This is the audio from the June 7, 2020 sermon, “When You Don’t Know What To Do: FIX Your Mind”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: 2 Chronicles 20:1-19
What do you do when you look around and you just don’t know what to do? When the struggles of life seem overwhelming and the opposition just too large? When the problems have no logical solution, it is time to fix your mind on things above rather than on the things of this earth.
So, let’s take a look at what we need to FIX when we don’t know what to do:
Focus your eyes:
2 Chronicles 20:12 — When life seems too confusing to figure out, it is time to focus your eyes on the One who sees everything clearly. When Jehoshaphat could see no way of success or victory, he knew his only good option was to focus his gaze upon God and trust in Him. When we don’t know what to do, we focus our eyes on God and trust Him.
Instruct your mind:
2 Chronicles 20:15 — When life is full of conflicting information and requests, it is time to instruct your mind with the truth of God. Even with a focus on God and a trust in Him, there is a need to instruct our minds and do the things of God. When we don’t know what to do, we look to God and His Word for instruction and direction.
eXpress your worship:
2 Chronicles 20:18-19 — When life presents you with too many options to know what is best, it s time to express your worship of God to Him. Jehoshaphat and the people chose to worship God even before they discovered the results of God’s victory. When we don’t know what to do, we continue to worship God for what He has done and for what He will do.
When you FIX your mind on things above, it should change the way you do life here on earth!
This is the video from the April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday sermon, “Laying Down Your PALMS”, shared by Tom Lemler from his porch during the COVID-19 stay at home orders.
Text: John 12:12-19
As I spent time considering the events of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday which we celebrate at this time of the year, I found myself challenged by how quickly the crowd could go from shouting “Hosanna!” to shouting “Crucify Him!”. As I normally share a sermon on the first Sunday of the month with the North Wayne Mennonite Church congregation, I sat on my porch and shared this message live on Sunday morning as church buildings are closed in the midst of this global pandemic. While the crowds hailed Jesus as king and would lay their cloaks and palm branches on the road before Him as an expression of honor, perhaps the symbolism should have extended to laying down some different things to really show He was king of their life.
So, here are the “PALMS” I believe we ought to lay down daily as we proclaim Jesus as King:
Lay down our Plans:
If we wish to live with Jesus as king of our life, we must lay down our plans and look to Him for all of our direction and purpose.
Lay down our Attitudes:
Living with Jesus as king of our life also means we must lay down our attitudes of pride and be like Jesus who “humbled himself” and was obedient to the Father in all things.
Lay down our Loves:
What things would Jesus be referring to if He were to ask you, “Do you love me more than these?” When Jesus is king of our life, He requires that we love Him with all — get that? — all of our heart, mind, soul and strength. Anything that is a love that comes before Him must be surrendered.
Lay down our Motives:
Doing the right things for the wrong reasons will always produce questionable results somewhere down the road. While God uses our efforts even when we allow selfishness or pride to creep in, living with Him as king requires that we allow Him to purify us from the inside out.
Lay down our Secrets:
I’m pretty sure we all have things that we are fairly confident no one else knows about. In fact, sometimes we live with secrets for so long that we begin to believe even God doesn’t know. Laying down our secrets before God isn’t for the purpose of informing Him, rather it is for the purpose of our allowing Him to transform us.
Laying down our PALMS will go a long way toward helping us to remain faithful so that our shouts of Hosanna will last into eternity!
It is my prayer that you pursue God in such a way that you daily lay down your Plans, Attitudes, Loves, Motives, and Secrets as you live a life fully surrendered to Him.
This is the audio from the March 1, 2020 sermon, “Finding CALM In the Midst of Chaos”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 1:29-45
Life has a way of being chaotic and full of trouble . . . and that’s just on the good days! As we finish out the first chapter of Mark, I find Jesus setting the example of finding calm in the midst of some very chaotic circumstances. I don’t believe the chaos of life will every disappear from this earth, but our response to it will greatly influence our effectiveness in sharing the good news of Christ with others during their chaos.
So, let’s take a look at what it takes to find CALM in the midst of chaos:
Mark 1:29-31, 40-41 — Our human nature is often quick to pass judgment when we see chaos in the lives of people . . . especially when that chaos spills over into our life. Whether in the chaos of a family dealing with illness or an individual living as an outcast, Jesus found compassion for people. As you read the gospels, it seems that the most common reaction of Jesus to crowds, the sick, the unstable, the lonely, the confused the harassed, the lost, the outcast, and nearly anyone else in the midst of chaos was to be filled with compassion for them. Finding, and living with, compassion for people will go a long ways toward filling you with calm in the midst of chaos.
