Learning from Luke: What Should We Watch?

Learning from Luke: What Should We Watch? Sermon Audio Here

Luke 21:29-38

Are we preparing for Jesus’ second coming? How do we know when He’ll arrive? In Bible college (during the early 80’s), we were sure He would arrive just around 2000 AD. In 1992, I read a pamphlet that said He’d arrive during 2006. Harold Camping set up his whole ministry with the idea that Jesus would arrive on May 21, 2011 (and then again on October 21st when He didn’t show up in May). If we’re supposed to be aware of the signs of His coming, what should we watch?

Every Christian Concerned About The End Times Should

Prepare With A Parable
Luke 21:29-33

  • v29 fig trees are common; Jesus asks us to LOOK AROUND US
  • v30 we don’t need prophets or gurus to give us secret knowledge; SEE FOR YOURSELVES
  • v31 WHEN YOU SEE YOU KNOW God is at work; nothing like it!
  • v32 Promise 1: God’s people will not pass away
  • v33 Promise 2: Jesus’ words will not pass away (God’s people, based on God’s word, will endure forever)

Be Aware of the Warning
Luke 21:34-38

  • v34 BE CAREFUL; we are easily distracted
  • v35 remember: THAT DAY will come for everyone
  • v36 1) BE ON THE WATCH;
    • 2) PRAY TO ESCAPE (the trials that occurred in 70AD);
    • 3) PRAY TO STAND BEFORE CHRIST (Judgment Day)
  • v37 Jesus taught every day; He still does!

When do YOU set aside time to hear from Christ? If we are to Watch for God’s Kingdom, let’s listen to the Lord to bring it about in the meantime!

Learning from Luke: Render Unto Caesar

Learning from Luke: Render Unto Caesar Sermon Audio Here

Luke 20:19-26

In this political season, congregations find themselves in tough situations. Should we speak for or against a specific candidate or issue? Should we ignore the political maelstrom? How do we live by God’s principles in a fallen world?

Guard Yourself Against

Twisted Motives – WHY This Issue?
Luke 20:19-22

  • v19 context: Triumphal Entry/Temple Cleansing – they’re TICKED
  • v20 they can’t morally best Jesus; they have to cheat
  • v21 1) they lie “we know”
    • 2) they tell the truth “you teach what is right”
    • 3) they set up the sting “you do not show partiality”
  • v22 the dilemma horns: YES =collaboration w/ occupying enemy; NO=sedition against government. Either way, Jesus will be hauled away out of public (which is the whole point)

Misunderstood Terms – WHAT Is Being Said?
Luke 20:23-26

  • v23 Jesus recognized their loyalty: not to KoG, but their masters
  • v24 Jesus uses elements from their kingdom to make His point
  • v25 Jesus makes a statement about ownership via image cf. Gen. 1:26 (who owns you?)
  • v26 their crafted dilemma didn’t take any other viewpoint into mind; Jesus wasn’t living by their rules, but by KoG concepts for which they had no answer

Those who wanted to trap Jesus tried to make the conversation about politics of the day; Jesus tried (repeatedly) to turn the topic to the Kingdom of God, pointing out that we ALL fall short if we try to create a system of right human behavior if we cut God out. It’s GOD’s kingdom; we just live here.

Learning from Luke: Real Repentance

Learning from Luke: Real Repentance Sermon Audio Here

Isaiah 1:15-20 / Luke 19:1-10

Ever seen the image of the guy wearing a sandwich board which reads repent the end is near? Ken Davis once asked “which end? How near?” (60 years ago!) The call to repent has been subverted so badly that it’s become an old joke. But repentance is no joke to God…

To Reclaim Repentance, We Realize That

Religious Duty Falls Short
Isaiah 1:15-20

  • v15 Just doing religion doesn’t get God’s attention; instead:
  • v16/17 God’s motive is the change of heart
  • v18/20 God’s method is challenge of the mind

Real Difference Result of Salvation
Luke 19:1-10

  • v1/4 Awakening: why would a tax collector want to see Jesus? There must have been something different, a hope for a different response
  • v5/6 Attraction: why would a rabbi want to spend time with Zacchaeus? God sees us through Jesus
  • v7/8 Apology: world rejects our change; we say “I choose to do differently”
  • v9/10 Acceptance: salvation has come isn’t the choice to do better; it’s the reception of Jesus! This PROMPTS us to change after – change is not demanded before the Spirit brings us to life

