Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Relax. You're In God's Slow Cooker.

PHILIPPIANS 1:6 -- And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
I just dumped two pounds of meat and several other ingredients into a crockpot and set the timer for 9 hours. Once the meal is COMPLETED, we are going to enjoy a delicious dinner.
This afternoon, the house will fill with the smell of our impending feast, and we may be tempted to sample the food early. However, we'll remind ourselves that it might smell good now, but it isn't ready. Give it time, and it will be even better.
As I stirred all the contents in the crockpot this morning, I had no desire to eat any of the ingredients. On their own, before being cooked, they are not appetizing and they are not safe to eat. Time, heat, and pressure will form them into the perfect meal for tonight.
God does the exact same thing with us. He puts us in the crockpot (or pressure cooker sometimes), and uses time, heat, and pressure to COMPLETE His work in us. 
Philippians 1:6 reminds us of two powerful truths.
1) All of God's work in us is good.
2) All of God's work in us gets finished.
You may be tempted to quit or despair because life isn't what you think it should be or isn't moving at the pace you would choose. Remember... until the meal is finished, the food is neither appetizing nor safe. Give God time.
You may be tempted to try your own route because serving God isn't bringing the results you had hoped. Or perhaps it is bringing results you don' want. Perhaps these uninvited life circumstances are the time, heat, and pressure needed to conform you into the image of Christ. Give God time.
Slow-cooking always beats the microwave. In the kitchen, and in life. Give God time!

Monday, September 9, 2019

STAY CONNECTED TO JESUS: 10 Sermon Leftovers from John 15

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (JOHN 15:1-5)
  1. The thing (or person) to which you are most connected is the thing (or person) from which you draw your life.
  2. The source from which you draw your life will either nurture you or poison you.
  3. A good source provides healthy life. An evil source provides certain death.
  4. Possible sources of life: Friends, family members, significant other, teacher, social media, Netflix (and other streaming sources), music, employment, hobbies, etc…
  5. Only Jesus is the source of TRUE life.
  6. To experience true life, we must STAY CONNECTED to Jesus.
  7. To “stay” means to not wander, to not withdraw, and to not race around looking for fulfillment everywhere other than Jesus.
  8. The word “stay” indicates that you are already where you need to be. Jesus knows where you are and He has you in that specific place for a specific purpose.
  9. Wherever Jesus is asking you to stay… He is there with you.
  10. It is impossible to stay connected to Jesus if you are not connected to Jesus’ people.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

What do you love most about God?

A few times each week I send out a short devotional email from my own study. We just finished up a short look at some "Bible Lists". Now I'm jumping into Philippians. If you would like to receive the email, you can sign up at this link: http://bit.ly/SermonLeftovers

The character traits of God which we most love and appreciate are often the same ones we are most slow to emulate.

I'm talking about GRACE and PEACE.

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Most of Paul's letters begin with him sending "Grace and peace" to the recipients. I think this is because Paul most associated these concepts with the person and work of God. At the same time, these two inter-related gifts should be traits which we embrace and pursue in our own lives. This morning, I've been mulling over the many ways grace and peace are made manifest by God as well as by God's people.

1. God extends GRACE to us while we are still sinners.
2. God made PEACE between us by sending Jesus to pay the price for our sins.
3. When we accept God's gift of GRACE, we, who were God's enemies, are at PEACE with him.
4. God's GRACE means forgiveness of my sins which empowers me to be at PEACE with myself. I no longer need o wallow in the shame and guilt of the past.
5. You cannot experience PEACE until you've received GRACE.
6. Those who have received GRACE should extend GRACE.
7. Those at PEACE with God should be at PEACE with others.
8. You cannot live at PEACE until you've extended GRACE.

Do you love that God has extended GRACE to you?
Extend GRACE to others.

Do you love that God has pursued PEACE with you?
Pursue PEACE with others.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
(EPHESIANS 1:2)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

When Life Is Tough, Use These 4 Ingredients Of Christ-Like Prayer

Gethsemene was one of the darkest moments of Jesus' life. He knew He was about to be betrayed. His closest friends had fallen asleep rather than support Him. He was beginning to anticipate the coming separation from His Father.

Gethsemene is also the moment of one of Jesus' most famous prayers. Mark's gospel records it like this (Mark 10:36)
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
What can we learn from Jesus' prayer? I noticed four specific movements in this short verse. I believe we can discover four important truths about prayer from each movement.