Mark 1:33-34 — Sometimes we exasperate the existing chaos by thinking it is ours to resolve or fix. Jesus could find calm in the midst of chaos because He knew that all authority belonged to His Father was His to use on earth as the Father’s representative. Jesus could approach every chaotic situation knowing the forces behind the chaos would never be greater than the authority of His Father. While Jesus was indeed more than a simple representative — He was God’s own Son — our pursuit of calm in the midst of chaos gains momentum when we acknowledge and live under the authority of God over us and over that which causes the chaos.
Mark 1:38-39 — God has a way of using everything for our good and sometimes we will not find the calm we seek until we look for, and discover, the lessons we need to learn. There is plenty of trouble in this world and sometimes it can be a challenge to discover whether the current lesson is one in perseverance or in moving on. Even as Jesus remained calm in the midst of chaos and helped to resolve the problems faced by those who would come to Him, one lesson He taught was that popularity wasn’t as important as obedience. When an entire town is looking for Him because He has healed their sick and cast out demons, His message to His disciples is that it is time to move on. Understanding the lessons to be learned through the chaos is best accomplished when we realize the next point is probably the primary key in finding the calm we seek.
Mark 1:35, 45 — Trouble and chaos will always be with us which makes the practice of finding moments with God one of the most critically important things we can do. As Jesus dealt on a daily basis with the chaos of this world, He would often seek out the lonely and solitary places to spend time with His Father. It is the moments we spend with God in prayer and His Word that transforms our hearts into the compassionate heart that He desires. It is those same moments that bring us into a willing submission and obedience to His authority. It is only in having consistent time with God that we can discern the lessons we ought to be learning and how He would have us respond to the chaos. In fact, the moments we spend with God ought to be of both a continual nature and a deliberate nature. Every breath of our day ought to be taken with an awareness of God’s presence yet we still need times of deliberately drawing ourselves away from the distractions of life to just spend whatever moments we can enjoying the loving presence of our Father.
Finding CALM in the midst of the chaos of life will always take effort, but in Christ it is always possible!
It is my prayer that you pursue God in such a way that learn from Him the Compassion, Authority, Lessons, and Moments that will help you to be calm in the midst of chaos.
This is the audio from the February 23, 2020 sermon, “A SIMPLE Witness”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Three Oaks Church of Christ.
Text: Acts 1:8
When Jesus was about to ascend into heaven, His final instructions to His followers was that they were to be His witnesses where they were and everywhere they would go. I believe that command is not just for those who were present that day, but to all of us who live as children of God. Since we have a tendency to complicate things and even act as if being a witness is the job of ministry professionals and missionaries, I used the word “SIMPLE” to outline how each of us ought to live as witnesses for Christ. The simplicity is more in the ability to understand rather than in the actual doing as most of these character traits require effort on our part and the work of God’s Spirit in us to accomplish them with effectiveness.
So, let’s take a look at what it takes to be a SIMPLE witness:
A Serving Witness:
1 Peter 4:10, Mark 10:45 — In a world where people fight their way to the top so that others will serve them, our witness for Christ shines brightly when we learn to serve like Jesus. Jesus made it clear that His purpose on earth was to serve mankind in a way that brought salvation to all who would accept it. His teaching calls each of us to serve one another just as He humbled Himself and became a servant to all.
An Including Witness:
James 2:1, Romans 15:7 — If you’ve begun to make a list of who you will serve, you can go ahead and stop doing that. To be a witness for Jesus will require us to include everyone without partiality or favoritism when it comes to our willingness to accept and serve. Our acceptance of one another is not based on anyone’s goodness, other than the goodness of God, just as His acceptance of us is based solely on our choosing to be in Christ.
A Motivated Witness:
Hebrews 10:24, John 9:4 — One of the greatest tools of distraction when it comes to being a witness for Christ is the consistent lies of the enemy that it isn’t that important and now isn’t a good time. Most of us need a good “spur” appropriately placed in our life to motivate us to do what we ought. While we like to think “there is always tomorrow”, Jesus makes it clear that a time is coming when our opportunities to do His work will come to an end.
A Praying Witness:
Philemon 1:6, Daniel 6:5 — Being a witness for Christ is most effective when we live in communication with our Father. Our prayer life helps us to be prepared to share with others about all Christ has done in transforming us more and more into His likeness. When our communication with God is a natural part of our growing relationship with Him, prayer isn’t something we do to be noticed but a vibrant prayer life will often cause God to be noticed in us.
