Archive | Sermons

A Resurrection Response to Loss

I Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

The “therefore” in v. 58 points back to Paul’s discourse on death and resurrection in the previous verses. My pastor preached on this Sunday, and it was a very life giving message–a resurrection response to loss. One day, everything crooked will be made straight, and everything sad will be made not true. And it’s THAT life we are to orient THIS life around. It’s in that context that we can become the kind of people who can endure loss without creating a crater around us that swallows ourself and others. And it’s only in that context that we can stay engaged, knowing that our labor in the Lord is NOT IN VAIN.

If you have 30 minutes, I think you will find this exhortation encouraging.

God’s Good Undershepherds

Phil. 2 19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. 23I hope, therefore, to send him as soon as I see how things go with me. 24And I am confident in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

25But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs. 26For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill. 27Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. 28Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him, 30because he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for the help you could not give me.

I hope I don’t seem like a broken record repeatedly recommending sermons. But the Lord has used this particular sermon series from Philippians to draw me to Himself again and again. In this sermon from Phil. 2, the pastor deals with the characteristics of good shepherds, those leaders in our lives serving under the One Good Shepherd ministering His gospel to us. First, he points out how we all long for spiritual parents to speak into our lives. No one’s problem is that they don’t want guidance. No one wants to be an orphan. The problem is that we’ve been burned by leaders and therefore we don’t know who to trust and then close ourselves off to our need for someone to speak into our lives. Pastor Haralson makes two good points here. First, God’s good undershepherds are recognized by their humility, not their giftedness. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Beware the shepherd whose personal burdens and needs drive the agenda or eclipse the needs of the sheep. When the needs of the sheep must submit to the needs of the shepherd, this is not leadership like Christ (or Paul or Timothy or Epaphroditis). Second, when God has brought the humble undershepherd into your life, like Paul’s words of Epaphroditus, welcome them with joy and receive them with honor. The imperfect but humble undershepherd still exists! God didn’t abandon us to only poor leaders after Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus passed on. And it is to our BENEFIT not detriment to receive them and honor them in the name of Christ.

What’s the opposite of grumbling?

Our church is going through a series on Philippians. Last week, our pastor preached on “do all things without grumbling and questioning” from Philippians 2. Having been raised in the church, I’ve heard a number of sermons on this passage that amount to the pastor (or college president or missions leader) bludgeoning the listeners over the head with the verse because someone dared to question some decision he made. But this week, I heard this verse preached in context of the whole message of Philippians and really in context of the whole message of the Bible. My pastor’s gospel-centered look at this verse this week resulted in a profoundly different response from me. I have actually listened to this sermon three times and replayed parts of it even more. In a brief 26 minutes, God spoke to me through His word in profound ways.

If you are struggling with a loss or lack in your life and tired of the weak Christian response of just buck it up or count your blessings, please listen to this sermon. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Gospel and the Law

Holiness. Obedience. Righteousness. These words are not naturally well received by any human, and I have personally had enough bad experiences in the church to find them particularly threatening. Talk to me about grace. Or love. But don’t talk to me about the law. My study of Ephesians (which I’ve mentioned briefly before) is really changing how I think about this. God does not save us BY our obedience, but he does save us FOR our obedience. And though the concepts of obedience and holiness have been well abused by religious legalists of every persuasion, we cannot give these words over to them and lose their true meaning and God’s good plan for the obedience of his children.

In God’s design, obedience and holiness mean at the most basic level simply following God and being like Him. He is both the definition of what it means to be holy and the channel by which we can obey Him. He is the means and the end. And His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). If you are weighed down by the ideas of obedience and righteousness, you have let the wrong people define those terms for you.

This message on the 10 commandments was preached at church 2 weeks ago, and I found it a VERY helpful lesson on how we are to think about the law on this side of Christ. Thank you Jay-Thomas Hewitt for your clear, concise discussion of this.

Holiness by Grace

I listened to this sermon while working out this week. In my qwest to understand the grace of God toward me and how His grace transforms me, this sermon was very helpful. It’s around 30 minutes–each word thoughtfully articulated. Nothing extraneous here. I love that in a sermon! If you need a good word straight from Scripture, I highly recommend this preaching of the Word.