Sermons by Joshua Hartwigsen

Sermons by Joshua Hartwigsen

Parable of the Friend at Midnight

Storytelling holds an essential place in speaking and writing. Good communicators draw their audience into a narrative that resonates with them, giving identity and meaning to their message and those receiving it. Even though he composed them in intentionally challenging ways (cf. Matthew 13:10-17), Jesus’ parables offer stories that can provide insight and direction to the life of those who meditate on them. We have been considering some of Jesus’ parables this month to see what insights they provide us…

Parable of the Tower Builder

We are beginning a new year, a beginning we commonly believe contains the potential for many good things. We are using some of our Sundays this month to help us think about what we will do as a church family in 2023. However, I do not wish to prescribe a series of goals. Instead, I want to take a few weeks to consider Jesus’ parables that he used to offer insights into his kingdom and its expectations for those who claimed…

Parable of the Weeds

Even though only a date in our calendars, the New Year carries weight for many people. It signals the beginning of something new that brings opportunities for change, renewal, and the potential for countless (good) things. However, our culture has married a cynicism to its anticipation of the New Year. How often do you hear people joking about New Year resolutions, making light of peoples’ intentions and their failure to accomplish them?  We are beginning a New Year, and I…

JESUS’ UNEXPECTED SALVATION

Matthew 1:18-21–The Christmas season offers a time when many people around the world think about Jesus’ birth. While his birth most likely took place in the Spring and the date of his birth possesses no sacramental value, as a family of people committed to following Jesus, we want people to think about him. So, last Sunday, we began a three-lesson series taking advantage of the attention given to Jesus in December. Last week, we considered the announcement that Jesus’ birth…

Jesus Unexpected Kingship

Luke 1:26-38 Every December, people around the world think about Jesus’ birth. While Jesus’ birth most likely took place in the Spring and while the date of his birth possesses no sacramental value, it is nevertheless a time when much of the world around us turns its attention to Jesus. As a family of people who have committed to following Jesus, we want people to think about him. So, we will take advantage of Christmas’ focus to remind ourselves about…

I am Thankful for Church Family

1 Corinthians 12:12-26 — We live in an individualistic culture whose definition of ‘the good life’ focuses on self-centered, impersonal things. Our place in the world, our value, we are told, connects to things like our career, our money, our car, our clothes, and our appearance. Happiness, our world markets to us, involves beings true to oneself and asserting one’s wishes and rights. The ‘good life’ our world advocates comes with a widely known secret – impersonal things and self-centered…

I am Thankful for God’s Grace

Considering our upcoming celebration of Thanksgiving, we are using some of our Sunday mornings this month to explore things for which we should be thankful. However, more than mere opportunism motivates this series; we are using the holiday as an occasion to focus on thankfulness because it occupies an essential place in our Christian identity (cf.Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Therefore, this lesson explores another reason motivating our thankfulness:  I am thankful for God’s unexpected and undeserved grace.

I AM THANKFUL God chooses to dwell with us

Revelation 21:1-4— November concludes with Thanksgiving, a holiday intended to offer us a time to remember the blessing we enjoy. For us, the holiday provides us more than a chance to remember the many good things within our lives; it allows us to intentionally practice the thankfulness the Bible describes as an essential Christian characteristic (cf. Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). To help us focus on that part of our identity, we will use this month’s Sundays to remind…

How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts

As a parent, I worry about my sons. While I experience the usual worries about injury and happiness, my most profound and persistent concerns center on the culture they inhabit and how it influences their thinking. I know I am not alone. My parents felt the same fears about me, and I know other parents wrestle with similar concerns for their children. And so, I worry about my boys, as I am sure you worry about your families. But what…

Moses Implored the Lord

The New Testament repeatedly reminds its readers that evangelism occupies a central and non-negotiable place in Jesus’ expectations. Yet that expectation makes people uncomfortable. Therefore, we have been considering features of that responsibility over the past few weeks by studying stories from the Hebrew Bible that offer us insights into Jesus’ evangelistic expectations. In this lesson, we will explore Moses’ intercession for Israel in Exodus chapter thirty-two and consider how it models for us the intercessory role we have as Jesus’ representatives in the world.

Please Send Someone Else

NBC debuted a new game show in 2001 called “Fear Factor.” An instant hit, the show pitted people against one another in stunts designed to test them physically and mentally under the premise that the activities forced them to confront their ‘fears’. The voyeuristic pleasure that spurred the rise of reality television in the early 2000’s played a role in the show’s popularity, which drew on viewers’ recognition of how fear impacts thinking and behavior. Good reasons generally prompt fear’s…

Here am I, Send Me

God has filled His Bible with numerous stories that all revolve around a limited set of messages. The diversity of those stories offers readers a variety of ways to engage God’s will and its place in their lives. Consequently, some stories will impact us more than others. The account of Isaiah receiving a prophetic commission from God in Isaiah chapter six particularly resonates with me. So, we will consider Isaiah six and think about what insights Isaiah’s commission offers us into the evangelistic commission God gives to all of us.