A Loving Witness:
Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-28 — All of our efforts to be a witness for Christ will generally fall on deaf ears if we haven’t chosen to love people like Jesus does. When Jesus taught the need to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us, He tells us that doing so is an attribute of being a child of our Father in heaven. Loving people the Jesus way doesn’t mean we agree, like, or even accept everything they do but it does mean we want and work for that which is best for them.
An Encouraging Witness:
Hebrews 3:13, Philippians 1:14 — If you haven’t noticed, we live in a time that can be very discouraging. The statistics for hopelessness, despair, depression, and such emptiness can be quite alarming. I find it fascinating that the instruction to encourage one another is given with the stipulation that we do so “as long as it is called Today.” Since we are not able to live in the past or the future, it is always today! Not only is it always the right time for encouragement, it is always right to encourage others no matter who they are.
Being a witness for Jesus may not be all that simple, but we can be more effective by learning to be a SIMPLE witness!
It is my prayer that you would learn and practice the acts of being a Serving, Including, Motivated, Praying, Loving, and Encouraging witness as you live for Christ out loud for all the world to see and hear.
This is the audio from the February 2, 2020 sermon, “Learning to FISH”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 1:14-28
When Jesus began to call His disciples to Himself, He called them to leave what they were accustomed to and become “fishers of men”. In our life as a Christ-follower, we also are called to be “fishers of men”. Here are some lessons we would do well to understand as we seek to learn to FISH.
Learning to fish includes learning to:
Mark 1:16-18, John 10:4-5 — Many of us have great difficulty in following because we want to be the leader. Christ ought to be the supreme example that we follow in all things. The way we follow Jesus should help others to see the great value in being His disciple. Our effectiveness in fishing for men will follow our consistency in following Jesus in all things.
Mark 1:19-20, Romans 15:7 — When we learn to follow, we find that the following isn’t just for us. As Jesus called the disciples to Himself, He added to the number with the expectation that those called first would include those called later. This was not just true with the twelve, but it also was the expectation in the early church as it reached beyond all racial, economic, geographic, and any other barriers that existed. Our effectiveness in fishing for men hinges on our ability and willingness to include all who Jesus would call to Himself regardless of how similar or different they are from us.
Mark 1:22-26, Luke 14:31-33 — Related to following and including is our need to fully surrender. As Jesus called the early disciples to Himself, they were soon exposed to the authority of Jesus even over evil spirits. Being a disciple of Jesus isn’t something that takes place on our terms. Jesus makes it clear that peace with God requires every one of us to surrender to Him unconditionally. Our effectiveness in fishing for men will require us to not just talk and teach about surrender, but we must actually do it so that others can see it being done.
Mark 1:27-28, Matthew 7:24-25 — Being a disciple that brings others into a discipleship relationship with Jesus involves a great need to hear. When Jesus called the twelve to Himself and taught them and the crowds, there were many who would listen to His words but few who would actually hear what He was saying. Those that did hear were amazed at His teaching which was nothing like the teachers they were accustomed to. The proof of hearing is found in our willingness to put into practice the things Jesus taught. Our effectiveness in fishing for men will be directly related to our willingness to hear in a way that changes everything we do.
We will grow in being the disciple Jesus calls us to be when we learn to FISH!
It is my prayer that you not only learn to Follow, Include, Surrender, and Hear, but in doing so you would become an effective “fisher of men”.
This is the audio from the December 29, 2019 sermon, “#PraySTRONG”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Zechariah 4:6, Ephesians 6:10-11, 18
Learning to pray strong begins when we realize that the strength of our prayers is not by our power or might, but by the Spirit of the Living God.
As we develop a lifestyle of prayer seeking to pray strong, we must learn to pray:
Matthew 6:10 — Perhaps one of the toughest parts of praying strong God’s way, is learning to empty our prayers of self and be fully submissive to God. Jesus taught us to pray that God’s will be done on earth just as it is in heaven. For that to happen, we must take captive every thought and motive that influences our prayers toward our selfish desires.
Luke 18:13 — I suppose we get so used to hiding behind a mask with one another that somehow a lack of honesty with God infiltrates our prayer life. When we pray truthfully, we begin by being honest with God about our own weaknesses, shortcomings, and sins so that they don’t become a hindrance to our prayers. Adam and Eve’s communion with God was interrupted not only by sin, but by an ill-conceived attempt to hide the truth from God.
Matthew 18:3 — Learning to pray truthfully really only becomes powerful when we follow it up with praying repentantly. It is not enough to be truthful with God about our attitudes and actions, we must turn away from all that is not of Him and allow His transforming power to change us. Praying repentantly leads us to the freedom necessary to walk in conversation with God in all that we do.
