Happenings

Sermons by Pastor Walter Snyder plus announcements, articles, videos, and anything else that doesn’t fit Ask the Pastor or the Luther Library.





11 August 2019

Pentecost 9 Sermon: By Faith

Preached on Hebrews 11:1–16
9th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 14C
11 August AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of By Faith.

Hebrews 11 Summary: Pop star George Michael sang — over and over and over — “I gotta have faith” in the 1987 song “Faith” from the album Faith. Yet for all the “faith” he mentioned, nothing in Michael’s song resembles the faith commended by Scripture and counted by the Lord as righteousness.

Faith counted as righteousness is faith in the Savior. It’s so much more than merely professing, “I’m a believer” or trusting that “the sun will come out tomorrow.” Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham looked forward to the promised Redeemer.

Likewise, we look to Him who fulfilled God’s promises to the saints of old. This isn’t merely looking back to Bethlehem and Calvary but seeing Jesus now as He comes in Word and Sacrament. We know the historical truth concerning the One “born of the Virgin Mary” who “suffered under Pontius Pilate” and our God-given faith believes that His sacrifice paid for all our sins and brought us peace with God, who counts our faith in Jesus’ suffering and death as our righteousness.

With the OT believers, we also look forward, awaiting the fulfillment of one last promise. The faithful throughout time anticipate the Day when He calls all believers to enter Paradise. Our faith will be completed at the sight of Jesus welcoming us into everlasting life.

Text: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:1-16

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of By Faith.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 33:12-22; Genesis 15:1-6; Luke 12:22-34

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Pentecost 9 Sermon: Fear Not, Little Flock

Preached on Luke 12:22–34
9th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 14C
11 August AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Fear Not, Little Flock.

Luke 12:22–34 Summary: Jesus’ flock of disciples, little in number, social prestige, and power could certainly find reason for feeling anxious. Merely living an everyday life in First Century Judea was difficult for most.

Then their Master sent them out with minimal provisions. His teaching and popularity among the disenfranchised subjected Him to the displeasure of powerful Jewish factions. Following Him made them similar targets for the animosity of many of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

Like us, they also probably had similar worries about health and sickness, family and friends, life and death. And as our fellow believers, we can imagine that they at times also worried about their standing before God, knowing that they were sinners by birth and prone to falling back into sinful thought, word, and deed.

For them — and for us — Jesus addressed anxiety head-on. In showing God’s watchful providence over even the smallest, frailest parts of Creation, the Lord teaches His people how important they are to His Father. Calling us a “little flock” identifies us as sheep under our Shepherd’s gentle care.

Therefore, we need not worry about the devil’s hatred or the world’s scorn. Even God’s holy wrath at sin cannot threaten the calm peace we enjoy as His dear children.

Text: And [Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Luke 12:22-34

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Fear Not, Little Flock.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 33:12-22; Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-16

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04 August 2019

Pentecost 8 Sermon: Wisdom, Madness, and Folly

Preached on Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12–14, 17, 2:18–26
8th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 13C
4 August AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Wisdom, Madness, and Folly.

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 17, 2:18-26 Summary: You can go nuts trying to figure out life. Muster all your wisdom or surrender to free-ranging folly and you’ll finally end up at the same place: Life is ultimately a madhouse unless you live under the Lord’s grace. All paths — save one — lead to death. You may have a good time getting there or it may be a horrible journey but the end will be the same.

If the Lord isn’t your Shepherd leading you through the valley of the shadow of death then Death will be your shepherd leading you into eternal destruction (see Psalm 49:14 ). All is emptiness, despair, madness, and folly unless we follow where our Savior leads.

Along the way, He meets our earthly needs of body and mind as well as our eternal needs of spirit. We can “eat and drink and find enjoyment in [our] toil” because we are redeemed by the One who toiled for us, sacrificing everything, including His life, that we might be free of sin’s curse forevermore.

Note on Continuity: Near the beginning of the sermon, I mentioned unplanned changes to the day’s worship. First, we couldn’t get the sound system to work so we could play hymns since our organist was gone. Then the bell didn’t want to ring. I thought that they helped illustrate part of the text.

We only thought that the illustrating was over, however. You’ll notice about two thirds of the way through the recording that there’s a change in flow and my comment about another unplanned situation. That’s because of an issue during the sermon and the subsequent wait for an ambulance. Thank God that the situation found a happy resolution!

While it interrupted continuity, the incident certainly illustrated how transitory our days can be and how our plans aren’t always God’s.

Text: Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.

