John 12:1-11 (click to display NIV text)
March 17, 2013: Fifth Sunday in Lent
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“Then Mary took about a pint of nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

Somehow Mary came into possession of a very expensive jar of perfume, worth a whole year’s wages for a working person of that day. She could have kept it and used a little from time to time at weddings and special occasions. She could have saved it, in case there was a family emergency and  it could be sold to meet the need. She could have sold it and given the money to the poor. Judas said that would have been a good use. But Mary chose the best. She used it to anoint Jesus, just before he went to the cross. She gave a costly gift to Jesus.

Sometimes we are confronted with a choice, and we have to decide what is best. Read more

Luke 6:39-49 (click to display NIV text)
March 10, 2013: Fourth Sunday in Lent
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock.”

 

Many years ago I was the coach of my son’s soccer team, when he was 7 years old. During the week we would work on having the players spread out over the field and have them practice passing the ball side to side. On Saturday mornings they would play a game, and all the players from both teams would cluster around the ball as it moved around the field. The pressure of opposition changed everything they had learned to do.

This week has been the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. In the first half of the race several of the mushers used unconventional strategy to try to get an edge on the competition. Martin Buser sprinted from the start, then took his mandatory 24 hour layover much earlier in the race than usual. Meanwhile, Lance Mackey drove hard to the halfway point, hoping to be first to that point and win a $7,000 prize, and then he took his 24-hour rest, which was much later than most of the teams. But this year the temperatures have been very warm, and with the warm temperatures came strong winds. So, in the face of wind, the strategies did not mean as much. Now it is down to who has the strongest dogs, rather than who has the best strategy. Buser held the lead all day Saturday, breaking trail in the soft snow and facing the strong wind. But it wore him out, and now he is fading out of contention. The opposition of the warm wind changed everything.

Our lives are lived under pressure, under opposition. Under the pressure of various types of storms and the resistance of competition we find that we need a teacher, one who can see what we cannot see, one who can guide us. Our strategies tend to fall apart when we face opposition. Under stress, we act like we are blind. Read more

Luke 6:27-38 (click to display NIV text)
March 3, 2013: Third Sunday in Lent
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

The prophet Isaiah says “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” God is merciful. God is available to those who seek him. He is near to those who call upon him. Even the wicked have a chance with God. They can turn to him and he will have mercy on them. The mercy of God is effective because the word of God accomplishes the will of God.

Jesus pointed people to the mercy and goodness of God.   Jesus called his followers to act with mercy because God is merciful. That is the message in this section of Luke chapter 6. Read more

Luke 6:27-38 (click to display NIV text)
March 3, 2013: Third Sunday in Lent
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

The prophet Isaiah says “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” God is merciful. God is available to those who seek him. He is near to those who call upon him. Even the wicked have a chance with God. They can turn to him and he will have mercy on them. The mercy of God is effective because the word of God accomplishes the will of God.

Jesus pointed people to the mercy and goodness of God.   Jesus called his followers to act with mercy because God is merciful. That is the message in this section of Luke chapter 6. Read more

Luke 6:17-23 (click to display NIV text)
Feb. 24, 2013: Second Sunday in Lent
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“Looking at his disciples, he said: ‘Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God.’ “

When Jesus announced his ministry in the synagogue at Nazareth, he said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim Good News to the poor…,” and then he ends by saying, “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke goes on to present to us Jesus the teacher of God’s Word, Jesus the prophet mighty in word and deed, and Jesus who is Messiah, Lord and Savior. Now in chapter 6, we hear Jesus teach. Read more

Luke 5:17-26 (click to display NIV text)
Feb. 17, 2013: First Sunday in Lent
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ The Pharisees and teachers of the Law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ ”

Jesus is the Savior. The angel says to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you.” Now Luke reveals Jesus who is the Savior. How will Jesus express his role as Savior? It is by forgiving sins and healing and leading people to faith.

First we need to understand Jesus’ ministry of healing. The ancient world had a view of healing that was somewhat different than our modern medical understanding. Read more

Luke 5:1-11 (click to display NIV text)
Feb. 10, 2013
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’ ”

Jesus is Lord. That is the message that Luke opens up to us in chapter 5. He began his Gospel by telling us that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and the Savior. Then he showed us Jesus the teacher of the Word. In chapter 4 he revealed Jesus as the prophet, mighty in word and deed. Now he says “Jesus is Lord.”

The people of Nazareth did not accept Jesus, especially in his role as prophet. They tried to kill him. But Jesus walked through them and he went to Capernaum, where he taught the people. There he silenced and cast out an evil spirit in a man, and then he healed Peter’s mother-in-law from a high fever, and healed many others. The demons recognize him as the Son of God, but they are resisting him and not accepting him. Jesus goes on to proclaim Good News in the villages of Galilee.

Now in chapter 5, the narrative changes. Read more

Luke 4:22-30 (click to display NIV text)
Feb. 3, 2013
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.”

Luke tells us that Jesus began his ministry by teaching in the synagogues of Galilee and everyone praised him. We then learn in verse 23 that the people in Nazareth heard of what he did in Capernaum and wanted him to do those things in Nazareth as well. That probably meant teaching along with healing miracles, a ministry of word and deed.

People have always loved a good teacher. News gets around fast when a well respected teacher comes to a university or to a high school or to a church. People are eager to take a class. Whether it is moms registering their children for kindergarten or college students registering for classes, it does not take long to find out who the good teachers are and which ones to avoid. That news travels about as fast as any. We value a good teacher.

Read more

Luke 4:14-21 (click to display NIV text)
Jan. 27, 2013
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”

On Friday I asked the men’s Bible study group what they had experienced in times of returning to their hometown or to a family gathering after being gone for a time. For one the family had changed drastically in his absence and so there was no celebration of his return. For another, the town had changed drastically in the intervening years, so the setting for the reunion was almost unrecognizable. For several of us there seemed to be no change in the people of our hometowns or families, so they were unable to affirm that we in fact had changed, had grown, and become something other than the funny little kid they had known. So often, when you return home after being away, people do not know who you are; they only know who you were.

Jesus returned to Galilee. The first 3 ½ chapters of the Gospel of Luke take place in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the wilderness by the Jordan River. Now, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit.” He returned to where he had grown up after perhaps being gone for some time. The people ask, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” But now there is something different about him. We know from the first three chapters that he is the Son of God who will live by the Word of God. But the people of Nazareth do not seem to know that. Read more

Luke 4:1-13 (click to display NIV text)
January 20, 2013
Pastor Dwight A. Nelson

“The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: man shall not live on bread alone.’ “

Jesus faces three tests in the wilderness. All three are deceptive words from the devil that threaten his relationship with the Father. The temptations cast doubt on Jesus identity as the Son of God. This is the identity that has been established in the first three chapters of Luke:

  •  Gabriel announces it to Mary.
  •  Jesus demonstrates his relationship to the Father at the temple when he is twelve.
  • A voice from heaven saying, “This is my Son, whom I love” is heard at his baptism.  It is written into the genealogy.
  • Jesus is the Son of God. Read more