Psalm 29, the Flood, the Baptism of Our Lord, & Our Own Baptisms

Written by Paul Warneke on .


Text: Psalm 29

            The Words of the Psalmist recall our Xmas theme that we celebrated not too long ago. Maybe it’s a continuation of that theme as our Psalm seems to echo the angels' words to the shepherds that first Xmas night: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.

 The Psalm begins with:

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

…and ends with: May the Lord bless his people with peace!

             And this theme stretches across the Psalm, stretches across it … kinda like a rainbow. I’m using that analogy very purposefully. And before we’re done with our study this morning, you’re going to know why.

Don't Build Me a House!

Written by Paul Warneke on .

Church year date: 4th Sunday in Advent   

Calendar date: 12/21/2014



Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.


Texts: OT 2 Samuel 7 & Gospel Luke 1:26-38 (emph. 31-33)

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”


Dear friends in Christ Jesus:

Intro: In our OT lesson King David had an idea. And from all outward appearances it seemed like a great idea. "Here I am," he said, "sitting in this wonderful palace of cedar, and the ark of the Covenant, the ark of God (His dwelling place) is still sitting out there in a tent. I'm going to build God a house. I'm going to build him a fine palace like this one I've got."


            Now that doesn't seem like such a bad idea, does it? Even David's advisor, the prophet Nathan thought it sounded pretty good. "Go for it," he said. "I'm sure the Lord will certainly agree, that's a great idea!"


            Well, Nathan wasn't quite speaking prophetically when he said that. He was just giving his own personal opinion. Because that night the Lord spoke to Nathan, and told him to tell David NOT to build him a house.


            You see, God had a better idea. "David," he said, "Don't build ME a house. Let me build YOU a house. Let ME make YOUR name great. Let ME establish a place for my people to live in peace. Let ME build YOU a house, and a lineage, and a kingdom that will last forever.

Your Little Secret

Written by Paul Warneke on .

Text: John 4:5-26 (emph. v. 14) "...but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Dear friends in Christ Jesus:

Intro: We need water. I'm not just talking in general, that all people need water. That is true. But the fact is, we need water! Here! Now! 

            Yeah, we had a little moisture last week; a little rain, a little snow. But from what I understand, continued lack of significant precipitation could mean disaster for our farming and ranching communities.

I.            Our need for water (and our appreciation for water) may serve to help us understand more fully the situation in our text. Palestine (including Samaria, the setting of our text) was and is a dry, arid place. That well, where Jesus met the woman, was a very important source of a very important commodity: water.

            But the lesson that we learn here is not a physical one. It’s spiritual. All the water in all the wells in all the world is still not enough to quench our most important thirst... our spiritual thirst.

            All too often, however, our spiritual thirst, our spiritual needs, are not something we like to talk about. Our spiritual needs stem from the fact that we are sinners. And who wants to talk about sin? Who want to bring up shortcomings about themselves?

            It’s easier just to keep quiet about it. If you keep it suppressed and don’t talk about it (it seems) everything will be OK. You won’t rock the boat. It can just be your little secret.

The Price of Tea in China?

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Text: John 3:1-17 (emph vv 2 and 3): 2This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." 3Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."


 Dear friends on Christ Jesus,

            What has that got to do with the price of tea in China? Have you ever heard the expression? It’s usually said in a conversation when one person makes a comment, and then another person responds with a comment that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the conversation.

            I have an idea that Nicodemus might have been thinking something like that when he heard Jesus’ response to his comment:

           “We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one cando these signs that you do unless God is with him.”

            And Jesus’ response:  "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is bornagain he cannot see the kingdom of God."

            If Nicodemus had been a smart-aleck, he might have responded, “What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”

Fig Leaves? or Righteousness?

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Text: Gen 3:1-21 (emph vv. 2 & 3)

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”


Dear friends in Christ Jesus:

            I often make reference to Gen 3, and talk about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, tempted by Satan, giving in to the temptation, eating the forbidden fruit. But I don’t often get the opportunity the opportunity to actually preach on that text.

            And there is so much to talk about in Gen 3, especially in conjunction with our other scripture readings.

The Tansfiguration of Our Lord

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Tis good Lord to be here

Yet we may not remain

But since thou bidst us leave the mount

Come with us to the plain.

            Is that your prayer? Do you consider yourself to be on the mount right now? …basking in the glory of God? … in the presence of God and in His glory?

            And are you thinking “’Tis good, Lord to be here”? It’s better to be here than to go back down to the plain… back into the real world… back into the world of sin, death, and the power of the devil? Is that what you’re thinking?

            And are you thinking that if you’re going to have to leave this place… leave this mountaintop, and go back down to the plain… it would certainly be better if the Lord came with you. It would certainly be better if Jesus came with you, so that you wouldn’t have to battle against sin, death, and the power of the devil alone.

            Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, I’ve got good news for you. Because that, in a nutshell, is what the essence of worship is all about. You enter this sanctuary, seeking shelter from the storm (cold?).

            And then, when the worship service is ended, you go out those doors equipped. You go back down to the plain ready to do battle against sin, death, and the power of the devil, because you don’t go out alone. Christ comes with you to the plain, just like you asked him to do in the song.

The Simple Secret for a Successful Life: Be Perfect

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Sermon for Epiphany 7A

 Text: Lev. 19:18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

             Last week, you may recall, our attention was focused on the importance of being reconciled with one another… reconciled with those with whom we may be in conflict.

             Our text was from Matthew 5, where Jesus says if you are presenting an offering to the Lord, and suddenly remember that someone has something against you, don’t give your offering to God yet. First, go and be reconciled with the one who has something against you. Then come and offer your gift.

            And in addition to Mat 5, you might recall that I made reference to Mt 18, where Jesus says that if your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

             And the reason I talked about both of those passages in the same sermon is because I wanted to point out that it doesn’t matter who is at fault. It doesn’t matter who sinned, or who was sinned against. When you are in a conflict with somebody (not if but when) it is YOUR responsibility to go to the other person… in order for the relationship to be restored, in order for you to be reconciled.

             And the reason it’s your responsibility is because you’re the good one… right? You’re the right one. You’re the spiritual one. And St. Paul says in Galatians 6:1, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin… you who are spiritual… should restore him… gently.”

             So, is that really what you are? Is that really who you are, the spiritual one? I wonder if it doesn’t make you feel a little bit uneasy to have a title like that, “the spiritual one”.


Sinner or Sinee, who should go to whom?

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Sermon for the 6th Sunday after the Epiphany

 Calendar date: 2/15 & 16/2014

Intro: What would you think of if I were to say the phrase, “Matthew 18”? You may or may not be aware that the phrase “Matthew 18” is often used as a sort of shorthand for church discipline.

             In fact, our congregation’s constitution refers to Matthew 18 when it talks about what to do when communicant members conduct themselves in an unchristian manner. It says that they should be admonished according to Matthew 18.

 So what does Matthew 18 say?


Is There Someone Who just rubs you the wrong way?

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Sermon for Pentecost 21

Text: Ruth 1:1-19a (emph. vv. 16-17) 16 But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”


Ruth was certainly devoted to her mother-in-law Naomi, wasn’t she? And why do you suppose that was? One commentary I read as I prepared for this sermon said it was because of Naomi’s kindness to Ruth that Ruth was so devoted to her. But to tell you the truth, I don’t know where they got that. It’s not in the text. It could very well be true. Naomi may very well have been very kind to Ruth. But the Bible doesn’t tell us that. What does the Bible tell us? It tells us that Naomi was bitter. And based upon her bitterness, I’d imagine she was not a very pleasant person to be around.