Sermons on Christian Living
We tend to associate the beginning of a new year with the possibility of new and good things. That anticipation is tempered by our recognition that we have to work to realize many of the good things we hope to see. As we move into 2021, I want us to consider Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, to look back to his teaching to help us move forward into the new year. We will, over the next few weeks, consider three messages from the Sermon on the Mount that will hopefully compose a perspective that will guide us throughout this year and help us realize the good things God wants to be part of our lives. We begin in this lesson by considering the reality of the kingdom Jesus talked about in his sermon, which focuses us on an important message – we live in the present as representatives of Jesus’ kingdom’s future arrival.
John 17: 20-23 The 151st church family has the following mission: we exist to live, and help others live, a purposeful life by being more like Jesus. Our mission expresses itself in through: = Growing – developing our understanding of God’s Bible and developing ways of helping us faithfully live out those understandings. = Bonding – developing a deeper relationship with God that reveals itself through our deepening relationships with one another. = Sending – identifying ways to both serve and teach the people and communities around us with the goal of one day planting another church. Last year focused on “growing”, the first of the three expressions of our mission. This year we will focus on the second of the three purposes – “bonding” – and explore the Bible’s teachings about relationships and the place they hold within our effort to be more a Christlike church family. Bonding’s goal focuses on helping us cultivate united, Jesus-centered relationships with one another through which we evidence, and develop, our relationship with God. This lesson introduces our focus for 2021 by offering a brief overview of bonding’s place within the Bible.
Trusting God When… Genesis 50:19-21 It’s fairly amazing how quickly the word obey became a taboo in our culture. Think about it. People would rather hear something ugly than be told to obey. Which is why stories like Joseph in Genesis are significant. He is held up for his obedience as an illustration of trust, and even love, for God. Understanding Joseph helps us see the truth behind Jesus’ words “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”
Colossians 3:15-17 — 2020 has been a most unusual year. COVID sidelined many of the church-related patterns that, in many ways, define church life. While COVID’s disruptions created unease, fear, and frustration, they also revealed a number of blessings and created a number of opportunities for us in the 151st church family. This lesson will therefore consider a few of those things to help us think about the coming year and some things we might do to build on our strengths so that we can more effectively represent Jesus.
Unchristian Matthew 11:2-9 What do doubt and rejection have in common? Is it unchristian to experience one? Or both? After ten months of isolation, one of Jesus’ strongest supporters experiences doubt. To make matters worse, this follower spoke out in defense of the teachings of Jesus and against a moral evil. But now there is no end in sight to his isolation and rejection. This story provides assurance that doubt and rejection do not have to be what ultimately defines those who seek Jesus.
Job 34:10-16 Do you think you would do a good job if you were responsible for “repaying everyone for what they have done” and giving everyone “what their conduct deserves”? Do you think God does better? Is He somehow better equipped to untangle our complicated world of right and wrong, justice and mercy? Job admits he couldn’t do better and says: “If God withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust.” When we are discouraged by all that is wrong with the world and ourselves, and baffled by how complex and difficult hardship can be, we need to spend time thinking on all that is right with God.
Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and other religious groups’ thinking. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson continues a series looking at some of the more apparent beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. In particular, this lesson explores our beliefs about the Lord’s Supper: We believe the Christian practice of communion follows the Jewish observance of the Sabbath while reinterpreting it through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and other religious groups’ thinking. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson continues a series looking at some of the beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. In particular, this lesson explores some of our beliefs about the church: We believe the church exists as God’s new Israel and has the responsibility of mediating between God and the world through its dedication to thinking and acting like Jesus.
Ruth 2:10-14Grace is simple enough for any believer to receive. But the whole truth of grace is big enough, infinite in fact, for us to grow into as well. Christians not only receive grace but grow in grace. They receive and grow so they can better live among those saved by grace. Do we long to be stronger believers in grace? May we have the courage to be inconvenienced by God’s grace.
Jonah 1 — As we go through this life, it is no secret that at times we encounter great difficulty. Hardship therefore, is the reality that every believer should be ready (if not at least preparing) ourselves to face. The purpose of the message is to look at some key things we learn in the midst of our challenges that are invaluable to the Christian journey.
