Babel and Pentecost

June 5, 2017

Sermon on Genesis 11:1-9 & Acts 2:1-21, for Pentecost, 1 Year Lectionary, about the contrast between the Tower of Babel and the miraculous Pentecost. How are these two accounts, in many ways a reversal of each other? Whose name was exalted? What was God signalling through this miracle? 


No other Name

April 27, 2015

Sermon on Acts 4:1-12, for the 4th Sunday of Easter, about the inclusivity and exclusivity of Christianity and Jesus as the only way to salvation. A sermon about the Name of Jesus, and how it suffers dishonor, persecution, and defamation, but what is the power, the glory, and honor of that Name. How Christians bear that Name.


The Spirit’s Harvest

June 9, 2014

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21 for the Festival of Pentecost, on the theme of harvest. How Pentecost is a harvest, and the harvest language of the prophet Joel and Jesus, and how it relates to judgment and salvation. 


Obey God, not men

April 28, 2014

Sermon on Acts 5:29-42, for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, about how the joy of Jesus' resurrection propelled the apostles to defy the Sanhedrin and preach the Gospel, and how Christians can face persecution or other situations where we are called to obey God rather than men. 


Pastor and Flock

April 22, 2013

Sermon on Acts 20:17-35 for the 4th Sunday of Easter, about Paul's farewell speech and commission to the elders (pastors) of the churches of Ephesus. A reflection on the pastor's duties toward the congregation.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. What instructions does Acts 20:17-35 contain for pastors? What worthy example did St. Paul set in his own conduct of his ministry among the Ephesians? The New Testament uses a variety of descriptive terms for the one preaching office, without any sense of hierarchy or rank in power: Presbyters (elders); shepherds (pastor); bishop (overseer); evangelist; teacher; apostles; prophets; etc.

2. Read Acts 20:26-27. What does it mean to declare the “whole counsel of God?” What is the danger of false teaching, and why is it vital that sound teaching be maintained? 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 6:3-10; 2 Timothy 3:12-17.

3. What gave Paul the confidence that his work in the church didn’t ultimately depend on him, and that the church would “survive” without him, under the ministry of other pastors? What “weapon” did they have against false teaching? 2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Ephesians 6:10-20.

4. What are some of the reasons a pastor might teach or visit from house to house? Do you have a need, or would you be open to a visit from your pastor(s)?

5. Whose blood was the purchase price of the church? Acts 20:28. What does that say about the identity of Jesus? How does that supply the forgiveness and salvation by which the church lives?

**Note: although the exact wording of the quotation of Jesus in Acts 20:35 is found nowhere in the Gospels, the theme is expressed in many places: Matthew 10:8; Luke 6:38; 11:9-13; John 13:34. Why is there greater blessing in giving than receiving?


The God of Action

June 4, 2012

Sermon on Acts 2:22-36, for Holy Trinity Sunday, how God is the One in control of all things and carries out our salvation.

Sermon Talking Points

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  1. Note on the Athanasian Creed: The end of the creed makes reference to all people rising and giving an account concerning their deeds, and that those who’ve done good will enter into eternal life, and those who have done evil into eternal fire. Examine these Scripture passages that refer to the judgment: Matt. 12:35-37; 25:31-46; John 5:21-29, esp. vs. 24, 29 & John 6:28-29; cf. Rom. 8:1. While works are examined in the final judgment, those who have faith are spared judgment and condemnation on account of Jesus’ righteous life.
  2. In Acts 2:22-36, Peter quotes two Psalms of David, Psalm 16 & 110, that prove Jesus was God’s designated Messiah (Christ, “Anointed One”) and that God had exalted Him to the highest place. Read both Psalms in their entirety. How does Peter argue that Ps. 16 could not refer to David, but must instead refer to Jesus?
  3. Read through Acts 2:22-36 and pay attention to the verbs, the “action words.” What are the actions that God Himself performs in these verses? How is salvation ultimately the work of our Triune God, and not our own works? How is God the “God of action?” What actions of God are commonly associated with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?
  4. In v. 22, Peter talks about how God has publicly attested to Jesus as His chosen Messiah. He uses the language of a public certification for office. What marked Jesus as the Messiah? What were His “credentials”? Isaiah 61:1-3; Is. 53; Micah 5:2, etc.
  5. How was God’s definite plan, though hidden from mankind at first, at work in Jesus’ death and resurrection? John 10:17-18; Matt. 16:21. How is this resurrection hope decreed for all who believe in Jesus? John 11:25-26. 

