Sermons

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May 26, 2019 - Hear and Go!

Author: Pastor Schultz
Text: Acts 16:9-15


    

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant us grace and peace.  May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds with the gifts offered here today, Amen.  

 

 Introduction: Last week’s message was focused on Peter’s vision of various animals being let down from heaven on a large piece of material. A voice from heaven told Peter to kill and eat, even though some of the animals were unclean. He learned from this vision that God is acting in a new way; all animals could now be eaten and all people are welcome in God’s kingdom through Christ. We were able to apply two points from the text to our lives; one the idea the Christ died for all people and two that divisions should not exist in His Church. Another point that we could have made last week is that Peter hears, he hears the men at the gate calling for him and he goes, he goes to the home of Cornelius whereupon he enters and eats with those gathered. Hear and go! This is also a very appropriate theme for our text for today from Acts 16. 

  

  

  1. Hear and Go!
    1. Paul had a vision in the night. 
      1. In this vision Paul sees a Macedonian man who is urging Paul to come to Macedonia to help him.
      2. Notice that immediately Paul began his plans to go to Macedonia because he concluded that God was calling him to preach the Gospel there.
      3. Earlier in this chapter Timothy joined Paul and Silas on their journey. Our text indicates that now Luke has joined these three as the pronoun they which is present in the verses preceding our text has now become we in our text.
      4. These four men traveled about 125 miles by sea which probably took 2-3 days.
      5. They went to the city of Philippi which was a Roman colony.
      6. Notice that there wasn’t a synagogue in Philippi as they went outside the gate on the Sabbath to the riverside where they hoped some would gather for prayer. This was a likely place for prayer as water would be needed for Jewish ritual washings.
      7. In this first section of our text we see that Paul hears and goes.
    2. Paul and his companions sat down with the women gathered by the riverside.
      1. The men spoke to the women, we aren’t told what was said but it’s fairly safe to assume that they shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
      2. One of the women was named Lydia. We are told that she was from the city of Thyatira, that she sold purple materials, and that she was a worshipper of God.
      3. The Lord opened her heart to accept what was being said and soon was led to water where she was baptized!
      4. All in her household were baptized as well and she pleaded with the four men to come to her home, to stay and carry out their work.
      5. In this section we see that Lydia hears and goes.
    3. Now, what about you?
      1. You all have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The very Son of God sent from heaven to be your Savior.
      2. Many of you continue to hear this Good News on a regular basis.
      3. I know that you hear but do you go?
  2. What stands in your way?
    1. Is fear a roadblock for you?
      1. Fear of saying the wrong thing?
      2. Fear of not knowing what to say at all?
      3. Fear of not having all the answers?
    2. Is the world your roadblock? 
      1. The world that is more hostile to Christianity than ever before?
      2. The world that sees you as a bigot or a hypocrite?
      3. The world that is more interested in love of self and not love of others?
      4. The world that sees you as ignorant and/or naïve?
    3. Are the things of the world your roadblock?
      1. Are you afraid that going will mean giving up some of the things that you hold precious, like your time?
    4. Are people your roadblock?
      1. Are you concerned about what others will say about you when you share the Gospel of Christ with them?
    5. Is your sinful flesh your roadblock?
      1. Do you love your comfort zone so much that you’re afraid to leave it even for just a moment or two?
      2. Are the sins of your past binding you in shackles, preventing you from going?
  3. How can you go with all these roadblocks in your way? 
    1. The Spirit called and sent Paul.
      1. In our text that happened through a dream.
      2. Paul’s initial call took place on a road leading to Damascus. It was there that Paul received his call from the Lord Himself. Later through Ananias Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit.
      3. The book of Acts shares with us four of Paul’s missionary journeys. He went to many cities such as Antioch, Philippi, Athens, Corinth, Galatia, and lastly to Rome where he would die.
    2. The LORD opened Lydia’s heart, she listened intently to Paul’s teaching which led her to be baptized along with her household as well.
    3. And us…
      1. We have been called by the Gospel.
      2. God has worked faith in our hearts through the Good News of Jesus.
      3. His life, death, and resurrection have redeemed us from sin, death and the devil. This Good News is to be shared as Jesus words to His disciples are also meant for us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptize and teach them.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
      4. We have been prepared by the Word.
      5. Some see Confirmation Classes as simply a rite of passage in the Church but it is a most important time of teaching.
      6. In these classes students learn more about the doctrines of the Church than many others do in their lifetime.
      7. In them we learned about prayer, confession and absolution, God’s commandments that serve as a curb, mirror and guide for our lives.
      8. In them we learned the main points of the articles of the Creed namely creation, redemption and sanctification.
      9. In them we learned what we believe concerning baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We learned how God delivers His grace to us.
      10. In them we learned enough to be able to go and share the love of Jesus with others.
      11. We have been sent by the Spirit.
      12. The same Spirit that Lydia received at her baptism in our text we too have received in our baptism.
      13. The Spirit continues to work in our lives when we hear and read and inwardly digest God’s Word.
      14. The Spirit works in our lives each time that we receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and the strengthening of our faith.
      15.  And all of this, the calling, the preparing, the sending, all of this is not of our own doing.
      16. God works in and through us.
      17. None of us can bring another to faith! Faith can only be kindled through the working of the Holy Spirit.
      18. Our role is rather simple. Just share to Gospel of Jesus. 
      19. Share what we believe by recalling what you confess in the Creed. 
      20. Share the power of prayer by remembering what you learned about the Lord’s Prayer. 
      21. Share about sin and forgiveness by remembering the commandments and what you learned about confession and absolution. 
      22. Share about the grace received in the sacraments by remembering that they are God’s chosen ways to bestow His gifts of love, mercy and forgiveness.
      23. Just simply share what you’ve learned and leave the rest of the work to the Holy Spirit.

