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Sermons in 2014

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Meditations for Christmas
December 24 and 25, 2014

ANGEL SONG: At Christmas, we hear a lot of carols that tell the familiar account of Jesus's birth through the eyes of angels. Two song lines help focus our meditations for Christmas Eve ("Echoing Their Joyous Strains") and Christmas Day ("O Morning Stars, Together").

Sermons in Advent
November 30 - December 21, 2014

CHAPTER ONE: The four Gospels that begin the New Testament are all about Jesus. Even though there are some similarities between the four books, they all introduce their subject in a different way. Explore the first chapter of each Gospel on each of the four Sundays in the Advent season.

Fourth Sunday in Advent
December 21, 2014

Sermon: Luke Chapter One
First Thoughts: Luke takes us on a journey. His Gospel is marked by times when Jesus "set His face" to Jerusalem. The action flows from Galilee to Judea to Jerusalem, and then in part two (the Book of Acts), Luke takes us from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria and then the Ends of the Earth (Acts 1:8). Before all that can be recounted for the reader, we start in Jerusalem (the location where the first book will end and the second book will begin). In chapter one, we discover that this journey began long before this book was written, and it still continues, today.

Third Sunday in Advent
December 14, 2014

Sermon: John Chapter One
First Thoughts: After taking on introductions to Jesus by way of His human family in Matthew's Gospel, and seeing the kinetic motion of Mark's account, we'll take on an introduction of cosmic proportions in the Gospel of John. John takes us back to before John the Baptist and even before Abraham to the very beginning when God's powerful Word brought all of creation into being. The Word was made flesh, and in these words of introduction, John brings us a powerful truth that the Almighty, Eternal God has come to live among His people.

Advent Mid-Week Worship
Wednesdays, 7:00 p.m.
December 3, 10, and 17.

GABRIEL: Through the first three Wednesdays of Advent, we will hear three meditations based on the appearances of the angel Gabriel in the books of Daniel and Luke.

Second Sunday in Advent
December 7, 2014

Sermon: Mark Chapter One
First Thoughts: Mark is the action movie director of the four Gospel writers. After the first eight verses, things start happening "immediately" a lot. The urgency of the writing is driven by the way Mark introduces the subject in the very first verse - this is GOOD NEWS and this news is about Jesus, THE SON OF GOD.

First Sunday in Advent
November 30, 2014

Sermon: Matthew Chapter One
First Thoughts: Matthew's Gospel is highlighted by five long sections of teaching - the "Sermon on The Mount" (5-7); the sending of the disciples (10); a series of parables (13); the teachings about forgiveness and community (18); and the teachings about the End Times (24-25).
Chapter One foreshadows the rest of Matthew's Gospel through a series of names. From King David to Joseph we are given clues that point to what is coming, and the names of "Jesus" and "Immanuel" bring that point home. Our response? The same as Joseph. His simple actions were born of a deep, deep faith and trust that God would do what He promised.

Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
November 23, 2014

It is fitting that we celebrate the Kingship of Christ as we complete our Discovery Weekend with a service of Confession and Forgiveness. The message will be presented by Rev. William Seaman, a member of our Discovery Team from the Southeastern District.

Sermons for November 9 and 16: "The Return"

Sundays, November 9 and 16, we will explore two of the three parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25. These parables reinforce His teaching in chapter 24 that He will return to judge "the living and the dead" (to quote the Apostle's Creed). We discover what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like on the day of Jesus's return.

Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost
November 16, 2014

Sermon: "The Talents" - Matthew 25:14-30 First Thoughts: Let's leave behind all the hype about the coming apocalypse and discuss what really matters about the last days. Matthew 24 and 25 give us all we need to know. In chapter 24, Jesus begins to answer the question, "...what will be the sign of your coming?", and in the beginning of chapter 25, He says, "The Kingdom of Heaven will be like...."
That sentence introduces three parables of Jesus that then describe what it will be like when Jesus returns again. It is not a description of the Holy City, or the great multitude, or the everlasting joy that we get in the book of Revelation. Instead, we get three simple truths that paint the complete picture. These three truths can be summed up in three questions:
1) Are you prepared to wait?
2) Are you prepared, right now?
3) Are you making a difference?

Twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost
November 9, 2014

Sermon: "The Lamps" - Matthew 25:1-13
First Thoughts: Matthew 25 begins with Jesus saying "The Kingdom of Heaven will be like...." Jesus then describes what it will be like when He comes again with three parables. How will it happen and how will we know it is happening? Jesus's first explanation involves a wedding and some lamps.

The Church Series: September 28 - November 2

"The Church Series" is a run of six sermons that focus on who we are. The name "church" may not be as popular as it once was (like in the fifth century). It is a special name that should give us feelings of community, happiness and courage. In Paul's letter to the Philippians, he distills the church to the very best parts. That is the first three sermons in this series. For the last three sermons, we'll take a look at the place of the church in this world and the next.

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
All Saints Sunday
November 2, 2014

Sermon: "Church in Glory" - 1 John 3:1-3
- The epistle of 1 John gives us some heavenly insight
- We will be celebrating "All Saints" on this Sunday
- What better time to look ahead to the church's future?

First Thoughts: Where is the church? It is in eternity, shining with the glory of our savior. That is the vision we will capture thanks to a few verses in 1 John. To start exploring this vision, I think we need to be firmly grounded with the knowledge of where this glory comes from. I turn to some words preached by Charles Spurgeon, preaching on 1 John 3:2 - "We shall see him as he is..."
We shall see him, beloved, not abhorred, not despised and rejected, but worshipped, honored, crowned, exalted, served by flaming spirits, and worshipped by cherubim and seraphim. "We shall see him as he is."

Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
October 26, 2014 - Reformation Sunday

Sermon: "Church in Battle" - Matthew 11:12-19
- We'll explore what it means to be the "church militant"
- Note: it does not mean picking fights with people!
- You might be a Lutheran if you celebrate Reformation Sunday

First Thoughts: In Matthew 11:12-19 Jesus teaches the crowds about John the Baptist and then focuses on the critics of the Kingdom with a parable. Jesus ends the parable with the phrase "Wisdom is justified by her deeds." This helps frame our look at the church's battle to proclaim our justification by God's grace in the days of the Reformation and today.

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 19, 2014

Sermon: "Church in the World" - Matthew 22:15-22
- Have you heard the expression, "in the world, not of the world?"
- How radical is our Christian ideology?
- Should the church be counter cultural or try to influence culture?

First Thoughts: Jesus's opponents are eager to find some way to trap him, so they try to put him in the middle of the culture war of their day. The teaching that came in that moment of time gives the church of today some excellent wisdom for operating as a citizen of our heavenly country, while we are also citizens of an earthly country.

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 12, 2014

Sermon: "Joyful Church" - Philippians 4:4-13
- How can we "always" be joyful?
- Where does all that joy come from?
- This text gives us an opportunity to take a closer look at some of Paul's hardships (and our own).

First Thoughts: There are a number of times the writings of the Bible take us to the place where we say "but... that's impossible!" As happy and harmonious as the selected reading of Philippians is, there is also the challenge of the word "always." Could St. Paul even live up to his own words, given that he is writing them while in chains? There may be a way, if we examine the source of that joy.

Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, October 5, 2014

Sermon: "Above Average Church" - Philippians 3:4-14
- Do you know Garrison Keillor's "Lake Woebegone"?
- Is it O.K. to be just O.K.?
- Or does God want us to aim for the stars?

First Thoughts: Paul sounds like an Olympic athlete when we read all about his straining forward and pressing on. In reading this part of Paul's letter, we get an interesting window into his life and his call as a missionary. By speaking of himself, Paul is also encouraging the Philippians to forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.
And what is ahead? What is the goal Paul speaks of?

