Sermons on Christian Living (Page 2)
We will celebrate Thanksgiving later this month, a time when many people in our nation pause to reflect on the blessings in their lives. We understand, however, that our thankfulness should not be limited to a national holiday; we recognize that we should “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Given the central place God wants thankfulness to have within our lives, we will take advantage of the upcoming holiday to remind ourselves of some of the reasons for our gratitude. We begin in this lesson by considering God’s choice to work through humans, why His choice should make us thankful, and what it means for our relationships with one another.
We have spent two months examining the individual characteristics Paul included in his “fruit of the Spirit” list in Galatians 5:22-23. We have dedicated time to considering that list because it offers a portrait of the character that God wants to define His people, a character that reflects His own identity and that enables people to be His image-bearers in the world. In this lesson, we will consider the final item in Paul’s list – self-control – and the place it ought to have within our lives.
“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?” Clint Eastwood’s character “Dirty Harry” voiced that now-popular phrase in the 1971 movie by the same name. The movie follows Eastwood’s character, a police officer in San Francisco, as he tracks down a psychopathic serial killer named “Scorpio”. Even though Eastwood’s character behaves in ways like the movie’s villain, the film casts his willingness to bend and break the rules and to use violence to stop Scorpio as misunderstood, but necessary, heroic behavior. Dirty Harry represents a common motif in American cinema – heroes do whatever it takes to stop the bad guy. That motif, however, stands in stark contrast to the gentleness Paul said ought to characterize Christians. This lesson continues our survey of the fruit of the Spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23 by considering gentleness and its place in our lives.
The Fruit of the Spirit is Faithfulness Matthew 25:21 Do you long to hear the Lord say to you “Well done, good and faithful servant…”? That longing is exciting and humbling. He calls us, and helps us, to keep our promise to be faithful to Him in all things. The Lord is faithful to keep His promises to us.
RUNNING THE RACE “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7
Amy bought me a t-shirt that has the phrase “do good” printed on the front. I love that shirt (I love it so much I bought a second one in a different color). The ‘slogan’ is a positive version of the often mocked “Don’t be evil” motto that Google adopted in the early 2000s. Both phrases – ‘do good, “don’t be evil” – acknowledge the importance of moral behavior. Problems, however, arise when one tries to define “goodness” because it has a flexible meaning determined by the ever-evolving tastes of our society. The Bible similarly emphasizes the importance of goodness. Paul, for example, wrote that Christians should “learn to devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:14). Unlike our culture, the Bible offers a fixed understanding of goodness based on the identity and behavior of God. We will consider the goodness in this lesson as part of our ongoing exploration of the “fruit of the Spirit” Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23.
Most people praise kindness and desire that quality in other people. At the same time, we live in a culture that promotes an it’s-just-business mentality that permits unkind actions against others to further one’s interests. We praise kindness but believe you must ‘look out for number one’. The Bible similarly praises kindness but, unlike our society, it holds kindness as a non-negotiable character for all people, all times, and all situations. Given our culture and the Bible’s different attitudes towards kindness, how are we to understand the kindness Paul wrote the Holy Spirit seeks to produce in us (Galatians 5:22)? This lesson continues to explore the “fruit of the Spirit” Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23 and will consider the fifth fruit – kindness – and its place in our lives.
God calls Christians to change their character. He calls angry people to be peaceful. He calls lazy people to be productive. He calls unloving people to be loving. He calls impatient people to be patient. God calls people to remodel their character so that it reflects His own character. That call for character transformation lies at the heart of the fruit of the Spirit Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23, a list outlining features of the character that should define God’s…
The Fruit of the Spirit is Peace Romans 5:1-2 We continue our sermons on the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. The hymn “It Is Well With My Soul” beautifully captures Biblical peace. Life can be a peaceful river. Life is also filled with sorrows that overwhelm us like an enormous billowing sea. The Spirit works in Christians amidst both situations. The well-being begins in our soul as God makes peace through the Cross. Christians then walk in step with the Spirit to produce and share the fruit of the Spirit with a world seeking peace.
The Bible mentions “joy” and “rejoicing” nearly four hundred times. While some of the instances of “joy”/“rejoicing” record people’s responses to their experiences, the volume of references indicates that the emotions represent something more than merely the incidental recording of human feelings. Surveying the Bible’s teachings about joy reveals an emotion inseparably connected to God’s presence and a defining character of the life He intended humans to live. This lesson continues our exploration of the “fruit of the Spirit” Paul lists in Galatians 5:22-23 and will consider the joy the Holy Spirit seeks to create within the lives of those who dedicate themselves to following Jesus.
