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7/9/2017 Proper 9 A

Rev Dale Skurla

In, Not of, the world

Romans 7:15

7/9/2017

1103 Proper 9A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … sin.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … forgiveness.

The single preaching lesson is … our earthly nature often trumps our spiritual mindset.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Many of us try to change things that we do either for better health, physical well-being, etc. Paul finds himself in the same situation. He writes to the Romans: I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. This is our text for this 5th Sunday after Pentecost.

I. Understanding self

A. Hardest person in the world to understand is the one we see every morning in the mirror– our self

B. If we do not understand ourselves, how can we possibly change anything about ourselves?
C. Simple questions like: why do we react like we do? Why do I do certain things habitually?
D. If we understand why we do things, then maybe we might want to make a change <personally>
E. Paul struggled with this too: I do not understand my own actions. He had to learn why also
F. He asks why he did what he didn’t want to do & didn’t do what he wanted to do. Paul is like us
 

II. What I want to do – spiritually correct

A. What is it we want to do as Christians? More regularity at church? More trusting God? Less?

B. Often fear holds us back from doing more or less? Is it excuses? Do our priorities need help?
C. 5 finger priorities: thumb is God; fingers (index to pinky) are country, family, job, & self
D. Finger priorities can change temporarily, but God is always first; thus, we learn from His book
E. Spiritually correct goals begin w/ t Bible; regular worship helps, Bible reading reinforces / teaches
F. Jesus strengthened Paul, yet Paul found earthly issues got in His way; humility? C & A?
 

III. What I don’t want to do – earthly desires

A. Paul found he did what he didn’t want to do; we often do too; so Paul saw the law as good

B. SC says Law does 3 things: It acts as a curb to stop, a mirror to reflect, & a guide to direct us
C. God’s law isn’t there to take away our fun, but by them God protects us from harm if we listen
D. Perhaps that’s why we feel badly when we break a commandment in little or large ways
E. Law functions as a barrier to Satan, if we let it! Jesus & Satan battle it out over us pawns
F. We belong to Jesus; Satan belongs to this world & wants us only so Jesus can’t have us!

Conclusion:   I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. We should be able to take comfort that we so closely identify with Paul. He saw what we see & wrote about it to identify with us. Remember Paul was Saul a persecutor of Christians whom God transformed to serve Him for the rest of his life. As God changed Paul, He can change us also to be the person He would have us be and whom we desire to be in His service. Thanks be to God for helping us to understand ourselves. Thanks be to God for guiding us to spiritually correct ways. Thanks be to God He helps us counter our earthly ways in order to serve Him better. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

7/2/2017 Proper 8A

Rev Dale Skurla

Peace or War

Matthew 10:34-36

7/2/2017

1102 Proper 8A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … the use of the sword.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … peace, honesty, truth.

The single preaching lesson is … God is peace but earthly life tends to war.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Most of us tend to think that God’s Word tends toward the Gospel & peace. Ultimately, that is true. As we journey here towards heavenly peace, we see division both inside & outside the church. Matthew records Jesus’ words: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, & a daughter against her mother, & a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. This is our text for this 4th Sunday after Pentecost.

I. Church – earthly life guided by God

A. Jesus teaches us to love one another which is a noble endeavor for sinful human beings

B. Many however confuse love with accepting and supporting all another does or wants to do
C. That noble concept causes many disagreements, arguments, hurt feelings, & the like
D. Parents love their kids, even though they may not like what they do & apply discipline in love
E. Jesus loves all people, even those who do not love Him & He keeps working to bring them to Him
F. We Christians want to show love to others but struggle with tough love even when necessary
 

II. Earthly life’s struggles

A. How we deal with love in an earthly life can be a challenge; even Paul admitted the same

B. Misunderstandings abound; quote the commandments & sinful desire can be aroused
C. God gave us the commandments to protect us from harm, but sinful minds tend the wrong way
D. We struggle even when we want to change, often backsliding; tell child 17x before it sinks in!
E. Try breaking any habit or learning a new thing – takes time & often errors in the process
F. By God’s grace, we will succeed. Yet, often times we quit before succeeding; trust & pray
 

III. Our conflict in daily life

A. Paul saw this: sin produced death … through what was good. A good reminder to call on God

B. The battle is not ours but the battle is Jesus vs Satan with us as the pawns; we win w/ Christ
C. If we choose Satan’s way we will lose for sure; man is weak, we like the easy way; trouble way!
D. God never gives up on us. Satan does. He’s the personification of coveting: us so God can’t have
E. Start day with prayer asking for His help; end day with prayer of Thanksgiving for His help
F. Ask for His forgiveness for failures. In other words, live your faith! That way we praise HIM alone!

