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1/14/18 Epiphany 2B

Rev Dale Skurla          “Speak, Lord”           1 Samuel 3:10

1/14/2018                  1137 Epiphany 2B      Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … failure to respond to God.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God calling us for His work in spite of our sinful nature.

The single preaching lesson is … Speak. Lord for we are listening.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Caller ID is great. It lets you know who is trying to reach you, even if you don’t recognize the phone number. Samuel didn’t have caller ID, but Eli finally recognized that God was calling to young Samuel. In 1st Samuel we read:  And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” This is our text for this second Sunday after Epiphany.

 

I.        1 Samuel - “Speak”

A.     You are a pre-teen child who hears someone calling your name & only two people are there

B.     Obviously, the other person is calling you; happened 3x to Samuel before Eli caught on & …

C.     … realizes God is calling Samuel & instructs Samuel how to answer: Speak Your servant hears

D.     God spoke, Samuel listened & told Eli after (our reading) a time of wrath for Eli & family coming

E.      Why the wrath? In Ch 2, Eli reprimanded but didn’t stop his sons from scorning sacrifices to God

F.      Eli’s sons were rude & abusive to the Levites preparing the sacrifices, taking what they wanted

G.     God would not put up with desecrating offerings they would have gotten properly as Eli’s sons

 

II.       John – “Speak”

A.     Gospel lesson records Philip telling Nathanael we have found the Christ, Jesus of Nazareth

B.     Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Nazareth ≡ insignificant town, possibly of ill repute

C.     Philip simply says, Come & see. IOW, don’t take my word, come & see for yourself; Nate did!

D.     Jesus’ greeting confirmed Nathanael was under fig tree & told Nathanael he would see more

E.      Yes, Nathanael would see heaven open & angels ascending & descending on the Son of Man

F.      A huge contrast to Samuel hearing wrath, Nathanael saw grace, mercy, salvation

 

III.     Jesus speaks to Us

A.     Jesus speaks to us notably in W & S & often speaks thru others pointing the way like Eli & Philip

B.     Jesus also speaks thru the Bible & other people who may not realize God is using them

C.     Jesus speaks in many & varied ways: a whisper, fire, flood, peace, war, good or bad leaders

D.     Sometimes we’re listening or maybe we’re not; other times don’t recognize His words to us

E.      In listening we are enlightened; sometimes we don’t recognize how God packaged His Words

F.      God always speaks to guide & protect us; we should always be listening for Him

 

Conclusion:   And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” Samuel & Eli, Nathaniel & Philip give us examples of how to react to God’s calling. Ask Him directly to help us know when He is calling us to do certain things. Ask trusted Christians, like a pastor, elder, or one who lives their faith (instead of one who is simply speaking faith) to help clarify an otherwise confusing or perplexing situation. Maybe just ask God: what are you telling me? Or, what am I to learn from this Lord? You might be surprised at what He will tell you. I have been! Thanks be to God for the lesson from Samuel’s innocence. Thanks be to God for Philip’s evangelism & Nathanael’s fact checking. Thanks be to God that He continues to use us in His work so that He would strengthen our faith in Him. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

1/7/2018 Baptism of Christ

Rev Dale Skurla                        “In the Beginning”                Genesis 1:1

1/7/2018                                 1136 Baptism of Lord          Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

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

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

The single preaching lesson is … the beginnings.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Yesterday was the feast of Epiphany and today we celebrate Jesus’ baptism. Time sure flies in the church calendar, even faster than our passage of time - Happy New Year and may this year be spiritually prosperous for all of us. Moses records: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. This is our text for this festival of the Baptism of Our Lord.

