Sermon 09-25-2022: “The Length, Width, Height, and Depth of God’s Love”

October 5, 2022

Scripture: Luke 16:19-31

An article in the Los Angeles Times last week estimated that the total cost of the queen’s funeral was more than six billion dollars. Of course, that includes literally everything—even, for instance, the cost of all the banks in Britain closing down for a bank holiday, not to mention the cost of all the security for the world leaders who attended the funeral. 1

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Sermon 09-18-2022: “God Loves Shrewd Stewards”

September 26, 2022

Scripture: Luke 16:1-13

Congratulations! You’ve come to church on a Sunday in which we are studying what is often regarded as the single most difficult parable of all of Jesus’ parables. One indication of its difficulty is that commentators can’t even agree on what to call it: Is this the Parable of the Shrewd Manager or the Shrewd Steward or the Wise Steward… or is it the Parable of the Dishonest or the Unjust or the Unrighteous Manager or Steward? It’s been called both, depending on which aspect of the man’s character you choose to emphasize!

To say the least, in this sermon, we need to figure out, as best we can, what’s going on in this parable—what it means… what it’s about. I’m going to say three things: First, it’s about salvation. Second, it’s about stewardship—which, I promise, is much more than money. And, third, best of all, it’s about our Savior, Jesus.

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Sermon 09-11-2022: “God’s Lost and Found”

September 14, 2022

Scripture: Luke 15:1-10

My favorite TV show is The Office. I’m sure at least some of you love it, too. Regardless, you may know that Dwight Schrute is a salesman for Dunder Mifflin—the company whose regional branch office is featured on the show. In later seasons Dwight purchases the office building itself. And he’s always looking for ways to make money off the tenants who lease space in the building—by opening a gym, for instance, and a coffee shop, and a daycare… As part of this effort to make more money, Dwight even sponsors a “harvest festival”—a carnival for families to enjoy… and to spend lots of money at.

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Sermon 09-04-2022: “How to Do the Impossible”

September 13, 2022

Scripture: Luke 14:25-33

Let me preface what I’m about to say by asking if anyone here works for a pharmaceutical company. No? Good… Because I’m about to poke fun at them—or specifically, I’m poking fun at their television commercials. One popular drug to fight insomnia and help you get a good night’s sleep literally spends more than half the commercial warning you about possible scary-sounding side-effects. Listen to what the narrator says—and I promise I’m not making this up:

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Sermon 08-28-2022: “The Poor, the Crippled, the Blind, the Lame – And Other People Like Us”

September 2, 2022

Scripture: Luke 14:1, 7-24

As a preacher who needs to come up with new sermon material every week—with fresh illustrations that keep me from repeating myself too often—I’m delighted than an item in the news last week perfectly illustrates a point I want to make in today’s scripture. And let me preface this by saying that while this news event relates to politics, I am not passing judgment—one way or another—on the politics of this news item.

I’m referring, of course, to President Biden’s announcement about the forgiveness of up to $20,000 in student loans. It’s clear, from my little corner of the social media universe, that many people have strong opinions about this. And many, many people do not like it. Which is perfectly fine… 

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Sermon 08-21-2022: “When Bad Things Happen to Bad People”

August 23, 2022

Scripture: Luke 13:1-9

Whenever the headlines bring us news of yet another tragedy of some kind—whether it’s tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods; whether it’s pandemics and pestilence; whether it’s horrifying acts of violence like school shootings; whether it’s terrorist attacks; skeptics and atheists often take to social media, to late-night television, and to talk shows and ask questions like this: “Why would a good, all-powerful God allow evil [like this] to continue?… Either He is not really good or He is not very powerful; otherwise He would have eliminated suffering long ago.” 1

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Sermon 08-14-2022: “God Wants You to Have Heroic Faith”

August 17, 2022

Scripture: Hebrews 10:32 – 11: 2, 8-16

When I planned our current sermon series, I intended this week’s scripture to be a detour from the gospel of Luke. But today’s scripture is part of the same theme we’ve been discussing—the Bible’s surprising and often difficult path to lasting happiness and joy. In fact, today’s scripture, mostly from Hebrews chapter 11, is part of the “hall of faith” chapter—because it describes a Who’s Who of great heroes of faith from the Bible.

The author wants us to know that these great saints of the Old Testament are not part of an elite club of super-spiritual believers of which you and I could never be members. They may be heroes of faith, in other words, but they aren’t superheroes of faith. The author is saying that if these Bible heroes possess a “heroic faith,” well, so should we. So in this sermon, I want to encourage us modern-day believers to have the same kind of “heroic” faith.

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Sermon 08-07-2022: “If Christ Is Your Treasure”

August 17, 2022

Scripture: Luke 12:32-40

I’m a fan of a podcast called This American Life—which is also broadcast on public radio. Each week they choose a theme, and reporters go and find interesting, real-life stories related to that theme.

Years ago, the theme and title of one episode was “Blackjack.” More specifically, it was about what’s known as “counting cards” while playing blackjack. Nothing I’m about to say, I hope, will be construed as an endorsement of gambling. I’m opposed to it. I think it’s terrible. But according to the producers of this show, if you learn to count cards—which is difficult to learn—but if you learn to do it, you can “beat the house” and win money. So, from the perspective of card-counters, you’re not placing your faith in “Lady Luck”; you’re simply believing in math and applying it to the problem of blackjack. Also, contrary to popular belief, counting cards is not illegal; but casinos have the right to ask you to leave if they suspect you’re doing it.

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Sermon 07-31-2022: “Get Rich in the Only Way that Matters”

August 3, 2022

Scripture: Luke 12:13-21

If you’re of my generation—Generation X—and you needed to be reminded that you’re getting older, well… with great sadness we were reminded of this fact last week when actor Tony Dow—whom most of us know and love as Wally Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver—died, from cancer, at age 77. And I was genuinelysaddened. I know you can say it’s “just a TV show,” but, man… Leave It to Beaver was an important part of my childhood. I mean, that show dealt with real issues that I was facing when I was a kid at the time—that’s for sure!

Anyway, even the New York Times obituary writer put her finger on something that I always appreciated about Wally, the older brother to Beaver. While describing the kind of person Wally was, she said, “And [Wally] would never ‘squeal on’ the Beav, unless he had to.”1 

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Sermon 07-24-2022: “Three Encouragements for Praying Boldly”

July 27, 2022

Scripture: Luke 11:1-13

In last week’s sermon, I talked, in part, about prayer. I said that Jesus seems to emphasize that prayer—contrary to popular belief—is not supposed to be difficult; it’s supposed to be easy. And if you were here last week, you’ll recall that I said that even so-called “bad” prayers are infinitely better than no prayers at all. 

But in today’s scripture, Jesus shows us what a good prayer looks like: a perfectly good prayer, in fact. The prayer that we call the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus likely taught his disciples this prayer on many occasions. The prayer in Luke is a little shorter than the more familiar version of the prayer that he offers in Matthew’s gospel, in the Sermon on the Mount. But the pattern of the prayer is the same. 

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