Finding the Courage to LEAD! (Sermon Audio)

Finding the Courage to LEAD! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the June 26, 2022 sermon, “Finding the Courage to LEAD”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  Joshua 1:6-11

Are you a leader?  Are you sure?  It has been said that one of the best ways to know if you are a leader is to look around and see if anyone is following.  Whether the followers are plentiful or few, we each lead in some way so the question we ought to ask is, “How do I live with the courage to lead God’s way?”.  We do so when we find the courage to  . . .

  • Listen.  Joshua 1:6-7
    • Leading God’s way requires that we find the courage to listen.  Listening helps us to understand what people are going through.  However, we must be careful that our primary listening is to God and the truth contained in His Word.  It was following the majority rule and listening to people that kept the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years.  We ought to spend so much time with God through prayer and His Word that we recognize the voice of our shepherd and follow Him in all we do.
  • Examine.  Joshua 1:8
    • Leading God’s way requires that we find the courage to examine.  It is important that we examine our motives and actions to see how they align with God’s Word.  It is through the process of examining scripture daily that we can learn what direction is from God and what is simply from our own flesh.
  • Accept.  Joshua 1:9
    • Leading God’s way requires that we find the courage to accept.  The foundation of this principle is that we accept God’s Word as the authority we live by.  It also involves learning to accept others in the same way Christ accepted us.  This is not in any way an acceptance of sinful activity, but rather an acceptance of people where they are so that God’s love can transform them just as He transforms us.
  • Direct.  Joshua 1:10-11
    • Leading God’s way requires that we find the courage to direct.  Many times when we think of leading, we want to jump directly to this and skip everything else that ought to be involved.  But God’s desire is that we would direct people toward Him and in His ways rather than seeing leadership as a means to get others to do what I want.  The direction we each receive from God, as the leader we ought to be following, is for us to make disciples everywhere we go.

How will you LEAD today?

Training a Courageous SON (Or Daughter)! (Sermon Audio)

Training a Courageous SON (Or Daughter)! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the June 19, 2022 sermon, “Training a Courageous SON (Or Daughter)”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  Deuteronomy 31:7-8, Judges 2:7

As we prepare for a journey through the book of Joshua, it is important to consider who Joshua is and why he chose to act with courage.  I believe the obvious answer is God, but I also believe that in many ways he was trained by Moses as a man would train a son.  When we look at Moses as a spiritual father to Joshua there are lessons each of us can learn, regardless of whether we are a son or daughter, father or mother, or simply a person investing in the lives of others.  When applied universally, we learn to train a courageous . . .

  • Servant.  Exodus 33:11, Deuteronomy 3:28, Exodus 24:13, Joshua 24:15
    • We train a courageous son or daughter when we train a courageous servant.  Joshua spent time not only with Moses as his “young aide”, he also spent time with God.  He learned to serve and he learned the value of choosing to serve.  A courageous servant is one who discovers what God wants and then follows through with doing it regardless of who else might stand with him or against him.
  • Observer.  Deuteronomy 3:21, Exodus 17:14, Numbers 13:16, Numbers 14:5
    • We train a courageous son or daughter when we train a courageous observer.  Not only was Joshua good at learning what he was taught, he was good at learning through what he observed.  Even when he saw the same things that everyone else saw, he saw them in a different way as he looked through the lens of God’s will.  A courageous observer is one who not only notices the things around him, he acts on them according to God’s Word.
  • Nature.  Numbers 27:18, Numbers 32:12, Deuteronomy 34:9
    • We train a courageous son or daughter when we train a courageous nature.  Courage and obedience to God are not natural products of our flesh, but they are the supernatural product of God’s Spirit within us.  Joshua was known as one who had a different spirit and understanding because his nature had been trained to pursue God in all things.  A courageous nature will lead us to not only imitate Christ in everything, but to be aware of how that represents Jesus in all we do

Who is training you?  Who are you training?

Prayer Lessons from Nehemiah (SCC Prayer Seminar)

Prayer Lessons from Nehemiah (SCC Prayer Seminar)

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This is the audio and outline from session two with the leaders during a June 2022 prayer seminar held at the Spencer Christian Church in Taylorsville, Kentucky.

Text:  Nehemiah 1 & 2

Before Nehemiah led the people of Israel in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls, he was serving as a cup-bearer to a foreign king.  As the book that bears his name opens, I find some incredible lessons about prayer as he sought to both know and do God’s will.

  1. Seek accurate evaluations.
  2. Seek God’s perspective.
  3. Talk to God honestly about who He is and who you are.
  4. Remember God’s promises.
  5. Request mercy and favor.
  6. Be honest and courageous in your reporting.
  7. Talk to God before you answer others.
  8. Give God’s answers, not your own.
  9. Count the costs; do your homework.
  10. Trust God for His answer.

Who’s in charge of your prayer life?
Who gets the credit when God works in your life and in your church?

“When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.”
Nehemiah 6:16 (NIV)

Growing As Leaders Who PRAY (SCC Prayer Seminar)

Growing As Leaders Who PRAY (SCC Prayer Seminar)

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This is the audio and outline from session one with the leaders during a June 2022 prayer seminar held at the Spencer Christian Church in Taylorsville, Kentucky.

Text:  Colossians 4:2-6, Isaiah 40:30-31

For me, one of the comforting aspects of the Isaiah 40:30-31 passage is the acknowledgement that even youths grow weary and tired.  It serves as a reminder that we all experience circumstances of life that wear us down and we find ourselves in need of renewal.  The good news is that God says those who wait upon Him, or put their hope in Him, will be renewed.  Learning to put our hope in the Lord and wait upon Him helps us to lead as we . . .

