A Prayer for the Church

Father God, Lord almighty, gracious and merciful, give to pastors a more intimate relationship with You that they would long to preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners; a Gospel without the bells and whistles that often distract. Give Your Church receptive and picky ears that they may desire only the pure, unaltered Gospel, not a social justice rant that can not save their souls. May leaders not desire their own glorification but rather humble themselves under the cross of Christ. Your Church, oh God, seems to long to be accepted by the world; acquiescing to its demands to liberalize its message and turn a blind eye to sin. May You convict, transform and embolden Your Church to stand out and be a lighthouse in this dark world. It’s not about being liked or being popular, but rather about being obedient to You and shining the light of the Truth through Jesus Christ. Oh God, send now Your Holy Spirit into our lives that we may draw people to the light of Your love through Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Just the Gospel

From the sermon this morning. This can not be said enough. So I am going to just leave this right here…

My friends, through faith in Jesus Christ, your sins have been forgiven and thus you have been justified in the eyes of God. You cannot justify yourself. But your filthy rags have been removed and the white robe of righteousness has been placed on you. Jesus has personally dressed you with the wedding garment and has seated you at the banquet table. Through his death and resurrection, you have been made new. This is not from you. This is not something you can obtain through self-justification for you are unclean, dirty and filthy; always falling short of the glory of God. You are sinner. The justification that places you in God’s holy courts; His kingdom, is pure gift. It is all grace. Confess that you are a sinner and know a love like no other.

Light in the World

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
[Philippians 2:14–15 (ESV)]

It seems to me that many in the Church need to take these words of Paul to heart. Too Christians spend way too much time fighting and complaining about the stupidest things or whining and complaining about this and that politician. They do this all the while as this “crooked and twisted” generation is watching and thinking, “why do I need to listen to them?“. Or worse yet, this “crooked and twisted” generation doesn’t even notice the Church because it looks like everything/one else. What would it look like, though, if the Church kept the main thing the main thing and actually were “lights in the world“; proclaiming the Gospel and working out their faith with fear and trembling. What if the Church was actually holy; set apart, different from the world? What if the Church actually sought transformation through the Gospel instead of conforming to the world around them.

Hey there, Church, if you are trying to advance the Kingdom of God, stop trying to look and act like the world. Stop trying to please the world by conforming to them. Be a light in the world; lights among a crooked and twisted generation. Remember whose you are and live a life worthy of the Gospel. It’s time to grow up, Church, and be who you are suppose to be.

Rant done…now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

The Pastor -|—

Sermon Brainstorming

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
[Matthew 28:18-20]

This coming Sunday (June 11), I am preaching on the above stated passage; a passage that many of you know well. The following are my top ten thoughts thus far:

(1) Jesus has ALL authority, not just some or a lot. (See Daniel 7:13-14)
(2) Our obedience to the command to “Go” is based on the authority of the one giving the command. If I were to command you to show me your driver’s license, you might laugh at me, but if a police officer made that command after a traffic stop, you would comply.
(3) Jesus said “Go“, not “Stay and wait for people“.
(4) Make disciples, not members.
(5) We are to be about Kingdom building not kingdom building.
(6) Jesus said, “all nations“; all people, not just the ones you like and/or comfortable with.
(7) Discipleship making comes through proclaiming the Gospel not threats from the Law.
(8) Follow up from #7: People follow Jesus out of thankfulness and love, not fear of punishment.
(9) Once a follower, teach people what Jesus has commanded. No one and done; bang-them-over-the-head-and-leave evangelism.
(10) Does this sound overwhelming? No worries, Jesus will be with you always, to the end of the age.

As I said, these are the thoughts running around in my head and heart. A lot of sermons here so don’t worry, Living Word, I won’t dump this whole load on you at once 🙂

O.K., back to sermon prep…

The Pastor -|—

The Call

Holy Father,
through Jesus Christ,
You call us to follow and to make disciples
despite the fact that we are sinners;
unqualified.
But You qualify the unqualified;
sending us out to do important work;
announcing that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Oh God,
may we remember
that it’s not about our abilities or knowledge
but rather about Your Spirit giving us what we need.
May we never disqualify ourselves
but rather trust in You,
who qualifies the unqualified,
and that all quality is of Your doing.
And through the quality of Your work in and through us,
may the quantity grow to Your glory.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—

True Delight

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
[Psalm 1:1-2]

Previously I wrote about the church keeping it’s focus and not getting distracted with a worldly gospel that has politics at it’s core. It’s a gospel that is ramping up more and more as we approach Inauguration Day. The rhetoric is aimed at pitting two sides against one another; not leading towards unity but rather a “war” of sorts. I am seeing Christians and Christian leaders posting articles and updates that have a hate-filled taste to them. It bothers me. I try to avoid such things but it’s all over the place. I see the posts and quickly gloss over them; trying not to get drawn into the fray. And believe me it is tempting. So in response I am trying to focus on taking delight in God through Jesus Christ and letting THE Gospel shed light in the darkness. It’s only through Jesus that we will find hope. It is only through love that we can battle hate. So excuse me as I go and delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it…

All praise be to God our Father through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen

The Pastor -|—

What Gospel are you Preaching?

Hey there Church…

We are not to ignore the world but neither are we to conform to it. (Romans 12:1-2)
We are to pray for our leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
We are not forbidden from serving in public office but rather we are to serve Chirst in the vocation to which we are called.
We are to submit to our government authorities. (Romans 13:1-7)
Our government does not bear the sword in vain. (Romans 13:4)

…but I am concerned about something. What Gospel are you preaching? I am seeing way too many Christians on social media too focused on politics and politicians. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am not trying to pass judgment but rather wondering.
~ Is this really our call as Christians?
~ Is political rhetoric going to save souls?
~ Is complaining about politicians going to give people hope?
~ Is bashing our government going to encourage people?

I am not throwing my support behind any political party here but rather I want the Church to focus. There are greater issues in the world than who’s boycotting what political party or who is in office. Don’t ignore politics but also don’t make politics the Gospel you preach. The Gospel is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, that we may have the hope of everlasting life. That should be our core message and that is what people should be hearing from the Church. I know I need to hear that on a daily basis.

Let’s keep our eye on the ball and remember what our mission is. Jesus saves not politics.

The Pastor -|—