Sermons by Matt Heerema
Matt serves as lead pastor, and focuses on teaching, leadership, and theological development. He and his wife Nancy have four daughters. He is a musician and led in Stonebrook’s music ministry for 15 years before putting the guitar down. Matt is an avid reader and massive sci-fi geek. As a bi-vocational pastor, he also directs Mere Agency whose goal is to help the church use the web to impact the world with the gospel. You can connect with him at mattheerema.com.
For our culture today, the most controversial thing Christians believe is that each of us was created by Almighty God, who designs and reveals our identity and purpose, and to whom we owe love, worship, and obedience. We are not our own. We belong to God. Join us this week as we marvel at the glorious truth of our wonderful, sovereign, loving creator, and the impact of that reality on our daily life.
A Look Back at Luke 1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2 just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 that you may have certainty concerning the things you…
This week we come to one of the most confounding scenes in the gospel narrative, Jesus’s trial before the Jewish Council, Pilate, Herod, and the Crowds. We see Jesus rightly identified as The Son of God, the Messiah, the King of the universe. We see him falsely accused of crimes he did not commit. We see him acquitted by both Jewish and Roman political authorities. But we see him taken away by the crowd to be murdered. In all this we get a glimpse into our own sinful hearts, and marvel at Jesus’s mission to save the world.
In his account of Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem to finish his earthly mission, Luke focuses his narrative on Jesus’s repudiation of the injustice, corruption, and error in the temple service and the elite religious leaders. Finishing his teachings to his disciples, Jesus overhears a comment about the magnificence of the temple, which he responds to by prophesying the destruction of the temple. This prompts a question from his disciples: “When will this happen? What signs should we look for to prepare?” Jesus gives four non-signs, things that are going to happen but do not signal the destruction he’s referring to, and instead warns them: “You’ll know it when you see it. Be ready at all times.” This call to readiness is as relevant for us today as it was for them then, and for all believers throughout history.
The Pharisees ask Jesus about the timing of the arrival of God’s Kingdom on earth that He has been talking about. Jesus response to this question in the gospels is always the same: No one can know the timing, but it will happen suddenly, without warning, that is, without further warning than the one he continually gives: be ready today. In our eating, drinking, getting married, buying, selling, planting, building, sleeping, and milling, are we also praying: “Lord let your kingdom come!”
This week, we’ll look at a perplexing parable about a master, a manager, and money. The details are confusing to our modern understanding of business, but Jesus’s message is clear nonetheless. The problem that Jesus was pointing out was that we, like the disciples and the Pharisees, don’t know what money is really for, and we forget who it really belongs to. When we see how Jesus uses this parable to instruct the disciples and rebuke the Pharisees, we’ll gain great insight into God’s economics. How does he want us to use “our” money?
After Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, even the apostles were devastated and confused, going only by what they could see. Their entire world was crashing around them, or so they thought. When Jesus finally does show up on that first Easter morning, the surprising ways he reveals himself to his despairing flock can teach us much about what we need from him today.
In our passage this week, Jesus tells us to think forward to judgement day, The Day of The Lord, The Return of Christ, and teaches us something remarkable: Christians never need to fear death, because they never die. He confronts us with a question: Are you ready for that judgement day? Or are you living like it’s not coming?
In this week’s sermon, we look at a scene in which a question about washing up before a meal provokes a seemingly very harsh response from Jesus. But you stack up everything Luke has recorded the Pharisees and Lawyers saying so far in the gospel account, the response makes much more sense. Why does Jesus respond this way to the Pharisees? Because of the way they have been responding to the Messiah, and treating God’s children. We’ll look at ways we can be just like the Pharisees and Lawyers, and more importantly, we’ll look at our great savior who offers mercy, healing, forgiveness, and love.
