Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Ask These FIVE QUESTIONS At The End Of Every Day

What do you do right before you fall asleep? Are you watching the news and complaining about how bad the world has become? Are you scrolling social media, concerned about what you might have missed or coveting what you might not have?

Why not use those final minutes of your day to focus your mind on a beneficial, uplifting, and spiritually healthy trajectory. As you close out your day, ask yourself these five questions to ensure that you finish well:

Have I read and contemplated God's Word?

the Bible is our primary source of guidance and direction in life. Psalm 119:105, says, "Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path." Through reading and chewing on God's Words, we can gain wisdom and understanding of God's will for us.

Have I confessed my shortcomings and mistakes?

Confession is an important part of the Christian life, as it allows us to repent and turn away from our sinful ways. In 1 John 1:9, it says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." God has already forgiven our sins in Christ, but through confession, we are able to receive that forgiveness and in turn forgive ourselves.

Have I thanked God for His blessings?

Thanking God for His blessings is an acknowledgement that every good gift is from above. Colossians 3:17, says, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." By giving thanks to God, we will grow our gratitude habit, we will remind ourselves of how many blessings we truly have received, and we will feed our mind spiritually health food.

Have I encouraged and provided assistance to others?

As Christians, we are called to love and serve others, and one way to do this is by encouraging and providing assistance to those in need. Galatians 6:2 reminds us to, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." When we use our gifts and resources for the good of others, we are fulfilling Christ's command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Have I prayed for those whom I love?

There are few better ways to close out a day than to pray for others. Praying for those we love is an important way to show our love and concern for them. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, it says, "Pray continually." Praying for those closest to us is important because prayer is effective. And, it is also good and beneficial to pray for those not close to us, even our enemies sometimes. Prayer is the portal through which we draw near to the heart of God.

Meditate on these questions as you lie in bed. There is no better way to finish your day.

DISCOVER THE BIBLE (tools to empower your spiritual habits)

Thursday, December 22, 2022


 For good reason, many people wish smartphones would have never been created. They have become a source of addiction, a means by which great evil is spread, and a root cause of much pain and sorrow for many families. However... they may yet be redeemable.

Let's be honest. To live and work in today's world, you probably need to carry a smartphone. So, why not make the best of it? Here are six ways you can use your smartphone for good. Try them all, but if you can't, choose at least 2-3 to get started. 

Set alarms to remind you to pause and pray throughout the day.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Setting alarms on your smartphone can be a great way to remind yourself to take a break from your busy schedule and pray. Whether it's for a few minutes in the morning, during lunch, or before bed, taking time to pray and communicate with God can help bring peace and clarity to your day. Consider setting alarms at different intervals throughout the day to remind you to pause and pray.

Intentionally use your text messages to encourage 3-5 people every day.

"Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." - 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Text messages are a quick and easy way to reach out to others, and they can be a powerful tool for encouraging those around you. Consider making it a daily habit to send 3-5 text messages to friends, family, or even coworkers, offering words of encouragement and support. Whether it's a simple "thinking of you" or a more detailed message, your words can have a big impact on the people you reach out to.

Download a Bible App (Youversion) that will help you stick to a daily reading plan.

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." - Psalm 119:105

One of the great things about smartphones is that there are so many apps available to help us in our spiritual growth. One such app is Youversion, which offers a wide range of Bible translations, reading plans, and other resources to help you engage with God's Word on a daily basis. Whether you're a seasoned Bible reader or just starting out, a Bible app can be a great tool to help you stay on track with your daily reading.

Use YouTube to subscribe and listen to Bible teachers and preachers.

"How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" - Psalm 119:103

YouTube is a treasure trove of resources for spiritual growth, and there are many Christian teachers and preachers who use the platform to share their insights and perspectives on the Bible. Consider subscribing to a few channels that you find particularly helpful, and make it a habit to listen to their teachings on a regular basis. You might also consider setting aside specific times each week to watch and listen to these teachings, as a way to make sure you're consistently feeding your faith.

Utilize an e-reader app (Kindle, etc.) to download and read spiritual growth material.

"All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness" - 2 Timothy 3:16

In addition to the Bible, there are many other books and resources that can help us grow in our faith. E-reader apps like Kindle make it easy to download and read these materials on our smartphones, giving us access to a wealth of spiritual growth resources wherever we go. Consider browsing through the selection of Christian books available on Kindle, and add a few titles to your reading list.

Share your password with other people and give them permission to check your usage anytime.

"Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." - Matthew 5:16

One way to ensure that we're using our smartphones for good is to be open and transparent about our usage. Consider sharing your password with people you trust and if they ask, let them view your phone usage. Loving accountability from trustworthy people is a powerful encouragement to live up to our calling.

You don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Although smartphones carry significant potential for harm, they can also be a useful tool that aids our spiritual growth. You are the only person who can choose whether to use your phone for good or evil. Make the right choice!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Gratitude is a simple habit to build and it will have a profound impact on your life. The Bible is clear that the more gratitude you exhibit, the more you will experience the life God created you to live. Here are five reasons the Bible says gratitude is good for you.

The Bible teaches that gratitude is a habit that can radically alter the trajectory of your life. Check out these five verses that demonstrate how gratitude can change your life.
Gratitude Will Change Your Life

Gratitude can bring joy to our lives. "I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High." (Psalm 7:17)

Gratitude can strengthen our relationships. "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Gratitude can improve our mental and physical health. "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." (Proverbs 17:22)

Gratitude can increase overall happiness. "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Gratitude can bring us closer to God. "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." (Psalm 107:1)

Gratitude is the antidote for anxiety and can be a gateway to contentment. Beginning and ending your day with gratitude is one of the most powerful habits you can build if you want to experience a joy-filled life. Use this 30-day journal to immerse every day in gratitude and to discover how much your life can change by simply learning how to say "thank you" a little more often.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022


I'm stashing these thoughts here for the day I need them. Judges 15:20 is a short verse that often goes unnoticed. The story of Samson is so full of action and craziness that we sometimes forget about this twenty-year break when he actually did what he was supposed to do. I think there's a good sermon here, and a great sermon title.

6 Preaching Points From The Life of Samson

1. God's purpose for Samson's life was to lead the Israelites and deliver them from the Philistines

2. For most of his life, Samson was distracted from God's purpose for His life.

3. Whenever Samson was distracted, conflict and calamity ensued.

4. For twenty years, Samson focused on accomplishing God's purpose for His life.

5. During those years, there was no conflict or calamity.

6. Living out God's purpose may seem boring, but if boring means no conflict and no calamity, then boring is better than being distracted.

Friday, December 16, 2022


Around this time every year, many people take the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and make resolutions for the year ahead. For those who follow Christ, the start of a new year is a chance to challenge ourselves to grow in our faith and strengthen our connection to God. With that in mind, here are five New Year's resolutions that every Christian should consider making:

Pray at least three times every day. 

Prayer is an essential part of the Christian life, and it's important to make time for it every day. Whether you pray first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or before you go to bed at night, set aside a few moments to talk to God and ask for His guidance and direction.

Read and think about the Bible every day.

The Bible is our source of truth and inspiration, and it's important to spend time reading and studying it regularly. Consider setting aside a few minutes each day to read a passage of scripture and reflect on its meaning. This will help you better understand God's will for your life and stay focused on your faith.

Find three people to encourage every day.

As Christians, we are called to love and serve others, and one way to do that is by offering encouragement to those around us. Look for opportunities to lift up and support those in your life, whether it's a colleague at work, a neighbor, or a family member. Even a simple act of kindness can make a big difference in someone's day.

Give something away every day.

Another way to show love and serve others is by being generous with our time, resources, and talents. Consider finding ways to give back to your community or to those in need. This might mean volunteering at a local shelter, donating money to a worthy cause, or simply helping a neighbor with a task they're struggling to complete.

Tell one person why you follow Jesus every day.

Finally, consider making it a goal to share your faith with others. This might mean having a conversation with someone about your beliefs or simply sharing a message of hope and love with those around you. Whether you do this through social media, in person, or through other means, make it a priority to share your faith with others and be a light in the world.

These five resolutions can empower you to grow in your faith, serve others, and brighten the world around you. Consider giving them a try this New Year, and see what a change they can make in your life and the lives of those around you.

Monday, December 12, 2022


 When dealing with the busyness, stress, and uncertainties of life, it can be easy to get caught up in worrying about things that are beyond our control. In those moments it is important to remember to work at what we can control while trusting God for the rest.

When we focus on the things that we can control, we can make a real difference in our own lives and the lives of those around us. We can work hard at our jobs, take care of our families, and strive to be the people God created us to be. By doing these things, we can find a sense of purpose and fulfillment in our lives while building the Kingdom of God.

But there will always be things that are beyond our control. In these moments, it's important to pray. When we take these worries to our Heavenly Father, we can put our trust in God and let Him handle the things that are beyond our control. This doesn't mean that we should simply sit back and do nothing, but rather that we should trust in God's plan and work alongside Him to bring about His will.