Stages of Repentance:

  • Awakening – the Spirit has worked in us before we even know it (God chooses us first)
  • Attraction – we are drawn to Christ as He draws near to us (Christ influences us next)
  • Apology – we reject our old ways, and resolve to make a change (We respond to Christ)
  • Acceptance – we realize our new life in Christ supersedes our life of self (we surrender to God’s influence)

God’s goal is to draw us to Deity; when we surrender our heart and are transformed in our mind, our lives will show the difference!

Learning from Luke: Justice by the Pound

Learning from Luke: Justice by the Pound Sermon Audio Here

Luke 18:1-14

In this sermon title, “by the pound” refers to the woman pounding on the door of the unjust judge late at night. We can and should DEMAND justice; of ourselves, each other, and the world itself.

As We Seek Justice, Remember:

Even the unjust can do just things
Luke 18:1-8

  • v1 we’re told the lesson at the start: don’t give up in prayer
  • v2/6 notice the unjust judge gives into persistence
  • v7 God has His justice in mind the whole time
  • v8 Will WE keep God’s justice in our minds?

We are not the source of Justice
Luke 18:9-14

  • v9 we’re told the warning at the start: self-righteousness ISN’T
  • v10/12 “I’m not like other men” is a LIE to SELF
  • v13 the counter-truth: I need you, God!
  • v14 God sees our admission of need as JUST; we agree with HIM

when we lower ourselves, we can raise God up in us. Lift Him up so all may see God and be saved! (John 3:14)

Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come

Learning from Luke: Let Your Kingdom Come Sermon Audio Here

Luke 17:20-26

Let’s be honest: we pray every week for God’s Kingdom to be known on earth. Does the world in which we live remind you of life in Heaven? Why not?

We Hold Back The Coming Kingdom When

We Watch For The Wrong Signs
Luke 17:20-21

  • v20 Pharisees used same words, but different meanings; they understood the Kingdom of God to be a political victory over opposinging forces
  • v21 Jesus sets them straight: the KoG is INSIDE, not outside; it’s about voluntary surrender to the King of Heaven, not forced submission to a stronger external force

We Want The Wrong Person
Luke 17:22-23

  • v22 “son of man” = perfect mediator between God and humanity
  • v23 “after THEM” warning about following the CROWD instead of following the LORD

We Wait For The Wrong Event
Luke 17:24-26

  • v24 His day will be when Jesus brings humanity and God together at last
  • v25 He did this at the cross
  • v26 He will do it again at His second coming; like Noah’s day, we won’t be watching

2 Kings 5:8-14 Just like Naaman was upset that the man of God didn’t kowtow to his own self-importance, most of humanity will miss the work that God is doing among us – the quiet surrender of Self to the Kingdom of God

Learning from Luke: Measuring with a Broken Ruler

Learning from Luke: Measuring with a Broken Ruler Sermon Audio Here

Luke 16:10-15

In 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage. Why? because two rulers of different sizes were used in construction. How do we measure our lives – are we using the same standards that God uses?

We Are Headed For Shipwreck If We Ignore

The Problem of Misplaced Priorities
Amos 8:4-6 An old problem

  • Amos, a farm worker who was called by God to deliver His word, warned Israel that their priorities were so far out of alignment with His, that He would stop speaking to them. The people had become so consumed with their own SELVES that they would no longer be able to hear God’s word.

The Persistence of Misaligned Principles
Luke 16:10-15 A persistent attitude
=> 750 years later, not much change: Jesus taught about the prodigal son (the measure of grace from the Father) and contrasted that with the shrewd servant (the measure of money for personal gain)

  • v10 small choices are indicators of big choices
  • v11/12 notice: true riches are NOT financial!
  • v13 devotion in service is the emphasis; 2 masters can receive crummy service, but that’s not right
  • v15a outside life vs. inside; SHOULD match, but don’t always
  • v15b When our value system doesn’t match God’s, we can either change ours… or SINK

Is this a current problem? In a greater context, YES. How can we, as a local expression, live and move and have our being without using the world’s standard measure of success?

