Sermons by Richard Wolfe
THE SMART GOD-1 Corinthians 1:18-24–We don’t often say that God is smart. We tend to prefer more spiritual-sounding words to describe his wisdom, knowledge or understanding. Even so, our God is amazingly smart, and we are better off when we acknowledge it. Ever since Eve looked at the forbidden fruit and saw that it looked good to eat, humans have struggled to accept the fact that God knows more about life on earth than we do. Most of our sins…
PM Sermon: Thanks to All Scripture Romans 12:3-8 In 1624, John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, Entire of itself.” He was merely echoing what Paul had written centuries earlier about Christians, “We, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” As we go through life, we are taught, helped, encouraged and nurtured in manifold ways by uncountable numbers of people. Some make a great impact and others only a small one, but they all contribute to who we are and what we can do in the kingdom. It pays to pause and be thankful for each one of them.
Scripture: John 14:19-24 It is important that churches consistently ask the question, “Is it biblical?” We might not always get the answer right, but it’s certain that we won’t find the answers if we don’t ask this critical question. God gave Old Testament Israel the unique blessing of having his word in writing. In times of unfaithfulness, they forgot that they even had God’s written word. That wouldn’t have happened if they had been asking if the things they were doing were biblical.
Scripture: Luke 24:1-12 If the crucifixion unlocks the door of the gospel, even the unlocked door would have remained closed without the resurrection, and much of the biblical story would be meaningless. Old Testament prophecies and New Testament preaching give great prominence to the resurrection. The crucifixion was a powerful and necessary event, but alone, it left the disciples frustrated and afraid. Even before the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2, the disciples had been transformed by the resurrection of Jesus.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:14-22 We often think only of our vertical relationship with God when we think of the purpose of “worship services.” By the very fact that whatever we do in these assembles we do together, fellowship becomes a part of it. The church is a distinct community, and this distinctiveness shows when we come together. The church is a loving community, and the loves shows best when we are together. Each “act” of worship is an expression of community, and sometimes the horizontal element is more obvious than the vertical.
Scripture: John 19:14-19 The crucifixion of Christ is a powerful story; a disturbing story; a glorious story. He came to save us by dying for us. At every turn, men opposed him, but in their opposition, they aided his cause. Today, great efforts are made to make sure that punishments and executions are quick and painless. The crucifixion of Jesus was drawn out as long as possible and planned to be as painful as possible. The total ugliness of Christ’s death declares the horrible ugliness of our sins. When we face the horror of the cross we can better appreciate the depth of God’s love for us.
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9-12 Christ is the center of the gospel, but that in no way makes the church unimportant or optional. Fellowship is a word frequently used to describe the special bond that exists between us, God and each other. The Greek word translated “fellowship” (koinonia) refers to what it is that we have in common that makes the church a special community. The idea of community suggests the closeness of relationships and the life of many members acting in community, rather than the simple faithfulness of an individual Christian.
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 Is being a “new creation” a metaphor, or is it a literal reality? Whichever it is, it is the result of the death and resurrection of Jesus. On the cross, Jesus dealt with our sin problem and gave us an eternal hope. Oddly, Paul doesn’t deny that the troubled Corinthian church was made up of “new creation” people, but he encourages them to have a better grasp on what it means to be reconciled to God. He doesn’t call us to be good enough to become a new creation, but calls us to live out the new life that God has granted to those who die with Christ in baptism, and rise with him to live a new, forgiven life.
Scripture: Matthew 18:15-20 Sometimes we have a passage of Scripture all wrong. In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus taught us how to encourage repentance and seek reconciliation when a brother (or sister) has sinned against us. He was not teaching about “church discipline” or disfellowship. He calls for unexpected, and unpleasant, action when attempts to reconcile fail. On both points, traditional explanations of this passage miss the mark.
Scripture: Matthew 6:19-24 We can claim that our “heart” is in heaven, but our treasure might tell a different story. The Bible helps us identify what qualifies as real treasure. If we have fake treasure, we have reason to be concerned, and we will have eternal regrets. Real treasure is a more about faith than sight.
