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11/12/2017 Proper 27A

Rev Dale Skurla

Is Your Heart Ready?

1 Thessalonians 4:14

11/12/2017

1120 Proper 27A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … unbelief in God’s word & promises

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God will bring us with Him when He calls us home.

The single preaching lesson is … we grieve with hope for others & ourselves.              

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Our three readings today have similar themes. We might say, “Ready, set, go.” Each begins with law and ends with Gospel encouragement. Paul is very clear in His writings to the Thessalonians & to us. He writes: For since we believe that Jesus died & rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. This is our text for this 23rd Sunday after Pentecost.

I.        Amos (5:18-24)

A.      The lesson from Amos is part of a funeral dirge  also known as a song of grief or mourning
B.      By Amos, God is mourning the death of His listeners who’ve shown themselves unbelieving
C.      Unbelieving is seen by not practicing God’s teachings, or living by going along with the crowd
D.      Only God knows the time of our deaths; perhaps sudden & unexpected, or after a long illness
E.      Paul says avoid a lion, get a bear, serpent; perhaps a traffic accident, shot, cardiac event, etc.
F.      VIP, God says we are to let true & honest justice reign in our lives using HIS standards first
 

II.       Matthew (25:1-13)

A.      Jesus parable of the 10 virgins reminds us always to be ready for His call to come home

B.      “Just a minute” won’t cut it when He calls us. Ready or not, here He comes for each of us.
C.      He gives us all the tools to be ready: Bible & study opportunities, worship, prayer, fellowship+
D.      Fellowship is VIP: Proverbs 27:17 – As Iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.
E.      We are not islands; people are social creatures requiring others help & support to survive
F.      God gives us all the help we need including the caution to watch & be ready always
 

III.     1 Thessalonians (4:13-18)

A.      We’ve all experienced death of loved ones; some of us at bedside as they passed to life eternal

B.      We have grieved for them & us as we face our own mortality; a reality check so to speak
C.      We have mourned, but we mourn as those who have hope in the promised resurrection
D.      We have hope in eternal life with Christ at His eternal banquet table; we are truly blessed
E.      We encourage & comfort one another when someone passes; we share Christ’s comfort
F.      It is Jesus who comforts us at all times of sorrow & suffering; thus, we go & do likewise

 

Conclusion:   For since we believe that Jesus died & rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. Amos, Matthew, & Paul have a somber but encouraging message for all of us. That is, be ready, use the tools God gave us, enjoy His gift of life even as He prepares us for the fulness of eternal life. Jesus promised we will rise again even as He rose on Easter Sunday morning. We can take that to the bank. Thanks be to God for Amos’ mourning for us & warning us to be ready. Thanks be to God for Jesus’ forewarning through Matthew’s writings. Thanks be to God for Paul’s advice & consolation as we witness the struggle & death of loved ones & come face to face with our own mortality. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

11/5/2017 All Saints A

Rev Dale Skurla

Church Militant to Church Triumphant

Revelation 7:14b-15

11/5/2017

1119 All Saints A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … tribulation.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … Christ’s promises fulfilled.

The single preaching lesson is … our victory is because of Jesus’ faithfulness.

 

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. This morning we celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to all believers who have been called home before us. We have mourned their passing as those who have hope in the resurrection to eternal life. St. John records: “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes & made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, & serve Him day & night in His temple; & He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. This is our text for this feast of All Saints.

 

I.        Church Militant

A.    The term ‘Church Militant’ is a church / ecclesiastical term for believers on earth

B.      Why Militant? Simply put we are the ones fighting the wiles & chicanery of Satan
C.      Battle / war belongs to Jesus but Satan knows he cannot beat Him, thus attack us, covets us
D.      We battle sin with Jesus’ help; sin → confession → absolution → amending our ways
E.      I.E. we wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb; like all clothes we wash them again & again
F.      Our greatest coveter entices us to sin; Jesus invites us to call on Him for forgiveness & life
 

II.       Church Triumphant

A.    Church Triumphant is a church / ecclesiastical term for those now in heaven for eternity

B.      They are now out of the great tribulation here on earth; ≡ great misery/stress or the cause of it
C.      What might be tribulation? Sickness, sorrow, despair, job failure, angst for children, disaster +
D.      Also, repetitive sin w/o successfully conquering it; self-disappointment whether True or False
E.      Those in Church Triumphant learned to turn to the Trinity for help, trusted, succeeded, rewarded
F.      Moses-who Me; Aaron-gold calf; Mary-forgetting Annunciation; Elizabeth-barren; Sarah-laugh +
G.      All are forgiven by God & in heaven; means hope for forgiveness & promise of life eternal for us
 

III.     Our Victory because of Jesus’ faithfulness

A.    Yes, we have the victory of eternal life, even now imperfectly as Christian soldiers

B.      We continue to fight to be perfect & will one day, but only in heaven; God’s gift to us sinners
C.      God’s gift came in the human form of sinless Jesus Christ who paid our debt in full
D.      He was faithful to the Father; He helps us to be faithful in this life; He asks us to pray always
E.      Prayer is simply talking to God; He always answers in the most perfect way in all requests
F.      God commands us, helps us, forgives us, & brings us home because of Jesus’ works!