I the Preacher have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven. It is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.... And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.

So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 17, 2:18-26

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Wisdom, Madness, and Folly.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 100; Colossians 3:1-11; Luke 12:13–21

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Pentecost 8 Sermon: Barn Raising

Preached on Luke 12:13–21
8th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 13C
4 August AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Barn Raising.

Luke 12:13-21 Summary: Why don’t you build a bigger barn? Expand your portfolio? Add a second home to your holdings? Or a third? Why not, indeed? It makes all kinds of sense in the way the world thinks.

But it doesn’t make God’s kind of sense. Jesus cautions that the only treasure truly worth hoarding is our salvation. When God requires our souls of us, faith in Christ is the only thing that will tip the balance sheets in our favor.

Our worry shouldn’t be gathering earthly treasures into the barns of this life — not when we are the treasure that God desires to keep forevermore. When He invests in us, He pours so much wealth into us that we can either grasp it and let it corrupt us or we can let it flow through into love for others. Thus, we are “rich toward God” when we are rich toward those in need who surround us through our days on earth.

Text: Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

“So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:13–21

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Barn Raising.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 100; Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14, 2:18-26; Colossians 3:1-11

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28 July 2019

Pentecost 7 Sermon: Don’t Be Angry, Lord

Preached on Genesis 18:20–33
7th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 12C
28 July AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Don’t Be Angry, Lord.

Genesis 18:20-33 Summary: Desperate to save his nephew’s livelihood and, quite possibly, his life, Abraham attempted to bargain with the Lord. Hoping to gain a reprieve for Lot. Worried that God might reject him — or worse — Abraham asked the Lord to stay His anger as he continued his petitioning.

His fears were groundless because the Lord welcomes our heartfelt requests and will never lash out against His children. God judged Abraham righteous because of the patriarch’s faith in Him, not because he was sinless and holy in and of himself.

And even though we are sinners, God’s wrath against sin was spent upon His Son Jesus. We who trust in Christ have no reason to dread our Father lashing out against us when we pray to Him since He will do nothing but love us just as He loves Jesus.

Text: The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LordLord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”

And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.”

He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.”

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.”

He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”

He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.”

He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.”

He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.”

And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place. Genesis 18:20-33

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Don’t Be Angry, Lord.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 138; Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19); Luke 11:1-13

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Pentecost 7 Sermon: Teach Us to Pray

Preached on Luke 11:1–13
7th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 12C
28 July AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Teach Us to Pray.

Luke 11:1-13 Summary: With Jesus’ disciples, we also ask, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

And to us, as He does to them, our Lord replies: “Pray confidently and persistently and your Father will answer according to your needs.” This doesn’t mean that we get all that we ask for. Indeed, there are many times that we ask for that which is foolish, even harmful.

Rather, He gives us everything necessary for our true and lasting benefit. Of course, our loving Father often adds in much more than the bare minimum and usually ends up surprising us by including things we never think of.

Text: Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:1-13

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Teach Us to Pray.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 138; Genesis 18:(17-19) 20-33; Colossians 2:6-15 (16-19)

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21 July 2019

Pentecost 6 Sermon: No Laughing Matter

Preached on Genesis 18:1-15
6th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 11C
21 July AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of No Laughing Matter.

Genesis 18:1-15 Summary: “The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah,” so when the Lord promised a son to her and Abraham, she laughed. God got the last laugh, though. Sarah did conceive, and she bore a child whom the joyous parents named “Isaac” — “he laughs.”

Rather than laughing at the Lord’s promises, He invites us to laugh with Him in the face of death and destruction, in spite of sorrow and suffering, of sin, death, and devil. He invites us to know the joy of forgiveness, life, and salvation that is ours through the merits of Jesus Christ. For while faith is no laughing matter, faithful Christians cannot but join their God in His holy humor as He keeps His promises and preserves and protects His people.

Text: And the Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on — since you have come to your servant.”

So they said, “Do as you have said.”

And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”

And he said, “She is in the tent.”

The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.”

And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?”

The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.”

But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid.

He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Genesis 18:1-15

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of No Laughing Matter.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 27:(1-6) 7-14; Colossians 1:21-29; Luke 10:38-42

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Pentecost 6 Sermon: Anxiety Free

Preached on Luke 10:38-42
6th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 11C
21 July AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Anxiety Free.

Luke 10:38-42 Summary: Most of us have one or more pet concerns that occupy too much of our time and energy. And while God doesn’t want us to be apathetic, He calls us away from the anxiety into which we too easily slip.

