Based on: Acts 3:12-20
When you see someone sick or suffering have you ever thought, “If only I could put my hand on that person and say something like ‘In the name of Jesus may this sickness leave you’ and then the person would be whole again. If only God would work a miracle through me!” Have you ever thought something like that? I have.
But it doesn’t work that way, does it. I don’t have that gift. I don’t think any of you have that gift. If you are disappointed because of that, if you think you are missing out, then let me remind you that you have been given a much greater gift. God has given you the privilege and even the command to perform a far greater miracle. Through us God performs the miracle of faith. He has given us the means to do it.
Based on: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26
Have you ever visited any of the famous grave sites of the world? The Taj Mahal is the resting place of a Muslim ruler and his wife. The Pyramids contained Kings of Egypt. Westminster Abbey in London holds the bodies of English nobles. Mohammed’s tomb is visited often because of its stone coffin and the bones which it contains. Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is the honored resting place of many brave Americans.
But today we visit in spirit a grave site that is different than all these. As we view the garden tomb we see a grave site that is famous, not because of the person who is buried there, but famous and important precisely because of the one who is NOT buried there. This garden tomb is empty.
Based On: Isaiah 53:4-6
Today we see our Savior on the cross, but to understand better what is happening on the cross let’s start in the Garden of Eden. There in the garden, God told Adam not to eat from a certain tree in the middle of the garden. “You may eat from any other tree but if you eat from this tree you will die.” Even though Adam and Eve knew God’s command they ate the fruit from that one tree. And what was the result? Death. The sprirtual death was immediate – their relationship with God was destroyed. Eventually their bodies would also die.
Based On: Genesis 22:1-18
Have you ever had a child hurt himself or herself while doing something you had just told them NOT to do? You have in that situation a teachable moment. The event has created a unique learning opportunity for the child. So, after you take care of the immediate medical emergency you sit down with the child and gently say, “Do you understand why I told you not to do that? You know, Mom and Dad love you and when we tell you not to do something it is for your good.” The idea is that the unpleasant experience will make the lesson more memorable. It doesn’t always work.
Based on: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
You can understand why they feel this way, can’t you—the people to whom Paul is writing, the people at Corinth? Can’t you identify with their fears and doubts?
There were many people in Corinth who had trouble with the whole idea of resurrection. Not just with Jesus’ resurrection, but with resurrections generally. “Dead people just don’t come back to life again,” they might say. “When you’re dead, you’re dead–and that’s it! We might wish for someone to come back to life, but it just doesn’t happen.”
Based on: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Rumors and lies can cause many problems. Even worse, false information about God’s Word can harm and even kill souls. In the first century AD, a group of Christians in Thessalonica were concerned about what happened to their fellow believers who had died. Do those who die before Christ’s second coming miss out on the blessings of Christ’s return? Rumors and lies made the problem worse. Christians were struggling with doubt and fear – not at all what our Lord wants for his children.
Based on: Galatians 5:1-6
Were you ever a slave? The Israelites knew what slavery was like. They were slaves in Egypt, but the Lord set them free with some awesome miracles. Can you imagine the rejoicing that went on the day they became free? After generations of slavery the taste of freedom must have been sweet! Yet, it wasn’t long before the Israelites were complaining, "If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted.” They even said, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." How ungrateful! After all God had done to free them from slavery they wanted to go back! We can’t understand how they could say that . . . or can we? Isn’t there a part of us, the old Adam, the old man, the sinner in us that wants to reject the freedom Christ won for us and go back to slavery to sin and follow that cruel slave master, Satan? Brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ made you free. Remain free in Christ! Slavery destroys our freedom and this freedom we have is good.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20).
“Go and make disciples!” It is such a short statement, and yet, coming from the mouth of our Savior, it has a great impact on us. These words, “go and make disciples,” are the mission statement of Christ’s church. It is the work Jesus gives to believers so that His church grows.
Based on: Isaiah 55:1-5
Are you looking forward to the pot-luck? I know it is still early in the morning, but have you started thinking about the food that’s down in the kitchen? Maybe Lutherans enjoy food more than others, I don’t know, but sharing a meal together is a great way to come together as a group of believers. And a pot luck is a great way to do it. Just think, you have all that food in front of you and you can try a little of this and little of that. Then when you go back for seconds, you know exactly what you want. There is usually more than enough for everyone to have their fill.
Based on: Isaiah 55:10-11
When you were younger you probably played games and used your imagination to pretend you were something or someone else. You imagined that things to be true that weren’t necessarily true as you played house or pretended to be at war with your neighbor. I don’t know, maybe you still use your imagination, may be to pretend you won the lottery. Today we are going to use our imagination a little bit and pretend that we can evaluate God’s statement that his Word is effective. Of course we are only God’s creation, and we have no right to stand in judgment over what God says. But for a few moments we are going to pretend and we are going ask the question, "Does God’s Word work?"