I. Epiphany to Baptism

A. Epiphany, the revelation of Jesus to the world: new life, new birth, new hope

B. Jesus’ birth was announced to the shepherds tending their flocks; our new birth is Baptism

C. Because of Jesus’ baptism we celebrate our new life in Baptism, His gift to us

D. Verse 2 clearly shows God’s Spirit is present at creation & like Baptism, often not recognized

E. New worldly birth & new spiritual birth for us are both God’s gifts to us for life & salvation

F. Sadly, many for whom Christ died reject both realities & both gifts to their harm

II. Light

A. Epiphany announces God’s light is present in the world; God’s light is also with us in Baptism

B. In GN God separates light from darkness; in Baptism He separates light of grace & dark of sin

C. Day one of creation is first for the temporal world; day 1 of Baptism is first day for all eternity

D. God daily sends earthly light to us so we can live, move & have our being

E. God daily uses His revealed word, written in Bible & living in Christ, to move us into eternity

F. God’s light is always with us so we can avoid the darkness of sin; He keeps the light on for us

III. Now what?

A. Creation was over six 24-hr days with 1 day of rest & // our work week; no coincidence here

B. PS 29, prayed earlier, encourages us to ascribe to the Lord the glory due His Name

C. PS 29 also encourages us to worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; we’re here to do so

D. All things we have, from creation to eternity, are gifts from the Lord every day; let’s never forget

E. Our God, the only God, is a good, giving, gracious, merciful, loving God we often take for granted

F. Let’s ask His forgiveness by asking & recognizing His help to correct our ways in our gift of 2018

Conclusion:   In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In our beginning God gave us the gift of Baptism. In both, He brought His light into our lives for physical assistance & spiritual guidance so we would be able to make right, proper, & praiseworthy choices & decisions in our lives for our benefit & the benefit of those He places in our paths every day to His honor & glory. Thanks be to God for physical & spiritual new life, new birth, & new hope. Thanks be to God that He remains the light of our lives as we live out His mission in our lives. Thanks be to God that He calls us to pray, praise & give thanks to Him for all His never-ending blessings to us. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

12/31/2017 Christmas 1B

Rev Dale Skurla                            “Not Just Mary”                  Luke 2:33-35

12/31/2017                                   1135 Christmas 1B           Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in …  the sword piercing hearts.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … Salvation by Christ.

The single preaching lesson is … a sword has pierced our hearts also.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Many lifelong Christians take the message of salvation for granted, or, just don’t give it a second thought. Luke expands our vision in Simeon’s prophetic statements: And His father & mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them & said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall & rising of many in Israel, & for a sign that is opposed. (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” This is our text for this 1st Sunday after Christmas.

I. Mary & Joseph marveled at what was said

A. Simeon speaks thanksgiving for what God has done for Him: allowing him to see the Savior

B. This must have been very moving & eye opening for Mary & Joseph for Luke to record the event

C. It’s 9 months after Angel Gabriel visited Mary saying she would be bear Son of the Most High

D. She knew Angelic words referred to Covenant that Messiah would come from David’s line

E. But now, more is revealed to Mary & Joseph & they marveled at what was said to them

F. Even the Gentiles would see the Light of the World, not just the chosen people of Israel

II. Jesus’ purpose foretold

A. Simeon spoke more direct to Mary & Joseph: Jesus would be the rise & fall of many in Israel

B. He will be opposed, rejected, & a sword would pierce Mary’s soul also – marveled? Stunned?

C. That would be so the hearts of many may be revealed; we know they were & still are today +/-

D. I wonder what Mary & Joseph thought / felt as they returned to Nazareth; blessed? Confused? +

E. But Jesus grew, became strong, & filled with wisdom; favor of God the Fr was with Him

F. Wisdom is important; it’s more than just knowledge, it’s the proper application of knowledge

III.A sword should pierce our hearts also

A. 33 yrs. later, a sword would pierce Mary’s heart as she watched Jesus scourged, carry cross, die

B. Jesus would place Mary in John’s care on the cross; Joseph had likely died; darkest before dawn

C. Mary & Joseph followed the Jewish law for circumcision; we baptize infants as Jesus directed

D. We raised our children; about age 20, all went their own way in or out of the church

E. Jesus spoke of the double-edged sword of truth which cuts both ways for Mary & for us

F. Mary had hope; we & our families do too; God is with us, Emmanuel, as He was with Mary

Conclusion:   And His father & mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them & said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall & rising of many in Israel, & for a sign that is opposed. (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” What a potent conversation with Simeon. What an important NT prophecy. All Simeon spoke came to pass. Thanks be to God for the spirit-guided wisdom of Simeon. Thanks be to God for the examples of Mary & Joseph. Thanks be to God His word is as true today as when it was first spoken. God grant us the grace & willingness to pay attention. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

12/17/2017 Advent 3B

Rev Dale Skurla             “A Pastor’s Job Description”               Isaiah 61:1-4

12/17/2017                     1131 Advent 3B                       Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … our directive to do.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … the Spirit of the Lord being with us.

The single preaching lesson is … this is a pastor’s job description.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. When people are considering a job they first look at the job description to see if their abilities match with the requirements. Isaiah’s written record gives us his job description: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news … to bind up … to proclaim … to comfort … to grant … to give… [so that] they shall build up … raise up … [and] repair… the devastations of many generations. This is our text for this 3rd Sunday of Advent.

