Sermons

Category: Advent

Letters to the Seven Churches: Laodicea

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Fourth Sunday in Advent - Sunday December 20, 2020

Text: Revelation 3:14-22

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We all know someone who likes to drink coffee. It is the third-most consumed drink in America, after water and carbonated soft drinks. So whether you drink coffee yourself or not, I’m sure you are all well aware that there are two main ways that coffee is served. The vast majority is brewed steaming hot, quite often hotter than you’d want to drink right away, but you can also order iced coffee. Same ingredients, just ground up coffee beans and water—along with whatever flavors or sweeteners you’d like added in. But you either get it hot or cold. What you don’t typically see is the option to order lukewarm coffee, and there’s a scientific reason for that: it has to do with how your taste buds work. You see, at either end of the temperature spectrum, the taste buds on your tongue that detect bitter (and often unpleasant) flavors don’t work as well. But when you eat or drink something right around room temperature, those same taste buds kick in, and coffee doesn’t end up tasting as good, whether it’s hot coffee that has cooled down or iced coffee that has warmed up. It’s not just coffee, either. It’s the same reason that cold drinks are served over ice—so they stay cold and taste better longer. You get the picture.



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Letters to the Seven Churches: Philadelphia

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Midweek Advent 3 - Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Text: Revelation 3:7-13

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Dear Friends in Christ, If you did a little detective work, you would discover that somewhere you can find a Christian church today of one denomination or another named after every one of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. That’s actually a bit surprising because, as we’ve learned through our examination of each of them in this sermon series, in some of his letters Jesus is pretty critical of what’s going on in a particular congregation and issues very strong warnings. We might think a church today may not want to be identified with a church that is mostly exposed for its flaws.



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Seven Letters to the Seven Churches: Sardis

Pastor Kyle Bitter - The Third Sunday in Advent - Sunday, December 13, 2020

Text: Revelation 3:1-6

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What you wear on the outside sometimes covers up what’s on the inside. I saw that truth illustrated in a humorous way a couple of years ago when I was coming back from a wilderness camping trip with my brother and some friends. What you wear on the outside sometimes covers up what’s on the inside. We were really close to being back to our vehicles, and we crossed paths with a young couple who were on their way in. It was their honeymoon, they said, and they seemed really excited. And had they ever dressed for the part! The latest in brand new, light weight, camping friendly clothing. Shiny new equipment. Not a speck of dirt or mud, and a big fluffy white dog following closely behind. It looked like a photo-op for an outdoors magazine…but one didn’t have to watch them tiptoe around the puddles for long to start wondering if they were as ready on the inside as they appeared to be on the outside! As you can probably imagine, wilderness areas of our country are some of the most beautiful places to visit, but they can be harsh. Sometimes it’s cold. Often it’s wet. Usually it’s dirty. Rain was in the forecast on that day, and our group wondered how that young couple’s trip ended up turning out!



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Seven Letters to the Seven Churches: Thyatira

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Midweek Advent 2 - Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Text: Revelation 2:18-29

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Today’s sermon marks the midpoint of our Advent series. The fourth letter of the seven is addressed to the church in the city of Thyatira. We don’t know a whole lot about this city or its inhabitants, but it may sound familiar to a few of us. For bible readers who have traveled with St. Paul on his missionary journeys in the book of Acts, you may remember that when Paul arrived at the Macedonian city of Philippi, he met a woman named Lydia; she was the dealer of purple cloth who happened to be from the city of Thyatira. Other than that, as I said, we don’t hear about this city again until St. John writes to them in Revelation.



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Letters to the Seven Churches: Pergamum

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Advent 2 - Sunday, December 6, 2020

Text: Revelation 2:12-17

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Dear Friends in Christ, Would you agree that because of email and word processing and text messages and all the various forms of social media available to us today, letter writing has pretty much become a lost art? Around this time of the year, we may receive some Christmas form letters with an additional hand-written line or two, but the days of regularly corresponding with one another through long, hand-written, multi-page, newsy letters are about over – at least for most of us.