So it was with Martha. So eager that everything be “just so” for Jesus, she failed to see that what He was offering her household far exceeded anything that shes — and her sister — could do for Him. We’ll always have cares but our concern amounts to nothing if we don’t first receive the fulness of Christ’s concern for us. Only when we fully and freely rely on His TLC are we truly able to bless others with our own loving care.

Text: Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Anxiety Free.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 27:(1-6) 7-14; Genesis 18:1-10a (10b-14); Colossians 1:21-29

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20 July 2019

Pentecost 6 Sermon: Wait for the Lord

Preached on Psalm 27
6th Sunday After Pentecost — Proper 11C
20 July AD 2019

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 Summary: Patience is a virtue. However, as I sometimes joke, when you ask God for patience, He doesn’t give it, He teaches it. Yet it’s patience that allows us to accept what happens to us in life while trusting that our times and our seasons are in the Lord’s hands. And what God teaches is that when we patiently wait for Him, all our anxieties and troubles belong to Him and He will deal with them for us.

Since we can’t fix anything important in our own lives, particularly not our relationship with God and our way through life’s difficulties, we need to patiently wait for His deliverance. He will lead us out of trouble and into His everlasting presence.

Text:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
   whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
   of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
   to eat up my flesh,

my adversaries and foes,
   it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
   my heart shall not fear;

though war arise against me,
   yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
   that will I seek after:

   that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life,

to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
   and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
   in the day of trouble;

he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
   he will lift me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up
   above my enemies all around me,

and I will offer in his tent
   sacrifices with shouts of joy;

I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
   be gracious to me and answer me!

You have said, “Seek my face.”
    My heart says to you,
   “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
   Turn not your servant away in anger,

O you who have been my help.
   Cast me not off; forsake me not,
   O God of my salvation!

For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
   but the Lord will take me in.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
   and lead me on a level path
   because of my enemies.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
   for false witnesses have risen against me,
   and they breathe out violence.
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:7-14

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Wait for the Lord.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Genesis 18:1-10a (10b-1); Colossians 1:21-29; Luke 10:38-42

25 April 2018

Funeral Sermon: Fearless Life, Fearless Death

Preached on Psalm 27
The Funeral of Darold Willard Deterding
25 April AD 2018

Title: Fearless Life, Fearless Death (MP3 Audio)

Psalm 27::1 Summary: Out of the blue, I heard that a dear friend’s father had died. Then I learned that the family wanted me to bury him and preach his funeral sermon. I’d known Darold since I went home with his son Curtis in the mid-70s, during my freshman year in college. Our families had found ways of intertwining ever since.

When possible, I try to preach a funeral sermon using the departed saint’s confirmation verse. In 1949, his pastor had done me a big favor by giving Darold Psalm 27:1 as his special Scripture. It spoke well to his life and ministry. To his triumphs and sorrows. To his gains and losses. The entire Psalm proclaims a gracious God setting Himself against foes of body, mind, and spirit and keeping Darold safe into life everlasting.

It also addresses a grieving family and friends, proclaiming peace and strengthening faith in the same loving God. For Darold had no monopoly on the Psalmist’s words. All of Christ’s family own the same strength and salvation. Even death holds no fear for those who remember that they have already died —their sinful natures put to death in Baptism as their new selves are given life.

Darold now sleeps in Jesus. And on the Last Day, he will join all the saints to forever “look upon the Lord in the land of the living.” Now it’s our turn to carry on in faith, to continue waiting “for the Lord,” to “be strong, and let [our hearts] take courage.”

Text: The Lord is my light and my salvation;
   whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
   of whom shall I be afraid?

When evildoers assail me
   to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
   it is they who stumble and fall.

Though an army encamp against me,
   my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
   yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
   that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
   all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
   and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
   in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
   he will lift me high upon a rock.


And now my head shall be lifted up
   above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
   sacrifices with shouts of joy;
   I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
   be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
   My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
   Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
   O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
   O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
   but the Lord will take me in.

Teach me your way, O Lord,
   and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
   for false witnesses have risen against me,
   and they breathe out violence.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord! Psalm 27

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Fearless Life, Fearless Death

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 23; Isaiah 40:28-31; Colossians 2:6-15; John 10:1-5, 11-18

13 August 2017

Pentecost 10 Sermon: Dying with God

Preached on Job 38:4-18
10th Sunday After Pentecost— Proper 14A
13 August AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Dying with God.

