Sermons

There's No Going Back - January 21, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: 1 Kings 19:19-21

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There’s No Going Back  There was a woman living in Nigeria.  She was staying with a sick friend and helping her friend in a time of illness.  But one night, this gracious act of friendship was interrupted when militants attacked the village.  People fled – chaos and pandemonium everywhere!  Most of the people in the house with the two women climbed over the wall in the back to escape, but the woman helping her sick friend was unable to do so because she was pregnant.  She hid in an inner room where she was discovered, brutally attacked and left for dead.  She did recover, but struggles to this day with some of her injuries. Why such brutality? Here are her words: “Christians in Nigeria are passing through persecution. They go and pick weapons and they hunt us in the night…if we agree to [convert] they will let us be, but because they see that we refuse, they keep on hunting us.” (vom.com.au/amina-nigeria/). 



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Called into God's Service - January 14, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Isaiah 49:1-6

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 “I have a special job for you.  I know I could ask any number of people, but if I did, I don’t know if they could handle it.  Actually, I know for a fact that no one else could complete this assignment like you can.  You have what it takes.  You know everything you need to know going in, and you have the gifts, and I am confident that this is a mission that has your name written all over it….” What would you say if someone approached you and began a conversation like that?  Most of us would wonder what this special job is all about—that seems reasonable, right?  Some of us would be instantly suspicious, because no one has ever talked to us that way in our entire lives.  Still others of us might feel so honored by such confidence that we might sign up without knowing what the task actually is. In the end, we could wind up just about anywhere on the spectrum in our response.  I know it can be hard to think about what you would do in a hypothetical situation like that, but I am pretty sure that we would all agree on one thing: perhaps the biggest factor in our immediate response would be whether or not we trust the person who is calling us into his service. 



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Ruth's Epiphany Connection - January 7, 2018

Pastor Joel leyrer

Text: Ruth 4:13-17

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Dear Friends in Christ, today we are observing the festival of Epiphany. The emphasis for this day, and the season of Sundays that follow it, is the fact that Jesus Christ revealed himself (that’s basically what the word “epiphany” means in the original Greek language) as the divine Son of God and Savior by his words and deeds. A further (and natural) emphasis of the Epiphany message is “missional.”  We celebrate that Jesus came to our planet not just to be the Savior of the nation into which he was born, but he came for all people from every nation, language, tribe and tongue. Those twin truths were evident as you listened to the second and third Scripture lessons for today. Writing to the Ephesian Christians Paul focuses his thoughts on Jesus and the Gospel message as a mystery that was not fully known in former, Old Testament times, but now has been fully revealed to us in New Testament times.



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A New Year in Jesus' Name - January 1, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: Exodus 14:13-15

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New Year in Jesus’ Name  In 2018…I’m going to eat better.  In 2018…I’m going to finish the daily bible reading challenge.  I’m going to exercise more.  I’m going to sleep more.  I’m finally going to accomplish those goals at work that have been so long in coming.  I’m going to spend more time with family.  In 2018…  New Year’s resolutions are popular, and New Year’s is a good time to make such resolutions, because a new year, in some ways, offers you a new start.  It kind of feels like the slate is wiped clean and you can start over again, forgetting about the failures and challenges of last year.  But alongside that, it’s easy to have some reservation.  What does 2018 hold?  How will your health concerns play out this year?  What will happen to your child away at college?  What’s going to happen after graduation?  What will the economy and political situation of our country be like?  This year, through the first lesson, as we look into the unknown future, God has a New Year’s resolution for you.  He wants you to approach the New Year with confidence, because you’re entering the New Year in Jesus’ Name.  