So in those moments of uncertainty, overwhelm, or confusion; remember to work at what you can control and pray about what you cannot control. By doing so, you will discover life as it was meant to be lived.

Thursday, December 8, 2022

6 Steps To Level Up Your Prayer Life.

How to be better at prayer

Prayer is essential to the growth of every Christian. It is the means by which we connect with God and cultivate a deeper relationship with Him. As we pray, we can align our lives with the will of God. 

Through prayer, we submit to His guidance and seek to discover His plan for our life. The more we pray, the closer we grow to Him. The closer we grow to Him, the more easily we understand and live out His desires.

Here are six steps you can take to enhance your prayer life.

Put it on your calendar. 

Choose a specific time that you will set aside for prayer every day. This can be in the morning, evening, or anytime that works best for you. Put it on your schedule and don't let anything displace it.

Identify a "Prayer Corner". 

This can be a quiet room, a designated space, or simply a quiet corner of your home. The goal is to find a place where you can focus and be free from distractions. Plan to be in your space at the times you have scheduled on your calendar. (If you can't be in your space, make a plan to be somewhere else that will work)

Prepare your mind and heart. 

Prayer is a conversation with God, so approach it with a calm and receptive heart. Stop thinking about the busyness of the day. Don't worry about what is next on the schedule. Let go of any worries or distractions and focus on the present moment.

Manage a diverse "Prayer Toolbox". 

There is no one "right" way to pray, so try different approaches and see what works best for you. This might include traditional prayers, spontaneous prayers, or simply talking to God as you would a friend. You can find an unlimited number of prayer methods by searching Pinterest or Google.

Be consistent. 

Prayer is a journey, not a destination. Don't be discouraged if you don't feel like you're making progress at first. Keep praying, and over time you will find that your prayer life deepens and becomes more meaningful.

Keep a Journal or Scoreboard. 

If you enjoy writing, keep a journal and write about how prayer is changing you and how your prayers are being answered (it won't always be how you expect). If you don't journal, keep a "scoreboard" to track your consistency. Try to create streaks during which you spend intentional time in prayer every day. 

For some, praying multiple times a day is helpful, while others may only pray once or twice a day. The frequency of your prayers isn't the most important thing. The consistency of prayers is. You may begin by praying for your situation to change. What you will discover is that consistent prayer may not change your circumstances, but it will change you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022


New Year's Resolutions are inspiring for some and frustrating for others. If you love a challenge, here are some generic ideas for you in 2023. Pick one or two and make them specific to your life. Then make it happen!

Strengthen your faith. If you want to strengthen physical muscles, you need to set aside time to exercise. If you want to strengthen your faith, you need to set aside time for spiritual exercise. Try setting aside time every day for prayer, reading the Bible, and focusing your mind on God.

Demonstrate God's love to others. This begins by focusing less on yourself and more on others. Pay attention to the needs of those around you. Show them kindness. When you are able, offer them help.

Forgive people. You cannot control others, so don't let them control you. Forgiveness is a choice to stop dwelling on the actions of someone else. When you find yourself thinking about how they have wronged you, remind yourself that you are forgiving them and refocus your attention on someone else.

Embrace generosity. Look for ways that you can share your time, talents, and resources with others. Work together with others and discover opportunities to make a positive impact on the community around you.

Commit to ongoing change. Life change doesn't happen in a moment. It is an incremental process that occurs one step at a time. Commit to consistently evaluating yourself, choosing righteous next steps, and being disciplined to stick to it.

Thursday, September 8, 2022


Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus... (Philippians 2:3-5)

If you know who Jesus is and you know what Jesus has done, than you ought to desire to to be like Jesus. Being like Jesus means putting the interests of others ahead of your own. Here are 13 practical steps you can take to count others more significant than yourself.

1. Listen more than you talk.

2. Listen to understand rather than listening to respond.

3. Check your motives.

4. Pay attention to what is going on around you.

5. Assume others are acting in good faith or with good motives.

6. Smile more often.

7. Catch people doing good things, and call them out for it.

8. Regularly tell people why you admire them.

9. Forgive.

10. Pray for your enemies and do good for those who mistreat you.

11. Send a handwritten note simply to encourage someone.

12. Focus your energy on meeting someone else's needs instead of your own.

13. Give something away every day.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

3 Things Every Pastor Should Tell Their Church Following the FBI Raid on Donald Trump

Nobody shouted "Stop the Presses!", but they could have. The news cycle came to a screeching halt this week and every major network was quickly consumed with the story that federal agents had procured and were serving a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago, the primary residence of former president Donald Trump.