Resurrection Summary: When the Lord challenges us as He did Job, we can certainly answer one of His questions in the affirmative: “The gates of death” have been revealed to us. Christ burst them open and tore them down. We passed through them in Baptism. For in Baptism, we died with Jesus on the cross and in Baptism we crossed over to everlasting life in Him.

Text: [The Lord said to Job,] “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements — surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

“Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?

“It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment. From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken.

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.” Job 38:4-18

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Dying with God.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 18:1-6 (7-16); Romans 10:5-17; Matthew 14:22-33

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09 July 2017

Trinity 4 Sermon: God Meant It for Good

Preached on Genesis 50:15-21
Fourth Sunday After Trinity
9 July AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of God Meant It for Good.

Genesis 50:15-21 Summary: “You meant evil ... but God meant it for good.” As Joseph calmed his fearful brothers, so Christ calms our fears. Sinful mankind, hatefully condemning and slaying the sinless Son of God, found forgiveness and life in the very death that it brought about.

Text: When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”

So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.”

Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:15-21

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of God Meant It for Good.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 138; Romans 12:14-21 or Romans 8:18-23; Luke 6:36-42

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25 June 2017

Pentecost 3 Sermon: Sheltered

Preached on Psalm 91:1-10
3rd Sunday After Pentecost— Proper 7A
25 June AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Sheltered.

Psalm 91:4 Summary: We live in an often violent world. We live under the threat of accident, disease, dementia, and death. And this is simply how we live as citizens of this planet.

Special wrath is often directed at the Church and its members. Believers— even if not targeted for discrimination, torture, or death by unbelievers— still face Satan’s wrath and wiles. On our own, we face certain doom and damnation.

Thanks be to God! He invites us to take refuge in Him. The psalmist paints the Lord as shade in the desert, battle armor proof against savage foes, a powerful eagle protecting its young. He who came to us in human flesh as Immanuel, God with Us, invites and empowers us to come into Him, our dwelling place and impregnable fortress.

Text: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. Psalm 91:1-10

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Sheltered.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 91:1-16; Jeremiah 20:7-13; Romans 6:12-23; Matthew 10:5a, 21-33

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10 June 2017

Wedding Sermon: Strength and Song, Salvation and Confession

Preached on 1 Timothy 6:12 and Isaiah 12:2
The Marriage of Laura M. Snyder and Kyle L. Molitor
10 June AD 2017

Title: Strength and Song, Salvation and Confession (MP3 Audio)

The Wedding at Cana Summary: Besides the Scriptures included in the wedding rite, a pastor has many options when choosing a sermon text. When Laura and Kyle asked me to preach, I looked through the “usual suspects” and had an idea: The union of this man and this woman would include a joining of all they carried with them, including their confirmation verses.

With that in mind, I asked Laura to find out Kyle’s verse to see if it would work in unity with hers as a joint text. I was quite pleased when I discovered that his from 1 Timothy nicely complemented hers from Isaiah 12. Both confess that we have salvation and eternal life only through God in Christ Jesus.

Kyle and Laura completely agree that the most important love isn’t that between people but the love God has for fallen humanity. As I wove the themes of the two verses together, the Father’s boundless love and unconditional forgiveness through Jesus remained the unifying strand.

They will best live together and love together as they live in faith. They will forgive each other most completely as they realize how completely God forgives them. And they will most wholeheartedly sacrifice their own desires for each other as they embrace the sacrifice Christ made for them.

Note that the bulletin cover art I reference in the sermon is this Coptic illustration to the right. This vision of the Marriage at Cana beautifully shows our Savior sheltering husband and wife “under his wings.”

Snyder-Molitor Wedding Texts: Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12

“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” Isaiah 12:2

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Strength and Song, Salvation and Confession.

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Genesis 2:7, 18-24; Colossians 3:1-4, 12-17; Matthew 19:4-6

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06 May 2017

Easter 4A Sermon: The Sheep Hear His Voice

Preached on John 10:1-10
The Fourth Sunday of Easter, Series A
Good Shepherd Sunday
6 May AD 2017

Title: The Sheep Hear His Voice (MP3 Audio)

Good Shepherd Sunday Summary: Clear communication isn’t always easy. Hearing difficulties, speaking troubles, background noises, and various distractions stand in the way. And in the case of hearing Jesus, Satan and false teachers pretend to be using our Lord’s voice when actually speaking lies.

However, Jesus says that His sheep will hear and follow. Amidst this world’s distractions, and even though He has ascended into heaven, we hear our Good Shepherd’s voice through the voices of faithful pastors who preach, teach, absolve, baptize, and commune us according to His Word.

