Sermons by “Rev. John R. Larson”

Much With Little

See. We are little. There isn’t much to us. We are just a broken piece of pottery. Common. Lowly. We use the word “Sinner” to sum up how little we are. God uses that word about us, too. But remember – God does much with little. Like Barclay said, “Little is always much in the hands of Christ.” But we are more than just broken pottery – we have a treasure. The treasure – Christ, our greatest treasure. Jesus is our Savior. He died for our sins. He rose for our victory and for our eternity. Jesus changed everything for 5,000 hungry men and some women and children, with the words, “Bring those 5 loaves and two fish to me” – “Bring them here to me.” He is not done doing miracles when we, and others, are brought to Him.

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The Kingdom of Heaven

Do you consider yourself the treasure that the man or merchant in the parables pursues and purchases? You should. You are. That is how God looks at you. But it doesn’t have anything to do with who you are or the wonderful things you have done. It has nothing to do with the sticker on your minivan telling the world what you once were. In God’s eyes you are the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of greatest value. As my friend, Phil Johnson, told me 20 years ago, “God can never love you more and He will never love you less.”

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The Sower

But here is the remarkable thing of the parable – the sower, on purpose, threw his seed in those places. What a foolish farmer, huh? No!! What an inviting farmer! Remember the context. Remember the opposition, the hard hearts, those who had better things to do than follow Jesus. But the farmer – on purpose – threw his seeds hoping for a good result.

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As One

To be “As One” requires the work of many. In the most recent Reporter, the monthly newspaper of the Missouri-Synod, the lead article was about “Racism and the Church – A Time to Listen.” Michael Grannis the pastor of Calvary in Lincoln Park, Michigan, who led his congregation on a protest march, said that they assembled with prayer and a presence of peace. He led the Litany from the hymnal, asking God “To give to all peoples concord and peace; to preserve our land from discord and strife; to give our country Your protection in every time of need; to direct and defend our president and all in authority.” Pastor Grannis said that others, not in their group, came and asked to join them in that prayer. As One they asked God’s hand for the right change in our country. Many can join in a common work, As One, for the good of many.

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Law and Order

But so many folks are not free. So many of us are not free. I’m not talking about the restrictions that we have had since March. I’m talking about the bondage we can have in our souls and minds when we live by the lies that Satan feeds us. Peter writes, “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.” (II Peter 2:19b) Sinful habits, addictions, compulsions, walking down the wrong path are all things that rob us of the freedom that God has designed for His people. This is what Paul says of that control, not from God, but from the devil, in our lives, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21) You and I can be bound by Satan and the deception that he can bring into our lives. Alcohol, drugs, pornography, bitterness have us by the throat.

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The Rest of the Story

After Jesus, in Matthew 10, tells those who were going to be His about the hatred they would experience and the rejection they would face, He goes on to tell them the rest of the story – the account of God’s strength in their life. Jesus says, “So do not be afraid of them.” (Matthew 10:26a) God’s personal care to them, and us, is promised, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

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The Most Glorious Connection

Paul says of this essential connection that we, various parts of the body in the church, have to each other, “There should be no divisions in the body, but that all its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (I Corinthians 12:25-26) In this most glorious connection that we have with one another, together we divide each other’s sorrows and multiply the joy of others.

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Better Than Us

Have you figured that one out yet? Why were you born? Why were you baptized? Why has God allowed you to live on this earth, at this time? Why did God decide to claim you in Holy Baptism to be His own? The three greatest days in your life are the day you were born, the day you were baptized and the day you discovered why you were born and baptized.

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Excited About God

There are times when people get excited momentarily. But their excitement moves to other things. This excitement from God stays with us. Our excitement doesn’t always have to loud or frenzied. But it is grounded on the truth of God, upon His word and promises. Sometimes our excitement comes with humility and reflection and it always comes with courage and power, boldness and strength.

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Enough

I had my first Coronavirus wedding last weekend. Bride and groom, moms and dads for each, best man in charge of the Zoom videotaping, photographer, organist, preacher – 10 – we couldn’t hold one more person. I use this prayer from Louis Evans at the weddings I officiate. Part of it says, “Lord, Give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them humane, enough failure to keep their hands clenched tightly in Yours, and enough success to encourage them in their walk with You.” That’s a great prayer. Enough tears, enough hurts, enough failure. In life those things can be good things. They teach us how much we need our God and how much He needs to do within each of us. A good marriage demands much growth of character.

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