Posts Categorized: Sermons
“Where Does Our Hope Come From?” – John 3:16-21 – Pastor Stephen Lien
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
Real Forgiveness is always costly.
When it comes to sin and evil, there is a debt to be paid, and a penalty to be born.
Real, life-changing love requires anexchange, areversal of places. When we trust in Jesus we experiencethe Great Reversal: God, in the place ofultimate power, reverses places with the powerless, oppressed,sinful world, and withyou and me.
Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, son of the Father, and true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord. At great cost he has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature, not with silver or gold but with his holy and precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death.
THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
The issue on which the Christian faith depends is not whether or not you like Jesus’ teaching, but whether or notHe rose from the dead.
The Apostle Paul wrote: “If all we get out of Christ isa little inspirationfor a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot. But the truth is thatChrist has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.” 1 Corinthians 15:19-20 (MSG)
Luther’s Explanation to the Second Article
All this he has done in order that I may be His own, live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead and lives and rules eternally. This is most certainly true.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Our hope is solid.
Our hope is eternal.
Our hope is infinite.
- List the variety of ways people think Jesus helps them in their lives. To say it another way, what good does it do to believe in Jesus? Do all of these ways correspond with understanding Jesus as the Lord of their lives?
- When the Apostle Paul says that Jesus saves those who call on His name (Romans 10), what do most people think Jesus is saving you from? What do you believe?
- Read Genesis 3:1-15 and Matthew 4:1-17. What similarities in those two passages do you find in the way Satan deals with God’s word of promise?
- What does the word “Lord” make you think? Can you think of both positive and negative ways people think of the word Lord? Think about what it means to you to have Jesus as Lord.
- When Jesus died on the cross, He took on your sin and suffered the consequence of your sin, which was death. How does this relate to Jesus being your Lord/? In what ways does being resurrected from the dead make him the Lord? How does this give you freedom? (Read Romans 6:1-14
- Read John 3:16-18. What stands out to you about God? About what he wants to do? About how a person is condemned?
“Why Do Bad Things Happen?” – Matthew 13:24-30; Romans 5:12, 18-21
Sin is the reason
Before there was sin, there was no evil and no death.
Our fallen nature has left us spiritually blind, spiritually dead and God’s enemies.
The worse the world gets, the more we realize our need for God.
Grace sustains us in our weariness until our joy is restored.
2 Peter 3:9
What can we do?
Receive God’s grace daily.
Remember this place is temporary.
Reject human solutions.
Reach out with God’s love.
Philippians 2:15 (The Message)
- Do you think cancer or sin frightens people the most? Why?
- In what ways are cancer and sin similar?
- When we hear of tragedies and natural disaster, why are we prone to blame God and/or other people rather than recognize death and evil as the by-products of sin?
- How do the phrases “spiritually blind, spiritually dead and God’s enemies” help you understand your own thoughts/actions as well as that of others around you?
- Why is it important to know the difference between Sin (as a condition) and sins (our behavior)?
- When you understand your bondage to Sin, how does that change your understanding of forgiveness (deliverance)?
- What are some ways you think you might be able to help others deal with life’s tragedies?
“How Life Begins and Ends” – John 1:1-14
“I believe that God has created me and all that exists . . .” (Luther’s explanation of the First Article)
Start at the beginning
We all wrestle with life’s two big questions: “Who am I?”, and “Where do I come from?”
Genesis answers “who” questions better than “how” questions.
Awe and Wonder
Remember God thought of us first and created us last.
God has custom designed each of us.
What does this mean?
Your days have destiny!
Your problems have purpose!
Your future is eternity!
- How would you describe Genesis in a book report: The style of writing? The Action? The Purpose? The flow?
- If Genesis were dropped from the Bible, what would be missing from the story of God’s redemptive work in history?
- Re-read Genesis 1. What do you find most remarkable about creation or the way it is recorded in Genesis? How does that affect and shape your understanding of God?
- What does it mean to you to be created in God’s image?
- What connections or similarities do you find between Genesis 1 and John 1?
- What facts about “the Word” do you find in John 1:1-5 and 1:10-18?
- In what ways does Jesus dwell in you?
- How can you be a witness to the Light in your family, the church, or your neighborhood?
“In matters of faith, Luther said that Christians should be:”
- invincible, unbending and stubborn
- tolerant and open-minded
- humble and sweet
“Truth Decay” – John 14:15-21; Ephesians 4:11-16
Read the signs
In our “post-modern” world tolerance is considered more valuable than truth.
When truth is missing we shouldn’t be surprised at growth of immorality, idolatry and injustice.
Truth is present and can be discovered
God’s nature, will and attributes are hidden in plain sight.
Expect to discover divine truth through your conscience, the commandments and clearly in Christ.
The care and handling of truth
Believe it, Do it, Stand for it, Spread it!
- What are some of the ways truth decay is similar to tooth decay?
- What are some of the reasons it makes no sense to say that all ideas are equally valid? (For example- the moon is made out of cheese vs. the moon is made out of rock)
- How and why do you think the definition of tolerance (treating someone politely even though you disagreed with them) got changed to having to accept another’s beliefs or be considered intolerant and judgmental?
- What happens when we value tolerance more than truth?
- What are some examples of how Jesus offered a model for how to rightly exercise tolerance without sacrificing truth?
- Jesus said truth would set us free, he didn’t’ say tolerance would set us free. Why?
- How would your life be different if you had a healthier balance between truth and tolerance?