  Conclusion: Hear and Go! Paul heard through a dream and he went to Philippi where he shared the Gospel with women who were gathered by a riverside. Lydia heard through Paul and she went and was baptized and her household as well. And now it’s time for you to hear and go. What you learned in confirmation classes is a firm foundation for what you need to share with others. Now it’s time to go and share this great news with others. Go to family and friends! Go to neighbors and coworkers! Go into your community and share the love of Jesus in both your words and your actions. Go because God has called you to go, has prepared you to go, has prepared the opportunities for you to share your faith and will be with you every step of the way. You have heard, now go! Amen.

May 19, 2019 - Salvation

Author: Pastor Schultz
Text: Acts 11:1-18

     

May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant us grace and peace.  May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds with the gifts offered here today, Amen.


Introduction: Our text from Acts 11 is part of a most important section of scripture for the early church and for us. In our text and the chapter previous we read about this vision that Peter had concerning food. In chapter 10 we are told that Peter was hungry and waiting for food to be prepared when he had this vision. The vision was rather simple in that animals and reptiles and birds were on a great piece of material being let down from heaven. Some of these creatures were considered unclean by the Jews and were not to be eaten according to God’s commands. But a voice told Peter to rise, kill, and eat. Peter’s response is a very strong reply, “By no means, Lord! I have never eaten anything unclean” The voice came to Peter a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” Peter saw this very same vision three times and then it was taken suddenly up to heaven.

Now as Peter was pondering this vision and what it might mean the men sent by Cornelius were at the gate asking for Peter. Cornelius was an Italian centurion at Caesarea; he also had a vision of an angel who told him to send for Peter. The Spirit told Peter to go with these men, to accompany them without hesitation. Peter went with these men and a few of the brothers also accompanied them. When they arrived at Caesarea they entered the house of Cornelius and Peter spoke with those who had gathered there. He said, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.” Peter spoke about Jesus, about His healing, His death, His resurrection and as He did the Holy Spirit fell upon those who were listening. The brothers who accompanied Peter were amazed because the Holy Spirit fell upon Gentiles just as it had upon Jews.

Our text begins with believers throughout Judea who heard about these Gentiles, how they had received the word of God. Some of these believers who were born as Jews criticized Peter because he had entered the home of a Gentile and ate with them. The early Church struggled with the idea of bringing Gentiles into their communities of faith. Often Gentiles were led to believe that they must follow the old Jewish laws especially circumcision and food laws. Peter was shown by a vision from God that in Christ these old laws were no longer valid, something new had occurred. 

There are two points that I would like to make this morning as I seek to apply this text to our lives today. The first is universal atonement, that is to say that salvation through Jesus the Christ is for all people. The second is that this salvation frees us from division.

  