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Letters to the Seven Churches: Smyrna

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Midweek Advent 1 - Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Text: Revelation: 2:8-11

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The year was about 95 AD. The small group of Christians in the city of Smyrna, located in modern day Turkey, were feeling besieged on every side. The roots of their struggle go back a couple of decades to a time when the Roman emperors started claiming to be gods as a way of solidifying their power. They then expected their subjects to honor them as gods. From a human perspective, they weren’t asking anything too huge. A pinch of incense burned before a statue of the emperor, an occasional sacrifice offered at his altar, or some other simple demonstration of commitment to the state and the emperor is what was expected. But Christians were unable to participate in such worship acts in good conscience, so they walked past the statues and didn’t visit the altars. And maybe it could have just stayed like that. Quiet religious objection, but not making much fuss, were it not for their enemies. This group of enemies seems to trace their background into Judaism. These were people who had wanted nothing to do with Jesus, and they also wanted nothing to do with his followers, and they saw in this an opportunity to get the Christians in trouble with the Roman authorities. Rumors started to circulate. The Christians were religious objectors (true) and because of that, they were trying to undermine the emperor’s authority and the whole empire itself! Such slander had about the effect one might expect as Christian beliefs foreign to the Romans were dragged out into the public sphere and grossly misinterpreted. Damage had been done to their status in society, to their income, and even at times to their physical health and well-being! What were they supposed to do?



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Letters to the Seven Churches: Ephesus

Pastor Eric Schroeder - The First Sunday in Advent - Sunday, November 29, 2020

Text: Revelation 2:1-7

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Please permit some words of introduction before we begin our sermon series. The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St. John, or simply Revelation, can be an intimidating book. It is filled with symbolic language, some of which can seem awfully disturbing. But anytime we approach these words of God, we want to remember a couple of things:



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A Quiet Faith

Pastor Eric Schroeder - Advent 4 - Sunday, December 22, 2019

Text: Matthew 1:18-26

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Christmas wouldn’t be the same without the songs…Silent Night…Away in a Manger…Joy to the Word… For many of us, these traditional hymns are what we expect at Christmastime, and if we don’t get the chance to sing them, we might feel like something is missing from Christmas. Songs surrounded the first Christmas, too. The song of Mary might be fresh on our minds, since we sung it during our midweek services this Advent. When John the Baptist was born, his father Zechariah broke out in a song, too. On Christmas night the angels lit up the sky in the fields outside Bethlehem, where they announced the birth of Christ and then broke out in the song that taught us a little bit of Latin: “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”—Glory to God in the highest.  When baby Jesus is brought to the Temple, we are introduced to a man named Simeon, who gave us a song of his own, now often sung after the Lord's Supper in our services.



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Unexpected Confidence!

Pastor Joel Leyrer - Midweek Advent 3 - Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Text: Job 1:6-22

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Dear Friends in Christ, You’ve heard them before. In some form or fashion you’ve probably asked them yourself. And they are routinely used as the trump card by those who skeptically demand empirical evidence for the existence of a gracious God. We’re talking about what we might collectively call “the questions.” Such as…



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Realistic Expectations

Pastor Kyle Bitter - Advent 3 - Sunday, December 15, 2019

Text: Matthew 11:2-11

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A pastor I know sometimes uses an odd sounding phrase to encourage students who were struggling in various ways. He’d say something along the lines of this: “cheer up, it’s only going to get worse.” Clearly not what a struggling person would usually expect to hear, but his personality and tone was such that you could tell he wasn’t being cynical in any way – he was trying to make you think a little. “Cheer up, it’s only going to get worse.” You can find some practical wisdom there. Each phase of life comes with its own unique challenges and blessings. The life of a middle school or high school student is quite a bit more complicated than that of a kindergartener. The responsibilities and challenges of being a working adult or a parent or an elderly person are even greater. So, don’t be shocked when hard things happen – every stage of life has its own challenges when you’re living in a sinful world! Don’t be surprised when you find that to be true! Having struggles in life doesn’t mean you’re weird. It doesn’t mean God is against you. It just means the world isn’t going to be perfect. “Cheer up, it’s only going to get worse.” Perhaps more than anything else, this phrase was wise council to enjoy the blessings God gives you in life right now, even amidst the challenges, and have Realistic  Expectations about what is to come.



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