Colossians 2:11-12 – Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and the thinking of other religious groups. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson begins a series looking at some of the more apparent beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. We continue our series with our exploration of our beliefs about baptism – we believe baptism symbolizes Jesus’ death and resurrection and is required by God for participation in His covenant community and the enjoyment of His covenant blessings.
Luke 24: 36-49 Certain beliefs and practices define us as a religious group in our thinking and the thinking of other religious groups. Because we have a responsibility to be “prepared to make a defense” for the things we believe (1 Peter 3:15), we need to have a conversational understanding of our beliefs and practices that we can share with others. This lesson begins a series looking at some of the more obvious beliefs and practices that tend to define us, things like baptism, communion, and music in worship, and will offer a biblical explanation for them. We begin our series in an obvious and foundational place; we begin with our convictions about the Bible: We believe God composed the Bible to tell the sweeping story of His relationship with humanity, a story that centers on Jesus and that provides the foundation for our beliefs and practices.
Acts 8:1-5–The first Christians were harassed and killed, robbed and evicted. The most significant action the individual Christian took was to focus on the next person they met, even if that person was a stranger. They acted like they believed the message of the gospel wasn’t just for people like them, but instead for anyone willing to follow Jesus.
Many people in our nation are currently debating the nature of freedom and its relationship to law and to others. While a number of people have articulated insightful and influential perspectives on the idea of freedom that offer some intellectual context for the debate, we look instead to the ruler of the kingdom in which we claim citizenship; we look to Jesus who announced that he came to “proclaim liberty to captives” (Luke 4:18) and we look to the example of the early church as people living out the liberty he proclaimed. We will therefore consider the early church’s teachings about freedom as a way to help us think about the freedom being debated in our nation today.
Ephesians 2:11-22 Regardless of what one thinks about the phrase “black lives matter”, it represents a truth about our nation – we live in a society that politicizes race. And, despite claims that we have become a more ‘enlightened’ society, the strong reactions that phrase solicits from people reminds us that race really does matter in our county. Given the current turmoil surrounding race in our nation, we will consider the way the early church responded to the division it encountered between Jews and Gentiles and explore what guidance its response offers us.
This lesson begins a series exploring Jesus’ kingdom in effort to help us better understand what he expects of us as people who claim citizenship in his kingdom and what those expectations look like in practice. This first lesson considers the unexpected nature of Jesus’ kingdom and what it means for its citizens.
Tell the Story 1 Peter 3:15 If someone asked me why I put my hope in Jesus, what would I say? I could probably give several reasons, but have you ever been caught off guard and later wished you’d said something better, or different? It’s hard to always be ready. But Paul’s recollection of his conversion in Acts 22 help us to have our eyes open. He helps us to be on the lookout for those seeking a reason for hope. He also reminds us of why we place our hope in Jesus.
We have, in our nation, dedicated today to honor fathers. Good reasons motivate Fathers’ Day; not only do we love our fathers (for those of us who were blessed with good fathers), God also commands people to honor their fathers (Ephesians 6:2). Rather than expressing honor by buying gifts, Paul instructs us to honor fathers by obeying them (Ephesians 6:1-2). The command to honor fathers through obedience carries the expectation that fathers provide honorable teaching that focuses on raising children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This lesson considers what that teaching looks like as a reminder to all of us about the honored place God intends fathers to occupy.
What does it feel like to be judged based on a set of unspoken rules? Has someone’s loudly shouted opinion ever made you feel small? Colossians 2:16-23 teaches about our tendency to allow obsolete rules to eclipse our ongoing relationship with Christ. Or how personal preferences or opinions about spiritual matters can distract from the substance of truth. Paul helps Christians avoid a lost connection with Christ in a way that also preserves their unity with other Christians.
Turning to God Colossians 2:1-15 Do you remember when you first received and turned to Christ as your Savior? In Colossians 2, Paul says Christians continue to live and be rooted and strengthened by that initial reception and turning to Christ. It is amazing how faith in Jesus allowed for a response that acted even when our compete understanding of God was in infancy. It is helpful, and humbling, to understand that initial response still gives us needed help even as we grow in our faith.