 

I. Actions

A. Wow! The prophet Isaiah has been given a proverbial boatload of tasks to accomplish

B. He is to bring good news to the poor in spirit; bind up the brokenhearted; liberty to sinners …

C. … comfort to mourners; grant & give beautiful (appropriate) clothing, gladness & praise

D. Aren’t those things today’s prophets should do also? Today’s prophets are pastors, missionaries+

E. + deacons, deaconesses, Christians - the priesthood of all believers following Christ’s leading

F. Isaiah had a tough task ahead, so do pastors & Christians today, maybe more so, maybe not

 

II. God’s Spirit is with us

A. How did Isaiah accomplish all of these significant tasks? Some will say by love or tough love

B. If the truth be known, Isaiah said it best: The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me

C. Yes, it’s only by the grace of God & the persistent help of the Holy Spirit’s leading & guiding

D. Without God’s given gift of grace through the Holy Spirit, Pastors would be unable to function

E. Some do better than others, just as some in the priesthood of all believers to better than others

F. By God’s grace we are able to function as His eyes, ears, arms, feet & heart in this world

 

III. Purpose, i.e. the ‘for us’

A. For what purpose? So that you and I together as God’s teammates can function together

B. So that we are oaks of righteousness because Christ willingly came to earth for our sake

C. He first built up ancient ruins of sin & repaired ruined souls across the generations

D. Because He did so, we can do the same where He has planted us w/ people He gives us in life

E. Too tough? He helps; even a forest fire starts with one spark; He helps you, me be the spark

F. Romans 8:31--With God for us, who can be against us? No one! God is our teammate & coach

G. With Him we cannot fail; without Him nothing matters

Conclusion:   The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news … to bind up … to proclaim … to comfort … to grant … to give… [so that] they shall build up … raise up … [and] repair… the devastations of many generations. Yes, we have a tough order for our lives. It’s even tougher, perhaps impossible, if we go it alone. Let us listen to the Holy Spirit & see His working in our lives. We are not alone. Jesus is also with us. He is Emmanuel – God with us. He is the Son, God the Father sent to us over 2000 years ago. Thanks be to God for His guidance through Isaiah. Thanks be to God His spirit is always with us. May He continue to help us to listen to Him. Thanks be to God that He helps us with the people He places in our paths every day. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

12/24/2017 Advent 4B

Rev Dale Skurla                        “Your House”                               2 Samuel 7:11, 16

12/24/2017                                1133 Advent 4B                 Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

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

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … David’s throne established forever.

The single preaching lesson is … our throne is established forever unless we throw it away.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. People often get good advice from friends or associates. King David received counsel from the prophet Nathan. Isaiah records: The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house … and your house & your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. This is our text for this last Sunday of Advent.

I. Promise to David

A. God greatly appreciated David’s desire & intent to build a suitable house for the Lord

B. God never asked for a house to be built, but He rewarded David greatly. How?

C. God made David’s name great; planted Israel in their own place to live in peace & have rest

D. Most of all David’s throne would be established forever through earthly successor Jesus Christ

E. Sinner David, recall Bathsheba, was forgiven, restored, rewarded for faithfulness after discipline

F. We still remember King David today & celebrate Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension

II. Promise to Us

A. What does this have to do with us? This was about 2700 years ago, ancient history

B. It has everything to do with us; David is us; He & we are forgiven sinners; God sees our hearts

C. God rewarded David’s heart; He will reward ours also, in spite of our frustrations & failings

D. David’s heart was focused on God even though He sinned. Ours should be also

E. His ultimate reward was Jesus’ birth in his lineage forever thus establishing David’s house forever

F. Jesus established our house forever through Baptism, reinforced thru W & S unto heaven forever

III. Ultimate fulfillment of prophecy

A. Luke’s Gospel lesson records Mary was about 14 or so when approached by the Angel Gabriel

B. Her heart was also in the right place: Be it done to me according to your word. What faith

C. Even though absent mindedness or doubts entered into Mary in later life, heart was right w/ God

D. So where are we? Do we hear God’s word & ignore it or not recognize it applies to us?

E. Is our heart first with God, or is He somewhere down the priority list? Trinity should be first

F. Yes, life sometimes gets in our way; we ask forgiveness & help to change; our house is eternal

Conclusion:   The Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house … and your house & your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever. David was a sinner & was forgiven. We are in good company there. Mary was too, even though the Bible never mentions a sin associated with her. David & Mary had hearts focused on God, His will, & His ways. God would help us focus our hearts on Him as we attempt to live the faith we say we believe. Thanks be to God for King David’s faithful heart. Thanks be to God for Mary’s heartfelt confession of faith. Thanks be to God He continues to help us live our faith all day every day He gives us life on this earth. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

12/20/2017 Advent 3B Midweek

Rev Dale Skurla              "Pray”                                               1 Thessalonians 5:23

12/20/2017                    1132 Advent 3B Midweek           Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … refusing to pray or negligent in prayer.