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 28, 2014

Sermon: "Loving Church" - Philippians 2:1-14
- Are we a loving church?
- How would we know?
- Philippians 2 defines love in a different way than 1 Corinthians 13

First Thoughts: St. Paul loved the Philippians. That much comes through in the four chapters of his epistle. He thanks and commends them for their prayers and their gifts while he has been in prison. He clearly thinks very highly of them. But, that does not mean they are perfect. He still challenges this church, as well. The challenge we read in Philippians 2 is all about love. Yes, Paul writes about love elsewhere, saying, "Love is patient. Love is kind...." But, Philippians 2 gets at this idea of love in a different way. Love comes through the humility of Christ. Is Bethany Lutheran a loving church? Let's see how we measure up to Paul's challenge!

Sermons in September
September 2014 brings a lot of special celebrations! In our worship, we are normally in the "long, green season" of Pentecost. The color green predominates to remind us that we are to be growing in our faith and love for God and one another. Well, this September, we are interrupting that flow and bringing a little more color to the altar, since two minor feast days fall on Sunday for two weeks in a row. When that happens, we have the option of interrupting our regular readings to observe the feast, so that is what we are going to do!

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 21, 2014

Feast of St. Matthew
The tax collector was approached by the Rabbi and told to follow. He did, and today his memorial of Jesus's life and teaching remains as the first of four Gospels - the Good News about Jesus. Jesus was criticized for eating with Matthew and his friends. It was no small thing in the ancient world to share a meal. Jesus uses the occasion of this meal to talk about His mission, which is ours today.
Sermon: "Eat This Word" - Ezekiel 2:8-3:11
First Thoughts: There are so many fascinating subjects one could focus on in the Gospel lesson for today. There are the sinners and tax gathers at Matthew's house and the Pharisees who are murmuring against Jesus for eating with them. So, of course, I will focus on the Old Testament lesson for today (???)! In Ezekiel's call, there is a strange happening where the prophet is told to "eat the scroll" he is given. The connection between the prophet and the apostle is the Word of God that we are all called to "read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" if we are to follow Jesus

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Holy Cross Day), September 14, 2014

Holy Cross Day
The church began observing this feast day to commemorate when Constantine raised the cross on the "Church of the Holy Sepulcher" on the traditional place where Jesus died and was buried. The site was dedicated on this day in the year 335. Today, the date serves as a place to remember the symbol of our salvation and the duty to "Lift High The Cross" to tell others of God's love.
Sermon: "Lifted Up" - John 12:20-33
First Thoughts: Jesus said, "when I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself." Just as the bronze serpent had to be lifted up for all the people to see, Jesus is lifted up on an instrument of death for the salvation of everyone. A serpentine caduceus is a sign of medicine and healing, today while the cross is a symbol of eternal life. Yet, it goes beyond being a symbol, as there is a reality here that does as Christ predicted - it draws us to God. In today's sermon, we consider:
1. The cross lifted up in Jerusalem, and
2. The cross lifted up in our church

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost, September 7, 2014

Rally Day
Sermon: "For You and Your Children" - Acts 2:37-41
While "Rally Day" is not a minor feast, it is the start of a new school year. Bethany Lutheran re-starts our Christian Education programs with this special celebration that thanks God for the power of His Word.

Sermons in August
Calling All Disciples
On August 10, we began a new sermon series titled "Calling All Disciples." The lectionary (appointed) readings for Sundays in August provided us some close ups of three men who dared to follow Jesus. We glimpsed Peter's fateful walk on the water, Paul's heartache, and Nathaniel's (Bartholomew's) boldness. This upcoming Sunday, Labor Day weekend, we will summarize what we learned about being a disciple of Jesus, and we will praise Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a "Hymn Sing for Disciples."

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost, August 31, 2014

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost, August 24, 2014

Sermon: ST. BARTHOLOMEW + "Without Guile" - John 1:43-51
First Thoughts: Bartholomew (called Nathanael in the Gospel of John) is a bookend and a bridge. John's Gospel mentions him in the first and last chapter of that book - first when he is called as a disciple, and then when he and several others meet the resurrected Jesus on a beach in Galilee. In the verses where Nathanael is called, references to the Law and Prophets abound, bridging the Old and the New Testaments. In the midst of these subtle connections, there is something more obvious about Nathanael's character brought out when Jesus identifies him as someone "without guile" (or, "in whom there is no deceit"). In this particular calling, I think we can learn something about good character. God calls the whole person (body, mind and soul) and transforms us by His love.
1. Genuine Skepticism
2. Genuine Curiosity
3. Genuine Faith