  1. Salvation is for all people.
    1. The Bible clearly and often proclaims that salvation through Christ is for all people.
      1. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
      2.  [God our Savior] desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1st Timothy 2:4)
      3.  …in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself… (2ndCorinthians 5:19)
      4. [Jesus Christ the righteous] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1stJohn 2:2)
    2. Our mission statement here at St. Paul’s says that we are a family of believers sharing the love of Jesus in our communities and throughout the world.
      1. This sharing of the love of Jesus, this proclamation of the Good News in Jesus isn’t something that is easy for us Lutherans.
      2. Step into any Lutheran church in this country on any given Sunday and more often than not you will find the same thing – white people descended from European countries.
      3. In the past our sharing was simply with those of the same ethnic background. 
      4. In the late 1800’s our church body grew because Germans were sharing the love of Jesus with other Germans. 
      5. In the early and mid-1900’s our church body grew simply because families grew. Families were having more children and the love of Jesus was passed down to them.
      6. Our world is far different than it was a century ago.
      7. Families are much smaller on average.
      8. Migrants are no longer from European countries but rather from central America, former Soviet Union countries, and Africa.
      9. These people don’t look like us, talk like us, dress like us, or even eat the same food as us.
      10. These migrants have yet to have a significant impact on Jefferson County but they are here and will have an impact in the near future.
      11. As we continue to fulfill our mission it will include sharing the love of Jesus with people who are different than us. 
      12. The big difference that I see currently in this county is economic status. 
      13. It’s not uncommon to see a poorly kept trailer home on the same road as $400,000 home.
      14. The nearest “community” to this building is a trailer park just south on old highway 21.
      15. Many of the people along this section of old highway 21 are struggling financially. This is the very reason that the Saint Vincent DePaul food pantry from St. John’s Catholic Church approached us for building space. They knew the need in the area and were determined to find space on this highway to serve those along this highway.
      16. As I stated earlier, this sharing of the love of Jesus isn’t easy for us. It isn’t something that we have learned to do.
      17. The leaders of this congregation met this past Thursday and discussed this very thing.
      18. They have charged me with creating a sermon series which will guide us as we learn together simple strategies for sharing the love of Jesus, for sharing what our faith means for us.
  2. The second point that I want to make this morning is that our salvation frees us from division.
    1. Our text showed us one of the significant divisions in the early Church, namely concerning food laws and circumcision as these related to Gentile believers.
    2. Paul also writes concerning divisions in the churches.
      1. Divisions existed in the Corinthian Church because some were more concerned will following specific teachers than following the words they taught.
      2. They also created divisions based on social standing; this was evident when they came together for fellowship and the Lord’s Supper.
      3. In the Galatian Church there was division concerning faith and works which led to division over circumcision.
    3. We have been blessed here in that we have not had any division concerning any type of doctrine.
      1. We have had divisions in the past concerning earthly things and authority. The CARE process helped us work through many of those issues.
      2. And yet some of those issues may still exist.
      3. Maybe gossip and slander are still happening.
      4. If your brother has harmed you, go to your brother and speak to him concerning the issue. Don’t hold grudges or even worse speak poorly about your brother. Uphold the 8thcommandment.
      5. Maybe some are creating division by taking sides and seeking others to follow their side.
      6. It’s a blessing to have people share different ideas but our focus must be on our mission and not on personal agendas or opinions.
      7. We all need to hear Paul’s appeals to the Corinthian Church.
      8. He writes in the 1stchapter of the 1st letter to this church: I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 
      9. He writes in chapter 12 of this same letter: For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. But God has so composed the body… that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 
      10. Paul, in his letter to the pastor Titus has very strong words concerning those who create division: As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. 

Conclusion: Paul calls us, every member of this congregation, to be united in the same mind and judgement, to have the same care for one another. This doesn’t mean that we won’t have different ideas or opinions but rather that decisions are made based not on personal opinions or agendas but on what will help us, as a congregation, as the body of Christ, to fulfill our mission - to be a family of believers who live and share and celebrate the love of Jesus.

Our text was also a reminder that salvation earned by Christ is for all people. This salvation is for you and me and it is for all those outside of these doors who don’t know Him as their Savior. This salvation is for the poor and the rich and all those in between. It is for those who look like us and for those who don’t. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, hallelujah! He is risen and brings salvation to all the earth. Amen.

May 12, 2019 - The Sheep & The Shepherd

Author: Pastor Schultz
Text: John 10:22-30


May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ grant us grace and peace.  May the Holy Spirit enlighten our hearts and minds with the gifts offered here today, Amen.


Introduction: Our text for today is a continuation of the Good Shepherd teaching of Jesus. That teaching began with the first verses of chapter 10. Jesus, at that time, was in the temple teaching during the Feast of Tabernacles.

That feast had a double purpose: to remember Israel’s time in the wilderness when they lived in tents, and to rejoice before the Lord after the grape, olive and fruit harvests. It also involved looking forward to a new exodus, the time when the kingdom of God would be brought in with all its attendant blessings. It was the most popular and joyful of the three pilgrim festivals - Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.  (John: an introduction and commentary: InterVarsity Press.)

Our text takes place a couple of months later during the Feast of Dedication. This is the same remembrance that we know today as Hanukkah. This feast is a remembrance of the cleansing of the temple and its rededication after being desecrated by the offering of pig’s flesh on the altar. This rededication took place in 164 BC. In our text we see the continued conflict between the Jews and Jesus. We can trace this conflict back to chapter 5 where Jesus heals a man by the pool called Bethesda on the Sabbath. Closer to our text, Jesus heals a man who had been born blind. This healing also took place on the Sabbath.

