Category: Duane Brooks

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 15th, 2017.

Has the local church fallen out of favor?  Many Christians critique and criticize the church.  Some have given up on it as a flawed and failed institution.  Thankfully Paul had a very different point of view.  Writing to a church with many discernible problems, he offered a strong word of encouragement.  Even when the church is struggling, her Lord is not.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul starts with a clear understanding of who he is and who the church is.  His words inform those who would speak to the local church today.

The word, “calling,” plays a prominent role in the text.  Paul stood in the authority of his own calling from God.   As an Apostle (one who is sent), Paul had experienced God’s call to go to Corinth after he left Athens.  In fact, Paul’s calling went all the way back to the road to Damascus when he was blinded by God’s glorious light and commissioned to speak God’s word to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-19).  Paul is called as an Apostle (1:1).  The Corinthians are called to be God’s holy people (1:2).  Paul addresses the Corinthian church along with all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.  God has called them into fellowship with his Son (1:9).   In the church at Corinth, where the people give a great deal of thought to their gifting to speak, God’s voice is the first voice.  Our calling on God in prayer is response to his calling.

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Acts 10:34-43

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 8th, 2017.

What are the words every preacher wants to hear before his/her sermon?  “Now we are all here in the presence to God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”  That is what Cornelius said to Peter when Peter obeyed God and went to see him (Acts 10:33).  If our congregations listened like Samuel saying, “Speak Lord your servant is listening,” (1 Samuel 3:10) or like the Bereans, nobly, receiving the message with great eagerness (Acts 17:11), what would we say to them?

How did Peter get to this place?  If we can answer that question well, we may be able to access the power which characterized Peter’s preaching.  Peter had healed Aeneas and revived Dorcas leading many to believe in the Lord (Acts 10:42).  God was not finished with Peter.  In two different cities, two different men prayed.  Cornelius, a devout and God-fearing centurion, gave generously and prayed regularly.   Meanwhile, Peter, a one-time vile fisherman who acknowledged his sinfulness to Jesus, prayed on a rooftop.  As they prayed God worked.  First, he told Cornelius to send for Peter.  Then he told Peter that Cornelius was coming.  When Peter arrived at Cornelius’s house, the soldier said what every preacher wants to hear:  We are here to hear!  What did Peter say?  What would we?

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Hebrews 2:10-18

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on January 1st, 2017.

The youth of jesusChrist is both transcendent and immanent, perfectly divine and completely human.  Jesus was not a demi-god who was part human and part God.  In the first chapter, the writer of Hebrews showed us the exalted Savior who created the world and then saved it demonstrating that Jesus Christ is greater than everything and everyone.  Most Christians these days seem to intuitively understand the divinity of Christ.  We stand ready to defend Christ’s divinity.  This is the way it should be.  But have we any hope at all in his humanity?  We do.

We might focus a sermon on the necessity of Christ’s humanity.  Why did Jesus have to be completely human?  Only as a human could Jesus suffer and become our perfect Pioneer.  So the necessity of Jesus’ humanity rests upon Jesus’ total identity with humanity.  God is not out to make his family into one big happy family, but instead to make us one big holy family.  Jesus could not make us holy without entering fully into our humanity.  Thus, he did not merely pretend to be fully human.  No.  He actually became our elder brother and unashamedly called his followers brothers and sisters.

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Hebrews 1:1-4

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on December 25th, 2016.

radiance-1929-jpglargeHebrews is distinctive in the New Testament literature.  In the letters of Paul and Peter, we recognize the familiar formula of a letter.  Later the writer of Hebrews will describe this work as “a letter of exhortation” (13:22).   As we read Hebrews aloud, we may hear the exhortation, not just from the writer, but from God.  God speaks in answer to our heart cry, “We need to hear from you.  We need a word from you.  If we don’t hear from you, what will we do?”  Are we waiting for a word?  If God could speak to us, what would God say?  The writer of Hebrews reminds us that the very same God who spoke in the past still speaks today.

A sermon might explore the ways that God speaks to people.  How did God speak in the past?  Not only did God speak through the general revelation of creation.  No, God spoke to and through the personalities of the prophets.  In the Old Testament, we learn that God spoke to the ancestors of the readers of the Hebrews.  Characteristically, the prophets said, “The word of the Lord came . . .” and then they spoke, “Thus says the Lord.”  The words came over a span of hundreds of years beginning with Moses and going through Malachi. God spoke differently to and through different prophets.  Moses heard God’s voice in a burning bush and also in the thunder of the storm.  Elijah heard the “still, small voice.”  Isaiah saw God high and lifted up in the Temple and heard him say, “Who will go for us?”  Ezekiel heard from God on a field trip to a valley of dry bones.  The heavens were not silent as stone.  God spoke to his people through the prophets.  Now, in Christ, God speaks again, to us.

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