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, August 17, 2014

Sermon: ST. PAUL + "The Roman Road," - Romans 11:1-2a, 13-15, 28-32
First Thoughts: In the years after His ascension to God's right hand, Jesus calls yet another disciple to serve Him. St. Paul was born a Roman citizen, grew up surrounded by Greek culture in Tarsus and was trained under the greatest Jewish teachers in Jerusalem, embracing his Hebrew heritage. He would later write that in Christ "there is no Jew or Greek" - a powerful statement from someone who lived simultaneously in those different worlds!
Today, he is called a "saint," but, like Peter, Paul also had to learn many things the hard way. He writes that he was a "Hebrew of Hebrews" who excelled in his religious studies and practice. Yet, he had to be knocked off his horse (literally) before he saw that true religion is found in God's amazing grace. Though he was once disobedient, Paul found mercy, and that mercy set him on a road that went from Jerusalem to Rome as he told both Jew and Greek the truth about God's love.
1. Two Worlds, One Faith
2. Disobedience and Mercy
3. The Eternal City

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost, August 10, 2014

Sermon: ST. PETER + "Learning the Hard Way" - Matthew 14:22-33
FIRST THOUGHTS: In many verses of the Gospels, Peter seems to act like he is at the "head of the class." When Jesus quizzes His disciples, asking, "Who do you say I am?", Peter boldly proclaims, "You are the Christ!"
In other scenes, he is the one speaking for the whole group, and after Jesus's ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter gets the spotlight for the sermon on that Pentecost where God brought thousands to faith.
Yet, Peter was not always so saintly, and there were times he certainly did not feel like being at the head of the class. In this Sunday's Gospel from Matthew, we will hear a scene many of us probably can relate to. Peter tries to walk on the water. What will happen? Well, even if you have never heard this story before, it's pretty much what you're thinking!
1. Water
2. Denial
3. Resurrection

Eigth Sunday after Pentecost, August 3, 2014

Sermon: "More than Enough" - Matthew 14:13-21
Are you tired of beating yourself up because, whatever it is, it is not enough, nor will it ever BE enough to meet all of your needs? Or worry that you will never get from point A to point B due to unforeseen circumstances? My friends, nothing good will ever come from anything we do apart from Jesus Christ. "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). Nothing will be impossible if we take stock of the few resources we have and humbly obey Christ to take care of the increase. For He is The Lord of Lords, and He is more than our problems, more than our circumstances, and more than enough.

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost, July 27, 2014

Sermons in July

"THIS IS MOST CERTAINLY TRUE" - A sermon series on the Apostle's Creed the first three Sundays in July.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost, July 20, 2014

Sermon: Apostle's Creed 3 - "Harvest of The Spirit"
"The Son of man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin, and law breakers..." - Matthew 13:41
"The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come!'" - Revelation 22:17a
"On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ." - Small Catechism
- Planting and growing
  -- Work of the Spirit in the Word
  -- The workers in God's vineyard
  -- God causes the growth
- The final harvest
  -- The Church, invisible
  -- Only the wheat goes in the barn
  -- God's free gift
This is most certainly true!

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, July 13, 2014

Sermon: THE APOSTLE'S CREED 2 - "Life in The Son"
" shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty; But is shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it." - Isaiah 55:11
"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God." - John 1:1
"...who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil." - Small Catechism
- Christ redeemed me
  -- He took my guilt and punishment
  -- He purchased me from slavery
  -- He rescued me from sin, death and the devil's power
- Christ redeemed the world
  -- The rain and the sun
  -- All means ALL
  -- Christ will come again!
This is most certainly true!

Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, July 6, 2014

Sermon: The Apostle's Creed 1 - "The Fatherland"
"As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear Him." - Psalm 103:13
"My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:30
"All this He does only out of fatherly divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in me." - Small Catechism

- A Father"s Love - God's Provision
  -- Creator of the universe
  -- Giver of every good gift
  -- Love itself

- What do we owe?
  -- Thank and praise
  -- Serve and obey
This is most certainly true!

Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 22, 2014
Sermon: "What is the Lord Jesus Christ's intension for us at Bethany Lutheran?" Acts 15:1-12
Reverend Joseph B. Davis
After carefully reading the Bible text and through deep prayers, the Holy Spirit brought to mind three important points:
- To leave our comfort zone
- To remind us that relationship with Christ is not about selfishness (you and me)
- To know Christ personally
Read the sermon text here.

Second Sunday after Pentecost, June 22, 2014
Sermon: "Worth More," Matthew 16:29-31
First Thoughts: "How much is that worth?" Someone may ask that question when buying vegetables in a market or a car from a lot. We think about the value of certain things in our lives, but what about our own value? How much are we worth? In today's Gospel, we get a hint at our value when Jesus says that we are worth more than five sparrows, quite a bit more since every hair on our heads is accounted for by God! As we trace this idea of worth through the Bible, I suspect that we'll find that there are times we "sell out" too early, while the investment God continues to make in our lives is beyond what we can calculate.

First Sunday after Pentecost, June 15, 2014
"The Troubbabel of Zerubbabel."

This Sunday, the sermon will be the Allelu Singers presenting their annual musical. Look for a special podcast all about the children's ministry at Bethany Lutheran Church to be released the week after the musical.

Easter Sermon Series 2014
Motivation for Mission

There is only one Easter Sunday, but Easter is also the name for the season that lasts for fifty days. In the church, we celebrate the forty days that Jesus spent on earth after the Resurrection, and then the coming of the Holy Spirit that took place on the fiftieth day.
Yes. Easter is fifty days, not just one.

Throughout the Easter season, the sermons will address different motivations and challenges for sharing the message "Christ is risen!" with the rest of the world.

Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sermon: "The 'ON' Switch," Numbers 11:24-30
- It is God's Kingdom we work for, so He gives us His power.
- How did Moses and his elders set a pattern for the work of the church, today?
- The title of the sermon refers to a light switch. Just imagine Holy Spirit power, instead of electricity.

Seventh Sunday of Easter, June 1, 2014 (Ascension Sunday)

Sermon: "The Team," John 17: 10-11
- Is "Onward Christian Soldiers" in your hymnal?
- So, there is no "I" in "team", but how do very different people come together as "one"?
- How does unity further the mission of the church?

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 25, 2014
Memorial Day Weekend

Sermon: "The Search," Acts 17:16-31
- Why is it important to encounter the unchurched?
- What can you do if you cannot "preach like Paul"?
- We'll hear a powerful poem by the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 18, 2014
Armed Forces Sunday

Sermon: "The Change," Acts 7:44-51
- Lutherans did not invent the expression: "But we always did it that way"
- What were the major changes the church survived in her history?
- Can a little uncertainty be a good thing?

Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 11, 2014

Sermon: "The Purpose," Acts 2:42-47
- What is the purpose of Bethany Lutheran Church?
- More importantly, what did God put the church on earth for?
- Don't worry, we won't forget that it's Mother's Day.

Third Sunday of Easter, May 4, 2014
Confirmation Sunday

Sermon: "Are Your Eyes Open?", Luke 24:13-35
- These are "Pastor's Last Words" to the Confirmands
- Hopefully, not the last ever (you know the joke about confirming the bats in the bell tower?), just the last in my role as Confirmation instructor.
- Why did Jesus call His disciples? The answer is related to our ultimate design and purpose.

Second Sunday of Easter, April 27, 2014

Sermon: The (un)Believers, John 20:29-31
- Does the Church have a problem reaching people?
- Who do people say we are?
- Who are the unchurched?

Lenten Sunday and Holy Week Sermon Series 2014
Finding the Roman Road

"Finding the Roman Road" was our campaign to read the book of Romans together during Lent and Holy Week.
Download the Daily Romans Devotional Guide here
Download the Weekly Romans Study Guide here