Challenge and Grace

Even though, based on our appearances, we might seem different from one another, we all experience very similar internal lives. For example, we all struggle with feelings of inadequacy, fear, and shame. We all experience frustration, anger, and uncertainty. We might do a good job hiding those feelings from one another, but we all encounter them. Our shared experiences with those emotions prompt our consideration of Peter in this lesson. The New Testament’s account of Peter draws attention to his struggles to highlight Jesus’ response. Therefore, we will consider some of Peter’s struggles to see what insights they may offer us into our relationship with Jesus.

In Him – the Blessings God gives through Jesus

IN HIM The blessings God gives us through Jesus, Ephesians 1:3-14 The in-crowd offers a standard narrative and cinematic motif. Even though it usually finds employment in predictable ways, the idea of insiders and outsiders remains compelling because it resonates with everyone’s experiences. Paul opened his letter to the Christians in Ephesus by describing an in-crowd and the privileges that attend belonging to that group. But the in-crowd he wrote about avoids the usual, negative things we tend to associate…

Crucified with Christ

Paul wrote that he had “been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), a well-known phrase describing the nature of his relationship with Jesus. Knowing Paul’s desire to be like Jesus and recognizing that it should occupy a similarly important place in our lives does not, by itself, bring clarity to that expectation. Therefore, we will consider Paul’s letter to the Philippians in which he offers insights into how his focus on Jesus shaped his life and explore how his transformation offers guidance for us.

Christlikeness and Suffering

Advertisements populate almost every space in our lives. Those ads often try to convince viewers to buy whatever goods or services they market by outlining how they will improve their lives. I have yet to see an advertisement that – in a non-humorous nor non-ironic way – sells its product by highlighting the persecution and suffering it will bring into peoples’ lives. However, that is the tactic Peter used to address the suffering experienced by his audience. We will therefore consider Peter’s message in 1 Peter and its connection to our effort to become increasingly Christlike people.

Jesus Shaped Ethics – Jesus and Sexuality

1 Corinthians 6:12-20–It seems that our culture talks about sex and sexuality all the time. Our culture’s apparent lack of shame finds counterbalance in the embarrassment that often accompanies discussions about the topic in the church. However, even a cursory reading of the Bible reveals that it also has a lot to say about sex and sexuality, indicating that it is an important topic that we should not avoid. So, we will use this morning’s lesson to consider a few…

Jesus Shaped Ethics – Jesus and Work

Genesis 2:15 — In 2014, the Barna Group published a report about trends in faith, work, and calling among people who self-identify as Christians in the United States. The report included the following paragraph:  “Most churchgoers are craving more direction and discipleship when it comes to the theology of calling, especially as it relates to work. Barna research shows nearly two-thirds of churched adults say it has been at least three years or more since they heard church teachings on…

Jesus Shaped Ethics – Politics

It seems the last few years have witnessed a dramatic increase in the politicization of our nation. The expected patriotic response to the sight of our nation’s flag or the singing of our national anthem has been joined by a growing tension in our country, a tension built on the belief that the future of our nation hangs in the balance. That tension has resulted in distrust and fear that enflames existing political and social divisions in our country and has engendered a rising suspicion of those who hold differing opinions. And, as we have all seen (and probably even experienced), that distrust has broken relationships and even festered into violence. Given the political climate in our nation, we should ask ourselves, “How should following Jesus shape my politics?” This lesson will consider Jesus and his kingdom to prepare us for our group discussions this evening that will explore practical applications of Jesus’ kingdom in our nation’s current political setting.

Christlikeness and Community

The concept of “community” reached a popular level when I was in graduate school in the late 1990s. It had become a way of casually defining people based on their assumed sociological needs. While the idea certainly possessed rigor, I often saw it uncritically used to reduce the impulse to be part of a group to no more than a longing for belonging. In reference to religion, for example, some would offhandedly comment that it offered like-minded people a community without seriously considering the ideas that formed the community and motivated individuals to want to belong to such a group. Even though some might misuse it, community nevertheless occupies a vitally important role in Christianity. Rather than merely being the result of the desire for belonging, God designed the church as a community built on the foundation of Jesus. It requires participants to understand and believe in Jesus’ authoritative identity and submit themselves to the purposes he sets for the church. As we continue to explore our effort to be like Jesus, we will use Paul’s comments about the church in Ephesians to consider the relationship between Christlikeness and community.