Call on the Lord

June 4, 2012

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21 for the Festival of Pentecost, Peter's sermon inviting us to Call on the Lord and be saved.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. Pentecost, the “Feast of Weeks” or “Festival of Harvest” is actually an Old Testament celebration. Ex. 34:22; Deut 16:10; Num 28:26; Ex. 23:16a. Pilgrims would gather in Jerusalem, and on Pentecost morning, a flute player would lead the farmers up Mount Zion as they sang the “Song of Ascents” (Psalm 120-36). When they reached the temple, the farmers would present a basket of grain as an offering while reciting the words from Deuteronomy 26:5-10a in Hebrew. (The Lutheran Study Bible, p. 1835).

2. How did this day of Pentecost present a significant opportunity for “harvest” for the apostles and early Christians? What significant obstacle needed to be overcome? (cf. Gen. 11:1-9). How did God provide?

3. How has the advance of the kingdom of God proceeded around the world, and into many languages? Why is it so precious for people to hear the “mighty works of God” in their own heart language? Why is it important for us to tell the mighty works of God in our own language?

4. Describe what it means to confess. Romans 10:9-10. Why does Jesus call for our public confession of Him before others? Matt. 10:32-33

5. The Holy Bible says that “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How do we make use of this promise? Can we bank on this promise? Absolutely! But how easy is it to neglect? Rom. 10:9-13.


Apostles of Jesus

May 23, 2012

Sermon on Acts 1:12-26, for the 7th Sunday of Easter on the choosing of a new apostle to replace Judas. Also the contrast of Judas and Peter as it illustrates the difference between "worldly grief" and "godly grief" that leads to repentance.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. After Jesus’ Ascension into heaven (Acts 1:1-11), the 11 apostles of Jesus reconvened to choose a replacement for Judas. Describe their unity: what gave them “one accord” (v. 14)? Acts 2:42-47; Phil. 2:1-5

2. What is significant about the brothers of Jesus (see Mark 6:3) joining in with the disciples and Mary after the resurrection? Read John 7:5.

3. How does Judas’ bitter end show us a contrast between regret and remorse, and the repentance that leads to faith (as for example Peter’s denial)? Matthew 27:3-10. How was this the fulfillment of various OT prophecies? Ps. 69:25; 109:8; Zech. 11:12-13; Jer. 19:11

4. What was different about the sorrow of Judas vs. the sorrow of Peter? 2 Cor. 7:5-13. What is the good result of a “godly sorrow”?

5. How do the Scriptures describe this sorrow over sin? Ps. 38:3-8; Ps. 6. How does the Scripture describe the sublime comfort when sin is forgiven? Matt. 11:28; Ps. 32:1-2; 51:7-12; Acts 3:19-20

6. How did the disciples make the decision to choose a new apostle? What rigorous criteria did they apply in choosing the two candidates? Why? Acts 1:21-23. Why was being an eyewitness so important? How did they make the final choice? Acts 1:24-26.

7. What faith lessons can we take away from the example of the early apostles?


Confessing Jesus

May 13, 2012

Sermon on Acts 10:34-48, for the 6th Sunday of Easter, about Peter's sermon to the Gentile household of Cornelius, the centurion.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. Read Acts 10:1-33. What were the events that led up to Peter’s sermon in verses 34ff? Who was Cornelius, and how did this encounter happen?

2. Describe God’s impartiality and how it contrasts with human favoritism: Acts 10:34; Job 34:19; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Rom. 2:9-11; Eph. 6:9; James 2:1-9. What things tend to influence us toward favoritism? God shows no favoritism among those who “fear him and do what is right,” regardless of their nation. What is the “fear of God?” Read Exodus 20:20 after the giving of the 10 commandments. How is the word “fear” used in two different ways in this verse?  Also see Deut. 6:13-14; 8:6;  Prov. 9:10

3. How is verse 38 a testimony to the Trinity?

4. Why did Jesus appear to those whom He chose? Luke 16:30-31; 1 Cor. 15:3-11. What simple truth did Jesus’ eating and drinking with them after His resurrection reveal?

5. How does Jesus’ appointment by God to be the “judge of the living and the dead” make Him an inescapable figure for every human being? Not only does history hinge on His life, death, and resurrection, but our eternal future hinges on Him as well. There is no “neutral” position towards Him.

6. What is confession? How did Peter bear witness or testify about Jesus? How is this the heart and core of Christian evangelism? 1John 5:6-12

7. How can you be more aware of opportunities around you to witness?


No reason to be stuck!

May 7, 2012

Sermon on Acts 8:26-40 for the 5th Sunday of Easter, about Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. Describe how you or someone you know has been “stuck” in various ways as mentioned in the sermon. While you don’t have solutions, how is telling about Jesus the best gift you can give?