It matters not the language, the dialect, or the accent, for His voice speaks throughout the world. He tells us that He loves us, that He died and rose for us, that He forgives all of our sins, and that He calls pastors to continue as His voice across the earth. Through them, Christ speaks His absolution, names and claims new sheep through Baptism, and calls them to eat and drink His body and blood in Holy Communion.

Text: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

“When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:1-10

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of The Sheep Hear His Voice.

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 23; Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 2:19-25

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26 February 2017

Transfiguration Sermon: Rise, and Fear Not

Preached on Matthew 17:1-9
The Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Series A
26 February AD 2017

Title: Rise, and Fear Not (MP3 Audio)

Transfiguration Summary: In common vernacular, a “mountain-top experience” is generally considered to be both positive and life-changing. We can scarcely imagine the fear of meeting God in His glory atop a mountain. To our sinful senses, it would probably appear more life-threatening than life-changing.

So with Peter, James, and John — after the initial thrill, the Father’s voice from the cloud struck terror in their hearts. Only after Jesus comforted them were they able to rise without fear and go on their way. Likewise, the only way that we can listen to the Son and follow in His ways is when He removes our sins and raises us up from our guilt and fears.

Text: And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” Matthew 17:1-9

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Rise, and Fear Not.

NB: For some reason, a few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio if Windows Media is their default MP3 player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 2:6-12; Exodus 24:8-18; 2 Peter 1:16-21

Illustration: Transfiguration of Christ (c. 1550) by an unknown Cretan icon painter at Web Gallery of Art.

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18 February 2017

Epiphany 7A Sermon: Hearsay

Preached on Matthew 5:38-48
The Seventh Sunday After the Epiphany
18 February AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Hearsay.

Sermon on the Mount Summary: Do good works save? Throughout Scripture, God commands them and often attaches promises to our doing them. Some will say that this is possible, but Jesus says differently: Without Him the promise is never realized, for none of us can attain the perfection of our heavenly Father though our deeds.

Yet we know that good works do save — that is, Jesus’ good works done on our behalf. The Father credits us with the Son’s keeping of the Law and counts us holy through them. We have, in Christ, already fulfilled the Law.

Now, the Holy Spirit leads us “sons of [our] Father who is in heaven” to live in love in thankful response for our salvation. And when our hearts and minds grow weary or we choose to do less than all we can, the Lord still loves us and forgives us once again ... and again ... and again.

Text: [Jesus said,] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:38-48

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Hearsay.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 119:33-40; Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; 1 Corinthians 3:10-23

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12 February 2017

Septuagesima Sermon: Tested and True

Preached on Exodus 17:1-7
Pre-Lent
12 February AD 2017

Title: Click to hear the MP3 of Tested and True.

Massah and Meribah Summary: “Massah and Meribah” — “Quarreling and Testing” — define much of the human condition. Bickering and backbiting, pushing boundaries and defying limits — these extend beyond our misbehavior toward one another: They’ve been part of man’s relationship with God since the Fall.

As we wander about in our own “wilderness of sin,” we find excuses to quarrel with each other and test God whenever anything doesn’t go exactly as we desire. And if God held our rebellions against us, we would dread His presence. Already inclined to turn away from Word and Sacrament God’s wrath against sinners could drive us completely away. Even the testings He sends to guide, instruct, purify, or strengthen His people would be misinterpreted.

Yet try as we might to push against God, He works even harder to pull back. He sent Jesus to face the most severe testing any sinner could ever face, even though His Son was sinless. Rather than quarrel with His Father, Jesus came to end our sinful, selfish quarrels with God and humanity. Jesus brings peace and reconciliation to all who believe on Him.

He sends the Holy Spirit to lead us back to the promises of our baptism, to create a desire for pure Gospel proclamation and a hunger and thirst for the blessed communion of His Son’s body and blood. He pardons us and works His good through us. He will never abandon us in this wilderness into which we are born but instead shepherds us onward, leading us toward the eternal green pastures and still waters that await His beloved sheep.

Massah and Meribah Text: All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:1-7

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Audio: Click to hear the MP3 of Tested and True.

NB: A few people have had problems trying to play the inline audio with Windows Media Player. If this occurs, you can either change to QuickTime or another default browser player, copy and paste the link directly into a selected player, or download it to your computer, where it seems to work regardless of which player. Several folks have suggested VLC Player from VideoLAN.

Other Readings: Psalm 95:1-9; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:5; Matthew 20:1-16

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