Within hours, the competing narratives we have come to expect were being rolled out on competing networks. The most platformed Christian influencers were quickly serving up their own opinions. I saw one tweet encouraging pastors that they "must" speak to their churches about what happened this week.

I wouldn't presume to tell any pastor what to say to their congregation, but I suppose such momentous news in such divisive times requires us to take a stand. So, here are three things I think every pastor should say this Sunday.

1. Jesus is the only hope for our world.

You may hope that the FBI raid is the final piece of evidence collection and that the justice department will finally have the necessary case to bring charges against Mr. Trump. That hope may be realized. But even if it is, it will not matter one iota in eternity and it will not turn one soul back to Jesus.

You may hope that the powers-that-be have finally overreached and this will turn into a colossal scandal that all but guarantees a second term for Mr. Trump. That hope may be realized. But even if it is, it will not matter one iota in eternity and it will not turn one soul back to Jesus.

Regardless of whether Donald Trump is found to be a criminal or a persecuted ex-official, what people really need to hear is that Jesus is the only solution for their sins and He is the only guarantee of abundant and eternal life. 

Any time you might spend talking about the FBI, is probably better spent talking about Jesus.

2. Love is the calling of Jesus' followers.

You may have spent this week calling for justice against a corrupt administration that has done irreparable harm to our country. You may be calling friends encouraging them to get out and vote to ensure this great wrong cannot be done again. You may have assumed the last two sentences are about Donald Trump or you may have assumed they were about Joe Biden.

Your real calling is to love the people around you. Jesus never spoke ill of Caesar. He didn't concern himself with the occupying empire (other than encouraging his followers to go an extra mile when compelled by the occupiers). He spent a great deal of time teaching how to love and commanding that love be extended to neighbors, strangers, and even enemies.

The people in the pews don't need any more voices telling them who to hate and who to extend their anger (er... righteous indignation) toward. They need to be encouraged and reminded to love, and especially to love their enemies.

3. The Gospel is the message we carry.

The constitution is a great document. It has served our country well for over two centuries. It may or may not have been violated this week. The FBI may have overstepped its constitutional boundaries, and Donald Trump may have overstepped his. Either way, this is not the concern of the church.

We preach Christ, and Him crucified.

Pastor, you would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with mobilizing political action. You would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with inspiring social change. You would do well this Sunday to not concern yourself with pointing people to a new cause they should take up.

Pastor, you would do very well this Sunday to mobilize people to share and spread the Gospel. You would do very well this Sunday to inspire life change in Christ. You would do very well this Sunday to concern yourself with pointing people to Jesus and the new life they should take up.

* This post is not timeless. It will very soon be out of date. The principles will stand.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

5 Practical Applications from Luke

Luke's stories are rich and full of detail. Yet they are not just for entertainment. In them, we see a complex and beautiful Savior who desires us to follow Him and be changed by Him.

  • Peter and the others fished all night without results. When Jesus told them to try something new, he simply obeyed. Don’t miss out on Jesus’ blessings because you are stuck doing things the way you’ve always done them.

  • Jesus told the disciples they were going to be fishers of men. How many people have you caught with the good news of the Gospel? If it's not very many, perhaps you need to change up your strategy.

  • The leper’s prayer to Jesus should be the same as our prayer. “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” The good news is that Jesus will! He always desires to make us clean.

  • By healing the paralyzed man AND forgiving his sins, Jesus demonstrated that He has power over spiritual and physical evil. Nothing in the universe is more powerful than Him.

  • People who think they are spiritually healthy will never seek the assistance of God. Jesus came for those who know they are sick. Repentance is the recognition that we need His help, it is our act of preparation to receive His spiritual healing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

5 Sermon Starters from Luke 4

Adam was tempted in the garden and succumbed, and so sin entered the world, and death passed to all men. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and triumphed, and so righteousness entered the picture, and life was passed to all who would accept it.

  • The temptations brought by Satan are similar to John’s description of the love of the world (1 John 2:16). Beware of the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life.

  • Jesus defeated temptation by quoting Scripture. The more time you spend with God’s Word, and the more God’s Word gets into your heart and mind, the more effectively you will be able to fight against temptation.

  • Verses 18-19 are a reminder that Jesus’ mission was two-fold. He came to REDEEM SINNERS and he also came to RELIEVE SUFFERING.