2. Did you know that another Ethiopian eunuch performed an act of kindness to a prophet in the OT? Jer. 38:7-13. What hardship or stigma faced a eunuch? Dt. 23:1. How was hope and honor foreshadowed for eunuchs and foreigners in Is. 56:3-5; Ps. 68:29-31; Zeph. 3:9-10? How had King Solomon (and ultimately God) long intended for the Temple to be a place of worship for all nations? 1 Ki 8:41-43

3. Read Isaiah 53 (vs. 7-8 quoted). What was remarkable about God’s Suffering Servant, described in this prophecy the Ethiopian was reading? How was Jesus willing to undergo this? Hb. 12:2; Lk 22:42; Jn. 10:15-18

4. How do sin and guilt “paralyze” us from coming to God? How did Jesus come to us instead? Is there anything that should hold us back? Any obstacle? What benefits does baptism give? Rom. 6; Acts 2:38-40; Ti. 3

5. How can you be like the evangelist Philip, ready to tell the good news? 1 Pet. 3:15; Col. 4:6; 2 Cor. 5:11-21. Who do you see who is “stuck” in your life?

6. What becomes of us when Jesus gets us “unstuck”? How does He do it? What change and impact does it have in our lives, and in our service to His kingdom?


Author of Life

April 23, 2012

Sermon on Acts 4:11-21 for the 3rd Sunday of Easter, on Peter's second sermon in Acts, after healing the man born lame. How Peter highlights the irony of the denial and death of Jesus, while the crowds asked for a murderer to be set free.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. Read Acts 3:1-10 about the healing of the lame man, which precedes today’s reading. What catches your attention? Re-read Acts 3:11-21. Peter and John don’t claim any credit for this miracle. Why? Read Psalm 115:1. How do Peter’s words in v. 12 contrast to the behavior of so many “faith healers” today?

2. What is the startling irony that Peter exposes in his sermon? v. 13-15. Contrast from this reading how God treated Jesus, and how humans did. How is sin and evil simply inexplicable/inexcusable? Rom. 1:20; 2:1. Why do we make excuses, justifications, denials, etc anyway?

3. How is the guilt of sin immeasurable? Ps. 130:3; 38:4. How are we participants in the guilt that put Jesus on the cross? Isaiah 53:6

4. What is astonishing about what Peter is able to proclaim to the crowd despite the immeasurable guilt which was theirs and ours? What is so incredible about the good news (Gospel)?

5. Contrast what you would expect to happen if you killed a person and they came back to life, with what actually happened when Jesus rose from the grave. What was His message to people? Luke 24:46-47

6. Describe what it means to experience “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” How is your soul in need of refreshment? How is this provided to you by Jesus? Luke 7:47; Prov. 15:30; Philemon 20

7. Explore the idea that Jesus is the “Author of Life.” Heb. 12:1-2; Rev. 3:5; 20:15; 21:27. How does He write your name in His Book of Life?


Faith in Action

April 16, 2012

Sermon on Acts 4:32-35, for the 2nd Sunday of Easter, on what we can learn from the example of the early Christians as they showed "faith in action" after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Sermon Talking Points

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1. During the season of Easter, readings from the New Testament book of Acts replace the Old Testament readings. What takes place in this “new history” of the Christian church? What central events at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry drive forward the action and events of the book of Acts? Why? Luke 24, Acts 1.

2. Describe the early Christian church as seen in Acts 4:32-35. What do you find remarkable about it? What was responsible for these characteristics?

3. Where does the church find unity of  “heart and soul”? 1 Cor. 12:12; Eph. 1:22; 4:14; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:10, 19. 1 Cor. 1:10; Phil. 2:2

4. What was basic to the success of the communal living of the early Christians? What later threatened to disrupt this success? See Acts 5:1-11; 6:1-7. What is basic to a Christian understanding of stewardship, even as practiced individually? Who does it all ultimately belong to? How does that change our perspective on how we “steward” what is entrusted to us?

5. How was the early Christian church attuned to the needs of the poor? What is a focused way that we can direct our help to the needy? What moved them into action, and motivated them? Find that same joy in Christ’s Word and in Worship!

6. What should the church’s response be to inevitable conflicts and disagreements? How should they be resolved? Matt. 5:22-24; Eph. 4:1-3

7. How does having Christ as our head keep the body coordinated and working together? How does it shape our treatment of the other members of the body? Gal. 6:1-3; Col. 2:19


Call on the Lord

June 13, 2011

Sermon on Acts 2:1-21 for Pentecost, the Festival of the Holy Spirit.

