Sermons from 2021
1 Corinthians 1:10
Luke 2:8-11 — I usually plan to use the Sunday before Christmas to deliver a lesson that tries to take advantage of the holiday’s focus on Jesus to help us think more about the meaning of his life and teachings. In all my years of planning, however, I never planned to deliver a sermon via video. Yet, because of COVID in my family and in so many other families at church, I will be delivering this Sunday’s sermon – the…
Luke 12:13-21 We all have a rich inheritance from God. How do we divide and us it? How can we be rich…towards God? Jesus calls His followers to work hard to use what God has given to bless others & avoid the pitfalls of greed.
Eastern European Missions (EEM) update with Lanny Tucker.
Despite the difficulties our nation has faced over the last few years, many people recognize the benefits of citizenship in the United States. Citizenship in America grants access to a range of opportunities and protections unavailable in many other nations, opportunities and protections that lead people to regularly thank God for our country and the blessings it offers. Similarly, citizenship in the New Testament city of Philippi offered people advantages because, as a Roman colony, it also gave them citizenship in the Roman empire. Even though Philippians prided themselves on their citizenship, Paul told the Christians in Phillip to rejoice because their “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20-21). Paul’s convictions about the benefits of citizenship in heaven developed out of his understanding of Jesus’ message about “the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:42-44). Understanding the kingdom Jesus announced, Paul believed, ought to result in an abiding thankfulness. We celebrate Thanksgiving this week, a holiday that encourages us to reflect on the blessings in our lives. Jesus’ message of the kingdom of God offers benefits that form an essential foundation for our thankfulness. We will therefore consider Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of God to remind us of some of the reasons motivating our gratitude.
Thanksgiving and Christmas ought to be a time of thankfulness for the people and blessings in our lives that we express through things like gift-giving. However, the holidays’ focus on gift-giving seems to inevitably lead to laments about the materialism and commercialization of Christmas. This year those concerns have been joined by the additional worries created by ongoing supply chain restrictions and economic troubles, conspiring to make gift-giving a frustration rather than a joy. The Bible presents a different picture of gift-giving – it depicts God generously giving gifts to humanity through which He brings blessings into their lives. God’s gift-giving does not find itself hindered by the concerns of our holiday season. Instead, God’s gifts dismantle those frustrations and bring goodness and healing into the world. We are using Sunday mornings this month to reflect on some of the reasons that inspire the thankfulness that should define our lives. The Bible’s portrait of God’s gift-giving identity offers another motivation – we are thankful for God’s gift-giving character.
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.
This lesson will consider the unexpected way God returned to His people, the way prophesied by Isaiah 51-53 and fulfilled in Jesus. In a similarly unexpected way, God returns His presence to the world today through the lives of Christians, sinful people united into an unlikely family through Jesus.
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.