The Jews were divided. Some believed that Jesus could be the Messiah based on His miracles or signs as John calls them. Some doubted because Jesus healed on the Sabbath and certainly the Messiah wouldn’t break the law, even if it was really a man-made law that He broke. Others struggled because Jesus made Himself equal with God because He stated that God was His Father. Therefore, in our text, the Jews gathered around Jesus and said, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” (V.24)

Those of us gathered here today know that Jesus is the Christ, the long awaited Messiah. His words guide us to this truth. His actions, His miracles attest to the fact that He and the Father are one; they are one in essence and purpose. Jesus is the promised Shepherd, the one promised of old by Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. Today our text gives us some insight on both the sheep and the Shepherd.  

  1. Jesus says in our text; “My sheep hear my voice …and they follow me.” (V.27)
    1. My sheep hear my voice.
      1. Jesus says, “The sheep hear my voice and that there are other sheep not of this fold and they will listen to my voice,” in the Good Shepherd teaching before our text. (10:3,16)
      2. If we go back to chapter 3 we read that John the Baptist’s disciples were concerned that many were leaving John to follow Jesus. Listen to John’s beautiful reply to their concerns: 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
      3. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you and I, the sheep of Jesus’ pasture, would respond to Jesus’ voice like John did?
      4. When was the last time any of us sheep truly rejoiced when we heard the Shepherds voice, His voice coming through loud and clear in His word?
      5. Far too often we listen because we feel that we have to and not because we want to.
      6. We believe that a good Christian attends worship, for some only once in a while. We attend not because we want to but rather because we feel that we need to in order to be a good Christian.
      7. For many worship is the only time that they hear the Shepherd’s voice. They make excuses for not attending Bible studies. They let the busyness of life take away the opportunity for private or family time in the Word.
      8. I appeal to you today to change your views so that you will gladly hear the voice of the Shepherd. I hope that you will rejoice when you hear Jesus’ voice in worship, in Bible study, in daily devotional time. Listen to His voice so that your joy too may be complete.
    2. …and they follow me.
      1. Jesus says, “and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice,” in the Good Shepherd teaching before our text. (10:4)
      2. What does it mean to follow the Shepherd?
      3. It means to follow the path that He has taken and this path is not easy.
      4. It includes ridicule and betrayal.
      5. It includes giving up your will for the will of the Father.
      6. It includes bearing your own cross, a cross of pain and suffering, a cross of persecution on account of His name, maybe even a cross leading to death because of your faith.
      7. To follow the Shepherd also means to follow His teaching.
      8. He calls you to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind.
      9. He calls you to love our neighbor as yourself.
      10. He calls you to go and make disciples of all nations.
      11. He calls you to have compassion on those in need.
  2. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says in our text; “I know my sheep, I give them eternal life and they will never perish.
    1. “I know my sheep.”
      1. In the Good Shepherd teaching before our text Jesus says, “he calls his own sheep by name.” (V.3)
      2. It’s almost beyond comprehension and yet so comforting to know that the Shepherd knows each of His sheep by name.
      3. You and I are among the hundreds of millions of people alive today, not to mention the innumerous people who have lived before us, yet our Shepherd has such an intimate relationship with us that He knows us by name. (Mention some of the names in worship)
      4. He doesn’t just know us but cares for us, listens to our prayers for help, to our prayers of thanksgiving.
    2. He says to His sheep, “I give them eternal life and they will never perish.”
      1. In the Good Shepherd teaching before our text Jesus says, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (v.11)
      2. Jesus gave up his life for us on the cross but that was not the end. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed, hallelujah!
      3. What great joy those words bring, not only in the season of Easter but every day.
      4. Because Jesus defeated death and the grave and rose again, we too will follow the Shepherd along the very same path.
      5. Death no longer has dominion over us. Yes it will come someday for each of us, if Christ doesn’t return first. But death for those who have faith in the Shepherd isn’t the end, for one day we will rise like He did with glorious bodies to live in unimaginable peace and beauty with Him.

 Conclusion: In just a few moments we will together as the sheep of Jesus’ fold confess that He is the Christ. His voice which we hear through His words recorded for us guide us to this truth. The signs that John shares with us in his Gospel lead us to believe that Jesus is the Christ and by believing we receive eternal life. Jesus is the Good Shepherd promised of old by Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. Rejoice greatly when you hear his voice and follow Him! In the midst of trials and pain and tribulation and persecution remember that the Shepherd knows you by name, He cares for you and loves you so much that He laid down His life for you. Rejoice, not in the things of this world but in the promise of the life yet to come. A life filled with abundance of all things good. Amen.