Sermons by “Rev. John R. Larson”

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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Deeper Faith

Can there be anything better than deep faith? God takes you from where you are, to a true desire to be better in life, seeking Him with your whole heart. And, then in Jesus, you live in the deep faith that sins are forgiven, completely, and that you will live in heaven’s pleasure forever. Jesus lives and so do you. Jesus lives and so will you.

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For Such A Time As This

Look at all the stuff that you and I and so many in the world are facing right now – medical concerns that are leaving us frightened; economic realities that are long in complexity; spiritual assaults that include depression, apprehension and fear; a time of isolation and loneliness that causes heartache. One thing is layered upon another and it is more than we can handle. We have gotten tired of this, already. We are only two months, or so, into this, and just about everyone I talk to says, “I’m ready to return to normal.” But it seems that there are no quick fixes to this. I believe this is more than we can handle. On this day, Mother’s Day, I have chosen the text from the Book of Esther. I chose this because it is an account of a people- the Jews – and a person – Esther – who were given much more than they could handle.

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Belonging To Another

  In the spiritual sense your life and your soul are in a battle between God and Satan.  Satan would love to destroy, hurt and maim you.  He desires everything that is awful and terrible in your life.  Joy?  No, he’ll take it away.  Peace?  No, everything becomes chaos.  Freedom?  No, you’ll be controlled by your very weaknesses.  But you have one who desires your good.  Your Shepherd.  Jesus.  In John 10 the battle is spoken of like this, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.” (Verse 10)  It says that this Shepherd “lays down his life for the sheep.”

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Uncertainty

In this time when nothing seems certain there is something certain.  Jesus still makes our heart alive by His Word.  Read it.  Treasure it.  Let it sit in your belly and guide your feet.  And it is certain that whenever we will eat the Supper of the Lord again our eyes will be opened and we will see Jesus.

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The Bummer Lamb

That is what Jesus does.  To all Bummer Lambs He comes and seeks and finds.  Some folks have been beat up by life; it has not treated them well.  Some have chosen to run from the Shepherd; to live in unbelief or rebellion and sin.  But the account of the resurrection of Jesus tells us that the resurrected Christ looks for the bummer lambs.  He seeks us.  He looks for us.  He wants us to know peace.

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Where, O Death Is Your Victory?

This is Easter and there was no victory for the devil and death on Easter.  Jesus rose.  He was the victor.  He won.  The pale horse of death was sent on its way.

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The Fulfilled Word

We are caught in the paradoxical tension of the now and the now yet, of being sinners in ourselves and yet fully perfected saints in Christ. Simul justus et peccator goes the familiar Lutheran formula. There is a tension, and also a daily repentance. A daily dying to the old self in Adam, and a daily rising to new self in Christ.

 

“It is finished.” Jesus says it over you in the death of your Baptism, where you died to sin to arise to life in Jesus. “It is finished.” He says it to you again, the words of absolution that recall you to that Baptism and cover you anew. “It is finished.” He says it to you with His body and blood, confirming once again His completed work of your salvation.

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The Remembering Word

In washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus gives them a pattern for service—“that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:15). This is what it means to live under Him in His kingdom and to serve Him. This King bows before His subjects and washes their feet. So also you with your fellow servants. “A servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:16). What would Jesus do? He would wash feet.

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The Long Road

But we’re not on this long road alone!!  Jesus, the Lord, walks with us.  Philippians 2, one of the earliest creeds of the church, speaks about Jesus living in humility, sacrifice and exaltation.  We’re on this long road and we need this Lord to walk with us. 

            Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:5-11)   

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