Sermons

Category: Pastor Bitter

Against All Expectations

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The First Sunday in Advent - Sunday, November 28, 2021

Text: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

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Sometimes events happen that make it hard to be thankful for the present and very difficult to be optimistic about the future. Even though it was Thanksgiving, this might have been a week like that. We saw reports of increased concerns about COVID, continuing supply chain issues, rising fuel prices, and all topped off by senseless violence in a community just down the road. Sometimes what you see going on around you not only makes it hard to be thankful right now, it also makes it hard to look toward the future with an expectation for anything but more of the same – and worse! Now, as Christians, none of this should be surprising, even though we wish it were different. The Bible reminds us that we live in a world that has been cursed with sin and the consequences it brings. That means we really can’t be surprised when we are disappointed in society. Sin means we shouldn’t be shocked when people disappoint us, even family members or friends we care about very much. And then there’s our own personal struggles and sins that we desperately try to prevent other people from finding out about! With so much brokenness and sinfulness surrounding us, it’s hard to be optimistic for the future! The temptation comes to fall into a state of despair, or to direct anger and frustration at God for the way he allows the world to run!



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A Life Lived Shrewdly

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Last Judgment Sunday - Sunday, November 7, 2021

Text: Luke 16:1-15

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If you’ve been paying attention to current events, you’ve probably seen reports on the large numbers of Americans who have been changing jobs in the last year or so. Maybe some of you are among them. Pundits offer different reasons why this trend is happening. Some point to things on the job: working conditions, wages, and benefits. Others point to factors outside the workplace like childcare, family situations, and health concerns. A couple weeks ago, I read an article that proposed another idea that was kind of thought provoking. This author theorized that for many people, their career was the primary source of meaning and fulfillment in their lives. When the events of the last couple of years changed everyone’s relationship with work, many were left feeling empty and discouraged and looking for something new. What’s the real reason? I suppose some combination of all three, but for today I’d like to think about that last one a little more. We have a built-in desire to see meaning and significance in our lives. When we get to the end, we’d like to be able to look back at everything that has been accomplished, the time invested, the energy poured out, the money spent, the relationships built, and all the rest of it and conclude – that was worth something. That had meaning and value and significance.



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The Road to Contentment

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, October 17, 2021

Text: 2 Kings 5:14-27

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What would you wish for if you were given three wishes for whatever you want? That’s the premise of a number of movies – most notably Disney’s Aladdin. What would you wish for if granted three wishes for whatever you want? Maybe thinking as a kid you’d want a fun family trip, or that pet you’ve always wanted, or a new toy. Later on in life, maybe your list would include more athletic talent, smoother social skills, or the respect of your peers. Maybe it would be things with a more lasting impact on life. A better salary package. Greater satisfaction and fulfillment from your career. More time with family and friends. Relief from physical or mental health struggles. And of course, no matter what you use the first two wishes on, everyone knows that the third one should be for more wishes so you can keep on going!



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God-Lived Life: A Life of Discipleship

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, October 3, 2021

Text: 1 Peter 1:22-2:3

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What’s your favorite season of the year? We won’t take a show of hands today, but if we did, I would suspect that there’d be at least some hands raised for each of the four options. Summer would probably be a popular option. The weather is usually beautiful, the schedule tends to be a little more flexible across society with schools not in session. Family vacations, trips up north, time with friends – it’s a good time! But, for as much fun as that is, I would also guess there might be some votes for spring. There’s just something beautiful about seeing the world come to life again after winter, getting outdoors again, and enjoying the increase in activity that accompanies warmer weather! It seems likely that the numbers would be the smallest for winter, but even there I think we’d get a few. For many, Christmas and all that surrounds it is a great time of year, and on top of that there’s something incredibly beautiful about a fresh snowfall. And then we come to the season I’d raise my hand for: fall. It’s the best weather of the year in my opinion. The mornings are cool and crisp, but the days are still very warm. The restart of school brings with it all kinds of fun activity across society, and it’s hard to beat the beauty of fall colors! No matter which one you like the best, the variety of the changing of the seasons is one of perks of living in this part of the world!



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Songs of Scripture: Wisdom

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, August 22, 2021

Text: Psalm 1

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A journey starts with just one step. That’s true of just about anything you want to accomplish – starting something new, breaking an old habit – it starts with just one step. If you decide you want to kick your caffeine habit, it starts with the first cup of coffee you pass up. If you decide you want to get into better shape, it starts with that first trip to the gym or that first step out the door. If you want to eat healthier, it starts with that first changed meal. A journey starts with just one step. It sounds kind of simplistic, because one cup of coffee, one workout, one meal – none of these do much in and of themselves. But, if they’re the first steps in a new routine? You might look back in a few weeks or months and be amazed at the progress!