  • The people of Jesus’ hometown never experienced what Jesus could have offered because they refused to accept Him as Lord. Once we believe in Jesus, we open ourselves to receive the abundant life He offers.

  • Jesus always wanted more people to hear the good news of the Kingdom. He kept moving from village to village so that more people could receive His salvation.

Monday, March 7, 2022

5 Observations from Luke 2

Luke 2 is more than just a Christmas story. There is much there for us to apply to our own lives all year long.

  • According to the angels, Jesus came to bring peace. He makes it possible for us to be at peace with God and He makes it possible for us to live at peace with one another.
  • Even though Simeon had lived a long and full life, the one thing that completed his life was meeting Jesus. You will never be content if you choose the wrong people or objects from which to seek completion. (Jerry Maguire had this wrong)
  • Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple according to the law of Moses. Good parents teach their children to know, love and obey God’s Word.
  • In Luke 2:47-48, Jesus’ interaction with the religious leaders AMAZED everyone, and when His parents found Him, they were ASTONISHED. If your interactions with Jesus don't shock you sometimes, you may not be paying close enough attention.
  • When Mary and Joseph were separated they finally found Him in the temple, and Jesus told them they should have known He was there. If you ever feel like you are having a hard time finding Jesus, you’ll find Him in His Father’s house.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

On Russia, Ukraine, Gog, Magog, and The End of The World

In December, we made the decision to read through the New Testament as a church this year. Rather than planning out several sermon series, I selected passages from each week's reading. Since the Olivet Discours appears in three Gospels, I knew I wanted to cover it at least once. 

When I chose February 27 to preach on Mark 13, I had no idea that would be the week Russia would invade Ukraine. By the time we arrived at church on Sunday, many people were on edge. The largest land war in Europe since World War II was under way and a great deal of uncertainty hung in the air. How was this going to affect us? Would we be at war soon? Was this the beginning of the end? 

I decided that I couldn't possibly answer everyone's questions, give a comprehensive perspective of end times, and be faithful to the message I had prepared on Mark 13. So I told my congregation I would do a Facebook Live Stream on Wednesday, in which I would give a much more detailed perspective of the Bible's teaching about end times.

I probably bit off more than I could chew, but 75 slides and almost 2 hours later, I had walked our church through a birds eye view of the "end of all things". You can watch the end times presentation here:


You can watch the sermon on Mark 13 here:

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

10 Application Principles from Matthew 18

Matthew 18 is an oft-quoted chapter. Ironically, it is a chapter, more than others that should lead to introspection rather than blaming or accusations.

  1. Human tendency is to pursue greatness, but the way of Jesus is one of humility and dependence.
  2. Every time Jesus talks about children, He elevates them and prioritizes their protection.
  3. Temptation is a part of life, but you can choose to not make it worse.
  4. In your struggle against sin, you have not really given all until you have made painful sacrifices.
  5. God cares deeply about children who are lost or invisible.
  6. Conflict resolution should always begin in private.
  7. As long as you can and as much as you can, avoid bringing more people into your disagreements.
  8. Forgiveness never goes out of style.
  9. You may not forgive that person, but God in Christ would.
  10. Accusations of others don’t fit well on those whom God chooses not to accuse.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

5 Sermon Sound Bites from Matthew 17

 It is interesting, that Matthew's gospel devotes very little ink to the most glorious moment of Christ's life (the transfiguration), while spilling much to demonstrate His compassion and the point towards His coming suffering.

  • The mountaintop is a great place to visit, but a bad place to live.
  • Overshadowed by the Spirit, listening to the Father, and communing with the Son is the best way to live.
  • The way of Jesus must include suffering.
  • The more closely aligned your purposes are with God’s purposes, the more He will be able to do through you.
  • Children of God obey earthly authority, not out of obligation, but to demonstrate loving submission.

Monday, January 24, 2022

5 Sermon Sound Bites from Matthew 16

Often, when I preach, I try to have several sound-bite-type statements sprinkled throughout my sermon. These statements are usually the last piece of my sermon to develop as they are in many ways the transitions and summations of the key points of the sermon. 

Read more about "sound bite sermons" here.

  1. Increased understanding of nature should lead to increased understanding of God, but the more humanity learns about creation, the less they seem to appreciate the creator.
  2. Left unchecked, legalism always grows, infects, divides, and destroys.
  3. If your answer to the question, “Who is Jesus?” doesn’t include the word “GOD”, you still don’t have it right.
  4. Jesus lived to die. Nothing could get between Him and the cross.
  5. We must die to live. Nothing should get between us and His cross.

