Sermons

Called to a Permanent Home - June 17, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

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Called to a Permanent Home: If you were designing your dream home – the place where you’d live for the rest of your life – what would you include? Would it be a huge mansion – complete with tennis courts and a pool? Would it be a pent house suite at the top of a building in the center of a booming metropolis? A perfectly landscaped suburban neighborhood? A quiet, rustic cabin buried deep in the woods? I’m sure each one of us would come up with something a little different, reflecting different personalities and different interests. But I’m also reasonably confident that no one would design their dream home as a tent. 



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We Don't Give Up - June 10, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

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If you have ever read any books or seen any television programs about the elite military warriors who make up what are called the Navy SEALs, then you have probably heard of Hell Week. If you haven’t heard of Hell Week before, I can give you a brief description of what I know. Hell Week is just one part of the qualification process, and by all accounts, it is one of the most difficult stages, designed to test the physical and mental toughness of the candidates. This testing is constant, as Hell Week consists of 5 ½ days of continuous training: for more than 20 hours of each day teams of four or five men swim for miles in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, or paddle inflatable boats into the rough surf, hoist logs above their heads and carry them around, and run more than 200 miles total, most of the time soaking wet and covered in sand. They do get plenty of food to eat, but you can read stories of guys who literally fall asleep in their food, since they are only allowed to sleep four hours—not four hours a day, but four hours for the entire week. By the end of Hell Week, on average, 75% of the candidates will walk, stumble or crawl over to the bell that follows them everywhere. Ringing the bell is their way of letting their instructors know that they give up. Their Hell week is over, but so is their dream of becoming a SEAL. What about the 25% that make it all the way through? This is from the Navy SEAL website. ”It is often the greatest achievement of their lives, and with it comes the realization that they can do 20X more than they ever thought possible. It is a defining moment that they reach back to when in combat. They know that they will never, ever quit, or let a teammate down.”



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Paul Speaks For Us All - June 3, 2018

Pastor Leyrer

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:5-12

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Dear Friends in Christ, if you’ve ever been put in the position of having to defend your words or actions because of people who have either misunderstood or purposely misconstrued them, then you know what the Apostle Paul was going through when he wrote 2 Corinthians. Let’s set the stage: By his own definition in our lesson for today (and elsewhere), the Apostle Paul was first and foremost a “servant of Christ.” Jesus Christ himself commissioned Paul as a missionary to the Gentile (that is, non-Jewish) world. In the process he made four extensive missionary journeys. The Lord used his work, and Christian congregations sprung up throughout Asia and Europe. Anyone with even the slightest familiarity with the divinely inspired letters Paul wrote in the New Testament will quickly determine that he loved both his Lord and the work he was called to do. Paul’s letters are punctuated with expressions of praise, and the ministry is always held up as being a high privilege.



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An Impossible Change - May 27, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

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 shrieks, 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 on the floor. The stunned silence was filled with quiet laughter and applause, and then people returned to their dinners and work. During that brief moment of silence, however, 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. 



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The Holy Spirit's Vital Work - May 20, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyer

Text: John 14:25-27

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Dear Friends in Christ, in a typical conversation between people meeting for the first time, it usually doesn’t take long for one or the other to ask the question: What do you do? Or, what line of work are you in? It’s not as if we are being introduced to the Holy Spirit for the first time today, but it’s probably fair to say that of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he is the one we spend the least time considering. 



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Jesus Prays For You - May 13, 2018

Pastor  Eric Schroeder

Text: John 17:11b-19

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“I’ll pray for you.” Depending on what you have been through in your life, perhaps you have had friends or family members speak those words at various times: when you have been sick or injured, when you have been grieving, when you have been making a difficult decision. I’ve been blessed to hear those words on a number of occasions, and I am always thankful for the encouragement that comes along with the words, “I’ll pray for you.” I’ve also been in a number of situations where I’ve had the opportunity to speak those words to other people, and I hope it brought them the same encouragement. 



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That Which Makes Us Distinct - May 6, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: John 15:9-17

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Dear Friends in Christ, last Saturday was confirmation day here at St. John’s. After publicly professing their faith and knowledge through an examination service two days before that, twelve young people from our congregation took their personal vows of faithfulness to their Lord. Many of them will be taking communion for the first time today, either with their families, or as a group in today’s 10:30 am service. If you were present for that confirmation service, you knew who the confirmands were, even if you didn’t know them by name. They were easy to recognize because of the white robes they wore.



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Because of Jesus . . . - April 28, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Hebrews 10, 19-25

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Why are we here? I suppose that depends on whether you are wearing a white robe and a flower today or not. Some of us are here to make some very serious promises. Others of us are here to celebrate that big moment in a young person’s life. Still others of us might be here because we were told in no uncertain terms that we had to be here, and we had to dress up a little bit and look presentable. For some reason or another, we are here for a confirmation service. 12 young men and women will express their faith, share their intentions to grow in their faith, and ask for God’s help to hold onto their faith until they die or Jesus comes back, whichever comes first. In summary, today is all about faith, and the faith of these 12 young people is all about Jesus. You know what that means? We are all here for one reason. We are all here because of Jesus. 



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God's Purpose For You - April 29, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: John 15:1-8 

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God’s Purpose For You:  The little gadgets are everywhere. They connect to wall outlets, they connect to computers, they even connect to portable batteries. Almost all homes have at least one, most homes have more than one, and I’d bet a dozen isn’t unusual at all. Your cell phone, a tablet, a laptop computer, a smart watch, a hand-held video game device, most newer power tools, even many newer pieces of yard equipment, the list goes on and on – how many plug-in chargers are in your home? The number is mind-boggling if you stop and think about it. I easily found a dozen myself, and I doubt that’s a complete list. I suspect many of would have much higher numbers than that! 



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Our Good Shepherd Speaks - April 22, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: John 10:11-18

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Psht . . . psht . . . That sound doesn’t mean much to anyone here. Perhaps it sounds strange, or unpleasant, or harsh, or slightly annoying to your ears, and I don’t expect you to know what it means. But it means a great deal to my dog—especially in busy places like the dog park. He can be running around sniffing and exploring with people shouting and dogs barking all around, but all it takes is one “psht” and he whips his head around and usually comes running. At home, one “psht” can just about wake him up out of a dead sleep, because to him, it means that he might get to eat or go outside or go for a walk. To everyone else, “psht” is a strange sound, but to my dog, it is a voice that he knows better than any other.



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