Sermons by “Rev. John R. Larson”

Where Does It All Begin?

When I read the accounts in the Bible about hearts that went the wrong way I think of my own. But my thinking can’t end there. Life can’t be simply about where it begins but where it ends. Every day, now and forever we end up in the heart of our Savior, Jesus. We are tethered to Him and He is tethered to us. We trust in Him for everything that we need.

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Body and Soul

Body and Soul. Soul and Body. They go together. God doesn’t take care of the soul only. His redemption is a total package. We confess that in the Creed regularly. We talk about God being our maker and provider. We say that we believe in life everlasting and also the day when our bodies will rise from our graves and body and soul will be united and both made whole.

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Consequences

Jesus addresses the consequences of being one of His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18-20)

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Breaking Point Or Turning Point?

Perhaps it is just as well that Paul never describes what his thorn was because everyone’s thorn is different. The common element is that it destroys one’s focus on the rest of life. Its pain, its anguish, its suffering, its fear, its obsession is so great that work and family, God and life, shrink into the background. Alcoholism can be one’s thorn; drug addiction another’s; cancer can be a thorn and temptation is a thorn; so is mental illness and living with great grief.

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Losing Hope; Retrieving Faith

Jeremiah can say, “Your mercies, Your compassions, are new every morning.” New every morning tells us that God’s mercies are timely. We are battling temptation, indecisive, and in trouble, and His mercies speak the right word at the right time. Have you every looked at what happened to you at the time and said, “That’s just what I needed”? Well, that is what is spoken here. God’s timely word and His mercies are for that moment.

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God’s Foreign Work

The primary work of God is compassion, restoration, wholeness. His secondary work, His foreign work, is for us to know the emptiness of self and our total dependence on Him. His foreign work is “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

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Unprepared

If Jesus has not clothed you then you are unprepared – you are naked. The only one who can cloth you is Jesus. In Him you are clothed in faith, clothed in His love, forgiveness and favor. If you don’t have Jesus, and if Jesus doesn’t have you, your eternity in heaven is uncertain. You are miserably unprepared.

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Just Pious Words?

Pious words? Words that don’t carry much credence? No!! Trust them; trust Him. Trust Him for the daily things because you trust Him for the eternal things. Trust Him for the things of your life and your body because He has taken care of the eternal things and the things of your soul.

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Big Talker

His talk was big. His actions were bigger. We do not have a nameless, faceless, generic God. We have one who came in the flesh, was tortured for our sins and has risen in splendor. In our prayer from Ephesians 3 Paul says, “And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17b-18) Some of the earliest Christian leaders felt that this was the picture of Jesus on the cross. Its saving work reaches to everyone in every situation. The cross reaches out east, west, north and south.

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Somewhere to Go; Something to Do

God loves you deeply, right? He sought you and found you. He put you on His shoulder. He received all your sins. He won all your battles. He loves you. Love, truly love others. Love your parents and grandparents. Love your brothers and sisters. Love your best friend and the person who last week was your best friend and now you’re not speaking to. Do you see? You have so many wonderful things to do. Speak of your Jesus. Love Him. Love others. David concludes the psalm, “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’ As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” (Psalm 40:16-17, ESV)

I give Psalm 40 to you as your psalm. In my Bible I have dedicated that psalm to the 2021 Confirmation Class. Your seven names are in ink next to this psalm. Make it yours. This psalm tells you, “There is somewhere to go; there is something to do.”

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