Why We Never Give Up (2 Corinthians 4:13-16a)

Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | July 19, 2015


Text:

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”   Continue reading

Death for Us, Life for You (2 Corinthians 4:7-12)

Sermon by Daniel L. Sonnenberg | June 21, 2015


Text:

7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.   Continue reading

The Purposes for Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19)

Sermon by Rev. Daniel L. Sonnenberg | February 12, 2012


Text:

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1Pe 4:12-19) Continue reading

The Story of Job as Modern Drama

Some of the Old Testament prophets illustrated God’s message to His people through drama. In one instance, God commanded one of his prophets to marry a prostitute, a woman who in the normal course of her trade would be unfaithful to her husband, in order to demonstrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to her loving husband and God, Yahweh.

As I began reading the book of Job today, I imagined a dramatic re-presentation of Job’s story to address the question of suffering in our day. The language, customs, dress and other accoutrements could be modernized and perhaps the leading character could be a woman or even a teenager or a child since suffering is experienced by young and old alike. I imagine a woman experiencing a post-partum or mid-life depression, a teenager considering suicide because of some loss or a child in the hospital with leukemia.

It would be a challenge to write a script that succinctly but sufficiently portrays the character’s perseverance in spite of her own impatience and utter frustration, the friends’ logical arguments and patented but ultimately unsatisfying answers, the spouse’s (or closest confidant’s) fatalism, the Accuser’s scheming, and finally God’s conclusion of the matter. Modern people suffer too, and their friends and family make the same mistakes that Job’s did. We need to hear once again how God concludes the matter and learn to live by faith in the tension of of his answer.

Classic Sermons: “Homily on the Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof” by John Chrysostom

Let us not then be disturbed, neither dismayed, when trials befall us. For if the gold refiner sees how long he ought to leave the piece of gold in the furnace, and when he ought to draw it out, and does not allow it to remain in the fire until it is destroyed and burnt up: much more does God understand this, and when He sees that we have become more pure, He releases us from our trials so that we may not be overthrown and cast down by the multiplication of our evils. Let us then not be repining, or faint-hearted, when some unexpected thing befalls us; but let us suffer Him who knows these things accurately, to prove our hearts by fire as long as He pleases: for He does this for a useful purpose and with a view to the profit of those who are tried.

— from “Homily on the Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof,” by Chrysostom (c.347–407)

Read this classic at the CCEL
Read more by this author at the CCEL