Conclusion:   “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, & a daughter against her mother, & a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Jesus brings conflict because of our human nature. We misunderstand His words, His meaning, & His intent. We often twist them to what we want them to say instead of what they really say. Thanks be to God for continuing to guide us in our walk to heaven. Thanks be to God for earthly struggles showing us our dependence on Him. Thanks be to God for being with us in our struggles in this world. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

6/25/2017 Proper 7

Rev Dale Skurla

2017 America

Jeremiah 20:10

6/25/2017

1101 Proper 7A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

Law (we do/say) is found in … fear of man not fear of God.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … trustingly leave our trouble with the Lord.

The single preaching lesson is … trust Our Lord & live our lives through Him.

 

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. It seems the lesson from Jeremiah was written just for us today. Jeremiah hit home directly. He writes: For I hear many whispering. Terror on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him & take our revenge on him.”  This is our text for this 3rd Sunday after Pentecost.

I. Terror on every side

A. It seems today’s news was written by Chicken Little: The sky is falling. The sky is falling!

B. Well, the sky isn’t falling, it’s not even raining, but the fear-mongers continue their tirade
C. Please, don’t misunderstand me. There is plenty of need for cautious awareness around us
D. There is a need to be alert. This isn’t the 1950’s anymore. However, paranoia is something else
E. Jeremiah is correct for today: there seems to be terror on every side. Let’s be cautious, careful
F. Jeremiah trusted in Our Lord & set a great example for us: Trust God, use His gift of judgment
 

II. Denounce him

A. Everywhere we turn, we see people denouncing other people; criticizing every spoken word

B. People seem to want to denounce everything except what they say; ironic & idolatrous isn’t it?
C. No one respects anyone’s opinion anymore; nothing wrong with disagreeing, but disagreeable?
D. Jesus disagreed with many people & explained His point of view; some agreed, some didn’t
E. Some understand His point later; some remained steadfastly defiant to their own detriment
F. Some continue to denounce Jesus even today; often without researching & without wisdom
 

III. Gospel message – leave it to the Lord (20:13)

A. Yes, Jeremiah sure seems to be speaking of 21st Century America; a warning to us all

B. :12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart & the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause; we have too! Baptism, Confirmation
C. Jesus taught us to love all people; He also taught tough love to teach; some never loved back
D. God gave reasoning minds to protect ourselves & others; however, vengeance Is HIS alone
E. We can love an enemy w/o aiding in his mission; we must separate fact, fiction, & fear
F. How do we do that? Pray, praise, trust God (which is praise) & let Him guide us as Jeremiah did
G. Bottom line: is verse13: Sing to the Lord; praise the Lord! For He has delivered the life of the needy from the hand of the evildoers. He said it & He will do it as He promised. No fear!

Conclusion:   For I hear many whispering. Terror on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him & take our revenge on him.” Yes, we live in tough times that call for us to be alert, aware, & cautious. But America today requires that we also trust that God knows what He is doing for us in spite of ourselves. Thanks be to God we see the terror in the world so that we are forewarned & therefore forearmed. Thanks be to God that we do not denounce Him & others for whom He died, even when we may disagree. Thanks be to God Jesus showed us how to handle disagreeable people through the Gospel He lived for us. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

6/18/2017

Rev Dale Skurla

Give Thanks & Bless His Name

Psalm 100:4

6/18/2017

1100 Proper 6A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … refusing to pray, praise, & give thanks.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … the invitation to see what God has done for us.

The single preaching lesson is … give thanks for all He has done for us & praise His Name.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. All of us have received invitations to events or home dinners at the home of friends. By American standards, some of those invitations imply bringing a gift. God does things similarly, yet differently. The Psalmist records: Enter His gates with thanksgiving, & His courts with Praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His Name! This is our text for this Second Sunday after Pentecost.

I. Enter with thanksgiving

A. Enter His gates with Thanksgiving! Yes! Absolutely! Enter HIS house with heartfelt thanksgiving
B. We should regularly enter here with thanksgiving in our hearts for all HE gave us …
C. … a new dawn, a new day, opportunity to worship in peace with family & friends
D. Just like we do when invited out; sometimes there is sorrow, give thanks for comfort
E. It’s been said that a grumpy Christian is an oxymoron, inconsistent w/ faith; sadness is different
F. This congregation does a great job in giving thanks & comfort & welcoming others into our midst
 