Conclusion:   “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes & made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God, & serve Him day & night in His temple; & He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence. We fight His battles here on earth. He guides us to do what is right. He forgives us. He brings us home to serve Him always in heaven as He perfectly shelters us for all eternity. Thanks be to God for helping the Church Militant. Thanks be to God for His gift of eternal life. Thanks be to God for the many saints who have gone before us because of God’s never-ending help which is a promise to us also. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

10/29/2017 Reformation A

Rev Dale Skurla

Christ’s work Alone Counts

Romans 3:28

10/29/2017

1118 Reformation A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … relying on our works.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … our God-given gift of faith.

The single preaching lesson is … we are saved by Christ’s works alone.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It seems many people believe they have to do something to get something. Earthly life is filled with rational examples of this line of thought. Perhaps that is true in most cases, but Paul tells us something far different: For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. This is our text for the feast of the Reformation.

I.        Do something? Why?

A.      To get something we must do something. Right? Work for paycheck; study for grades

B.      Logical, isn’t it? But inheritance from parents or other relative; likely no conscious effort by us
C.      So why do we do things? Because it’s morally right? Encouragement of parents, others?
D.      Doing things helps us feel good? Just seem like the right thing to do? Earthly reasons only
E.      How about: Christ did for us first, so we should do for others? i.e. live our faith so others see
F.      We love because He 1st loved us; we show others the correct way by pointing to Jesus
 

II.       By Faith

A.      We are justified by faith in Christ; we show our appreciation for His sacrifice for us

B.      We do for others not to gain something, but because we already HAVE something – eternal life
C.      By faith we realize we already have eternal life, just not to its fullest on earth
D.      By faith we know that we are / should be striving for perfection & eternity in heaven
E.      We know we are imperfect, but by faith, we have Christ’s perfection freely given to us
F.      We should be living our God-give gift of faith each day for others to see Christ, not us
 

III.     Sola Christus

A.      We’re not saved by our works, but we are saved by Christ’s works; perfectly better than ours

B.      By faith, we realize, His work of salvation is what saves us; Luther recognized that
C.      Luther agonized over his inability to stop sinning, his imperfectness before Christ
D.      Luther would spend hours in the confessional every day recounting his errors, shortcomings, etc.
E.      Then Luther read Rom 3:28 – man is justified by faith apart from observing the law; and …
F.      Eph 2:8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…it is a gift of God --not by works, so that no one can boast. Thus, by Christ alone!!

Conclusion:   For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. The only works that save us belong to Christ. His works are because He loves us so that we can go and do likewise for others. In other words, we do because we already have God’s gifts to share. Thanks be to God for His gift of grace. Thanks be to God for His gift of faith. Thanks be to God for teaching us through His gift of His word because He loves us. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

10/22/2017 Proper 24A

Rev Dale Skurla

The Only God

Isaiah 45:5

10/22/2017

1116 Proper 24A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … lacking knowledge of God.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God equips us for His service to others.

The single preaching lesson is … God does what He says He will do or has done.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Society today seems to want to find deities wherever they look. So did the pantheistic Greeks and Romans of Biblical days. It seems a Triune witness isn’t & wasn’t good enough for them. Isaiah records God’s words for us: I am the Lord, & there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know Me. This is our text for this 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

I.     I am the Lord

A.    I am the Lord, & there is no other; God is repeating the 1st commandment for us: No other gods!

B.    Only 1 God known as the creator of heaven and earth; always was, still is, always will be
C.    Too simple for most people, however, the hypotheses generated by science are harder to believe
D.    God of Bible is one & only true God; His wisdom & knowledge is beyond all human understanding
E.    Scripture tells us this in many places; but this ‘old book’ is always under attack by unbelievers
F.     As His word is under attack, so God is always under attack
 

II.    I equip you

A.    However, this attacked God, is the one who equips us to do everything we can do, if we let Him

B.     He gave us our talents, abilities, mental capacity, reasoning capabilities to see Bible is accurate
C.     Biblical accuracy has never been disproven by science, archeology or reason …
D.     More information plugs gaps in science, archeology & reason giving new & Biblical results
E.     God equips mankind to discover the truths behind His Word thru science, archeology, & reason
 

