Blessed From the Beginning

Based on:  Ephesians 1:3-14

When I was deciding which portion of God’s Word to base the sermon on for today, I didn’t realize it would end up this way, but today’s sermon text from Ephesians 1 is really an excellent continuation of the topic from the New Year’s Eve sermon. On New Year’s Eve we talked about how God has put his name on us and that he will bless us in this new year. That is his promise according to his gracious wisdom.

Now in Ephesians 1, Paul expands on that wonderful thought – God blesses us. With magnificent and rich spiritual blessings, God blesses us! All of these blessings come to us through the one whose birth we just celebrated, Jesus Christ. We can not help but respond to our God with praise.

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Be Faithful

Based on: Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus has something to say to you.  Right here, right now, your Savior wants to talk to you.  (He will say it through me – not because I am anybody special, but because by his grace he has called me to be here.)  When Jesus speaks to you, what are you going to do?  Are you going to take what Jesus says and bury it in the ground?  Or will you take what Jesus says and put it to work in your life so that its blessings multiply in your life.  Jesus asks us to consider how we will use all his gifts as servants in his kingdom. 

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Created to Love and Be Loved by the Creator

Based on: Matthew 22:34-40

When you make a table or you crochet a blanket you expect those things to be the thing you made them to be.  You don’t expect them to start doing something you did not create them to do.  If we created it, then we decide what that thing is used for.  It doesn’t decide on its own.  For example, what if the scrambled eggs you fixed this morning walked off your plate and told you, “I decided  not to be your breakfast.  Instead, I am going to deliver newspapers.” Once you got past the fact that scrambled eggs talked, you would start to realize that the whole world could suddenly become chaos as objects decided not to do the very thing they were designed to do.  The pew as you are sitting in and could decide not to hold you up and you would find yourself painfully sitting on the floor.  Cars, houses, books, streetlights, may all decide to do something other than they were created do and then and nothing in this world would be dependable.  It would be impossible to live.

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What Do You Owe?

Based on: Matthew 22:15-22

Do you remember the Peanuts cartoons where Charlie Brown would try to kick the football that Lucy was holding? Over and over again Charlie Brown would run to the football to kick it, and Lucy would pull it away at the last moment.  No matter how many times Charlie Brown tried to kick that football he would always end up flat on his back.  Do you think the Pharisees were beginning to feel like Charlie Brown? Over and over again they came to Jesus with questions, trying to trick him or to find something he said which they could use against him.  In today’s gospel reading we heard them ask a question about taxes, and after Jesus responds, we see the Pharisees walk away with their heads hung low.  Again, the football was pulled away at the last moment and they ended up flat on their backs.  We can just hear them say "Drats" as they leave Jesus.  But as we hear Jesus respond "Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s," let us not ignore what he says as the Pharisees did, but let us take it to heart and ask ourselves, "What do we have that belongs to our government, and what do we have that belongs to God?"

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Which One Are You

Based on: Matthew 21:28-32

Mark Twain once said there are two types of people in this world.  There are those who do the work and there are those who take the credit.  Then he said try to be in the first group because there’s less competition.  Eddie Murphy also said there were two types of people, those who divide people into two types and those who don’t.  C.S. Lewis said there are two types of people in this world: those who say to God, "Thy will be done, " and those to whom God says, in the end, ` thy will be done.  " Meaning that either you recognize that God is your creator and Savior and  submit to him, or you tell God you want nothing to do with him and in the end he will give you exactly what you want.  C.S. Lewis got it right.

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Based on: Matthew 18:21-35

Last week I said that Matthew Chapter 18 was a chapter about love and I still believe that is true.  The offer still stands, if you read in Matthew 18 and you have concerns about the connection between that chapter and love (after all the word “love” is not mentioned in this chapter), the then let’s look at it together.  Last week we talked about how in love we as Christians will sometimes say tough things in order to call our brother or sister back to Christ so that he or she may receive Christ’s forgiveness.  Today, as we continue reading in Matthew 18, we see that the forgiveness and love that God gives us motivates us to forgive others.  We will see the great difference there is between the debt that God has forgiven us and the debt that is owed to us by others, and by understanding that, we will see God’s great mercy.

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What Is Your Soul Worth?

Based on: Matthew 16:21-26

Here is a dollar bill.  By itself it is not going to buy very much, about a quart of gasoline or a small order of french fries.  But if you put more dollars together you can buy more things.  The problem is we all have a limited supply of these so we have to constantly decide, out of all the possible things we could do with our money, what has the greatest value.  The choice can be difficult.  When it comes time for me to buy a new car, do I go to the local Ford dealer in town and buy a minivan or do I really go in debt and get the Ferrari, two-seater convertible that will certainly out accelerate the minivan, but costs five times as much and only gets about 14 miles to the gallon? Perhaps sometimes our choices are very clear.  In our gospel today, Jesus asks us to consider, "What is your soul worth?"

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To Know Jesus is to Have Salvation

Based on:  Matthew 16:13-20

Every once in awhile I see a bumper sticker where the first line reads, "No Jesus, No Peace."  The word no is spelled N O, and of course that means that if you don’t have Jesus of course you don’t have real peace either.  The second line of the bumper sticker says, "Know Jesus, Know Peace.”  And the word know is spelled K N O W.  If you know who Jesus is then you also have peace. 

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What Wonderous Love – When Taking Back His Life

Based on: Matthew 28:1-10

Dear Fellow Recipients of God’s many blessings, made certain for us by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

Perhaps it has happened to you before. It was late at night or a holiday and there was something you needed—medicine or groceries or maybe your gas tank is close to empty.  You go from place to place hoping to find what you need but every store you go to, but they are closed.  Finally, you come to a store and the neon sign that says “OPEN” is lit up or maybe it is a plastic sign in the window – in either case you can finally get what you need.  That “OPEN” sign can bring joy or at least a feeling of relief.

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