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Songs of Scripture: Trust

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Twelfth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, August 15, 2021

Text: Psalm 34

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Last summer when so much of the world was going crazy in so many ways, I saw an article inviting people to get away. It described a totally self-sufficient property that had been designed for disconnecting from society and all the craziness that was going on at the time. Surprisingly it was all crammed onto a little less than an acre. Some chickens and a few other selected animals for meat, carefully divided up parcels of land for farming different kinds of fruits and vegetables, a modest home with a well for water, solar panels on the roof and couple of wind turbines for electricity. Supposedly it would allow a family of four to live independently, off the grid, separate from the rest of society.  Maybe that kind of lifestyle has some appeal to you, or maybe it seems a bit crazy, but whatever your opinion is, I’m guessing that the idea of independence and having control of your life is something you value. After all, we find ourselves looking for it throughout life. As young adults, we look forward to being independent of parents, teachers, and others in authority and free to make decisions for ourselves. On the other end of life, as senior citizens, we often desire to retain our independence as much as we can! We move into places labeled as “independent living” even as we prepare for the possibility of needing some level of assistance. None of this should be surprising, because the idea of independence and taking care of yourself is built into the fabric of our culture. What’s the real name for the fourth of July? Oh yeah, Independence Day!



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Songs of Scripture: Rest

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Ninth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, July 25, 2021

Text: Psalm 23

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A long time ago, there was a young man who spent years on the run.  The authorities of his homeland were after him.  They were ready even to take his life if needed.  He fled into the wilderness, accompanied by just a few of his closest friends.  He didn’t know where his next meal would come from. He didn’t know if one of his friends would betray him, bought out by the bottomless royal treasury. He slept with a weapon at his side, always wondering if this would be his last night.  One can imagine he didn’t sleep very well. Restless nights, unsure of what the future would hold. 



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Sing Praises to God!

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Fourth Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, June 20, 2021

Text: Psalm 92

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Imagine a worship service...at the temple in the Old Testament. The blasts of the trumpets summon people to worship at 9 in the morning. You gather with others in the temple court. Smoke wafts up from the fire already kindled on the massive altar of burnt offering. Behind the altar, the towering façade of the temple building itself draws your eyes upward. A priest, dressed in ceremonial clothing, ascends the steps of the temple. He proclaims God’s blessing on the people. He reads the familiar words of the ten commandments. Then it’s time for the sacrifice – a gruesome spectacle. The sounds of a lamb being slain. The sight of blood running down the sides of the altar. The stench of burning flesh…but combined with the sweet smell of incense symbolizing the prayers of the people washed in the blood of the sacrifice ascending up to the throne of God. God’s blessing from the priest, the sounding of the trumpets again, and then a choir with a wide variety of instruments singing one or more of the Songs of Scripture from the book of Psalms. And if it happened to be a Sabbath Day, the psalm you might have heard sung could have been Psalm 92. Even though it’s not reprinted in your worship folders, Psalm 92 bears the following heading in the original Hebrew: A psalm. A song. For the Sabbath Day. (Psalm 92 – NIV84). As you read through this song, the psalm writer reminds why we Sing Praises to God both here in church and throughout our lives.



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God Makes the Impossible Possible

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Trinity Sunday - Sunday, May 30, 2021

Text: Isaiah 6:1-8

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It was a quiet evening in the Italian restaurant where I worked during my college and seminary summers. The melodies of Italian opera music drifted through the air; the flavorful aromas of freshly cooked food wafted out from the kitchen. The patrons of the restaurant sat at their tables, talking quietly while the restaurant staff worked in the background. Suddenly, the peaceful atmosphere was pierced by a tremendous crash as a stack of dirty plates, a pile of silverware, and a bunch of wine glasses went crashing onto the stone floor and shattered into millions of pieces. Everyone jumped, there were a few startled gasps, and every head in the room immediately snapped around just in time to see my red-faced and blushing co-worker take a huge, exaggerated bow and then start picking up the pieces of glass that were scattered all over the floor. Stunned silence was gave way to awkward laughter and a little applause, and then people returned to their dinners and conversations. But during that brief moment of silence, there wasn’t a single person in the room who would have wanted to trade places with my co-worker. There was no hiding from his mistake – no disguising his clumsiness. I’m guessing that at one time or another, probably more than once, you’ve experienced something similar. Whether it was a random act of clumsiness in front of a lot of people, being late for class or work and having to walk in in front of everyone, or making a gaffe while giving a speech or presentation, you might try to cover it up by making a joke, but deep down you just want to disappear entirely!



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Truth or Love?

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Sixth Sunday of Easter - Sunday, May 9, 2021

Text: 1 John 4:1-11

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Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it seemed like you were stuck between truth and love and couldn’t possibly fulfill both? An example. Perhaps in the past year someone asked you, “Doesn’t this haircut I gave myself during the lockdown look good?”  And you take a closer look and…it really doesn’t. Do you tell the truth and risk hurt feelings? Or do you hide the truth out of kindness? It might feel like you’re stuck: Truth or Love?  Kind of a silly example. But I think you get the point and in other situations it can be harder – especially when it concerns spiritual matters. What do you do when a family member or friend has become caught up in some kind of ongoing sinful behavior or habit? How do you respond when a classmate or co-worker adamantly insists that some of your religious beliefs are mistaken? You want to speak up for the truth…but you have a feeling the truth is going to be perceived as unloving. What do you do when it seems as though you are being forced to choose: Truth or Love?  The tension that life in a sinful world brings to these two concepts is nothing new. All three of John’s three letters – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John in our Bibles – deal with this very same tension and how both truth and love ought to be applied to a sinful world. Truth or Love? How do you honor both? It’s never been easy.



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