Sermons

Imitators of God

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Ephesians 4:30-5:2

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Dear Friends in Christ, the divinely inspired letters of the Apostle Paul generally take on a predictable form. The first part is devoted to teaching and developing what God has to say on the eternally important subjects that pertain to our spiritual life (doctrine). The second part of his letters then focus on how Christians live out these teachings in their everyday life (practice). Another way of putting it: In the first part of his letters Paul tells us what God has done for us – that is, who we are as God’s people saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The second part of his letter provides instruction and encouragement on the Christian’s response – that is, what we will increasingly look like and desire to be as God’s people, because we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In other words, the Christian life is not one of forced compulsion. Rather, it is one of grateful response. It is with this in mind that we approach the Word of God we have before us today. 



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Jesus Changes the Pattern - August 5, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bittter

Text: Ephesians 4:17-25

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Jesus Changes the Pattern. Grandfather: Heart disease, Parkinson’s disease. Grandmother: Alzheimer’s. Aunt: Cancer. Father: this set of risk factors. Mother: that set of risk factors. I was recently scheduling my annual physical and it can be kind of sobering to read through the family history that you can see in your medical records and the various ailments that can be passed along from one generation to the next. Maybe some of you find yourselves strangely curious about the medical side of family history. Maybe others of you try your best to avoid thinking about it because you don’t need another thing to stress about. Whatever the case, you know as well as I do why doctors track such things. Patterns of diseases can sometimes run in families, and knowing what your parents and grandparents struggle with can sometimes be helpful in preventing or treating similar issues in your life.



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Unity Without Uniformity - July 29, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16

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What is it that makes a business work? What makes a sports team work? What makes an orchestra work? What makes a car or truck or any machine work? What makes a body work? What makes a church work? If you already looked at the title for the sermon today, you have the answer: Unity Without Uniformity. What exactly does that mean? Well, let’s run through that list of examples again:



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Jesus Tears Down Walls - July 22, 2018

Pastor Kyle Bitter

Text: Ephesians 2:13-22 

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Americans have never been more divided. I’m guessing that if you are keep yourself connected to the news at all, you’ve probably read an article with that title or something similar. Americans have never been more divided. Despite the technology that allows people to remain connected no matter where we go, surveys that have been taken and just the general tone of societal discourse would seem to indicate that people in our country are more divided than ever before – causing many to struggle with loneliness and feelings of isolation. Some even say that the fallout from all this division will be the foundation of the next major social crisis looming on the horizon, and I suppose only time will tell how this challenge plays out in society. Whatever you personally think might be the cause of such a trend, I’m guessing you have experienced it at some point in life. Perhaps you feel separated from other people because your life situation doesn’t allow you much social interaction. Or, perhaps you are surrounded by people much of the time, but you feel isolated from them because none of them seem to understand or care about your perspective on life. Or, perhaps you your background is different and that divides you from many of those whom you interact with and you just don’t feel like you to fit in anywhere. Whatever it might be, and whatever you might be feeling, in today’s second lesson God’s apostle Paul delivers the good news to God’s people of every age. No matter where in life we feel divided and marginalized, no matter in life we feel isolated and lonely, Jesus Tears Down Walls. He tears down the walls that separate people, he tears down the walls that separate people from God, and in their place, he builds his kingdom. 



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The Christian Long View - July 15, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: Ephesians 1:3-14

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Dear Friends in Christ,
If we know it’s more than just a greeting when someone asks us how things are going, our natural response is to reflect our present circumstances.  Our answer will register our feelings at the time; whether we are calm or stressed; happy or sad; emotionally up or emotionally down.  All the while it is understood that the answer we give today may be entirely different than the answer we give tomorrow, or two weeks from now, or next year – or even later in the day.



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Thankful for Thorns - July 8, 2018

Pastor Eric Schroeder

Text: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

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This past week, my older daughter and I noticed that the wild blackberries were ripening. So, we grabbed a couple of plastic containers from the parsonage and worked our way around the church parking lot looking for as many ripe berries as we could reach. By the time we were finished, we ended up with just about a pint of berries, but since I happened to be wearing shorts at the time, if you had looked at me from the knees down, you might have guessed that I had been in a fight with a cat . . . because as we all ought to know by now, blackberry bushes have thorns—lots of thorns. And I can’t say that I was thankful at the time. Today, we have the opportunity to consider thorns from a biblical perspective. Not just words on a page, though; it’s a very personal perspective, as St. Paul opens up to the Corinthians, and to us, about something difficult that he was going through in his life. Let’s read the opening verse again: To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. On the one hand, we might wish that we had more information here. What exactly is Paul talking about when he refers to the “thorn in his flesh?” Some Bible commentators take what we know about Paul’s life and try to speculate as to what it might be: for instance, we know Paul faced physical beatings, even stonings from those who opposed him; maybe his thorn was an injury that didn’t heal right or left him with chronic pain. We know that there was a time when Paul became very ill on his travels; maybe he had some lingering effects of malaria or some other disease. We know Paul wrote with a larger font than usual; maybe he had poor eyesight. We know that Paul on occasion let Barnabas or Silas (his traveling companions) do a lot of the talking; maybe Paul had a stutter or some other speech impediment. In the end, we can’t say for sure.



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From Rags to Riches: The Life of a Christian - July 1, 2018

Seminary Student: Jake Brohn

Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 13, 14 

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The United States of America has long been a country of promise to those who have nothing. For many, many years, a countless number of individuals have come to this country because of the possibility of making a name for themselves. I would guess that many of us here have ancestors a couple generations back who did this very thing. American history is full of people who have started from the very lowest of places and worked their way to the top. People like Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and even Oprah Winfrey. All these people started with nothing, and eventually became rich. As Christians, we may not realize it, but we also have a similar story. We started out as the poorest of beings and are now richer than we could ever imagine. Christ’s sacrifice has made us rich, and we can use our riches for the benefit of others. 



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A Christian Case Study - June 24, 2018

Pastor Joel Leyrer

Text: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

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Dear Friends in Christ, a not uncommon plot line in books and movies has to do with an individual seeking their lost identity. Usually some sort of amnesia is involved. An accident or a bump on the head or another traumatic event has wiped away all previous knowledge of who the person is, and suddenly this person’s life becomes a blank slate. The rest of the story revolves around the person trying to pick up clues and bits of information in the attempt to reconstruct their life, all along hoping that something they learn along the way will trigger them back into knowing who they are. Let’s pretend that each of us is the person in such a story. Let’s pretend that as soon as each of us walked through the door of the church today we were suddenly hit with a case of spiritual amnesia. All we know is that we are here, and the reason we are here is because we are obviously Christians. Beyond that, we’ve forgotten everything. Well, the portion of Scripture we have before us today is all we need to reclaim our spiritual identity. In fact, it is such a thorough treatment of who and what we are that we might call the words of the Apostle Paul, A CHRISTIAN LIFE CASE STUDY 



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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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