“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them,” by Louis A. Dole

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Fryeburg, Maine, February 4, 1934

“And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” – Luke 2:51-52

Readings

Genesis 2:8-25 · Luke 2:40-52 · Psalm 34

Sermon

From the time of the Lord’s return from Egypt, where He had been taken to escape the wrath of Herod, to the time of the beginning of His public ministry, this incident of His visit to the Temple at the age of twelve and His return to Nazareth to be subject to Mary and Joseph is the only incident mentioned.

We think of Him as spending these twenty-five or more years at His home in Nazareth. There He lived in safety and prepared Himself for His work. Nothing is said in the Scriptures about His external life and activities during this period, but He was undergoing temptations and overcoming in Himself all tendencies to self-seeking. At the age of twelve He had marvelous powers, astounding the learned men with His wisdom. With the enthusiasm, confidence, and idealism of youth it must have been a temptation to Him not to go forth and show His powers. But the time was not yet. “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” We cannot realize our ideals in our own strength. We must learn to wait upon the Lord, to depend upon Him. We can think of this long stay of the Lord in Nazareth as the period of preparation when He was gaining those inward victories which made possible His active ministry.

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Doing Our Duty, by Louis A. Dole

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“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
“And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
“Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” – Luke 17:7-10

Readings

Genesis 16 · Luke 17:1-19 · Psalm 116

Sermon

The lesson in this seemingly harsh parable is very clear even in the letter. Under the figure of master and servant our relation to the Lord is mirrored. As a servant, in doing his duty, does not place his master under special obligation, so men, the servants of the Lord, cannot claim any merit for their service. If we do all that we can, we cannot do more than our duty to the Lord. When we consider the gifts we continually receive from the Lord and the continual manifestation of His mercy and lovingkindness to all mankind, it is clearly evident that it is our duty to keep His commandments, and to do all the good that lies in our power. The balance will always be heavy on the Lord’s side, and we have no claim to merit.

But the parable also has a meaning applying to the mind of the individual himself. Between the mind and the body this relationship of master and servant exists. The body is the servant of the mind. Its office is to do always the commands of the soul. It is forever a servant. For the body to command the mind would be to invert order, and would bring disaster.

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“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” by Louis A. Dole

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“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” – Luke 10:25

Readings

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 · Matthew 19:16-30 · Psalm 16

Sermon

The terms “everlasting life” and “eternal life” sometimes are used to mean the same – that is, life without end – but there is a difference in some cases.

Everyone has everlasting life, for the evil as well as the good live forever in the spiritual world after the death of the body. No one need ask “What shall I do to inherit everlasting life” for everyone is sure to have it. But to inherit eternal life is altogether different.

No short definition of eternal life can be made that carries to another its real meaning because it involves so much. Eternal life is life directly from God, the kind of life that is in God. But for such a definition to have meaning one must know at least something of the quality of life that is in God. It is like asking “What is sunlight?” Sunlight is indeed light directly from the sun, but such a definition does not tell us exactly what sunlight is.

With the Lord there is no such thing as time. A thousand years are as a day in His sight. The angels have no idea of time. Think of an angel four thousand years old. He does not think of years, for he is merely four thousand years advanced in the love and wisdom of the Lord. So eternal life means a life of continual increase in God’s life, a life that contains unlimited unfolding of the glory of God.

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“Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” – Luke 24:49

Readings

1 Kings 2:36-46 · Luke 24:33-53 · Psalm 65

Sermon

These words were spoken to the disciples after the Lord’s resurrection, and just before His ascension. They had a definite meaning for them, for obediently they remained in Jerusalem until the day of Pentecost, when, like a mighty rushing wind came the power of the Holy Spirit for which they waited.

We recall that in David’s time a man named Shimei cursed David, and David left a command to Solomon to take vengeance on Shimei. Shimei was not to be put to death but was to build a house in Jerusalem and not go outside of the city. For three years he kept this engagement. At the end of that time, for the purpose of recovering two of his slaves who had escaped, he went out and brought them back. On his return Solomon had him put to death.

Jerusalem is called a “city of truth.” To dwell in Jerusalem is to live according to the truths of the Word that we know. So will we be safe.

These narratives are not of mere historical interest. Every act described in the Word is dramatic, a representative picture of eternal truth. This fact makes Scripture the Word of God, thus distinguishing it from all other writings.

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“He said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other,” by Louis A. Dole

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“He said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” – Luke 6:10

Readings

Joshua 1:1-18 · Luke 6:1-16 · Psalm 37:1-11

Sermon

At best the living God is a dim reality to us in comparison to what He might be. In its childhood humanity was near to God. They of most ancient times felt His presence operating in them. They were conscious that His love in their hearts was from Him. Their intelligence was the light from the love that was within. The two worlds that are within us were then in harmony. The natural world reflected the spiritual world within. It awakened the higher life of the soul, and opened the spiritual paradise where they communed with God.

They saw, when the clouds yielded their moisture, how their God revived and nourished them from His Spirit by the doctrine that dropped as the rain and the speech that distilled as the dew, like the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. The wind that bloweth where it listeth was to them the spirit of God enriching the heart. The first rays of the rising sun as they came streaming in over the horizon were to them a vivid symbol of how they received within them the light of intelligence from heaven’s sun. As the sun rose full and clear, driving back the darkness of night to usher in a new day, they thought of the glories of another and higher world than this which the sun of righteousness ushered in, and for which they were preparing, and they felt new vigor. Nature, the unwritten Word of God, was to them a living language through which heaven spoke. In that spiritual Garden of Eden God walked and talked with them, and they were near to Him.

