Born By God’s Will

February 27, 2012

Sermon on James 1:12-18, for the 1st Sunday in Lent, about trials and temptations, the path to death and the path to life, and how God sets us on the path of life and gives us the victory over temptation.

Sermon Talking Points

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  1. In what way is Jesus both the man who remained steadfast under trial, and also the one who gives us the crown of life? Luke 4:1-13; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15; John 11:25-26. What is the crown of life? 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 2:10

  1. Why is it impossible that God would be the One who tempts us, or that God would ever do evil? Ps. 5:4-6; Matt. 19:17.

  1. What in us gives temptation and sin its first foothold according to James 1:14? Cf. Gen. 4:7. How should we resist temptation? See Jesus’ example in Luke 4; Ps. 141:3-4; 1 Cor. 10:13

  1. How does James’ imagery of the maturation of sin help us to understand its accumulative and deadly influence? Ps. 7:14-15

  1. How does God’s constancy bring us comfort? Jam. 1:17; Mal. 3:6. What is the second kind of “conception and birth” that God works in us, instead of sin? Jam. 1:18; John 1:12-13; 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:3. How is this our hope and confidence in the face of evil and temptation? How does this reassure us that only God can deliver us from evil?


Jonah, The Survivor Series: Part 1: “God is Calling!”

February 23, 2012

Sermon for Ash Wednesday.  The following Lenten series I will be preaching on is taken from Dr. Reed Lessing's series on Jonah the prophet. Dr. Lessing is professor of Old Testament at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO.

For Next Week: Read Jonah 1:4-16 and ask yourself:

1) Even when God, in his grace, has sought me, how have I dug in my heels, refusing to hearken to him?

2) How has my acting in such a fashion caused trouble for others?

3) How was Jonah’s sacrifice similar to as well as different from that of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross?


Jesus Only

February 20, 2012

Sermon on Mark 9:2-9, for Transfiguration Sunday, about Jesus' glorification on the mountain.

Sermon Talking Points

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  1. The word “transfigured” is a translation of the Greek “metamorphosis.” It describes a change in form or outward appearance. In what way was Jesus transfigured? How was His identity nevertheless unchanged?

  1. Jesus told His three disciples that this particular miracle was to remain hidden until when? Why? Mark 9:9-13; 2 Cor. 4:3-6 What is surprising about the fact that Jesus chose to keep His glory hidden? What does the Bible tell us about why this is? Mark 10:42-45; John 8:54; 13:31-35; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Corinthians 1:21-25

  1. When Peter later reflected on this Mountaintop Experience, instead of boasting of that experience, what did he point to as far more sure, certain, and reliable basis for faith? 2 Peter 1:19. How does this give us light in the midst of darkness? Psalm 119:105.

  1. Although neither Peter nor we can stay with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, we can and should remain with Jesus at His cross. Why was that the central act in Jesus’ life for us? What comfort does it bring in the midst of life’s difficulties? When, like Peter, do we need to just be silent and listen to Jesus, our Teacher? Psalm 37:7-8; 46:10; James 1:19

  1. In what way does the Bible tell believers that they too will participate in a “transfiguration” or metamorphosis? Romans 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18. What hidden reality is already at work now in those who believe? 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15. When will this change finally be visible in us? 1Cor. 15:35ff.

Putting Words in Your Mouth (and in your ears)!

February 13, 2012

Sermon on Mark 1:40-45, for the 6th Sunday after Epiphany, about Jesus' cleansing of the leper. Jesus wants to cleanse us from our sins and impurities, though so often we are unwilling or unable to come to Him.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. While we may not suffer the uncleanness of leprosy, what are the things that make us unclean? Mark 7:14-23; 2 Cor. 7:1; . What did Jesus declare clean, that had formerly been unclean? What holds many of us (or others) from coming to Christ for cleansing?

2. How does Jesus cleanse us? Mark 1:41; Heb. 10:19-22; Acts 15:7-9; John 15:1-5. How do we respond and live in that knowledge? Describe what it means for you to live in your baptism into Christ.

3. How ought we to approach Christ for our cleansing? Compare/contrast the man with leprosy in Mark 1, with how Naaman, in the OT reading from 2 Kings 5 approached Elisha for his cleansing. What is God looking for? Psalm 51:17, then read 51:10-12; Luke 14:11.

4. What is the irony about Jesus’ command to the man who had been healed, and what he did instead? What is the irony about how we often respond today, when we have been given the call to tell the good news?

5. What was the true goal of Jesus’ ministry? Mark 1:38; How did the crowds seeking healing sometimes slow or hamper this goal? Where was the ultimate healing to be accomplished? How would Jesus do it? What was the cost? Why did He do it?


Comfort for the Weary

February 6, 2012

Sermon on Isaiah 40:21-31 for the 5th Sunday after Epiphany, about reflecting on God's majesty and power in our time of trouble, and finding our strength and resilience in Him alone.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. What did the glory of the heavens move the Psalmist to sing? Psalm 19:1-6; 50:6; 97:6. How does this adjust our sense of size or importance?

2. How did God create the stars and the universe? Gen. 1:14-19; Psalm 104. How thorough is God’s knowledge and attention to His creation, both at the cosmic scale, and at the microscopic scale? Isaiah 40:26; Ps. 147:4; Matt. 10:30.

3. Nevertheless, what question often forms when we are faced by our troubles? Isaiah 40:27; Malachi 3:14-15; Psalm 73. What is God’s answer? What shows us God’s attention, concern, and involvement? Psalm 8; 121:1-2; Phil. 2:6-8

4. What are the things that have you troubled, or weigh you down? Have you ever thought that God didn’t care? Where are His sure promises to you given? Acts 2:38-40; Matt. 26:27-28; John 11:25-26; 1 Pet. 5:7; Rom. 8:26-27; Luke 11:13

5. What comfort is there in knowing that God has an eternal perspective on our problems, and that we can turn them over to Him, instead of bearing them ourselves? Matt. 11:28-30; Psalm 97:1

6. See other Psalms of comfort for times of distress: Psalm 4, 6, 10, 13, 18, 46, etc.