A life of following Jesus is a life on an exciting but difficult mission. This week we will see Jesus setting the example for us in proclaiming the good news about the kingdom. He sets the expectation for us that we will not only get to see God working powerfully, miraculous providence, and lives healed and changed, but we will also suffer rejection, loneliness, separation from the rest of the world, hardship, and danger. Following Jesus is a serious and weighty task. But when he calls us, and we follow, we will get to see the kingdom of God come near, and what could be better than that?
Having our ideas challenged is hard. Studies show that when an idea is presented to us that goes against our current understanding, our brains treat the situation same way we treat a physical or emotional threat. We feel like we’re in danger! This week, we’ll read about three times the disciples had their understanding corrected by Jesus, but they are unable to “get it.” Their unwillingness to change, and their fear to ask, will show us things about ourselves, and what it takes to learn and grow in our walk with Jesus.
This week we will examine the one glimpse the Bible gives us of Jesus’s childhood. That he sought to learn in the temple. That he “grew” in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man, has spoiled many formulas of theologians throughout the ages. God, incarnate, had to learn and grow! As we explore this mystery, we learn some encouraging things about our faith.
In this week’s passage, we are introduced to two faithful Israelites: Simeon and Anna, both of whom had spent their life waiting for the promised redeemer, God’s Messiah. Unlike the Pharisees who were trying to bring about the Messiah’s arrival through their good works, the Sanhedrin who had capitulated to Roman politics, the zealots who were trying to liberate Israel by force, or the Essenes who withdrew from engaging the world at all, these two faithful believers trusted God’s promises in his timing, and so found themselves in a position to meet and receive the Messiah at his arrival. The parallels for us today are obvious.
The wise King Solomon, having understood and experienced many things, and blessed by God with great wisdom, makes a simple observation that we can all resonate with: “A deferred hope makes the heart sick.” – In our passage this week, we will watch a faithful Israelite couple have two of their deepest, deferred hopes suddenly fulfilled. Their reaction can give us great insight about ourselves, and point us to an unshakeable hope that will never fail us.
For us today, we say, “Jesus the Messiah has already come.” But for centuries prior to that history-making day, the people were in high anticipation. This Sunday three of our pastors will have a panel discussion examining many of the remarkable Old Testament prophecies of the advent– the coming– of Jesus.
Facing increasing rejection and opposition from the religious leaders of the day, Jesus begins “hiding” his teachings in parables, so that only those who really desire to follow and learn from Jesus are able to know his meaning. This week we will focus on the parable of the sower – or, better, the parable of the soils. The parable asks us to examine our attitude toward Jesus – are we believing? connected? rejecting worldly pleasure? holding fast to his word? This parable warns us, corrects us, and shows us the way to a fruitful life of faith.
While in prison, John the Baptist hears reports of Jesus’s ministry. Many things line up with his expectation of the Messiah, but many things do not. He sends his followers to ask Jesus directly “are you indeed the Messiah, or are we waiting for someone else?” Jesus’s unusual response inspires trust in God for those who believe and repent, but for those who are righteous in their own mind, no response he could give would be sufficient.
In this week’s passage, we are introduced to four sets of people: the first disciples, a leper, a paralytic and his friends, and the pharisees. Through his interactions with these four very diverse people, Jesus shows us that he has the power, willingness, and authority to heal and forgive sin for anyone who comes to him in faith.
In this week’s passage, Jesus proclaims that the long awaited “year of the Lord’s favor”, is here! In his very brief sermon he tells his hometown, the people he grew up with, that he is, in fact, the Messiah. In two strange analogies to Old Testament stories, he tells them the surprising nature of his ministry: God’s grace is free, is open to the gentiles, and we should receive it as humbly as a widow and a leper. This shocking claim enrages the town. And we should ask ourselves, how do we respond?
In this week’s passage, we will Jesus, the descendant of King David, and of all our “father” Adam, and also, most importantly, the Son of God, face temptation from our adversary, the devil himself. We will be encouraged as Jesus faces temptation, just as Adam did, and just as we do: as a human. Using the same resources we have available to us, the leading and empowering of the Holy Spirit, and reliance on God’s promises and commands in his word.