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Another Year, Another Chance - December 31, 2017

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Psalm 90:12

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Dear Friends in Christ,  Psalm 90 is the only Psalm we have written by Moses. Because of its tone and sweep scholars generally understand it to come from his later years. It is a reflective psalm that recognizes God’s eternity and man’s frailty. Moses talks about man’s mortality and the brevity of life. He reminds us that the real cause of death is not sickness or violence or “natural causes,” but sin. Man dies because man is sinful. And the wages of sin is death.  But we know death for the believer is but the gate to life (thanks be to Jesus), and within this Psalm are also promises of hope.



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Christmas Presence - December 31, 2017

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Colossians 3:12-17

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Now that the wait for Christmas is over, and the day itself has come and gone, for some ofus it’s already meant time to go back to work. For others of us, it’s almost time to go backto school.  It’s time to get back to life without Christmas all around us. And so, on more than one occasion, you may have already been asked—or you will be asked soon—“How was your Christmas?” We’ll have a number of chances to share and compare our experiences: what we did, where we went, what presents we opened and what presents we gave. Maybe you had a chance to do just that as you talked with friends on the way into church today. 



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What Child is This? - December 25, 2017

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Hebrews 1:1-9

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Dear Friends in Christ, our Newborn King: In 1865 a man by the name of William Chatterton Dix wrote the beloved Christmas hymn, “What Child is This?” It is fair to assume he wasn’t the first to ask the question. That distinction, no doubt, fell to Mary.  Whether verbally or non-verbally, she probably first asked that question the moment the angel Gabriel left her after announcing she would be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. What child is this I am carrying?



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A Mystery Unlocked at Christmas - December 24, 2017

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: Romans 16:25-27

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A Mystery Unlocked at Christmas. I recently had the chance to spend some time with some of my family, and with the larger group, one of the fun activities we did was an “escape room” game.  Maybe you’ve done one of those yourself – they’ve become popular in the last couple of years and there are a number of them in the Milwaukee area.  If you have not, the concept is this.  Your group has to solve a series of riddles and puzzles to get out of a locked room in a hypothetical situation in under an hour – for us the hypothetical situation was an escape from prison.  When the game first starts, you notice there are clues everywhere – codes, riddles, numbers, keys and the like – some more important than others, some you need immediately and some that become important later.  As the game progresses, there’s usually one big clue that falls into place, and then everything starts to go from there, and if you find that big clue soon enough, everything falls into place nicely and the door pops open. 



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While We Wait - December 17, 2017

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: 1 Thesalonians 5:16-24

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For anyone who loves Christmas, this coming week might seem like the longest week of the year.  We’ve been waiting all year long since last the last Christmas season ended, and there are so many signs all around us reminding us that it’s almost here...but it’s not quite Christmas yet.  Just like every child who sees the presents filling up space around the Christmas tree—but can’t open them yet—we have to wait. In a way, the whole life of every Christian is a time of waiting, isn’t it?  Now that we have recently come through the season of End Times in our last church year, and we are almost through another Advent season in this new church year, we have had seven or eight weeks in a row now where we have been reminded that Jesus is coming again.  So we have talked quite a bit about heaven, and how infinitely and eternally glorious it will be.  No more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain… No more sin, no more sadness—every tear will be wiped from our eyes.  The more we hear about eternity with Jesus, the more we long for his return.  But for now…we have to wait. 



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Advent Reminders - December 10, 2017

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: 2 Peter 3:8-14

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Dear Friends in Christ, Maybe it’s parents or siblings or other family members. Maybe it’s a close friend. Maybe it’s a more formalized arrangement, like a mentor or a life coach. But most of us have, or have had, people in our lives to whom we’ve looked for counsel and advice; people whose judgment we trust because of their age or experience or knowledge; people who love us enough to tell us if we’re starting to go down the wrong track and gently remind us to order our lives around truths that we already know. John the Baptist would fit into that category. For obvious reasons he is an annual Advent fixture, and he has already been mentioned numerous times today. His counsel in the Gospel lesson is the equivalent of a yearly spiritual check-up as he reminds us to prepare ourselves mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the arrival of Jesus. He is a wonderful Advent figure and guide, and there is much we can learn from him.



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