The Christian Finds Rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

Sermon for the 7th Sunday after Pentecost (7/27/2014)

Text: Matthew 11:28-30

Theme: The Christian Finds Rest in Jesus

            The man looks in the mirror and he feels tired.

Those bags under his eyes, those aching joints, that sore back, they are nothing new. Every day seems to be just one more day he is forced to live through mild pain and discomfort. Even if he could sleep in (which he can’t), he doubts that he could ever get enough sleep – and so he’s tired.

That forehead that seems to be a little longer every week, those extra wrinkles around the eyes, that little extra stretch in the skin of his chest and stomach reminds him that his body isn’t going to last forever. He’s not as young as he used to be, but today is another day – another run on the treadmill of life. The world hasn’t slowed down, even though is body has. The list of responsibilities hasn’t been depleted, even though the energy of his youth has. The man thinks of everything he has to do today and he feels tired.

The man looks in the mirror and realizes that it’s not just the running on the treadmill of life that has him tired. There is so much more going on in his life contributing to those gray hairs and bloodshot eyes.

There’s that wife whom he knows deserves better from him. There’s those kids that need to be raised the “right” way – whatever that means in todays world. There are countless relationships, some that need nurturing, some that need healing, some that need to be ended. He thinks of all the people in his life and he feels tired – tired because life lived with other humans is an emotionally exhausting thing.

The man looks in the mirror and thinks to himself, “If it were only the physical and emotional that were weighing me down, maybe I would stand a chance.” But that’s not it. There’s more. Continue reading

What are you afraid of? God is on your side! (Matthew 10:24-33)

Sermon for the 5th Sunday after Pentecost (7/13/14)

Text: Matthew 10:24-33

Theme: What are you afraid of? God is on your side!

              Miriam Ibrahim. Does that name ring a bell for any of you? Her name was all over social media and the news a month or two ago. Do you remember what for?

Miriam Ibrahim is a young woman in the Sudan who had the guts to become a believer in Jesus as her Savior. Many of you know how that story played out. You see in Sudan it is against the law to convert from Islam to another faith. So she was brought to court and sentenced to execution by hanging because she refused to disown Jesus as her Savior.

Now the good news is, the news of Miriam’s imprisonment with her two year old son and infant daughter created such an outcry around the world that she is now safe in the US Embassy in Sudan.

Miriam has temporarily escaped the noose of persecutors, people who would kill her because of her faith. But all around the world other Christians, whose names often never make it into American mainstream media, are not so fortunate. From China to Nigeria, Christians in the middle east, far east, and Africa – our brothers and sisters in Jesus – are being stoned, blown up, shot, and hung. Their churches are being bulldozed and demolished. They live their life with a bounty on their heads and the constant threat of violence…

All around the world Christians are being persecuted. It’s terrible and horrible, but it’s really nothing new, is it?

“No student is above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!”

Jesus promised that if he was persecuted, so would his followers be. And this has been proven true over and over again, from Jeremiah in the first lesson today, to Paul in the second lesson, to Miriam in Sudan, followers of Jesus have faced persecution. Persecution continues because all mankind is born with a natural hatred toward God and what he says.

And so persecutors try. They tried to label Jesus as “from the devil.” They hung him from a cross. They threw Jeremiah into an empty well and left him there to die. Paul was stoned, beaten, robbed, imprisoned, and eventually killed. Persecutors have been and are busy inspiring fear, all in the hope that they could stop Christians from believing in Christ.

What about us? Do we face persecution? Jesus said that if we followed him, we would. So do we? Continue reading

If I’m Saved, So Are You! (1 Timothy 1:12-17)

Sermon for the 3rd Sunday of Pentecost 6/29/14

Text: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Theme: If I’m Saved, So Are You!

            How many of you know the name Jeffrey Dahmer? Does it ring a bell? Do you know who that is?

Jeffrey Dahmer was a serial killer in Milwaukee, WI. Between 1987 and 1991 he killed 17 men and boys. Some of them he had relations with first. Some of them he had relations with after he killed them. Some he cut up into pieces and ate. He was caught with refrigerators full of body parts. When the news of Dahmer’s murders hit the news outlets there was outrage and disgust. With people like that out in the world, people started keeping their kids a little closer to home. In 1991 Jeffrey Dahmer, the renowned serial killer and cannibal, was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences. He only served three of those years however, because in 1994 an inmate killed him.

For our purposes, the interesting part of the life of Jeffrey Dahmer is the fact that many sources claim that he repented of his sins and became a Christian shortly before he was killed.

Now, stop and think about that for a little this morning. How does that make you feel? You know and believe what Christianity teaches about repentance and forgiveness – which means that if the reports are true, Jeffrey Dahmer is in heaven right now. What does it feel like to think of a person like Dahmer as a brother in Christ? What does it feel like to picture Jeffrey Dahmer standing there right next to your grandma, grandpa, mom and dad waiting to welcome you into heaven? What does it feel like to picture a man like Jeffrey Dahmer next to your mental image of Jesus? Continue reading