II. Enter with praise

A. We also enter with praise in our hearts as we give thanks to God for everything

B. We praise God when we comfort others in their sadness or sorrow; We praise Him for using us
C. He uses us as HIS arms & legs to do His work right here in Prescott or wherever He places us
D. We use HIS gift of legs to get us where He needs us to be; arms to comfort, cook, assist, etc.
E. We enter here to learn in broad ideas what He would have us do for others: that’s praise
F. We leave to carry His message to others with or without speaking; that’s praise also
 

III. Invitation to receive His gifts!

A. We enter HIS house here with our gifts of gratitude for all He has done for us; Mal 3:10 tithe

B. We worship Him, give Him thanks & praise for His earthly gifts to us by returning 10% to HIM
C. My 10% = your 10%, amounts just different; praise & thanksgiving come via willing obedience
D. But God gives us so much more: imagine buying a house or car & only paying 10% of the cost!!
E. He forgives our sins, teaches us w/ His Word, feeds us in HIS sacrament w/ His body / blood
F. He does all of this with HIS invitation for us to come into HIS presence & receive HIS love!

Conclusion:   Enter His gates with thanksgiving, & His courts with Praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His Name! Yes, we enter with praiseful thanksgiving to receive His marvelous gifts so that we may be of service to Him with the people He places in our paths & our lives every day. He honors us by calling us to serve Him by serving others. Thanks be to God for the invitation to enter with thanksgiving. Thanks be to God for opportunities He gives us to willingly praise Him. Thanks be to God for all of His earthly & spiritual gifts & guidance He incessantly gives us. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

Trinity Sunday 6/11/2017

Rev Dale Skurla

In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1

6/11/2017

1099 Trinity A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … our unbelief in God’s gift of creation.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God’s good & gracious gift of creation.

The single preaching lesson is … Fr, Son, and Holy Spirit were present at creation.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Today we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Trinity – our Father Creator, Redeemer Christ, Sanctifier Spirit. All three existing from eternity, without beginning or end - a tough concept for sure, nevertheless true. Genesis tells us: In the Beginning, God created the heavens & the earth. This is our text for this Trinity Sunday.

I. In the Beginning

A. Bible clearly tells us that God created or called all things into being from nothing

B. Big Bang theorists (better hypothesists) tell us that piece of cosmic dust exploded & all is here
C. Question: if nothing existed, from where did the cosmic dust come? God called into existence
D. 6 days of creation: 1-3 forming: light & darkness; Heaven; earth & seas & vegetation
E. 4-6 filling: Sun, moon & stars to mark the seasons, days & years, i.e. a celestial clock …
F. … air, land & sea animals; lastly man beginning w/ Adam then Eve; 7th day was rest to enjoy
 

II. Trinity

A. Genesis clearly tells us God did created all things out of love for His creation

B. Fr & HS are clearly cited but what about Jesus? JN 10:30-I & Fr are one
C. In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in JN 17:11 He prays to Fr: - even as we are one
D. Jesus is clearly present with Father & Holy Spirit. Fr creates & Son & HS witness creation then
E. So, we can see that all three are present at all times; where one is the others are
F. All three are one & have been from time eternal
 

III. Today

A. Sadly, many people today don’t believe the Scripture account of creation; too fantastic to believe

B. What is more interesting is the hypotheses people contrive contrary to Biblical creation
C. All of their hypotheses are without evidence, thus no credibility; Fr, Son, HS – where 2 or more
D. We have all the witnesses we need; just look outside; differences & delicate nature of creation
E. Look at mankind: how complex the eye is; How delicate body’s chemical balance
F. So many details we are only today finding out; too fantastic to NOT believe! What a gift of God!

Conclusion:   In the Beginning, God created the heavens & the earth. Fr, Son, Holy Spirit were together as the Father called all into being. Together all rested and enjoyed a perfect creation. What a God-given gift we have! Without it, you and I wouldn’t be here. You & I have the benefit of God’s never-ending love. Yet sadly, many take His love & gifts for granted. This, too, is forgivable. Thanks be to God for the for Creating His world & us. Thanks be to God for the eternal presence of the Trinity. Thanks be to God His word stands as a reliable testament to His creation even with two Divine witnesses. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

Pentecost 6/4/2017

Rev Dale Skurla

From Spirit to Prophecy

Acts 2:17

6/4/2017

1098 Pentecost A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … in not believing God’s prophecy of the last day.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God’s heads up to us.

The single preaching lesson is … we are in the last days.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ on this feast of Pentecost. Yes, the Holy Spirit is with us, even if we don’t recognize His presence. Luke quotes the prophet Joel (2:28) & reminds us of God’s prophecy: “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, & you sons & your daughters shall prophesy, & your young men shall see visions, & your old men shall dream dreams. This is our text for this feast of Pentecost fulfilling God’s promise to send His Holy Spirit to us.