This year we have been considering the theme of “bonding”, of developing our relationships with one another and with God. Our focus builds on the relational nature of God’s expectations (cf. Matthew 22:34-40) and seeks to cultivate within us a character that supports those relationships. This lesson furthers that goal by introducing a series examining “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23. The Spirit-produced fruit Paul mentioned describes the relationship-oriented character of those who commit to following Jesus. Therefore, we will take the next nine weeks to consider the fruit of the Spirit and its place within our lives. We will examine the first of those fruits in the lesson – love. Each Sunday morning, over the next nine weeks, we will examine one of the characteristics Paul includes in his fruit of the Spirit list. Then, on Sunday evenings, we will use the morning’s lesson as a starting point for a discussion exploring the place of that characteristic in our lives.
This year we have been considering the theme of “bonding”, of developing our relationships with one another and with God. Our theme builds on the relational nature of God’s expectations (cf. Matthew 22:34-40) and seeks to cultivate within us a character that supports those relationships. This lesson furthers that goal by introducing a series examining “the fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23. The Spirit-produced fruit Paul mentioned describe the relationship-oriented character of those who commit to following Jesus and into whose life God consequently sends the Spirit. We will therefore take the next ten weeks to consider the fruit of the Spirit and their place within our lives beginning with, in this lesson, a survey of Paul’s message in the book of Galatians and how it prepares us to understand the fruit of the Spirit.
I sat down at my desk for my first day as a minister twenty-one years ago this May. After busying myself arranging my little stack of books (I only had a Bible and four other books) and a few works items I realized something – I had no idea what to do. I have, fortunately, learned a few things about ministry over the years. In particular, I have developed some convictions that shape my practice of ministry, beliefs drawn from the Bible’s portrait of the church’s identity and of life in the church. This lesson will consequently consider three of those insights and how they can help us think about church.
We cherish the freedoms enjoyed in our nation and consider them central to our country’s identity. We also cherish the freedom Jesus extends to us and consider it central to our Christian identity. The freedom offered by our nation and the freedom offered by Jesus, however, differ from one another – our country guarantees freedoms to pursue our own interests while Jesus frees us to serve others’ interests. This lesson concludes a short series examining our dual identity as citizens of both our nation and of Jesus’ kingdom by considering the freedoms of both kingdoms and the place they should have within our lives.
Philippians 2:12-16 Paul’s command to do all things without complaining or arguing is one of the clearest ways children of God stand out in the world. Resisting the temptation to grumble is as important as our prayers for restoration and deliverance. We are inspired toward this goal out of gratitude for Jesus who left heaven, lived as a servant and endured the cross, all without grumbling, arguing or complaining.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Those familiar words were included in the Declaration of Independence that the second continental congress adopted on July 4, 1776. Those same words have become the foundation of the hopes and understandings many people in our nation have about our country. The words adopted by the second continental congress stand in contrast to the words embraced by the preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes. At the end of the book, the preacher wrote that things like the ‘self-evident truths’ of the Declaration of Independence belong to the “vanity of vanities” he saw filling the world (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:8). Given our nation’s celebration of our nation’s independence, including the freedoms and rights attached to that independence, we will consider the perspective of Ecclesiastes and what insights it offers us on our relationship with our nation.
The 4th of July marks an annual highpoint in our nation – we celebrate the birth of our nation and the freedoms central to our understanding of its identity. We are right to celebrate such things; freedom is a blessing and, as James wrote, all blessings come from God (James 1:17). Our celebration should, however, also be paired with a recognition that the Bible offers a complicated picture of the relationship God’s people ought to have with the world’s nations. This lesson therefore begins a short series considering our identity as citizens of Jesus’ kingdom and its meaning for our lives in the kingdoms of this world.
This lesson begins a series of three lessons on elders in preparation for the beginning of the process to appoint additional elders for our church family. This lesson will focus on the historical background of elders in the Bible and how that background emphasizes that elders are older men recognized by their community as individuals of proven character and wisdom to whom they entrust their care.
2 Samuel 24:17 One lost sheep endangers themselves; a lost shepherd influences and endangers an entire flock. Suffering the influence of a failed leader reminds us all to not lean on our own understanding & deceitful heart. God doesn’t throw vessels away when they break but can use the broken to demonstrate His redemptive power. God demonstrates his power as leaders choose to “repent, turn to God, and demonstrate your repentance by your deeds” (Acts 20:26).
Acts 17:11-12–God is not far from those who are eager to learn. It’s why we must be on the lookout for excusing our spiritual stubbornness. It’s easy to see in others, but easy to miss in ourselves. Christians who are learners avoid the trap of unrepentant stubbornness. They receive God’s Word with great eagerness. They examine the Scriptures every day to see what is true.