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: Listen to audio at:

1. How powerful is the Name of God to save? Psalm 106:6-10; Matt. 10:22; Acts 4:12; When and why should we call on Him? Psalm 86:1-7; 116:1-2; 145:18; Rom. 10:12-14

2. Pentecost, the “Feast of Weeks” or “Festival of Harvest” is actually an Old Testament celebration. Ex. 34:22; Deut 16:10; Num 28:26; Ex. 23:16a. Pilgrims would gather in Jerusalem, and on Pentecost morning, a flute player would lead the farmers up Mount Zion as they sang the “Song of Ascents” (Psalm 120-36). When they reached the temple, the farmers would present a basket of grain as an offering while reciting the words from Deuteronomy 26:5-10a in Hebrew. (The Lutheran Study Bible, p. 1835).

3. By the time of this Pentecost, after Jesus’ resurrection, many Jews from foreign lands no longer spoke Hebrew and could participate in the refrains and praises at the Temple. What kind of joy did they experience when they heard the apostles “telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). How did Peter answer the question: “What does this mean?”

4. How was this day a fulfillment of the prophet Joel? Joel 2:28-32

5. How was the prophecy that “your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” fulfilled already in the early years of the apostles? Acts 7:55-56; 9:1-16; 10:1-33; 16:6-10; 18:9-10; 23:11. These signs showed that the Messianic age had dawned, and that Jesus was the name on which we can call, to be saved. How had God shown Jesus to be the Messiah? Acts 2:22-24


At God’s Right Hand

June 3, 2011

Sermon on Acts 1:1-11 for Ascension Day, Jesus' ascension into heaven 40 days after Easter, to be seated at God's Right Hand.

Sermon Outline:

1. Day of Triumph—sublime and awesome mystery—Jesus ascends to the place of honor at God’ right hand. Imagine the celebration at the victor returning home! a. Father is spirit, and so what does “the right hand” mean? Not “displaced” from us by infinite distance, but ruling in God’s power and dominion everywhere. Power, authority exercised. Honor. Place of intercession b. Christ alone can rightfully claim this honor. His humbling Himself, incarnation, death, and resurrection earned Him this rightful honor. Redemption necessary for Jesus to become our intercessor. c. Our confidence of our own ascension into heaven (Where the head is, there the members of the body will be also!), resurrection of the body, forgiveness and Jesus’ intercession. God justifies.

2. Prepare a place for us. God is waiting for you! A restored and perfect heavenly fellowship with God, through Jesus’ blood: access to the heavenly throne of grace.

3. What remains to be done? All powers and authorities are being subjected to Jesus: a. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. (Heb. 10:12-13) b. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28) c. When Jesus has finally subdued and destroyed all enemies and authorities, and made them subject to the Father, He will transfer all authority back to Him. Death will be destroyed. Eternal life for us, who have believed in Jesus! d. Jesus continues to intercede for us, and He is eternally seated in that position of authority, so we have the promise of His eternal, righteous & merciful rule. e. He will return to judge the living and the dead, and to bring us home.

4. Confidence built on Christ at God’s Right hand for us


Community of Joy

May 15, 2011

Sermon on Acts 2:42-47 for the 4th Sunday of Easter, about the joy of community as it was seen in the earliest Christian church.

Sermon Talking Points Read past sermons at: Listen to audio at:

1. What was the earliest pattern of Christian worship, identified in Acts 2:42? How does our Lutheran Service of Word and Sacrament compare to this early outline? What was the foundation of their unity?

2. How did the signs and wonders performed by the apostles provide confirmation of their message? Hebrews 2:3-4; John 3:2; 6:30; 11:47; Acts 14:3; 1 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 12:12. Why are miracles no longer needed as confirmation of the apostolic message?

3. What prompted the early Christians to adopt the pattern of communal living? What made it work in their case? What made it fail under other circumstances? (cf. Acts 5:1-11; 6:1-2)

4. To whom was their generosity turned? Acts 2:45; Matt. 5:42; 6:3-4; 2 Cor. 9:6ff. What is the joy found in giving? (2 Cor. 9:7)

5. How is joy found in the community of believers? What is it about carrying our sorrows and burdens to fellow Christians? In sharing times of rejoicing and thanksgiving? Gal. 6:2; Rom. 15:1

6. How is repentance and forgiveness between one another a source of joy in the community? How does this flow from the knowledge and joy found in the forgiveness of sins from Jesus Christ?

7. How does the love of Christ and the love of serving our neighbor find its joy in people? How can you find your joy in other people?