I. Last Days

A. We are in the last days! God has poured out His Spirit on mankind. Some believe, some don’t

B. His Spirit will cause us to prophesy. What shall we prophesy? God’s word alone
C. As some rejected Jesus, so will we be rejected; Satan may win the battle, God wins the war
D. Apostles prophesied on that 1st Pentecost in many languages they had not studied
E. They spoke of Jesus & His works & 3000 were converted; God’s word working as promised
F. We are in the last days; may not see THE last day, but time is shorter now than before
 

II. Visons & Dreams

A. Holy Spirit will cause young men to see visions & old men to dream dreams

B. Visions of peace, heavenly prosperity, truth, & justice; perhaps even God’s wrath on last day
C. Visons of God fulfilling His promises even in our own days, yes, OUR gift of days
D. Elders dreaming of what might have been if people has listed to God instead of Satan
E. Dreams of what could still be if people would turn to God in faith & trust & obey
F. My vision is that all Christians would read the Bible every day & meditate on it; even US
 

III. Bottom Line - Acts 2:21

A. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.

B. Is this in mind only? Academic exercise? Just going with the flow? Always done it that way?
C. Or is this from the heart in true faith & belief, trusting & obeying God? Latter for sure
D. God gave us the tools to use, sadly many are rusting from disuse.
E. God showed us how to use His tools properly, yet many / most don’t bother to read / learn
F. God warned us of the wrath to come, yet many forget His wrath applies individually / corporately

Conclusion:   “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh, & you sons & your daughters shall prophesy, & your young men shall see visions, & your old men shall dream dreams. God sent His Holy Spirit into our lives. He told us what is to come on both THE last day & our last day. Sadly, I see many procrastinating until it is too late. Thanks be to God for His gift of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God for visions & dreams according to His word. Thanks be to God He still encourages us to call on the Name of the Lord for our salvation because of Jesus Christ & His Holy Spirit. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

5/28/2017

Rev Dale Skurla

God Given, Man Received

John 17:8

5/28/2017

1097 Easter 7A

Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

 

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

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God’s words delivered to us.

The single preaching lesson is … God’s word reigns supreme.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.  Remember your teenage years? Those were wonderful years, doubting nearly everyone’s advice. In a few months or years on our own, we began to recognize the wisdom of much of that advice. The apostles were no exception. John records Jesus’ words: For I have given them the words You gave Me, & they have received them & have come to know in truth that I came from You; & they have believed that You sent Me. This is our text for this 7th & last Sunday OF Easter.

I. John 17 – High Priestly Prayer

A. Today’s text is from Jesus’ High Priestly prayer at the end of a long dissertation over 5 chapters

B. Jesus began at the washing the Apostles’ feet & included teaching, guidance, prophecy, prayer
C. He prays to His Fr, praises their faith, & asks for strength for them in this farewell prayer
D. His main point is belief & trust, same point He makes for us throughout the Bible
E. Through faith we are one with Fr, son, & Holy Spirit, ready & willing to do what is needed
F. Peter failed in time of trial & was forgiven (John 21) on the beach; promise of hope for us too
 

II. Acts 1:24-26 – first call meeting

A. Acts records the Apostles desire to replace Judas who betrayed Christ & committed suicide

B. They laid out the criteria necessary; they prayed for God’s guidance in selecting a successor
C. You might say this is the first recorded ‘call meeting’; Matthias was selected & installed
D. Interesting is we never read of Matthias again in Bible; He did his work, not recorded here
E. Theologians note the real successor to Judas was Saul, now Paul, called by Jesus
F. It took a Damascus Road experience & Ananias (Christian bro) to open eyes & mind of Saul
 

III. 1 Peter 4 verses

A. We look at the apostles, read their work, the growth, power of their faith & are amazed

B. Peter reminds us that it wasn’t all roses & glory; there was prayer, meditation, trial
C. Peter is clear, if they undergo suffering & trials, what will it be like for unbelievers?
D. Peter says, humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand & be exalted at the proper time
E. Endure what comes our way with patience, understanding, faith as our faith is tested again
F. After trials, God who called us, will restore, confirm, strengthen & establish us in eternal life

Conclusion:   For I have given them the words You gave Me, & they have received them & have come to know in truth that I came from You; & they have believed that You sent Me. Jesus speaks to us also in His High Priestly Prayer. The Apostles acted on their God-given gift of faith. Peter reminds us of prayer, meditation, & trials for our later glory & for the honor & glory of God Himself. Thanks be to God that He prays for us. Thanks be to God for the Apostles’ lessons of faith, trials, & stamina. Thanks be to God Peter wrote to strengthen us who claim the faith two millennia later. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

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