Friday, January 21, 2022

25 Observations from Matthew 15

 Matthew 15 is not easy. These thoughts are starters, but most require more digging.

  1. These scribes and Pharisees are from Jerusalem. They are the heavy hitters trying to assess how much of a threat Jesus actually is.
  2. Not only can tradition not save, it often causes us to drift further from God.
  3. Religious traditions are usually an effort to create or preserve the life we want. Traditions serve us but rarely do they serve God.
  4. The Pharisees had used tradition to create a loophole by which they could shirk their responsibility to care for their parents.
  5. Throughout history, religious groups have existed that exhibit fervent external worship but whose hearts have not been changed at all.
  6. Remember, man looks on the outward appearance, while God looks at the heart. (1 Sam 16:7)
  7. Beware of worship that sounds, looks, and feels powerful, but which is only an external expression. (Amos 5)
  8. The Pharisees claimed to be clean because they only ate “clean food” and they ceremonially washed before eating it.
  9. The Pharisees thought the disciples were unclean because they were eating clean food with unclean hands.
  10. Jesus made it clear that cleanliness before God has nothing to do with the food we eat or the hands with which we eat it.
  11. What goes into the mouth is physical but what comes out of the mouth is spiritual.
  12. In verse 13, Jesus references the truths told in chapter 13’s parables. Not all plants are good plants. Let God sort them out.
  13. How do you know if your guides are blind? If the fruit of their heart does not match the actions of their tradition.
  14. Verses 17-20 are a summary/remix of the sermon on the mount. 
  15. Guard your heart, for from it flows everything (Proverbs 4:23)
  16. It’s worth noting that Jesus lists “evil thoughts” and “slander” in the same category as murder.
  17. By including the story of the Canaanite women, Matthew is building the case that Gentiles were, in many ways, more receptive to Christ than the Jewish people were.
  18. Having just confronted the Pharisees about unclean food, Jesus now has a conversation with an unclean person.
  19. This woman had every reason to lose her faith, but she didn’t. Jesus was silent when she prayed. She was mistreated by Jesus’ followers. She felt like she didn’t fit in.
  20. Jesus wanted everyone to know that she was a Gentile, so he emphasized it several times.
  21. The woman’s appeal to Jesus is not based on who she is or what she has done, but rather on who He is and what He can do.
  22. In verse 27, the woman is actually referencing an idea that has always been true. Even in the OT, there was room within the Jewish community for outsiders if they were willing to take the prescribed steps of assimilation.
  23. Crumbs from Jesus are better than a feast from anyone else.
  24. Jesus’ healing of many as well as his second feeding both illustrate an important point: There is plenty of Jesus to go around.
  25. This feeding is a second feeding as Jesus will reference both of them together in the next chapter.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

3 Sermon Outlines from Matthew 14

 Matthew 14 contains three familiar stories, and each carries with it valuable lessons about God, Jesus, and us. From these stories, we not only discover more about who Jesus was, but also how we can learn and grow through our interactions with and our faith in Him.

Sermon One: Consider the motivations of Herod

  1. He was motivated by lust.
    1. He entered an alduterous marriage
    2. He was “pleased” by his step-daughters dancing
  2. He was motivated by fear.
    1. He feared the people’s opinion of him
    2. He feared his guests’ opinion of him (at the party)

Conclusion: The pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of popularity will almost never lead to wise or God honoring decisions. While neither of these things are wrong on their own, if they are allowed to govern one’s life, they become the second master that no one can serve if they are seeking to serve God.

Sermon Two: Jesus’ process of leadership training

  1. You give them something to eat.
  2. Bring what you have to me.
  3. He broke the bread and gave it to the disciples.
  4. The disciples gave them to the crowds.
  1. He challenged them to take on a project they did not think they could do.
  2. He instructed them to rely on Him to use what they had
    1. We all have gifts and resources, and whatever gifts and resources we have are exactly what we need to accomplish what God has called us to do.
    2. Sometimes, we need to allow Him to set the agenda for how we will use those gifts and resources. Because then, they’ll be enough.
  3. When they gave Him control of what they had, He multiplied it and gave it back!
  4. He gave to them so that they could give to others.

Conclusion: We can do more than we imagine with less than we think if we are willing to let Jesus set the agenda.