1. He addressed God as Father. "Abba" is an intimate word, similar to our English word "Daddy". This is the same way He began the Lord's Prayer. We should take heed. Because God is our Father we can depend on Him to always give us GOOD GIFTS.

2. He acknowledged God's power and sovereignty. By saying "all things are possible", Jesus acknowledged that nothing would or could happen to Him that was outside God's plan or ability. God is never surprised, worried, or stressed about what is going in our lives.

3. He asked for what He wanted. Jesus knew that God would likely not "remove the cup" of suffering. Yet, He asked anyway. God loves when we bring our requests to Him. He wants us to tell Him what we want and what we feel (He knows that it is good for us to open up about these things). Remember, He wants us to pray in Jesus' name, which means as much as possible try to offer requests with which Jesus would agree.

4. He submitted to God's will. This also is similar to the Lord's Prayer. Jesus acknowledged that God always knows what is best and does what is best. Even though God's will may not initially be our will, we can be sure that whatever He allows in our life is exactly what we need at that moment so that we can become the people He created us to be.

FOUR STEPS TO PRAYING LIKE JESUS (summary)
  • Address God as your good Father
  • Remember and acknowledge that He is in control
  • Tell Him whatever you want to say
  • Trust Him to do what is best

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Here's a tool guaranteed to make your life better

Psalm 19 is one of the great works of poetry in the Bible. The entire psalm is about how God reveals Himself to us.

The first half describes God's revelation of Himself in nature. David uses examples from creation to highlight God's creativity, orderliness, and reliability.

The second half lists the benefits of God's written revelation. David was speaking mostly of the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy), but the principles can also be applied to the entire Bible. Below are 6 ways God's Word can change your life:
  • God's Word can Revive the Soul
    • (get a fresh start)
  • God's Word can Make the Simple Wise
    • (make better decisions)
  • God's Word can Rejoice the Heart
    • (find joy in hard times)
  • God's Word can Enlighten the Eyes
    • (gain a healthier perspective)
  • God's Word can Warn your Servant
    • (avoid bad choices)
  • God's Word can Bring Great Reward
    • (live as God created you to)

Psalm 19 is a motivational chapter (it's much better than any motivational speaker who may be living in a van down by the river). I hope you'll be motivated to get into God's Word on your own!

*If you want a helpful tool for studying the Bible, you can use the reNEW journal. It gets updated at this link every Friday:
http://bit.ly/renewjournal

Thursday, August 15, 2019

4 Leadership Lessons to Learn From King David's Failure

2 Samuel 6 tells the story of David's efforts to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. His first effort failed miserably. He didn't take the time to consult God or God's regulations for transporting the Ark. Instead of having the Ark carried by priests, he placed it on a cart pulled by oxen. In transport, one of the animals stumbled and Ark began sliding off the cart. The man who reached out his hand to steady it was immediately struck dead (no man was allowed to touch the ark).

After a time of repentance and mourning, David tried again and did it the right way. The day began with sacrifices and ended with celebration.


Wise people learn from the mistakes of others. What can we learn from David's mistakes? As I read this story, Here are

4 LEADERSHIP LESSONS DAVID LEARNED TOO LATE.

1) Listen to God. Check His Word for wisdom.

2) Pay attention to details. Obey in small things.

3) Think of the people you lead before you think of yourself.

4) Take responsibility and learn from failure.

Whether you are leading a major organization, a small team, a family, or just yourself; these principles will help you become a better leader.

Monday, July 29, 2019

How To Avoid Spiritual Obesity

PROVERBS 29:19
By mere words, a servant is not disciplined,
for though he understands, he will not respond.

I was sitting around a table with several other pastors, talking about how to disciple our people more effectively. One of the other pastors was lamenting the reality that many in our church had been long-time members with significant biblical knowledge, but their lives weren't reflecting the love of Christ. In frustration he said:

Too many people are 100 verses overweight.

His statement is a great summary of Proverbs 29:19. Head knowledge alone doesn't lead to growth. If more information doesn't lead to greater transformation, it's wasted effort.


James told believers to not just be HEARERS of the Word but to be DOERS.

Jesus didn't tell His followers to "make disciples, teaching them all my commands." He told them to "make disciples, teaching them TO OBEY all my commands."

God's Word teaches us what we need to know, and we must implement it in our daily life! Discipleship requires discipline and discipline requires action. What will be your next step today?
  • What do you need to start doing?
  • What do you need to stop doing?
  • What do you need to do more?
  • What do you need to do less?