Profit as Loss

Philippians 3:2-12

St Paul says, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

But I say, “I don’t want to give up my profits.”

I don’t mind letting others know my strengths and what I’ve done right. I’m glad to say I’m not a liar, not a cheater, not a stealer, at least not most of the time. I’m downright proud of some things:  I volunteer, I save money, I love my kids, I try to help people, and I’m trying to do better in the things I do. You get the point. Continue reading “Profit as Loss”

Love One Another

John 13:31-38

Love one another. It sounds nice. And indeed it is. Love conquers all. Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest is love. And here Jesus says this is how people know we are Christians because we love. There is something different about the disciples of Christ. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (Jn 13:35). It is kind of like the picture hanging on the walls of many a Christian home, including mine. It has a quote from Joshua, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Jo 24:5b). “We will do it, Lord. I promise. I promise you. And I will make sure my household does right by you too. I promise.” Continue reading “Love One Another”

One Little Word

Luke 4:1-13

“One little word can fell him.” We just sang those words in stanza 2. I’ve sung that line hundreds of times, and many of you have too. But until this week, I never bothered to wonder what the little “word” was. What word did Martin Luther think could defeat the Devil? I think maybe I assumed it was something like “Jesus” or “baptized” or “faith.” Maybe I assumed that Luther didn’t have one word in mind but rather was making the point that God’s Word in general, even in the smallest of quantities, is enough to fell Satan. But there actually was a word that Luther had in mind and it all revolves around the battle in our lesson today.

Today, we find Jesus going toe to toe with Satan. But before we can really dig into what is happening here, we really need to go back to the beginning, where the battle first began. It was so drastically different than what we see here. Back in the beginning, in Eden, there was not yet any human sin corrupting the world. In the Garden, Adam and Eve were surrounded on every side by countless reminders of God’s perfect kindness. The world was their oyster as they like to say. Continue reading “One Little Word”

God for the Troubled

Exodus 5:10-23

Suffering tends to bring out the worst in people. We all have our own ideas of what the good life looks like. But when it doesn’t happen the way that we think it should, things can get pretty ugly. Take the account from Exodus 5 for example. God heard the cries of his people in Egypt and resolved to deliver them. He sent Moses as his representative and even enabled him to perform miraculous signs before the people (4:29). When the people saw this and heard that the LORD was concerned about them, they bowed down and worshiped. Things were about to get better, or were they? Continue reading “God for the Troubled”

Ash Wednesday: Go Home Justified

Luke 18:9-14

Imagine this scenario. A man walks into a doctor’s office, in seemingly good health, but unaware of what appears to be a cancerous tumor behind his ear. “What is the problem,” the doctor asks. “Oh, no problem whatsoever,” the patient replies. “I am quite healthy. I have big biceps, smooth skin, a healthy head of hair, a strong heart, and so on. I am much healthier than all those gimps in the waiting room. Man, those people need to take charge of their life and live healthier.” “Uh, huh,” the doctor patiently mumbles. “Doc, did you know I run twice a day, don’t eat red meat or drink beer, go to the gym three times a week, have green tea with every meal, and never, and I mean ever, eat donuts?” “Why are you here then?” the doctor interjects. “Well, to tell you how healthy I am and how sick all those people out there are.” The doctor would rightly reply, “Well, sir, you are not as healthy as you think, and those sick people already know they are sick, and they will get better before you will, because they have come here to discuss their sickness and not their health.” Continue reading “Ash Wednesday: Go Home Justified”

On the Move with Jesus

Luke 9:51-56

St. Luke provides what some have called travel notices in his Gospel. He uses this rhetorical tool to announce to his readers, “We’re moving”, or better yet “Jesus is moving”, or even better than that, “The presence of God is on the move.” Mary traveled to Elizabeth with Jesus in her womb in preparation for the event that would shake the world, the incarnation. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem for this very event. Later the Holy Family traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover where Jesus wowed the elders at the temple. Years later Jesus traveled to the Jordan to be baptized by John and across the Jordan to be tempted by Satan. He traveled to Galilee to begin his work there. And then today, the day before Ash Wednesday, we are told, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Literally he set his face towards Jerusalem.” This is where he had to go. This was his destiny. This is where prophets die. This is where he would die. It was always the goal, always the destiny, always the place he would end up. Continue reading “On the Move with Jesus”

Peter and Cornelius and Us

Acts 10:9-23

He’s a notorious gangster who runs a club in the caves on the planet of Tatooine. When he is finally seen, he has some captives. One is Hans Solo. He’s imprisoned in carbonite and used as a decorative piece for this notorious crime boss named Jabba the Hutt. The 1983 movie of “Return of the Jedi” opens with the rescue mission spearheaded by Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Lando Calrissian. They infiltrate the ranks of Jabba the Hutt and rescue their friend Hans Solo. Sorry for the spoiler if “Return of the Jedi” is still on your list of films to see. Why this for introduction?  A wise third grade teacher knew how to play off cues from her classroom full of boys infatuated with the story of all things “Star Wars”. These boys when hearing about the city of Joppa thought immediately of an oversized wormlike creature named Jabba who snacked on disgusting little water animals. According to third grade reasoning, Joppa must be where Jabba lives.  The third-grade teacher redirected the distracted little boys and said, “The Bible story today tells us of another important rescue mission. Not one of make believe, but the real thing. And it involved the city of Joppa. And a guy named Jabba the Hutt didn’t live there.”  I don’t remember if the story was about Jonah or Cornelius but both accounts work. Just as that teacher stated, both mention the city of Joppa. Continue reading “Peter and Cornelius and Us”

The Transfiguration…For You

Luke 9:28-36

This week we need to remember again how to read the Bible. We need to stop and ask where we’re at. As you can see, we’re in Luke’s Gospel today. Now we’re in the ninth chapter, which you might think places us somewhat early in Jesus’ ministry. That, however, is not the case. We are relatively late in His ministry. He is preparing to go to Jerusalem for His passion, His suffering and death. When Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah, He spoke to them about His impending cross, “His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”  Luke, then, like John, for instance, spends an inordinate part of his Gospel on Jesus’ last days, weeks, and months. Continue reading “The Transfiguration…For You”

Idolatry and the Transfiguration

Psalm 99; Deuteronomy 9:15-24; Luke 10:21-24

“You shall have no other gods.”

Martin Luther expounded on this: “Similarly, one who congratulates himself on his great learning, intelligence, power, special advantages, family connections, and honor and trusts in them also has a god, only not the one true God. The evidence for this appears when people are arrogant, secure, and proud because of such possessions…” (LC, I, 10). Continue reading “Idolatry and the Transfiguration”