Sermons by “Rev. John R. Larson”

God’s Answers to Life’s Questions

This week, through various orders in our county and state, it was determined that we will not be open for Holy Week nor Easter.  Can you imagine that?  Easter is postponed!!  Mike Zehnder came up with quite a word to me a few days ago.  He said, “Lent is being forced upon the whole world, whether they want it or not.”  He’s right.  Lent, the time for quietness, repentance, change, reflection, thinking of things that truly matter, is being forced upon us.  We aren’t to go anywhere, we are to shelter in place.  This is the time for all to open their life to God.

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The Dying Word

Isn’t that how it is with the life of faith? God seems so distant at times, especially those times of darkness and woe, those dark nights and days, and yet He stands ever near to embrace us in those strong, loving, fatherly arms. Jesus trusted His Father, and He did it on behalf of all of us. His trust is complete and unwavering. Though He dies, yet He trusts. Though He suffers, yet He trusts. Though the Father is silent and hidden, yet He trusts.

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The Compassionate Word

He places us into family, into community. He gives us to one another that we may be sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, for one another. One time, when Mary and Jesus’ family wanted to take Him into protective custody, fearing that He had lost His mind, His disciples told Him, “Your mother and brothers are here for you.” Jesus looked at the people gathered in a circle around Him and said, “Whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50).

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All Alone

Late this week we needed to change the church sign on the corner of our lot to let our community know that temporarily we won’t be having worship and other activities in our building. As the sign was being changed a young couple stopped and told us that they love reading what we had recently put up. In light of not being to get toilet paper anywhere, our sign read, “Toilet Paper in Every Stall; Gospel in Every Sermon.” When someone asked why that went up, I told them, “Ascension is a full-service church.”

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The Ongoing Battle

The battle is in us, around us and below us.  “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” (I Peter 5:8-9a) The devil has all types of names.  Devil = accuser. Satan= adversary. Destroyer. Thief. Prince of darkness. It says of him that “he comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”  (John 10:10) He is not on your side. Revelation says of him, and his ultimate demise, “For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.  They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (Revelation 12:10-11)

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The Promising Word

What sort of Man is this who promises Paradise to a dying thief who admits the guilt of crime? What sort of justice is this that speaks pardon to the unpardonable, that acquits the guilty, that saves those society deems unsalvageable and worthy of the cruelest form of death? This is the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of fallen mankind, the One who reconciles the enemy as enemy and justifies the sinner as sinner. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“Today, you will be with Me in Paradise.” Hear that word of promise for yourself. Hear it now, and at the hour of your death, for none of us knows the day and the hour of our “Today” when Paradise is opened to us in our death.

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Are You Blind?

Are you blind?  Blindness comes not just to the eyes though, it moves to other parts of the body as well.  The heart is blind when it does not believe in or follow Jesus. There is an old Scottish saying that says, “There’s none so blind as those who will not see.”  Maybe that is why Paul would write to the Ephesians with the words, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.”  (1:18) I find it interesting that on the Mount of Transfiguration after the great brilliance of Jesus was revealed, the word from the Heavenly Father was, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him.”  (Matthew 17:5)  Sight is enhanced by what we hear about our Savior and then we follow His voice.

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Grow Up

Growing up means nor being childish and selfish and difficult but being childlike.  In John 3 Jesus would say, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”  (John 3:3)

It is easy to spot someone who is childish.  God has not developed them, they are stuck in infancy.  But the one who is grown up is childlike – born again by God’s Spirit, living in a humble way, attributing every goodness in life to a generous Father.  As Peter writes, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”  (I Peter 2:2-3)

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Something To Say

Here’s what we have to say: “I want others to know this God who can change life.”  I don’t want to be the only one saying how great our God is.  I don’t want you to be the only ones who are just overwhelmed by the hope and joy that Jesus brings to the world.  I want others to know it.  Paul, in the last chapter of Roman’s reveals his goal of life, “It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ is not known.”  (Romans 15:20a)

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