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“Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.” – Luke 16:9

Readings

Ezekiel 28:1-19 · Luke 16:1-13 · Psalm 49

Sermon

The parable of the unjust steward is the thirty-fourth of the forty formal parables of the Gospels. A parable is a made-up story with a meaning within its letter. In its literal sense this parable presents the case of a shrewd man who found himself in a critical position and who devised the means for his support when he was rejected by his lord.

Viewed superficially this parable would seem to encourage fraud. And we even note that the unjust steward was commended for his prudence. In its literal meaning the teaching of this parable is very plain, for everyone can see that the evil or the unjust can perform deeds which are of use to others for the sake of self and the world. Men are continually doing this, performing works of benefit to the community for the sake of praise and honor. The unjust steward had acted prudently and circumspectly – the wisdom of the serpent – so it is said of such, “for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.”

It is a notable fact that the worldly man, who is interested solely in getting the riches of this world for himself, will work harder than the man who puts service to the Lord and the neighbor first.

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“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.
“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” – Luke 12:47, 48

Readings

Leviticus 5:14-6:7 · Luke 12:31-48 · Psalm 143

Sermon

In these words the Lord teaches us the nature and measure of our responsibility to Him and to our fellow men. All the precepts of the Word are of universal application. The Lord does not ask us to do more than we can – to act with a wisdom which we do not possess, or to do things beyond our ability and strength. But while the Lord demands no more than we can give, He also asks no less. Those who know the Lord’s will and do it not will be beaten with many stripes. Those who sin ignorantly will be beaten with few stripes. If we violate the laws of nature, whether wilfully or in ignorance, we must pay the penalty which is the necessary effect of a law.

In the Scriptures the Lord is said to punish, but this is according to appearances. The Lord is love; His only desire is to bless. His constant effort is to heal men of their afflictions and diseases. But this can be done only as evils and falsities are removed, and this requires man’s cooperation. Knowledge of this should give us comfort if we are living in the light of it, and should inspire us to greater fidelity if we are not.

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“Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” by Louis A. Dole

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“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” – Luke 24:32

Readings

Isaiah 60:1-5, 17-22 · Luke 24:23-35 · Psalm 96

Sermon

The joys and sorrows of this life – even of this life at its best – can scarcely sustain us in equanimity. We celebrate the Resurrection because it makes known to us the great fact of the immortality of the soul, giving to us the inspiration and joy of final victory over all that stands in the way of our happiness, and of the all-satisfying life of heaven.

The Resurrection is the most far-reaching fact of history, and in the light of it all of our life here should be lived. It is a great historical truth that once darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the people, and that those who walked in darkness saw a great light, and that to them that dwelt in the region and shadow of death a great light burst forth. Thereafter the world was never the same.

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“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom,” by Louis A. Dole

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“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” – Luke 12:32

“Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” – Matthew 25:34

Readings

Isaiah 51:7-16 · Luke 12:22-34 · Psalm 30

Sermon

These passages treat of judgment. In connection with the second passage this judgment is presented under three different images, the parables of the ten virgins, of the talents, and of the sheep and the goats.

Most people instinctively feel that when one dies, he immediately rises to life in the spiritual world, even though a belief almost universally prevails that the dead are not to be judged until the last day, which is understood to mean the end of the world. Of this time it is written, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Of course in the New Church we believe that the judgment takes place individually when we enter the spiritual world at death.

It would be difficult to find within the covers of the Bible a verse which carries within its terms greater consolation than is contained in this passage from Revelation. All the tears and sorrows, all the sicknesses and afflictions, and even death will pass away forever. And the Lord says, “It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

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“Take heed, and beware of covetousness,” by Louis A. Dole

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“Take heed, and beware of covetousness.” – Luke 12:15

Readings

Micah 2 · Luke 12:1-21 · Psalm 103:1-18

Sermon

The commandments are a summary of the Divine laws for angels and for men. They were given by the voice of the Lord from Mount Sinai. Mount Sinai rises abruptly from a large plain about twelve miles long, large enough for the encampment of all the children of Israel, so they could both see and hear.

The commandments were written on two tables of stone, the first table defining our relation to God and the second our relation to each other. The first table teaches us the necessity of worshiping the true God, and Him alone. We are not to set up false gods of our own imagining. The second table gives the laws necessary to any secure social or civic life, which flow from those on the first table. All of the commandments are necessary to the acquiring and perfecting of a Christian character. For this two things are necessary: a clear and distinct knowledge of what is right, and a conscientious practice of this knowledge. We can have knowledge without practice, and the world is full of examples of this, but we cannot have practice without knowledge.

The command to avoid covetousness is the last of the commandments. To covet means to have an inordinate desire. It does not mean a proper desire for the things we need and do not have, or those things which we do not have which would enable us to perform greater service to others.

If we do not keep this last commandment, we will not keep any of the others. For the only way to keep men from committing sin is to keep them from desiring it in their hearts. We recall that one of Swedenborg’s rules of life was “To be always resigned and content under the dispensation of the Divine Providence.” Man is in very truth judged from his deeds, but no further than insofar and in such a manner as his deeds have proceeded from his will.

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