AM Sermon: Joy, Gentleness & Peace Scripture: Philippians 4:4-9 Philippians is not a textbook on theology, but an inspired apostle writing a letter to help “dear brethren” learn to enjoy God’s blessings to the fullest. Christians are challenged to rise above the troubles of this earth and rejoice in the Lord who has better things planned. We don’t “have it all together,” but we have tools that only God’s people have. Our troubles are temporary, but our joy is eternal.
Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” But other passages explicitly and implicitly call us to make judgments of people and of actions (e.g., right or wrong, sin or not sin). How are we to “judge” when it is good to judge and when it is not? Do purpose and intent make a difference? Acts 3:13 Acts 4:19 Acts 13:27 Acts 26:8 Luke 6:37 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 Galatians 6:1-5 Matthew 23:4
Scripture: Philippians 3:12-16 For as long as we live on earth, we will struggle to see how much better is the greatness of heaven than the attractions of earth. Paul’s accomplishments as a young Jewish man were impressive, and were not evil things, but they couldn’t match the reward that God had reserved for him in heaven. So Paul pressed on – reached forward – and pressed toward the prize of the upward call of God. He was (as are all Christians) a citizen of heaven living as a foreigner on earth. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Philippians 3:4-6 Philippians 3:7-11 Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:21
Scripture: Nehemiah 6:1-9 Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was a task opposed by an incredible series of internal and external obstacles. A foreign king had to authorize and finance this seemingly rebellious project. Local enemies had to be confronted with courage and clear thinking. Israelites had to take on a task that was monumental in the best of circumstances, and good circumstances were conspicuously lacking. Nehemiah had to be a leader of great integrity who would not be diverted from his goal. Miracles would not be available to facilitate the project.
Scripture: Philippians 1:27-30 City culture was never sympathetic to faithful Christian living in the city of Philippi. Paul was beaten and jailed. Several years later, Christians were still marginalized and opposed. Survival and mission called for unity, humility, and exemplary lives that let the light of salvation shine in the darkness of paganism.
Scripture: James 1:12-18 We deceive ourselves if we think that fatal, salvation-losing sin could never happen to us. Spiritual death is the outcome of a progression of desire, enticement, and the increasing grip of sin. Seldom is sin an isolated act. It often follows a period of carelessness, of failure to take precautions against temptations, and neglect of God-given tools that would have kept us spiritually strong enough to resist the temptations.
Scripture: Philippians 1:19-26 Paul was in prison and some people, even Christians, were happy to hear it. Like us, Paul had plans & dreams. He wanted to be free & healthy to travel and preach throughout the region, but he didn’t always get what he wanted. From his perspective, what mattered most was not the circumstances (pleasant or unpleasant), but living through the circumstances in a way that “exalted” Christ. Even though he knew death would take him to heaven, he was happy to continue on earth if that would serve the cause of Christ.
Scripture: Psalm 23 Our culture pushes us to application. We want to get through the principles quickly so that we can get to the practical application. But some passages are meant to be pondered at length before we rush to do something about it. Many passages of Scripture have great impact with no direct command to do anything.
Scripture: Philippians 1:3-11 We know that fellowship among Christians is important, and many passages teach about it. However, Philippians 1 gives a very personal description of it. Paul cared deeply for the Christians in Philippi, and the closeness and love of their relationship shows in this passage. In all his prayers for them, he could pray with joy and thanksgiving. Paul’s in an example to be imitated. Additional Referenced Scripture: Acts 16:15-16, 20-21 Philippians 1:3 Philippians 1:4-5 Philippians 1:6 Philippians 1:7-8 Philippians 1:9-11
Scripture: 1 John 4:7-12 More than being a God who loves, our God IS love. He cannot do anything that isn’t loving, even if we don’t understand how love fits in. The ultimate expression of his love is not that he sacrificed someone for our sins, but he sacrificed His Only Begotten Son for our sins. In response, we are called to love one another. This is the first of four lessons related to the fact that our God is love.