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

The single preaching lesson is … God Himself will sanctify us.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.  Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, & may your whole spirit & soul & body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is our text for this 3rd Advent midweek service.

I. Rejoice always & pray unceasingly

A. Paul reminds us to rejoice always & we wonder how that is even possible; tough for man, not God

B. Emmanuel is always with us; Holy Spirit is also; both sent by the Father! What a deal

C. Some situations are just tough for sinners like us, but God helps us through them

D. We ask for help to rejoice even as we remain human; it’s called prayer which God answers

E. Pray unceasingly Paul says; talk to God, ask for help to see the silver lining in situations

F. Just maybe our sincerity will help us to rejoice with His help

II. Give thanks in ALL circumstances

A. The best type of prayer is a ‘thank you’ prayer – for anything and everything

B. Thanks for not hitting another car or being hit; thanks for the day, night sleep, relaxation, …

C. … opportunity to worship, family, friends, neighbors, home, health, aware of answered prayer

D. These are just a few reasons for which to give thanks to God; there are so many more

E. Be aware God may answer prayer in an unexpected manner; health issue =>closer relations

F. Just because we don’t see an answer, doesn’t mean God misses it too!

III. The result

A. Rejoicing, praying, thanking all help us realize that God is in control of our lives now / eternally

B. Paul reminds us God may be sanctifying us completely: body, soul & spirit

C. He will help us be blameless IF we are listening, praying, thanking & rejoicing in all things

D. God has a plan for each of us for which we are likely unaware; it may be building trust in HIM

E. His peace that passes all human understanding may be the way He brings others to Him

F. What a wonderful way to be used by God: bringing others to Christ without realizing it!

Conclusion:   Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, & may your whole spirit & soul & body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Praying, rejoicing, thanking unceasingly may seem like a challenge, but it’s really worth the time and effort to ask God for help. It will likely improve out trust in Him alone & bless others He brings into our lives each day. Thanks be to God for Hi invitation to call on Him. Thanks be to God for sanctifying us completely. Thanks be to God that He is all-knowing, all-loving, & all-caring all the time. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

12/24/2017 Christmas Eve B

Rev Dale Skurla                           “God Loved Us First”                     1 John 4:11

12/24/2017                                    1134 Christmas Eve B        Shepherd of the Hills, Prescott, AZ

Law (we do/say) is found in … unbelief in Jesus birth as our Lord & Savior.

Gospel (God does/says) is found in … God so loving us that He sent His Son.

The single preaching lesson is … God loved us so much He sent His Son to restore relationship to the Father.

Introduction: Grace & peace to you from God our Father & our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas everyone. I pray God grant you increased faith, hope, & love towards Him & the people for whom Jesus died. John brings up a simple but somewhat startling thought. He writes: Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. This is our text for this Christmas Eve celebration.

I.God loves us first

A.Christmas sermons are some of the most difficult sermons to write since we know the story

B.Story begins in Genesis: In the beginning God created. He created everything from nothing

C.It’s hard for us to imagine nothingness simply because we exist & exist as created beings

D.But I digress. God created A & E who sinned to be like God; forgiven w/ promised redeemer

E.Fr sent Jesus to do what no man or men could do – restore us to Fr, salvation, eternal life

F.This seems such a simple idea, best ideas often are, but they often happen w/ much pain

II.Jesus Birth

A.Jesus was born in the City of Bread (Bethlehem), laid in a manger (food trough) as Bread of Life

B.He was sought by Magi to worship Him & Herod to kill Him & heralded by angels & shepherds

C.A lowly birth for the King of Kings; He had few earthly possessions & had everything as God

D.His birth was for us; He was born to die FOR US, in our place, to enter heaven for all eternity

E.There is no greater love than this. GTF gave us life, Jesus, forgiveness, & an eternal home

F.He asks so little in return; greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for friends

III.We should love one another

A.God loved us first with life, so we should love others who truly need help, Jesus taught us how

B.We should be returning love to our Triune God by loving others through true help in His Name

C.Others may not know why we do things for them; Love one another as I have loved you

D.Jesus may not ask us to give up our lives as He did; we love Him by serving others

E.We love God by serving others for whom He sent Jesus to earth to die

F.Regardless of our situation, we can have a Merry Christmas because of His gift to us

Conclusion:   Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. We are so blessed that God loves us so much. Without Him, we have nothing and would never have existed. We are here as evidence of His love to us. Thanks be to God for loving us. Thanks be to God for sending Jesus as our redeemer. Thanks be to God for allowing us to be His hands, arms, legs, & voices to others. To God & to Him alone be all honor & glory this day & forevermore. Amen.

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