Safe to Shore

John 3:14-21

 
3:14 Jesus said, “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
 
3:15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
 
3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
 
3:17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
 
3:18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
 
3:19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.
 
3:20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.
 
3:21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.”
 
 

After World War II, my dad participated in a work/travel program that provided an opportunity for students and young adults to go to places in Europe and help rebuild communities damaged or destroyed during the war. The program required the participants to work six weeks then travel around Europe the following six weeks. Read more…



Share the Good News

John 3:1-13

 
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
 
11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
 
 

At a church similar to ours, there was a new associate pastor, fresh out of seminary, and was scheduled to preach his first sermon. He got up to the pulpit, stumbled through the Gospel, and with a terrified look in his eyes, said to the congregation, “Do you know the message I am going to share with you today?” Stunned, the congregation looked at each other, and shook their heads, “No.” He said, “Well, neither do I!” And he sat down. The senior pastor, a little perturbed, got up to the pulpit, and preached a sermon off the cuff. Read more…



Chosen and Blessed

Ephesians 1:3-6

 

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
 
 

God does the choosing.

 

If you are concerned about God’s choices, let me offer some words of assurance. Read more…



The Breath of Worship

Psalm 84

 

The Joy of Worship in the Temple

To the leader: according to The Gittith. Of the Korahites. A Psalm.

 

How lovely is your dwelling place,

    O Lord of hosts!

My soul longs, indeed it faints

    for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and my flesh sing for joy

    to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,

    and the swallow a nest for herself,

    where she may lay her young,

at your altars, O Lord of hosts,

    my King and my God.

Happy are those who live in your house,

    ever singing your praise. Selah

 

Happy are those whose strength is in you,

    in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca

    they make it a place of springs;

    the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength;

    the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;

    give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah

 

Behold our shield, O God;

    look on the face of your anointed.

10 For a day in your courts is better

    than a thousand elsewhere.

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God

    than live in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;

    he bestows favor and honor.

No good thing does the Lord withhold

    from those who walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts,

    happy is everyone who trusts in you.
 
 

Tomorrow, March 11, will mark the one year anniversary of the last time we gathered for food, fellowship and worship with no restrictions, masks and distancing. Read more…



What’s Your Bumper Sticker?

Hebrews 9:23-28

 

Christ’s Sacrifice Takes Away Sin

 

23 Thus it was necessary for the sketches of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves need better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made by human hands, a mere copy of the true one, but he entered into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself again and again, as the high priest enters the Holy Place year after year with blood that is not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
 
 

It was our final year at seminary. A capstone class for our senior year integrated both theology and pastoral care together – a two-hour class each day. The class met for one hour, then headed to daily chapel worship, followed by a second hour of classes.

 

At worship one day, we were blessed to have John Ylvisaker as our musician in residence. Read more…



What a Wonderful Way to Spell JOY!

1 Corinthians 3

 
On Divisions in the Corinthian Church
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?
 
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.
 
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. 14 If what has been built on the foundation survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If the work is burned up, the builder will suffer loss; the builder will be saved, but only as through fire.
 
16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

 

18 Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,
 
“He catches the wise in their craftiness,”
 
20 and again,
 

“The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,

    that they are futile.”
 
21 So let no one boast about human leaders. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
 
 

I decided to include all of chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians in the lesson for today. Read more…



Den of Robbers!

John 2:13-22

 
13The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” 18The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking of the temple of his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
 
 

Radio personality of old, Paul Harvey, told of a robber wearing a motorcycle helmet, carrying a gun, and striding into a branch bank in Oceanside, California. He selected a teller who appeared in her fifties, soft, kindly, an easy mark. He handed her a note demanding money or her life. The woman reached for the cash drawer. Then she looked again at the note and her eyes flashed, her lips clenched. Read more…



Greatest

John 3:1-17

 
1Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
 
11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
 
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
 
17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
 
 

Today’s devotion is my sermon from one year ago (Sunday, March, 2020) – the last Sunday we were together before we shut down due to COVID. Read more…



My Words

Psalm 19

 

God’s Glory in Creation and the Law

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

The heavens are telling the glory of God;

    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech,

    and night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words;

    their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth,

    and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,

which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,

    and like a strong man runs its course with joy.

Its rising is from the end of the heavens,

    and its circuit to the end of them;

    and nothing is hid from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect,

    reviving the soul;

the decrees of the Lord are sure,

    making wise the simple;

the precepts of the Lord are right,

    rejoicing the heart;

the commandment of the Lord is clear,

    enlightening the eyes;

the fear of the Lord is pure,

    enduring forever;

the ordinances of the Lord are true

    and righteous altogether.

10 

More to be desired are they than gold,

    even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey,

    and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 

Moreover by them is your servant warned;

    in keeping them there is great reward.

12 

But who can detect their errors?

    Clear me from hidden faults.

13 

Keep back your servant also from the insolent;

    do not let them have dominion over me.

Then I shall be blameless,

    and innocent of great transgression.

14 

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

    be acceptable to you,

    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
 
 

Verse 14 is one that several pastors use as a prayer at the beginning of each sermon. Read more…



God’s Temple

1 Peter 2:4-10

New International Version
 

4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house[a] to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says:

 

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,

    a chosen and precious cornerstone,

and the one who trusts in him

    will never be put to shame.”[b]

7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected

    has become the cornerstone,”[c]

8 and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble

    and a rock that makes them fall.”[d]

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

 

9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

 

Footnotes

  • a. 1 Peter 2:5 Or into a temple of the Spirit
  • b. 1 Peter 2:6 Isaiah 28:16
  • c. 1 Peter 2:7 Psalm 118:22
  • d. 1 Peter 2:8 Isaiah 8:14
 
 

Today’s reading is from the New International Version. I decided to use this translation for the footnotes that are listed at the bottom of today’s lesson. Read more…



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