Sermon Three:  Peter’s RollerCoaster Night

  1. First he was awestruck.
    1. Imagine getting on the boat after the feeding miracle.
    2. The disciples were likely energized and excited about what would come next.
  2. Then he was afraid.
    1. The storm was unexpected
    2. The storm was strong
    3. The storm was winning
  3. Then he was amazed.
    1. Imagine seeing a man walking on the water
    2. Imagine realizing that man was Jesus
  4. Then he was acting.
    1. He joined Jesus in the miracle
    2. He experienced something no one else ever has
  5. Then he was anxious.
    1. He took his eyes off Jesus
    2. He was too focused on the storm
  6. Then he was awake.
    1. Jesus saved Him
    2. He had no more doubts about who Jesus was

Conclusion: Life is never a simple straight line. We will always experience ups and downs. There will often be storms to distract and deter us. The key is to keep your eyes on Jesus.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

30 Sermon Starters from Matthew 13

Matthew 13 is the beginning of Jesus' parables. The majority of these parables help us understand the nature of God's Kingdom as well as the exclusivity of God's Kingdom. At the end of these parables, we should be left with a sense of gratitude that we have been included as well as a sense of responsibility to see as many others included as possible.

  1. A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.
  2. A parable is a true-to-life story that teaches truth about eternal life.
  3. A parable usually teaches one main point. The details are important to the degree they pertain to the main idea.
  4. Jesus used parables to obscure the truth from those who had rejected Him.
  5. Just as God “gave them up” in Romans 1, Jesus has allowed those who rejected truth to experience the consequences of that decision.
  6. Many of Jesus’ parables were warnings about the religious leaders, thus the people could be warned without the religious leaders understanding.
  7. The see is the word of the Kingdom. God spreads the Gospel everywhere to everyone, but not always with the same effect.
  8. Equal opportunity does not always lead to equal outcomes.
  9. The footpath represents those who intellectually cannot accept the Gospel. With the help of the evil one, they “reason” their way away from Jesus.
  10. Satan’s greatest deception is to cast intellectual doubt into the minds of those who would believe. “Has God really said…?”
  11. The rocky soil prevents deep roots.  Without roots, one cannot stand in the midst of suffering.
  12. Those who say, “I cannot worship a God who allows this…”, have never truly understood who God truly is. They have not put down roots.
  13. The thorns represent the distractions in our world which choke out the spiritual life of people.
  14. The cares of the world could also be worded, “Caring too much about the world.”
  15. The deceitfulness of riches takes many astray. Following Jesus is fun until it is costly.
  16. The parable of the weeds reveals there are people who look like Christians, talk like Christians, hang out with Christians, and may even think they are Christians; but who will be revealed to be lost at the final judgment.
  17. Warning for pastors: In your fervor to defend the Gospel (by destroying weeds), be careful that you do not destroy the good plants who are among them!
  18. Jesus will sort everything at the end. For now, just be faithful.
  19. The Kingdom of Heaven will expand and will impact all of life.
  20. The parable of the mustard seed and the parable of the leaven make it clear that God’s Kingdom is NOT to be segregated from the rest of life. It shoul

    d impact all of life.
  21. Jesus’ explanation of the Kingdom’s scope was new. It had been hidden until then.
  22. The mystery Jesus revealed in these parables is the mystery Paul revealed in His letters (Colossians 1; Ephesians 3).
  23. The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything we could ever find or own.
  24. The Kingdom of Heaven is worth losing everything.
  25. The Kingdom of Heaven is the most important pursuit in life.
  26. The great sorting of humanity will not happen until the end.
  27. Humanity WILL be sorted at the end.
  28. In these parables, Jesus refers to the final judgment as fire/burning three separate times.
  29. The judgement awaiting those who are sorted includes separation, pain, and regret.
  30. Those who truly understand the Kingdom are able to synthesize the truth they have always known with the truth they are continuing to learn.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

30 Sermon Ideas from Matthew 12

A great amount of material is present in this chapter. It would be easy to focus on the minor issues and miss the major issues. At the end of the day, the main thing is (as it almost always is), "WHO IS JESUS?!" 