III.   You do not know Me

A.     Even as He equips us, many people do not know Him; many are coming to know Him
B.     Sadly, however, many so-called wise people refuse to see the truth & magnificence of the Bible
C.     More sadly still, many to most Christians don’t read the Bible to mine its gems of truth; do you?
D.     Our last Fall Conference was on the topic of reading God’s Word – THE book
E.     If I could only read one book in my lifetime it would be the Bible over and over again; >8/1998
F.     Through God’s word we learn to know the Creator of Heaven & Earth as He wants to be known

Conclusion:   I am the Lord, & there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know Me. No other god equips us, leads, talks, walks, eats, sleeps, breathes. Only God Almighty wants us to learn about Him who has given us everything: time, talents, treasure, abilities, knowledge, wisdom & so much more. Thanks be to God that He and He alone is God. Thanks be to God that He gives us His written and living word to teach us about Himself. Thanks be to God that He encourages to learn about Him and know Him as intimately as He would like us to know Him. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

10/15/2017 Proper 23A

Rev Dale Skurla

Prayer Trumps Anxiety

Philippians 4:5-7

10/15/2017

1115 Proper 23A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … failing to realize Scriptural invitations.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … the peace of God that passes all human understanding.

The single preaching lesson is … trust Our Lord to do what He has promised & ask to receive.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Anxiety can cause all sorts of angst in our lives. It can arrive when we least expect that unwelcome guest. Paul provides us a solution to combat that unwelcome guest. He writes: The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts & your mind in Christ Jesus. This is our text for this 19th Sunday after Pentecost.

I. Lord is at hand

A. Yes. He is at hand. He is Emmanuel – God with us; how often we forget this!

B. God is with us as one who cares about us, leads us, guides us, comforts us, eases our anxiety
C. He’s a friend to whom we can turn any time; a friend who wants us to lean on Him; come to Him
D. He invites us to bring all our sins, sorrows, challenges, angsts, anxieties for His solution.
E. God is our trouble tree. Trouble tree? <tell the story> Bottom line is God makes things easier
F. That doesn’t mean He takes all troubles away from us, just that things are easier with Him
 

II. Thankful requests

A. Most often our requests are ‘give me’ requests; less often do we thank God in advance

B. Why? Likely because we forget to ask Him for what is in our / others best interests
C. We likely forget God already knows what is in our best interest; remember & easy to thank first
D. Praying for His guidance, knowing He knows best, trusting His promises really puts us at ease
E. We don’t need to know how He will answer our prayers; comforting & anxiety free to know He will
F. How do I know? Foremost the Bible tells me so; 2nd, from my experiences … …
G. God answers prayers properly, thoroughly, completely & in our best interest earthly & spiritually

III. Peace of God

A. Trusting that God will answer all prayers appropriately really does put a person at ease

B. Even when disaster or bad news strikes us, God will ease our burdens IF we ask Him to do so
C. Many people suffer & struggle because they do not turn to God but try to do things themselves
D. God invites us to call on Him at all times, for all reasons, even when we’re unsure what to ask
E. Prayers for guidance to do what He would have us do are powerful as are for wisdom
F. God is faithful to His word & promises & He will respond appropriately

 

Conclusion:   The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts & your mind in Christ Jesus. God is with us, yesterday, today, & tomorrow – all the time. Thank Him in advance, trusting Him for His wise reply. Thanks be to God for being with us all of our lives. Thanks be to God for inviting us to call upon in all circumstances. Thanks be to God that His answers provide us with the peace that passes all human understanding. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

 

Please open your hymnals to hymn 729 as we sing from our hearts: “I am Trusting Thee, Lord Jesus”

10/8/2017 Proper 22A

Rev Dale Skurla

Christ Made Us His Own

Philippians 3:12-14

10/8/2017

Sermon Template.docx

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … doing.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … Jesus making us His own.

The single preaching lesson is … we press on towards the goal.

 

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Earthly life tells us that if we work hard, honestly, & treat people fairly that we will succeed if we don’t weaken or just give up. So, we press on. Paul relates the spiritual driven goal: Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. This is our text for this 18th Sunday after Pentecost.

