Contributed on Apr 7, 2010
God prepares us for conflict so we will rejoice in the gospel rather than resent petty rivalry.
Scripture Introduction Nostalgia means “sentimental reflection,” mixed feelings of happiness, sadness, and longing when recalling the past. Nostalgia can create more than warm feelings, however; it can determine our expectations. Probably all of us have either thought it ourselves, or heard ...read more
Contributed on Apr 7, 2010
God “redeems” suffering through faith in his goodness and control.
Scripture Introduction A guy from New York rented a car after landing at the Dallas airport and set out across Texas to a meeting. Suddenly a truck pulling a horse trailer swerved and collided with him. He waited over a month before trying to collect damages from his insurance company. When he ...read more
Contributed on Apr 8, 2010
God fills us with love for what is good and glorious so we will choose the best.
Scripture Introduction A Biblical study of ethics usually considers four topics: the 1) standard, 2) dynamic, 3) motive, and 4) goal of the Christian life. In three short verses, the Apostle Paul touches on each of those as he prays for his friends in Philippi. The forty-three word sentence is ...read more
Contributed on Apr 8, 2010
God’s Spirit working in us enables us to enjoy other members of God’s family.
Scripture Introduction Lucian was a Greek satirist of the second century A.D. His ridicule of Greek mythology and of Christianity earned him the nickname, “the Blasphemer.” Even so, God caused him to leave something edifying for us. He said of the Christians in his day: “It is incredible to see ...read more
Contributed on Apr 9, 2010
God continues and completes what he starts.
Scripture Introduction Today’s text is a “plaque verse,” you find it inscribed on plaques, “calligraphy-ed” on cards, and on lists of verses Christians memorize. A couple of weeks ago, Kevin sent me a link to Steve Green singing it. In my previous pastorates, we sang, “He Who Began a Good Work ...read more
Contributed on Apr 9, 2010
God offers every Christian the privilege of partnering in the advancement of the Gospel.
Scripture Introduction In our church structure, when we give a man authority to preach and lead a congregation we ordain him as a “minister of the Gospel of Christ.” Though I appreciate the honor of that title, I think God offers every Christian the privilege of sharing in this work; I do not ...read more
Contributed on Apr 10, 2010
God offers his church the grace to rejoice.
Scripture Introduction Last year I had heated arguments with The Berry Company over the church’s Yellow Pages advertising. They confirmed, in writing, that our contract ended in June. But the small print allowed them to continue billing us if they were late publishing the new phone books. When ...read more
Contributed on Apr 10, 2010
God enables rejoicing in all circumstances by teaching us to trust his sovereign care.
Scripture Introduction The Apostle wrote Philippians to be read in the church, and at just over three pages in my Bible, it takes less than 14 minutes to do so. Let us trust the Spirit of the Word to minister to our spirits through this joyful letter. [Read Philippians 1.1-4.23. ...read more
Contributed on Apr 13, 2010
God enables us to live so as to have no regrets at our last day.
Scripture Introduction Frank Sinatra sings with bravado: And now the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…. I’ve lived a life that’s full; I traveled each and every highway; And more, much more than this, I did it my way. Regrets I’ve had a few, but ...read more
Contributed on Apr 20, 2010
God makes death a gain for those who desire to be with Christ.
Scripture Introduction Bobby’s first deep-sea fishing trip turned into what he felt certain was the dumbest decision ever made. With every pitch and roll of the boat, he doubted he could survive the remaining four hours of the excursion. Who would believe that seasickness could be so ...read more
Contributed on Apr 27, 2010
God changes us more and more as we believe the gospel more and more deeply and personally.
Scripture Introduction One of my seminary professors illustrated the challenge of believing and living Biblical truth by saying that we work out our theology and practice on a razor’s edge. The faithful Christian does not walk the fine edge so much as she is always moves back toward ...read more
Contributed on May 4, 2010
God stacks up treasures for his people through our suffering for his sake.
Scripture Introduction Jesus calls us blessed when reviled and persecuted on his account. We hear that and probably grit our teeth and determine to bear it should the need arise. The possibility of suffering frightens, and the culture of comfort surrounding us suggests we avoid situations where ...read more
Contributed on Jun 15, 2010
God gives unity as a fruit of Christ-likeness.
Scripture Introduction A young man in our church in Omaha described a really godly person as, “smelling like Jesus.” We should not take that too literally since a first century Jewish man, with few baths and no Right Guard, probably did not smell fresh and clean! But hopefully you get the ...read more
Contributed on Jun 22, 2010
God frees us to be other-oriented by giving us the mind of Christ.