John 4:35 — The disciples that walked with Jesus each day often missed the opportunities that were right in front of them simply because they weren’t looking with the same kind of eyes that Jesus was looking with. Praying observantly leads us to notice people and situations that are far too easy to walk by without a second thought. When we ask God to open our eyes to see the fields which are ripe unto harvest, we soon discover that the harvest is indeed plentiful and it is much closer than we probably thought.
Matthew 5:16 — While praying noticeably may sound contradictory to the scripture that tells us to go into our closet and pray in secret, there is a difference between praying to be noticed and praying that is noticed. In fact, if we learn from Jesus, we see that His prayer life got the attention of the disciples to such an extent that it was the one thing we find recorded in scripture that the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. Prayer ought to make such a difference in our life that people notice it and even if they don’t know prayer is the reason, they want to know how to have what we have.
Matthew 9:38 — I suspect when you read this topic, one of the first things that comes to mind is to pray for those involved in missions work around the world. While that definitely is included, the oft overlooked part of praying globally is the fact that your next door neighbor, coworker, stranger you encounter in your day to day life, and the homeless person sleeping on the streets are all part of the global population. Praying globally will have you praying for people who are like you and for people who are very different from you no matter where they live.
When I think about praying strong, I think about Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel. If you didn’t know the story and who was on which “team”, I think the American concept of praying strong would tend to choose the wrong side of this epic showdown. Rather than finding strength in numbers, volume, activity, or even length of prayer time, the real strength of prayer was found in a sole individual who humbly asked God to answer in such a way that the people would have no doubt that God was indeed the one and only true God.
I pray that you and I would learn to pray Submissively, Truthfully, Repentantly, Observantly, Noticeably, and Globally in such a way that those who are watching us would know that the God we serve is the one and only true God.
This is the audio from the December 1, 2019 sermon, “Looking For the Perfect GIFT”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: John 4:10, Colossians 1:27
As we enter a season when many individuals are looking for the perfect gift for someone special, or even for themselves, let’s look at some lessons we can we learn from the things we look for in the perfect gift we give or receive. Each of these lessons not only help us to give the perfect gift, they help us see Jesus as the perfect gift that has been given to us.
When looking for the perfect gift, look for:
Psalm 27:13-14 — When giving a gift that we want to be “just right”, we search for something filled with goodness. Something that is appropriate for the person and situation the gift is meant for. The gift must not only meet our standards, but it must be acceptable by the standards the recipient is known for and deserves. Jesus reminds us that while our nature is to give good gifts to our children, even greater is the nature of His Father to give good gifts to those who are His. Even in the midst of a very up and down life, David writes of being confident of seeing God’s goodness in the land of the living. Yes, he knew the goodness of God exists throughout heaven in eternity, but there is also an element of God’s goodness that He showers upon us here on earth — with the supreme example of that goodness being the sending of Jesus to die for our sins.
Psalm 25:8-9 — When looking for the perfect gift, we want to be sure it does what it should. Whether we read them or not, we want to know there are instructions and help available should something not make sense in the use of the gift. With all of the “some assembly required” gifts that we give, the quality of the instructions go a long way in making sure the gift will look and work as it is supposed to. When it comes to the perfect gift of Jesus, God has given us His Word to instruct us in every area of life we will face. Working in combination with His Word, the Holy Spirit has been given to God’s children to help us know and understand the instructions God has given each of us for life. From entering the kingdom of God, to living as kingdom citizens here on earth, to be ready for eternity in the presence of the King, God’s instructions are both clear and complete.
John 8:34-36, 2 Corinthians 3:17 — The perfect gift always comes with an element of freedom, otherwise the gift quickly becomes our master and we soon resent both the gift and the giver for enslaving us. Many people have received gifts that at first glance appeared to be beneficial and wonderful . . . and then they discovered the time and financial commitment required to keep such a gift. God has shown us that His laws, even the “thou shalt not” laws, are given to us for the purpose of teaching us how to live as those who are truly free. The gift of Jesus has been given to us to set us free from both the penalty and the power of sin in our life. Being cleansed of our sins and living by the power of the Holy Spirit within us frees us to live for Christ rather than for self.
John 1:14-17, 14:6 — Finally, the perfect gift is always given in truth. No misrepresentations, no double-talk, no hidden agendas, no bait and switch, and no exaggerations. In a world that not only wants something for nothing, but wants you to believe it is giving you more than it can, truth in giving can be a very uncommon trait. The advertising world thrives on making things appear bigger, better, faster, quieter, louder, or whatever other characteristic you desire; than what they really are. A few years ago, a national sandwich chain took a lot of heat because their “foot-long” sandwiches weren’t really twelve inches long. They’re initial response did little to satisfy the general public as they simply claimed “foot-long” was meant to be an approximate term and not an actual measurement. With Jesus as the perfect gift, He makes it clear that He is truth. In fact, He expects the same from us as He calls us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. Part of the prayer of Jesus for His followers is that we would be set apart by truth, the truth of God’s Word.