  1. The Pharisees weren’t upset about theft, they were upset about Sabbath. This shines a light on some of the “property” mindset of the time.
  2. This activity by the disciples was specifically permitted in the law - Deuteronomy 23:25.
  3. Imagine it being considered “work” to walk through a field and have a snack.
  4. When you want to find something wrong with someone, you will. The Pharisees wanted to find fault with Jesus and His disciples. They did.
  5. Only you can choose whether or not to be a fault finder or a gift giver.
  6. Everything in the law points to something greater. Everything in the temple points to something greater. That something is a someone. It’s Jesus.
  7. Your vertical relationship will be impeded by dysfunctional horizontal relationships.
  8. The minor prophets repeatedly condemn God’s people for participating in ceremonial worship gatherings while oppressing their fellow man (Hosea 6:6, Micah 6:6-8, Amos 5:18-24)
  9. Interestingly, in healing the man with a withered hand, Jesus didn’t do any work. He told the man to do the work.
  10. In order to be healed, the man had to actively and visibly oppose the Pharisees and obey Jesus.
  11. Sometimes, obedience precedes healing.
  12. The law, properly understood, always reflects God’s care for people and will never instruct us to not love and care for our fellow man. 
  13. Imagine desiring to kill someone because they healed a person!
  14. Be careful where your rage and anger take you. Beware of personal feuds that blind you to wisdom.
  15. In the middle of the chapter, Matthew references Isaiah’s prophecy which spoke to the Messiah’s work on behalf of Gentiles. In this chapter, we are seeing the Jewish leader’s rejection of Jesus.
  16. The people’s trajectory of understanding Jesus is radically different than the Pharisees. At one moment, they ask if He is the Messiah and the Pharisees are convinced He is from Satan.
  17. An interesting observation is (that when speaking about others) it is always wiser to ask a question than make a proclamation, especially when the proclamation is accusatory.
  18. Satan is the master of chaos and disunity, but his forces are unified in their hatred for God.
  19. Beware of those who would seek unity in their ambition against a shared enemy.
  20. In His response to the Pharisees, Jesus answers the question of the people… The Kingdom has come.
  21. When a demon is cast out, the first question is, “who is being bound?” Therefore, who is the strong man and who is being plundered.
  22. A corollary is to realize that Satan seeks to plunder our lives by binding us with the cares of this world!
  23. The Pharisees had so hardened their hearts at this time, they were beyond repentance. They had become Pharaoh of the New Testament.
  24. Jesus viewed Jonah as a historical character. If Jesus did, we should.
  25. Ninevah and the Queen of the South are further hints at Jesus’ coming salvation of Gentiles. What binds them together is their repentance when confronted by the truth. They had a lesser testimony than Jesus and still they repented.
  26. In their rejection of Jesus, the Pharisees had become seven times more guilty.
  27. In all of these conversations, what emerges is a litmus test for our relationship with Jesus. Do we accept Him as God and Lord or do we try to explain away what He has done? Naturalism is the enemy of faith.
  28. Often the people we think should truly understand Jesus are the ones who can’t actually grasp who He is.
  29. All the knowledge in the world (the Law, the Family) cannot save you.
  30. Don’t be distracted by all the excitement of this chapter. Demon-posession, unforgiveable sins, debate about the law are all issues, but what is really at stake is: Will you do the will of God?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

25 Sermon Ideas from Matthew 8

 Matthew 8 is the "healing chapter". Here Jesus demonstrates His power.

  1. Only Jesus can make us clean. Not even the teachings from the sermon on the mount can make us clean, but Jesus can.
  2. Jesus is willing to make you clean.
  3. Jesus will not make you clean until you are willing to bow your knee to Him.
  4. In Matthew 8, several people approach Jesus for help. In each case, they submit to His will.
  5. Submission is necessary for sanctification.
  6. True faith requires recognizing and submitting to Jesus’ authority.
  7. When you truly understand Jesus’ power, your life will be changed forever.
  8. Jesus came to heal and save everyone, not just the people who looked like Him.
  9. Jesus relieved suffering and rescued sinners.
  10. Jesus’ followers should seek to relieve suffering and rescue sinners.
  11. God’s plan was always that Jesus would heal and save.
  12. Following Jesus means letting go of everything else.
  13. You cannot rely on Jesus while you are still relying on yourself.
  14. There is no responsibility in life so important that it should keep you from following Jesus.
  15. Jesus slept in the storm because He knew who was in control of the storm.
  16. The ability to sleep is often connected to the degree of our trust.
  17. There is no storm so great that Jesus cannot control it.
  18. My lack of control in life’s storms should never lead to fear, it should be conquered by faith.
  19. Jesus took His disciples through the storm so that He could show them His power.
  20. In Matthew 8 Jesus demonstrates power over disease, injury, nature, and evil.
  21. The response of the men who were saved by Jesus was to tell others about Him.
  22. If Jesus has really saved you, you won’t be able to keep your mouth closed.
  23. The response of those who hadn’t been saved was to chase Jesus’ off.
  24. The people begged Jesus to leave because He had created an inconvenience for them.
  25. Everyone who meets Jesus must either accept Him or reject Him.