Expectations

In business, it is important to underpromise and overdeliver. Sometimes this is referred to as “managing expectations.” It is important to be mindful of expectations in all of our relationships, whether business or personal. Especially in marriage. Unspoken expectations lead to lots of conflict and resentment.

In the Gospel passage today, John the Baptist is in prison for speaking truth to power. John’s role was to prepare the way for the Lord. The Messiah was coming, the time was imminent. John was sure that Jesus was the Messiah, he knew it even while he was still in his mother’s womb, and this truth was confirmed at Jesus’ Baptism. But now John was not so sure. His expectations were not lining up with what he was seeing. Why?

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The Place Where God Dwells

For the sons of Korah, the authors of Psalm 84, there was no better place to be than the Temple. The temple was intended by God to be an earthly representation of God’s heavenly courts. A place where heaven and earth met. Even today, when we worship it gives us a foretaste of heaven. Today, we give God thanks for this house of worship as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the consecration of this building. Since that day there have been approximately 520 Sundays and probably at least 2000 opportunities for corporate worship! At the same time, we remember that the church is not a building, it is people!

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Wake Up!

Your car may not have an autopilot mode, but I bet you have had the experience of intending to go to a particular destination, getting lost in a conversation, and taking wrong turns because of it! Similarly, sometimes we move through life as if we have an autopilot for our lives. We can pick up sin in our lives without even realizing it. This is what happens when we are in autopilot mode. It is as if we are sleeping. We move passively through life, uncritically accepting patterns of speech, behaviors, and concepts from our culture. In Romans 13:11 Saint Paul tells us that it is time to wake up!

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Count Your Blessings

Our contemporary celebration of Thanksgiving arises from a European tradition with deep Christian roots, recognizing the blessings and provision of Almighty God either at harvest time or after deliverance from significant trouble. And yet, we forget this sometimes. We forget that God is the one who provides, and we take that burden upon ourselves. We strive after the things of this world, searching for happiness, searching for meaning, searching for peace. Jesus’ words remind us to set our anxieties aside. He tells us that when we focus on the things of this world, we will find anxiety. But, when we focus on God and his Kingdom instead, everything else falls into its own right place.

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The Crucified King

As Americans, we don’t have much of an appreciation for the role of a King. In fact, you might say that the roots of our nations are decidedly anti-king. Our constitution was set up with a system of checks and balances to make sure that no one person could hold all the power at one time. We have a right to be afraid of earthly kings, but Jesus is a king that will never fail us. His rule is just and perfect, he always has our best interests and the best interests of his kingdom in mind. And one day he will make right all that is broken in this world.

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Letting Go of our Creations

Once when my son was about three years old he had spent about an hour building an incredible duplo block creation. His little sister crawled over and began to pull at his buildings. He exploded with anger and frustration. When I mentioned that it was time for lunch and therefore clean up time which meant taking his building down and putting it away he was beside himself with anger and rage. I sat on the floor with my son trying to help him understand that God desires for us to give ourselves to work and creativity, and to also let go of that which we create. It is so tempting in this life to cling to physical things we can see, touch, and experience. God longs to give us a godly perspective of our life. If we come to him we will have right thinking in regards to the way we invest ourselves.

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In My Flesh I Shall See God

There is meaning in our suffering. When we suffer and continue to trust God, it gives us an opportunity to rely on God for the strength to make it through. It gives us an opportunity to identify with the suffering of Christ himself. There is work yet to do. There are people who rely on you, but even more important than that, you are the image of God in this world. There are people whom God has uniquely positioned you to reach, both by your words and examples. There are people who may not make it safely home to God without your influence in their lives. Remember, “he is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (luke 20:38). He wants us to live for him now, and we all look forward to seeing God, in our flesh, face to face.

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Saints Today with Hope for Tomorrow

If you golf, you may have golf heroes. Woodworkers have woodworking heroes. Cooks have cooking heroes. As Christians, we have Christian heroes that we call “saints.” The point is not that Saints are so much holier than us and therefore must be much closer to God. All Saints were also sinners. Not perfect. The point is that they give us real, concrete examples of what it looks like to live out the Christian faith.

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What Do You Do With Seed?

There are three things you can do with seed: consume it, store it, or sow it. Similarly, there are three things that we can do with money: spend it, save it, or give it. We need to do all three of these. We spend regularly on our needs and our wants. This is the easiest of the three. We save for big purchases and for rainy days, this one is a little harder. Finally, we can give, or as Paul puts it, “sow” our money. When we ‘sow’ our money, we invest it in productive work for the sake of others. This is, perhaps, the best use and yet it can be the hardest one to convince ourselves to do. In this sermon, we will look at some of the reasons why God calls us to be generous givers.

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Prove It

Where we place our earthly treasure reveals something about what we value in our hearts. How we handle our money has a remarkably formative effect on our hearts, much more powerful than anything we say. For good or for ill. Think for a moment about your annual expenses. Where does your money go? What does it say about what you value? It is easy to make an idol out of money, or out of the things money can buy. Jesus provides us with a different way. Instead of seeking after more and more, Jesus seeks to give more and more.

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