Sermons by “Rev. John R. Larson”

The Most Important Verse in the Bible?

Everything that we are is to love God. He is first. He is most important. Nothing in all of our life should be more important than God. We are to have a passion for God. Our desire is to please Him, to do His will. Our passion for Him includes our intellect, our mind, our will, our personality – everything that makes us a person.

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The End of Tears

“Are they ok?” That is what we want to know when people have gone through the hard moments in life. Are they ok? Someone gets a sudden illness and their life is now changed. Are they ok? Someone has an accident and life in now different. Are they ok? Relationships among family change – a divorce has happened or a separation has occurred. Are they ok?

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Jesus, Jesus, Only Jesus

But the gospel is not just the news of a martyr, one who dies for a cause, it is the news of a Savior. Gospel is no gospel if Jesus isn’t living right now. If there was no resurrection on Easter Sunday we have no message, no hope – we’d just be a bunch of “do-gooders” living a religious fantasy. But the gospel is that Jesus died to remove the curse of our sin and that He rose and brought us everlasting life. Romans 10, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Verse 9)

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A Good Return

The reason for the gifts?  It must come out of response to everything that God has done for us.  When Paul is telling the Corinthians to “excel in this grace of giving” he says that the motive is the work of Jesus.  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”  (II Corinthians 8:9) The word from Psalm 116 connects a giving heart from us to a giving heart from God. “How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (Psalm 116:12-14)

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Duty

I know that duty isn’t one of those great words – we would rather have words that choice and decisions and doing something for a much higher purpose, but duty is actually a great word. William Willimon has this great word about duty, “Have you ever been truly in love with someone? If you have, you’ll know what I’m talking about… Have you ever been so in love that you find yourself doing all sorts of things, many things you would have never done on your own, things that really bring you very little enjoyment in themselves, all because they reflect the wishes of the one whom you love? Someone once changed your diapers out of nothing more than love. Being a disciple is much like being in love.” (Pulpit Resource, October 4, 1998, Page 5)

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Force Against Force

It was force against force.  It was not an easy, or short, battle.  It had been planned by God the Father since the curse of sin came. In April of the year 30 the battle between the devil and Jesus happened.  The Garden where sweat became blood, the cross where the victory cry, “It is Finished “ was hollered, the resurrection from death on Easter was the day when the devil was cast out of heaven. In April of the year 30, Michael and all the angels were there to witness and to encourage and to participate in this great event.  Jesus fought against the devil and won.

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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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