 

I.        Unobtained, imperfect just yet

A.      Earthly efforts at obtaining our goal are often met with resentment, resistance, criticism, failings

B.      Often folks are well-meaning & appear to say that they wouldn’t do that; perhaps lacking vision
C.      Some folks will mentor us & try to steer us correctly but the goal line eludes us
D.      We press on in spiritual matters also; often people or society in general think we are foolish
E.      Paul pressed on throughout His life to reach the goal line to help others win too
F.      He did so because Christ Jesus had made Paul His own. Paul knew he would only lose if he quit
 

II.       Unsuccessful just yet

A.      People today may hear our goals & wonder why we work so hard & still not reach the goal

B.      There are days there seems to be little progress like treading water or spinning wheels
C.      We wonder if our desires were foolish; we may even ask God; then success suddenly happens
D.      Our days for spiritual matters sometimes cause us to feel similarly; often self-inflicted reasons
E.      But we press on, confessing our sins, receiving absolution, wanting & getting a new start (again!)
F.      We look forward to heaven & Satan attacks us again & again, working to drive us off course
 

III.     Pressing on because of the call of Jesus Christ

A.      Paul also looked heavenward, never taking his eyes off Jesus or His promise of salvation

B.      He was shipwrecked, flogged, & stoned; He survived to serve other days focused on Christ
C.      Because Jesus Christ called Paul, this chief of sinners, he could look forward to heaven
D.      WE CAN TOO! We have been called by God thru Baptism, Word & Lord’s Supper
E.      Like Paul, we struggle, stumble, are spiritually flogged, shipwrecked, stoned & forgiven
F.      We are saved by JESUS’ works, not ours! Luther reminds us we are saved by faith alone!

 

Conclusion:   Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Yes, we are imperfect. Yes we are as yet unsuccessful. Yes, we are called by Christ as His chosen people to serve Him by serving others as Paul did. Yes, like Paul, He leads us to confess our errors & receive life-sustaining forgiveness. Thanks be to God for calling us. Thanks be to God for forgiving us. Thanks be to God for never giving up on us as long as He allows us to live. May we never give up on ourselves. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

10/1/2017 Proper21A

Rev Dale Skurla

I Lift up my Soul

Psalm 25:1

10/1/2017

1113 Proper 21A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … failing to listen to the Lord’s guidance.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God inviting us to come to Him in prayer.

The single preaching lesson is … we should be lifting up ourselves to God alone.

 

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. When good times are upon us we should be turning to the Lord and giving thanks. When times are troubling us, there often is discord with others, or if we are having a ‘bad’ day for whatever reason, we should be turning to Our Heavenly Father in prayer for His guidance, support, & care. Psalm 25 is a powerhouse of faith, trust & love. The Psalmist, King David, begins with the conclusion & then provides the supporting arguments, that is, uses deductive reasoning. He writes: To You O Lord, I lift up my soul. This is our text for this 17th Sunday after Pentecost.

 

I.        To You alone O Lord

A.      Our Lord is the creator of heaven & earth; He is God & there is no other; He is our worship focus

B.      He is not a figment of our imagination; He is real, living without beginning & with no end
C.      We are challenged in our faith walk with no beginning since our minds cannot comprehend it
D.      No end is generally no problem as we see day after day & can somewhat perceive no end
E.      God who created us must have immense love for us even when others fail to understand this
F.      To this God & Lord, the Psalmist speaks & to no others; no idols or man-made pseudo deities
 

II.       You teach me Your ways

A.      This God showed His immense love through Jesus: conceived by Holy Spirit, born of Virgin Mary

B.      Jesus taught us God’s ways in many & various means: parables, actions, straight talk, living
C.      David says: Make me to know Your ways, teach me Your paths. Lead me in truth
D.      He recognizes that God is Salvation & asks for His mercy & steadfast love & forgiveness
E.      God leads & teaches the humble, instructing sinful mankind in His way to bring us home to Him
F.      For sake of God’s Name, psalmist asks for pardon of his great guilt; recognizing God in all things
 

III.     Therefore I lift up my soul

A.      King David recognizes His errors, loneliness & affliction & asks to be brought out of distress

B.      He again asks for forgiveness; He asks God to guard His soul & deliver him from evil
C.      He says let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in You. May integrity & uprightness preserve
D.      Why? Because he takes refuge in God & waits for Him. That is why He lifts up his soul to God
E.      That is why we also should follow King David’s advice & example & lift up our souls to God
F.      God hears, answers, loves, guides, forgives those who respectfully fear Him

 

Conclusion:   To You O Lord, I lift up my soul. In this psalm, King David pours out His heart & soul to God. He recognizes His might, power, goodness, mercy, & love. He appears overwhelmed by God’s wisdom, grace, mercy, & forgiveness. He trusts God to do what He says He will do. Thanks be to God for the wisdom given David. Thanks be to God He helps us recognize God in all things. Thanks be to God as we lift up our forgiven souls in prayer, praise, thanksgiving, & grateful love. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

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