Archive for March, 2021

Sermon 03-28-2021: “If Jesus is Our King”

March 30, 2021

Scripture: Mark 11:1-11

Remember the famous “cantina” scene in Star Wars? Just before Obi Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker, C3PO, and R2D2 go to the cantina, they drive their landspeeder through an imperial checkpoint, with stormtroopers. The stormtroopers are looking for the two droids, who happen to be in this landspeeder. The stormtroopers stop our heroes and ask for identification. And it seems like the good guys are about to get caught: And Obi Wan says, “You don’t need to see identification.” And the stormtroopers repeat back, “We don’t need to see your identification.” And Obi Wan says, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” And the stormtroopers repeat back, “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.” Obi Wan: “We can go about our business.” The stormtroopers: “You can go about your business.”

It’s some kind of Jedi mind trick… Obi Wan can make these people do what he wants them to do!

And it seems like, whether George Lucas knew it or not, that scene was mimicking real life—what we find in today’s scripture, in verses 2 and 3. Jesus tells two of his disciples to go to Bethphage, a village located a mile or so from Jerusalem. “There,” he says, “you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat”—and by the way, we know from Matthew’s description of this event that this is the colt of a donkey, not a horse. But Jesus said that when they find this baby donkey, “Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why  are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’”

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Sermon 03-21-2021: “Wanting What You Receive”

March 23, 2021

Scripture: Exodus 20:15-17; Philippians 4:4-7, 10-13

I want to begin this sermon by sharing what I think is one of the most amazing promises in all of scripture—it comes from 1 Corinthians. But I have to explain the context first. The church at Corinth was a mess. It was badly divided—over a number of issues. Among other things, the church was split into factions based on which apostle was their favorite: Some said, “I belong to Paul; he’s my guy; he’s the best.” Others said, “No… Forget about Paul. I belong to Apollos! He’s a much better preacher!” Still others said, “I belong to Jesus’ numero uno apostle, Peter himself!” Paul refers to Peter by his Aramaic name, Cephas. So some were saying, “I belong to Cephas! I’m his man.” 

With this in mind, listen to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 and prepare to be blown away:

So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

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Sermon 03-14-21: “Marriage is Not About You”

March 16, 2021

Scripture: Exodus 20:14; Ephesians 5: 15-33

I’m tackling the seventh commandment today, not by talking about what “thou shalt not do” in marriage, but what “thou shalt do,” and why. In other words, I believe that this scripture from Ephesians chapter 5 is like reverse image of the seventh commandment—that it’s describing what it looks like to fulfill this commandment.

As some of you know, I’m teaching a Bible study on Ecclesiastes for college students on Thursday nights, and I was struck recently by something that Solomon wrote in chapter 2 of that book. Solomon, you may recall, succeeded his father, David, on the throne. He was one of the wealthiest, most powerful, and most admired men in the world at the time. His kingdom was the envy of the world. He could do anything, he could buy anything, he could experience anything that he wanted.

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Sermon 03-07-2021: “Murderers Like Us”

March 8, 2021

Scripture: Exodus 20:12-13, Matthew 5:21-26

In last week’s sermon, I preached about the Fourth Commandment—keeping the Sabbath. I talked about friends down the street whose parents wouldn’t let them do anything on Sundays—or at least anything fun… like go to movies, go to shopping malls, go to the arcade, go to sporting events. I talked about how I used to think, “I’m so glad I don’t have to try to observe the Sabbath like that… because, after all, that seems so difficult.

But I said something last week that bears repeating: As Christians, we should never look at any of the Ten Commandments and think, “That’s difficult to obey.” We should instead think, “That’s impossible to obey. Thank God that he became incarnate in Jesus Christ and obeyed all ten of these Ten Commandments on my behalf. Because otherwise I would be judged a guilty sinner and go to hell.”

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Sermon 02-28-2021: “Sabbath Rest and the Cure for Cursing”

March 3, 2021

Scripture: Exodus 20:7-11; Mark 4:35-41

I went to Israel back in 2011. I went as part of a group of pastors and deacons who got ordained the previous year. During the first leg of the trip, we stayed in Tiberias, which is on the Sea of Galilee. There was a sign in the front lobby that said that the hotel featured something called “Sabbath elevators.” I had no idea what Sabbath elevators were. But I found out at sundown on Friday. I was on the sixth floor of the hotel, and I was meeting friends down in the lobby for dinner. So I pushed the call button on the elevator and after a long wait, the elevator doors finally opened. No one was in the elevator. I pressed the button marked “1.” The doors closed, and then the elevator stopped at the fifth floor—even though I hadn’t pushed that button. And there was no one there waiting for it. Then the elevator stopped at the fourth floor. No one was there. Then the third floor. No one was there. “What’s going on?” I thought.

A hotel employee got on the elevator. I said, “I think something’s wrong with the elevator,” I said. He literally rolled his eyes at me! I’m sure he was thinking, “Tourists!”

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