Voluntarily share and show your standard; if the shipbuilders of the Vasa had simply compared their tools from the port and the starboard sides of the ship, they would have avoided disaster. Let’s show each other (and the watching world) that our voyage of faith can go the distance… IF our standards match the Master’s.

Where The Roses Never Fade – Marion Laib funeral sermon

For those of you who don’t live in Warden, our church’s choir director and organist, Marion Laib, passed away last week, and today was her funeral.

Writing her funeral sermon was one of the more challenging tasks I’ve done in pastoral ministry; Jami reminded me that from here on out, it will only get tougher because I love these people so much.

I’m posting this sermon/meditation because some might have missed being able to attend… or some might want to read it… or some musicians might appreciate the merger of hymn and remembrance. At any rate, here’s Marion’s funeral meditation: Where The Roses Never Fade.

One of the greatest honors I have as a pastor is to remind people just how close Jesus is at times of crisis. As we move through this life, we experience heartaches and struggle, frustrations and pain; this is a part of the human condition. And in the midst of it all, God is present. We may not always see Him at work, focused as we often become on our own matters and concerns. Yet, God is right there, right beside us, as close as our own heartbeat, steadily calling for us to hear His whispered voice. This is the promise of faith – that we are never left alone; that we can always hear the call of God.

Many of us hear that call from the Lord through the means of music. It has been shown that music lights up our minds, causes us to be more alive, more aware of the nature of reality than when we ignore melody and harmony. Marion was one of these souls for whom music spoke in a powerful way; and she shared what she learned with others. She had a special fondness for the hymn “Where The Roses Never Fade”. Marion’s life reflected the values in this song; it’s no wonder it was so powerful to her.

Marion Laib merged her life and her faith. She had set her heart on receiving the promise of God, that she would be “going to a city Where the streets with gold are laid; Where the tree of life is blooming And the roses never fade.” She lived her life in such a way that her eventual destination shaped how she lived day to day. The music with which she filled her life also impacted the lives of many others; she played the organ and directed the choir in this congregation for many years. She poured music into the lives of children (and adults who sometimes acted like children) and they were made better for it.

Let us face an unpleasant truth: this world, and the things in it, wind down. Nothing on this physical realm lasts forever; we understand that there is a season to every activity under heaven. The Bible reminds us that there is a time to live, and a time to die; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. All we need do is look around and we can see the truth of this: the flowers that bloomed so beautifully last week are already fading, and yet farmers are out in their fields, planting and preparing for the harvest. Marion’s hymn reminds us that what we value so much in this life “blooms but for a season, and Soon their beauty is decayed; I am going to a city Where the roses never fade.”

What a stunning promise of faith: that we will leave behind the old, and inherit the new. We will leave behind the decay, and enter into the realm where Death itself is no more. We will be free: from the difficulties of sin, from the injustices that are often experienced, from the fear of the unknown. For those who have trusted God, as Marion had, will move from death to life, from woe to wonder. We understand now that “In this world we have our troubles, and Satan’s snares we must evade” as the hymn says. That requires a recognition that we aren’t guaranteed a perfect life down here; we all just do the best we can with what we experience. But as we lean on Jesus, and step into His wonderful embrace, “We’ll be free from all temptations Where the roses never fade.”

If Marion could speak to you right now, I’m sure she’d tell you how wonderful Heaven is. She might describe what it looks like to her; the Bible uses terms like “streets of gold” or “jeweled foundations” or “gates of pearl”. But the point of Heaven isn’t eternal fancy accommodations, or how amazing everything looks. The point of Heaven, indeed the point of all of existence… is Jesus. The reason we rejoice when one of our loved ones steps into eternity is because they get to finally see Jesus face to face. They receive the promise that they’ve hoped for all their life long. This is true for Marion: she no longer has faith; she no longer has doubts or concerns. The Bible says that she no longer peers through a dim glass, but instead sees the Lord face to face; now she knows, even as she is fully known.

And this promise is extended to all who will trust Christ for their salvation. The last line of the hymn reminds us that “Loved ones gone to be with Jesus, In their robes of white arrayed, Now are waiting for my coming Where the roses never fade.”

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses [like Marion, and Royal and Elsa, and Pastor Lindsay, and so many others], let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”


Pastor Ed Backell

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