Part 2 of the series, "Marriage and Singleness." Some people are just fine being single. They are perfectly content with their place in life and frankly, don't want to be patronized or felt sorry for based on their marital status. For others though, being single certainly has its challenges. For those who want to be married, there is a longing for that future spouse. For those single due to tragic events like the death of a spouse, separation, or divorce, the pain can be even more acute. So, to hear that singleness might be called a gift could understandably seem a bit offensive. This message looks biblically at those who are single and in what way this place in life could be considered a gift. God gives us many things. both directly and within our life circumstances. Is it possible that your place as a single person can be considered a gift to him, to yourself, and to others? Arriving at this truth, if accepted, may be eternally liberating.
Part 2 of the series, "Envy - Yesterday and Today." While the invention of social media has brought us many positives, it has also turned out to be one of the most effective distribution machines for a significant negative: the temptation to envy what others have, and the distraction that everyone else is living a better life than we are. But however we use social media, we should understand that God wants us to live our lives with "no filter": he wants us to be honest about our need and weaknesses, humble and grateful for his love and salvation, and intentional about presenting our lives in such a way as to build others up and lead them to him. How can we use social media in such away that we can minimize our envy and maximize our love and influence? Answering that is the objective of this message.
Where do we find our stability and growth as Christians in the church? Most often, we'd say our stability and growth come from God. But in practice, we too often look for our main stability through human leaders and ministers. But as we see in Scripture, our chief foundation for stability and growth must come from Jesus Christ. And not just Christ, but from our faith and confession in the crucified and risen Christ. Only when our lives are founded upon the rock of this heavenly confession, can Christians ever hope to grow strong and prosper.
Part 9 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. As it says in 1 Corinthians 13, love is the greatest thing. But is love all we need? We certainly need loving relationship where God accepts us as we are. But like with any good parent, mentor, or teacher, the fuller scope of God's love doesn't just include acceptance, it also includes expectation. God accepts us without condition, but because he loves us and wants the best for us, he also wants us to grow up and mature, becoming more like him. And so, in addition to God's love, we also need God's truth. We need God's true love (sermon recorded in 2018).
Part 13 of 23 in the extended series "Belonging to Him," which takes an in-depth look at the Gospel through the lens of personal relationship. Are the standards Jesus expects from his disciples in the New Testament too high? Most Christians would say, no, yet all the while privately bemoaning the truth that they fail to measure up again and again. We then wonder if it is even possible to answer Christ's call and walk in transcendent relationship. The answer is, yes. It is possible. But, only when our main focus is not on our own strength and abilities, but on our transcendent faith. All things are possible to him who believes. (sermon recorded in 2018).
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week is one of the sermons John delivered many years ago at The Cove Church in Mooresville North Carolina). A detailed examination of God’s “rules” for communicating with him through prayer. Most of us focus just on ourselves and our needs in prayer. But, the Lord’s Prayer is truly about God, and it is only by focusing on God’s greatness, his closeness, his kingdom, his will, his power to provide, to forgive, and to save, that we can truly find all our prayer’s answered.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week we’re returning to sermons John delivered while pastoring a church in Honduras with his 2019 Thanksgiving message.) A heart of thanksgiving and gratitude raises our perspective and reminds us about the good stuff we were missing. Likewise, thanking God for his blessings raises our perspective even higher. But what about when we thank God for those around us? Too many live their lives empty of affirmation and grace. They don't know that God loves them unconditionally, that he wants them to come to him as they are and find healing, restoration, and transformation. For our part, we don't often thank others unless it's earned. But God's grace isn't earned, so when we thank God for others, deserved or not, we're simply passing along what God has given us. Live a life of gratitude. Thank God. Thank God for others. You'll be sharing the Gospel in a miraculous new way.
(Note: We're taking a break from the "Belonging to Him" series for the holiday season and will pick back up with Part 2 on January 17th. This week, you’ll be hearing the final sermon John shared from a 4-part Christmas series while pastoring a church in the country of Honduras.) One of the best ways to describe the birth of Christ is with the phrase, "But...God." It goes like this: the world was sinking deep in sin, but God entered into our world, became one of us, and joined us in our weakness and suffering so we could join him in eternal strength and joy. The light shines in the darkness and, because of the coming of Christ, the darkness will never overcome.
Part 17 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him". Jesus once asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" In our encounters with Jesus, we should also answer this question, but then we should ask, "Who does God say that I am?" Understanding and claiming our identity in Christ should be a foundational and constant confession of faith. Because who we are is shaped by who we're with. And who we are in Christ will define what we have in him and how we then choose to live (recorded in 2019.)
Part 20 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." How do I relate to worship? Is it just about making it to church each Sunday? Is it just singing songs and hymns? Is it just something you’re supposed to do, but I rarely feel connected to God when I do it? Worship should be a chief focus in nurturing divine intimacy. But if we limit it to just Sunday morning or devotional time, we can miss the power of God's presence in all areas of life. Practicing the presence of God in everything we do will empower us to better glorify him, enjoy him...and belong to him (sermon recorded in 2019).
Part 21 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." Unconditional love feels unreachable. But not when we belong to God. God's love for us can transform how well we love one another. And the second commandment to love is like the first. Loving others affects how well we belong to him (sermon recorded in 2019).
Part 22 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." People like John-the-Baptist, Paul, and Jesus became "less" so that people could see more of God and ultimately, so they could belong to God. John modeled this in his words: "He must increase, but I must decrease." Becoming less doesn't belittle our self-worth. Rather, it's the path to finding our true self-worth and identity and genuinely sharing this quality of life with others. It's the best way to show others a love that comes from above, a love that invites us to belong to him and each other in the here-and-now (sermon recorded in 2019).
Part 23 of 23 in the series, "Belonging to Him." It may seem odd to imagine that we're called to have a "divine romance" with God. But the human marriage and intimacy with God have many parallels, seen especially in the Garden of Eden and in Revelation's Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In the time in-between, Jesus serves as our mediator, calling us to healing and restoration with God. And Jesus serves as our Suitor, the bridegroom who sacrificed himself so we could live with God happily ever after. There's no greater romance than that (sermon recorded in 2019).