This Sermon was prepared for the series, "Joyful Generosity." Minor revisions were made.
If it ever hurts to give, have you ever asked yourself why? If so, here's a bit of advice. Ask yourself where you would be without the grace of God in your life. When we see God's generous grace, we become generous too, and joyfully use all that we have to praise him. Who are we that we should be able to give as generously as this? We are the children of God by grace through faith in Christ.
This special sermon was preached at a service remembering the many years of blessings God gave to the people of Zion Lutheran Church in Cream, WI. Pastor Wayne Borgwardt grew up at Zion in Cream.
You've heard it said, "God will give you more than you can handle." Is it true? That's not what Paul says. Listen to the sermon that has everyone at St. Michael's talking, that has rung true with them, and will ring true with you.
We fear all sorts of falling. The worst, though, is falling from grace. Through neglect of the Gospel and the sacraments, our faith can whither and die. Be careful that you don't fall! But rather than trying to find strength in our own hearts to forever hold on, instead always look to God, who is always faithful. He can hold you and defend you, no matter what attacks come your way. In him, we can stand firm forever.
The Lord's Supper is just that - a supper that we received from the Lord. Therefore we dare not try to make it into something other than what the Lord says it is. And what is that? It is his very own body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. In a personal, individual way, Jesus comes to us with this forgiveness.
This sermon is part of a series prepared by Northwestern Publishing House, entitled: Repent! Turn to Jesus.
Easter is no joke. The resurrection of Jesus is not some small teaching to be tucked in the corner. Without it, Christians would in fact be the most pitiful people of all. But since Christ is raised, what does that mean? Listen to what hope we have, for now and forever.
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.
Death is called the last great enemy. As one tours a cemetery, it seems so unrelenting, so complete and final in its victory. But Christ's victory is greater. Because he lives, all graves will one day be empty, as we shall all rise. Those who believe in him will go to paradise with the Lord where they will never be touched by death again. We have the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord!
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!
Don't we know? The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God! Paul's list is long and his message is clear. These things bar us from God's heavenly home. But, we were washed! But, we were sanctified! But, we were justified! God's grace has saved us from the punishment for these sins and allows us to fight against those sins daily. Let us live according to what we know.
How far would we go in order to bring someone the Gospel? We send missionaries across the world, but we have trouble even crossing our own street. The Apostle Paul said that he enslaved himself to others, becoming all things to all people, in order that he might be able to save some.
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.
We might like to believe that our prayer life should be easy, with God simply answering everything we ask exactly as we ask it, the first time, every time. Instead, God invites us to pray persistently. Yet at the same time, we are confident that He hears us. Follow along with this sermon to see why we have this confidence.
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.
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.
Elijah had miracle food, but it wasn't enough to lift his hopes. Nor is he lifted up by the great, powerful displays of God's might. He's only lifted up by the gentle whisper of the gospel, that God has reserved, through His word, people who have not forsaken God, and the revelation that God still has plans for His church.
Looking back, we see an empty way of life that we received from our parents and our culture. Do we let that linger to closely to us? Too often, we keep living as though we were freed for such a life, not from such a life. Repent! Then look back at the celebration not to far in the distance. Jesus forgives our love for the old, empty way of life. Let Easter remain a powerful force in our living from here on.
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.
At New Year's, people resolve to be better, to improve themselves. The hope is that we will be happier this year than last. But God has made a new creation in Christians. It's a new you. The focus is not so much on our own happiness. God wants you to focus outward, to love others deeply and from the heart. If we do this, what a blessed new year it will be!
Easter carries on, bringing us inexpressible joy, because it promises us an inheritance in heaven that will never pass away. In the meantime, our faith will go through tough times of testing. This is to strengthen our faith, not drive us from it. May you find that Easter joy.
We might be surprised after Peter's beautiful confession that Jesus is the Christ that Jesus tells him not to share that with anyone. Why not? He doesn't understand what it means yet. Do we understand what it means to be Christian? Do we expect it to be, or portray it to be something where there's no problems, no strife, and no suffering? God doesn't want us to have any surprises, so he tells us to expect sufferings. But we can also expect his faithfulness to keep us close and carry us through.
On Good Shepherd Sunday, we hear about shepherds that serve under the Good Shepherd, Jesus. Pastors and ministers serve God's flock. They do so by leading people to and showing them the greatness of Christ. Let them lead you there.
Samuel's parents dedicated his life as one of complete service to the Lord. He was always taking of God the Father's business. While that may sound wonderful, the leader at the temple certainly left much to be desired. Was it wise to leave Samuel there? So also, Christ comes to take care of his Father's business. He's entrusted into the hands of those that would hurt and destroy. What's behind God's actions? Listen and find out.
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.
Were laws made to be bent or broken? Jesus cites this event from David's life when he ate bread reserved only for priests. The law of Christian love took precedence to preserve this future king's life. But that does not mean that we are discard good laws for us. Rather, since they are for our good, we should go out of our way to keep them.
Sometimes, it may seem like you're never doing anything right. But look! The Apostle Paul praises the Thessalonians for loving their brothers and sisters and serving the Lord. Now he encourages them to do it even more. So with us. We are blessed to live for God. But are we getting stale and comfortable where we are at? You're doing it! Now do it even more.
We often think of what heaven will be like for ourselves. But are we thinking about the blessing it will be for other people, or that other people will be a blessing to us? We are not alone. Both the living who trust in Christ and the dead who died in Christ will be united together when Jesus returns, as we all join the Saints Triumphant.