Sermons by “Rev. John R. Larson”

Weeping and Rejoicing

Before there is rejoicing there is weeping. Repentance comes first. In our lives and in the lives of anyone who needs grace, repentance is first. Repenting – the “I’m sorry”; “I screwed up”; “I was wrong”; “I’m to blame.” It is when we turn from evil and turn to God. It is when we are broken and in pieces. There is rejoicing when one sinner repents. You want to make God happy? Repent. You want to make angels happy? Repent. You want to make your wife or husband, your friend or co-worker happy? Repent. You want to be happy? Repent. We turn from ourselves and we seek the cleansing from God. When we read the word, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them”, we have a sense of peace that we have found the place of safety and life.

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How Far Does Grace Go?

How far does grace go? It comes right to you, right to me, directly from heaven. When we ask God for His forgiveness, when we repent of sin and seek His cleansing, He joyfully gives it and we humbly receive it. It is a gift. When we ask for eternal salvation, a mansion in heaven, we receive the key to open the door because Jesus willingly died for us and rose from death. Our faith begins vertically. From heaven comes our Savior to us, our faith makes those gifts ours. Like I preached on July 21, We beg of God, “Forgive us our sins.”

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Blind Faith

What about living? Before we die and head to glory we have to live with more than we can handle by self. How will you live? Live in faith. Your eyes will look to see your Savior, your Lord and your God. Habakkuk tells we truly live when we live by faith, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

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Man’s Enemy

The passage that I base my message on is I Corinthians 15:25-26, “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” The last enemy is death.  Death was not part of God’s good plan for mankind.  This whole process of dying, getting older, catching some disease, becoming diminished in abilities, physically or mentally, and then to have soul separate from body, was never God’s plan for us.  Paul states, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12) Paul doesn’t look at death as some harmless event.  In this great I Corinthians chapter he says that death has a vicious sting, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.” (I Corinthians 15:56) In Hebrews 2 it says that it is the devil who holds the power of death.  (See Hebrews 2:15)

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To Destroy…To Build and to Plant

God’s purpose in life is to save us, forgive us, give us a new life.  He wants to touch our lips, put new words in our mouth. I liked what Pastor Crabbe said, “Homosexuality doesn’t get me into hell just as heterosexuality doesn’t get me into heaven.  It’s WHO my Savior is that gets me anywhere.” Last week our epistle from Corinthians destroyed and built. Listen to these great words, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (I Corinthians 6:9-11)

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Big and Bigger

To everyone of us who has a problem that is much bigger than us, it is not too big for God.  In fact, nothing is too big for God. There was this guy who had everything going for him. He was a millennial.  Good looking. Rich. Ate at the right places. Hung out with the right people. But he had a big problem – he just couldn’t follow Jesus.  He liked what Jesus did, but Jesus was asking much too much of him. After this encounter Jesus said of this, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, ‘Who then can be saved?’  Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” (Matthew 19:23-26) 

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Forgiveness Is For Giving

Forgiveness is for giving. Even when it is hard. Even when the person who sinned against you doesn’t deserve it, we are told to forgive. Jeff Gibbs, Professor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis writes, “There is an important spiritual distinction between finding it hard (or even for a time, being unable) to forgive and being unwilling to do so. There are times when all the disciple of Jesus can offer is a broken and contrite heart: ‘I know, Lord, what you require of me, I long to do it, but cannot, unless you help me.’” (Concordia Commentary, Matthew 1:1-11:1, Pg. 336)

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Through Him

Where should we start with this thought of living a God-directed balanced life – a life where we don’t forget the important things along the way? First, open our eyes and see how difficult it is to make the right choices in life. Know that the life-long struggle of the one who wrote that note, is also mine and yours. It is like Paul in Romans 7:19, “For what I do in not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” First recognize the reality that life with it tugs on our purpose and priorities and time will always be there.

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Last Things = First Things

All around us we are given notice that there will come a day when the world will end and Christ will return to judge the living and the dead.  There will be signs in nature, “There will be earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”  (Luke 21:11) There will signs about how people act with each other. People will become increasingly selfish, proud, abusive, disobedient, slanderous and the like.  (See II Timothy 3:1-9) And the signs of His return will be seen within the church. There will be false prophets, false teachings, false lives, and within the church the love of many will grow cold.

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Of A Country But Not Of This World

You are not of this world. This world does not direct your life. You have a higher calling; you have a greater purpose. In John’s first letter he contrasts the believer with the one who isn’t, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (I John 2:15-17)

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