can a valley of dry bones live? They can, if God gives them their life. It's more than simply finding skin and flesh again. They must have breath in them. The Spirit of God gives us life that is more than superficial. When we were dead in our trespasses and sins, God is not content to merely have us look Christian. He gives us the Holy Spirit, and in faith, we truly live.
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.
What's really important for a wedding? We make a big deal of things like the venue, the flowers, and the dress. We have been invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb of God, Jesus himself. The Church is his bride. He gives her a beautiful dress to wear. What does that mean? Listen to find out.
David's sin seems utterly unbelievable. Could such evil be found among us? Yes, it can. The sad story of David and Bathsheba plays itself in various ways to varying degrees. But we are that sinner. Where is our help and hope? It can only be found in the utterly unbelievable forgiveness of God.
Jesus is coming! Think beyond Christmas. He comes again at the end, and he wants us to be ready. Should this scare us? Not at all. He comes to take us home. So we wait with perseverance and prayer, going about the work he has for us to do.
We've heard of the parable of the prodigal son. Is it really about him? Or is it about the crazy, inexplicable love and compassion of the father? He gives his son everything, then forgives him when he ruins it. He even reaches out to the begrudging other son who is upset that the father would be so gracious. Come explore that graciousness toward you as well.
Jesus' parable about the wicked tenants killing the master's son doesn't leave much doubt what Jesus is talking about. The leaders of Israel have killed God's prophets in the past, and now they plot to kill the Son of God. They will get what they deserve. But know this: through His death, we find an escape from death.
People love to talk about the work of the Holy Spirit. But what is it, really? Is it caught up in outward miracles and sings, such as what we see on Pentecost? Or is it something more hidden? Listeners are gathered, speakers are enabled, and a message is shared. And so the Spirit continues to work, even without the amazing signs of Pentecost.
Isaiah looked forward to a day when God would do something so wonderful and amazing, it would overwhelm us. God himself would become our salvation. In that day, then, Isaiah sees us singing and shouting for joy. Easter is that day! Our "someday" has arrived. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Some people try to deflect hearing what God says in his Word with a quick, "that's just your interpretation." Why would we believe that the God of salvation didn't want to be perfectly clear in the single source r our salvation? The real question is whether or not we will put aside all preconceived notions and simply listen to what God has to say. And if we find a disagreement, let us not expect God to be the one to change.
Jesus' parable of the sower and the seed proves true time and time again. The Gospel is scattered abroad. Some refuse to hear it. Some have faith for a while, but the world chokes it and it dies. Other believe and produce a crop. What do we do? Don't let the thorns stop you. Like for the Apostle Paul, sometimes our new field is right next door.
By taking on human flesh, the Son of God put Himself in harm's way. Why would He do that? The mystery of the incarnation, that God takes on flesh, was all for the sole purpose of saving us. The does the impossible to accomplish the impossible.
The preaching of the Word of God is just as vital today as it was the first day you heard it. People all around are dying. The heart of Jesus needs to be rushed to them. Pray for the preaching of the Word. But also pray for the preachers, that they do not give up when met with opposition. Through burnout and resistance, God is able to carry them through.
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.
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.
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!
We find ourselves wandering in life. How bad a thing is that? Picture a train that decides to go just a bit off course. Disastrous! We pray that God would keep us on track, trusting in Him through our whole life through.
Some might hesitate to share God's Word because they don't think that it would actually work. But do we ever fear that it works too well? Do we have people that we don't think deserve to hear of God's love? Jonah was upset that the Word of God had its intended effect. Let us pray that we love others, and not withhold the life-saving Gospel from them.
We're always chasing after rest. Even the times we take off to get away from it all, we even need rest from that. Though God had given his people many kinds of rest, there is still one rest that we all strive to reach. That is the rest of heaven. Stay rooted in the Word of God that, knowing Jesus, you may one day enter it.
Would you like to know a secret? How about the secret to being content? How about the secret to be able to anything through Christ who gives you strength? There is one other secret that stands behind these. Is it the greatest "secret" ever, one we want the whole world to know.
The prophet foretells the exciting news of Palm Sunday. Your King comes to you! But what does that mean? Where does he actually find you? What he finds in Jerusalem that week was not fit for a King. But when we understand his purpose of coming, it makes perfect sense as he meets you at the cross.