As we continue our walk through Mark this week, we take a second look at the story of the young rich man who asked Jesus, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" After Jesus told him to sell all he had, the rich man went away full of sorrow. The disciples were shocked at Jesus' answer, so they continued asking Jesus "how then is it possible?" They were about to experience firsthand the double edged sword, the Word of God (who is Jesus) as it cut right to the bone. Jesus answers "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle". Totally perplexed, the disciples ask, "Then who can be saved?" The Sword cuts again and answers ""For man it is impossible". Come join us this weekend and hear the good news that the Double Edged Sword provides to you and to me. (Hint: it is the answer to every question in Confirmation class).
ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin Text: Mark 10:17-27 A rich man approaches Jesus, asking “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” As the conversation unfolds, Jesus says something that is, frankly, rather scary: “sell all you have and give to the poor.” The man is shocked. The disciples are shocked. And he goes away, sorrowful. He’s not going to sell his possessions. Not today, anyway. But hidden within this story are two words in verse 21 that say it all: “And Jesus, looking at him, loved him.” What appeared to be harsh words of judgment to those watching were instead tender words of genuine love and concern. Jesus saw the man’s heart; He knew the false god the man worshiped. His instructions were for the man’s good, both in his earthly life, and in eternity. What instructions does God have for you, and for me? What is clouding the eyes of our hearts toward the true treasure of Jesus Christ? Thanks be to God, who gives us the Holy Spirit to see what we cannot see on our own – the King of the Universe, who willingly gave up everything He had and died as a poor, homeless criminal, in order to give us the greatest treasure we could ever receive.
Adam, created by God, was placed in the garden of paradise. He had a relationship with God, but the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone.” Adam was in paradise but in a “not good” condition. Even in paradise loneliness was terrible. In response to this loneliness, God created a woman. When Adam saw the woman, he responded, “At last.” Our lives are not meant to be accomplished alone. We face life with brothers and sisters, parents, children, and friends of our heart. Our holiness in God’s paradise is found in our relationship with God and with our relationship with the other, the stranger that becomes known. Our Christian hope for the kingdom of God is found in the promise that we have not been abandoned to loneliness by God. God saw Adam alone. God sees each one of us in our loneliness. Through God’s blessings the people who are married or single can find deeply fulfilling loving relationships with Jesus. We do not idolize marriage as the only means of hope for fulfillment in this present age. Christian hope always rests on the promises of Jesus. How do the promises of Jesus become revealed in marriage? How do the promises of Jesus become revealed in singleness? God provides us with relationships that give us opportunities for sacrificial service and spiritual friendship.
Jesus challenged his followers to not be the cause of trouble that keeps a person from knowing Jesus. He said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he was thrown into the sea.” How does someone cause another person to stumble? Paul has concern in 1 Corinthians 8 for how our actions can become obstacles that get in the way of people seeing Jesus. Generally the worry is about old traditions that are not aligned with the kingdom of God that arrives with Jesus. Let’s take a hard look at our treatment of people who believe in Jesus. Are we prepared to help people to see Jesus or do we get in the way of people seeing Jesus? I want to be a part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Class rankings, team rankings, salary schedules, playoff positions, and so many other ways are marked by how we compare to other people. We love winning. We love recognition. Are we prepared to lose and drop down the rankings? There is shame, despair, and hopelessness when the win-lose record is going in the wrong direction. What happens when we no longer are the best and no longer out rank everyone? Jesus promises that he will welcome the low-ranking child. Jesus promises that he will welcome you. Jesus does not receive you because you are the brightest and best. Mercy is what Jesus does.
ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Steve Woodfin Text: James 3:1-12 Most of us have probably heard these words from a parent or teacher: “think before you speak!” And there is great Biblical wisdom in that command. Consider Proverbs 13:3: “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly comes to ruin.” Isaiah wrote of it. Solomon and the Apostle Paul as well. And in this passage from James chapter 3, God makes it abundantly clear. Our tongues are small, but extremely powerful. They are uncontrollably dangerous. And they are astoundingly inconsistent. So what’s a follower of Jesus to do? What can we do to control this deadly weapon God has given to each one of us? And how in the world does this passage point to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? God’s Word reveals answers to these questions as we, by the Holy Spirit’s leading, seek to live out the words of Solomon in Proverbs 25:11: “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”
ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Text: Isaiah 35:4-7 When people have been caught in the grips of violence and despair, hope for a God-filled future seems like wishful thinking. Yet God invites you to still hold onto this hope. God opens your ears to hear this good news. He loosens your tongue to share this good news. The life-giving work of God is present amidst a barren and dead world through the waters of Baptism. The drought is over. God’s waters are flowing. With the arrival of the good news you no longer need to be afraid. Be strong; God is with you. Fear not; God is at work in this world.
ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: Rev. Mike Vieregge Text: Deuteronomy 4:1–2, 6–9; Ephesians 6:10–20; Mark 7:14–23 As we open God's Word, all of our readings this weekend come with an urgent plea from God: Listen and understand what God would have us hear. Why is it so hard for us to listen? We want to be heard, we want our voice to matter, but we fail to hear the eternal voice of our Heavenly Father. And if we do happen to take the time to hear it, then we so often fail to understand what He is saying. Take the time to hear the words of God, and also take more time to inwardly digest them, so that you may understand. We are at war and God gives us His armor to protect us. We need not do anything but listen, understand and believe. The battle is His and He has already declared victory. "Hear me, all of you, and understand!"
ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: The Rev. Steve Woodfin Text: Colossians 1:17 As Our Shepherd Lutheran School begins a new year, we look together into this year’s theme verse: Colossians 1:17. In this first section of Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, the apostle makes it clear that Jesus is fully God. From His presence at the Creation, to his headship over His body on earth, the church, Jesus has always been, and will always be, with His children. Most of all, Jesus, in whom “the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” came to “reconcile to Himself all things” through His sacrifice on the cross of Calvary. Because of Christ, we are brought close to God the Father, close to one another, and held firmly together by His love, His grace, and His majesty. Because of Christ, we never dwell alone, but are given to one another for forgiveness, encouragement, and to share His love with one another and the world.
ourshepherd.net Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, School, Childcare in Birmingham, Michigan 48009 Preacher: The Rev. Dr. Evan Gaertner Text: Proverbs 9:1-6 God invites you to live in the feast that He has prepared for you. Leave aside your naivety, and now live and walk in His ways. If we live only in the wisdom of this age, we will be starved for insight in what God has planned for us. St. Paul cautioned the Ephesians, saying, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Jesus is the Word of God that has been made flesh to dwell with us. He fills our empty lives and words with His life and His promises. Do not become partners with empty words that are designed to deceive. Feast on the promises of Jesus, and walk as children of Light.