In all the gifts ever given, there is none so perfect as Jesus!
It is my prayer that you not only accept this perfect gift, but that you would live your live sharing this gift with others.
This will serve as the November 3 post in the series I am writing this month on giving thanks. This is the audio from the November 3, 2019 sermon, “How To Give THANKS”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Psalm 100, 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Anyhow, this version of “How To Give THANKS” is based around a “made-for-the-movies” stereotypical family thanksgiving day. Here are six things I think we can learn about giving thanks from a traditional Thanksgiving Day gathering:
We give thanks to God, and to others, when we give:
Hebrews 5:11-14 — I know, you probably have the same reaction that the congregation did this morning — “What? Did he say what I thought I heard? He didn’t just say turkey, did he?”. Yep, I said turkey! When you think of Thanksgiving, for most people, the first thing that comes to mind is turkey. It is the traditional main course, the very center and substance to the meal which surrounds it. When I say, “give turkey”, that is what I mean — give thanks with substance and meat at its very heart. Don’t settle for simply mouthing the words thank you when you can give thanks with turkey — with real depth and meaning behind it. This is a thanks that settles in and satisfies the deepest reaches of a person’s being.
Psalm 126:2-3 –Without a good sense of humor, Thanksgiving and other family gatherings can fall apart quite quickly. We give thanks when we don’t take our self too seriously. God says that a cheerful, or merry, heart is good medicine! I believe that there are boundaries that need to be kept when it comes to humor but laughter is not only good for the spirit, it is good for the body. This is not only true of an individual but it applies to a family, or a church family, as well. Don’t take every situation more seriously than it ought to be taken. True joy can shine through brightly when you give thanks with humor.
2 Peter 1:2, John 10:10 — Does anything symbolize the American Thanksgiving Day gathering any more than a table overflowing with every variety of food imaginable — a table of Abundance? Jesus said He came to not only give us life, but to give us life abundantly! Do you give thanks with abundance, or just enough to get by? When we want to celebrate or to remember great things, we would likely never ask how little can I do and still look good. No, we would examine our resources of every kind to determine how abundantly can I celebrate to make my joy known to all. When we want to express deep-felt thankfulness it ought to be the same way — not what do I have to do but how much can I do. Your generosity overflows when you give thanks with abundance.
1 John 3:18-20 — Ahhh . . . turkey, plenty of good humor, an abundance of food . . . I’m tired. What good Thanksgiving Day gathering would be complete without a Nap? We give thanks when we give Naps! When we allow a person to relax and rest we communicate that we value both them and their time. If every interaction with a person has you walking away knowing that they expect something from you it is not likely that you will feel a true appreciation regardless of any words of thanks. Resting is a God-given concept and gift that we typically don’t use enough ourself and seldom think to give to others. The sabbath concept, a day of rest, is connected by God to the fact that on the seventh day He rested from His work of creation. We, and those around us, are more tolerable when we give thanks with naps.
Ephesians 4:31-32 — What family gathering is complete without that cousin that’s . . . well, he’s just different. Regardless of his different looks, different political views, different lifestyle, different pie preference, or different whatever, he is part of the family so we give Kindness. Extending kindness doesn’t mean that we agree or approve of everything about him — we may pray and work desperately to influence positive change in his life. It does mean, however, that we acknowledge his value as a person and do our best to include him in the family celebration of the Thanksgiving Day gathering. We all sin and find our self in need of God’s greatest kindness — the undeserved gift of forgiveness and salvation through the blood of His Son, Jesus! It is this example that we must follow when we give thanks with kindness.
Proverbs 16:24 — Finally, the part that no one really needs but no Thanksgiving Day gathering is complete without — Sweets! Take away the pie, the ice cream, the cookies, the fudge, the chocolate, the candies, and the other desserts and what do you have? You have one very unhappy and disappointed family! Sweets are those over-and-above extras in life that shout “thank you” in ways that little else can. When we really want to give thanks, we adopt an “and then some” attitude. We do what is expected and required . . . and then some. We walk the extra mile. We take the extra time. We give the extra attention. With our actions we say loudly, “you’re worth it!”. Just as dessert completes the Thanksgiving Day gathering, our expressions of gratitude are completed when we give thanks with sweets.
So, how are you at giving THANKS? I pray that as you gather with others this Thanksgiving day, and any other day, you would give “Turkey”, give Humor, give Abundance, give Naps, give Kindness, and give Sweets!