Scripture Introduction A turtle in Cleveland wanted to winter in Florida. Since it was too far to walk, he convinced two geese to tie a rope around their necks and fly south while he hung on with his vise-like jaws clamped onto the rope. As they crossed the river into Kentucky, some other geese ...read more
Contributed on Jun 29, 2010
God strengthens us with everything we need for God-glorifying and self-satisfying humility.
Scripture Introduction Our church in Chicago participated in a prison ministry. One week the director of the work sent out an email with this last line: “And remember (as we say in Texas) don’t squat with your spurs on.” That is “practical” knowledge—a fact which quickly pays a dividend. ...read more
Contributed on Jul 14, 2010
God saves a people and secures their future through the work of Jesus.
Scripture Introduction The Christian faith is first and foremost about a person, which distinguishes it from other religions. Certainly the Bible teaches great moral truths, but Christianity is NOT, essentially, a new morality. Fantastic churches and ministries do wonderful works in the name of ...read more
Contributed on Jul 25, 2010
God graciously works obedience into the lives of his people.
Scripture Introduction Christians have disagreed and debated, since the earliest days of the church, God’s role versus the believer’s role in growth in godliness. Some Bible verses, considered by themselves, seem to support popular phrases like, “Let go and let God,” or “I can’t; God can.” ...read more
Contributed on Jul 27, 2010
God works cheerful obedience into his people.
Scripture Introduction Our text reminds me of the four-year old standing in his high chair during dinner one evening, much to his parents’ chagrin. They tried the usual antics to make him sit: begging, reasoning about the dangers of standing in a chair, fussing, and eventually threatening ...read more
Contributed on Aug 3, 2010
God illustrates a life of joyful obedience through Christian heroes.
Scripture Introduction As a society, our taste in heroes has changed. A few years ago, researchers asked two thousand eighth-graders to name prominent people they admired and wanted to be like. After the results were published, a columnist for the Chicago Daily News, Sidney Harris, lamented the ...read more
Contributed on Aug 10, 2010
God gives joy through the true faith.
Scripture Introduction Part of the job description for pastors and elders requires that we warn God’s people of danger and admonish you to pursue godliness in doctrine and practice. John Owen explained the need for this work: “The hearts of believers are like gardens, wherein there are not ...read more
Contributed on Aug 17, 2010
God offers riches to satiate every desire for those who let go of their trash.
Scripture Introduction Those of us born prior to 1970 will appreciate the article, Math Tests through the Decades in Reader’s Digest: • 1960s test: “A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?” • 1970s ...read more
Contributed on Aug 24, 2010
God enables the growth which obtains the prize.
Scripture Introduction Some say that you know you are old when you quit looking forward and only look back. Maybe some truth hides in that slogan? As we grow older, we do reminisce more about the past and become less interested in changing for the future. This is one reason dying ...read more
Contributed on Aug 31, 2010
God enables us to press toward the goal of the prize of the upward call.
Scripture Introduction Some humorist once said, “Consider the postage stamp: its usefulness consists in the ability to stick to one thing till it gets there” (Josh Billings). Luciano Pavarotti tells how when he was a boy, his father, a baker, introduced him to the wonders of song. “He urged ...read more
Contributed on Sep 8, 2010
God provides grace to reconcile relationships among those committed to advancing the Gospel.
Scripture Introduction Someone wrote a poem about conflict in the church: To live above, with the saints we love; Oh, that will be glory! But to live below, with the saints we know; now that’s a different story! Today we meet two women who probably sang that ditty every morning! ...read more
Contributed on Sep 14, 2010
God gives his peace through his presence as we draw close to him in prayer.
Scripture Introduction Their grandmother lived in a slower time. So her visit to California from a small town in middle America included her first plane flight. She was anxious about trusting her life to this newfangled contraption! When the family met her at the airport, they teased her by ...read more
Contributed on Sep 20, 2010
God empowers contentment for those who learn to trust in his plans.
Scripture Introduction Once upon a time, a great king suffered terribly from a painful ailment. His astrologer told him that the only cure was to find a contented man, get his shirt, and wear it night and day. Messengers speedily traveled the whole of the king’s realm, searching for such ...read more
Contributed on Oct 4, 2010
God provides for those with faith to partner in the work of the Gospel.
Scripture Introduction In his bestselling book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie explains that when he met a businessman for the first time, he asked which sign of the Zodiac he was born under. Almost none of the guys knew, so Carnegie would ask the day of his birth so he ...read more