  • Pause.  Colossians 4:2, Proverbs 24:32
    • Learning to pause can be a valuable tool to help us grow in a lifestyle of prayer.  It is often the lack of a pause that gets us into trouble as our nature has a tendency to want to respond out of the emotions that are stirred up by what we see and hear.  When we watch and pause, we take time to observe carefully and seek God’s perspective on what is really going on.  Practicing the pause is done when we spend time with God in prayer and His Word so that we are the sheep who hear His voice and know His voice.
  • Request.  Colossians 4:3-4, Philippians 4:6
    • By beginning with a pause that seeks God above all else, our requests are refined to remove the typical selfishness that seems to be a part of mankind’s nature.  Watching what is really going on around us should lead us to requests that God would use us to speak boldly and lovingly about the good news of Jesus.  When we are devoted to prayer in a way that is watchful and thankful, our requests of God tend to have a more eternal perspective as we realize the temporary nature of this life on earth.
  • Act.  Colossians 4:5, Proverbs 3:27
    • Learning to watch and act means that we are listening to God and being obedient when He calls us to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people around us.  Many times we make our requests known to God and then we sit back and expect God or someone else to make them happen.  Learning to pause and request doesn’t negate the need to act — it just puts the action that we take into the proper perspective of being directed by God.  When you pray and make your requests known to God, especially requests for others, it is important that you also listen for the great possibility that God will call you to act in response to that request.
  • Yield.  Colossians 4:6, Matthew 6:10
    • This may be the most difficult part of learning to watch and pray for many people.  Yielding to God’s authority in all things means that we are not in charge.  When we learn to let our words be seasoned with grace, we yield the need to be right about everything and we remove ourselves from the position of pretending we are God.  Even when we pause, request, and act, we must be careful that our will is fully yielded to God and that we are not simply using a false spirituality to push our ways on others.  Learning to watch and pray leads us to a point of joining in the prayer of Jesus, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

What do you need to work on in order to PRAY as you lead? 

What could happen if you were to PRAY as the foundation of leading?

Growing As Those Who Pray STRONG! (Sermon Audio)

Growing As Those Who Pray STRONG! (Sermon Audio)

This is the audio from the June 12, 2022 second service sermon, “Growing As Those Who Pray STRONG”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Spencer Christian Church.

Text: Ephesians 6:10 – 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:

  • Submissively:
    • 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.
  • Truthfully: 
    • 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. 
  • Repentantly:
    • 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. 
  • Observantly:
    • 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.
  • Noticeably
    • 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.
  • Globally
    • 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.

In prayer,
Tom

The Power of ONE! (Sermon Audio)

The Power of ONE! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the June 5, 2022 sermon, “The Power of ONE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  John 17:20-23, Acts 2

When we respond to the prayer of Jesus to live as those who are one with Him and with one another, we find a power that we would never know alone.  It is in Christ that we discover the real power of . . .

  • Obedience.  Acts 1:4-5, Acts 2:1-4, 1 Samuel 15:22-23
    • The events recorded in the second chapter of Acts on the day of Pentecost are often looked at as the birth of the church.  The power unleashed that day through the activity of God’s Spirit began with the power of obedience.  The disciples of Jesus had been instructed by Him to wait until they received the gift promised to them.  Their obedience in waiting led to them all being in one place when God’s Spirit was poured out upon them in a mighty way.  While our flesh tends to lead us to desiring our own way in everything, God’s calling to us is one that should lead us to obedience.  When we learn to obey Christ as our head in everything, we find a power of unity that nothing else can duplicate.
  • Necessity.  Acts 2:36-41, Acts 4:12, 1 Peter 3:10-12
    • I suspect there are things that each one of us do that are not because we really want to, but rather because we feel, know, or are convinced that we must.  It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention because absolute need can be a powerful motivation.  As Peter addresses the confusion surrounding the outpouring of God’s Spirit, he proclaims that what is being witnessed is what the prophet Joel had spoken of many years earlier.  From that point he explains Jesus as the fulfillment of scripture and made it clear that God had made this same Jesus that they had crucified to be both Lord and Christ.  When confronted with the knowledge of who Jesus really was and what they had really done, the people were cut to the heart and wanted to know what they must do.  Peter’s answer was that each person must repent and be immersed for the forgiveness of sin and the gift of God’s Spirit.  With the power of necessity at work, about three thousand people responded to the message that day.  We live with the power of necessity when we take God’s Word seriously and realize His commands and instructions are not simply good ideas or suggestions, but rather our necessities of life itself.
  • Example.  Acts 2:42-47, 1 Corinthians 11:1-2, 1 Timothy 4:12
    • When Jesus prayed that those who believed in Him would be one with Him and with one another, He acknowledged that it was in doing so that the world would know we are His disciples.  As the people of the first century responded obediently to the necessity of God’s message, the world noticed in such a way that many saw something they wanted and we read that God was adding daily those who were being saved.  In fact, it was noted by those watching that these untrained followers of Jesus were turning the world upside down.  When we live with this kind of power of example, we also have the capacity for God to use us in ways that get Jesus noticed.  The example of the early church was one of caring, sharing, and serving one another in ways that were not only needed, but could only be explained by the power of God at work in them.  We live by the power of example when we let Jesus be seen in everything we do.

Will you live in unity with Christ and others today in a way that leads each of us, and those around us, to experience the power of ONE?

All-Sufficient GRACE! (Sermon Audio)

All-Sufficient GRACE! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the May 15, 2022 sermon, “All-Sufficient GRACE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  2 Corinthians 12:7 – 13:11

God has a way of bringing “thorn in the flesh” situations into our life for our benefit and, like Paul, we have a tendency to want them removed as quickly as possible.  I believe these last two chapters of 2 Corinthians are not only God’s answer to Paul, but they also show Paul’s response to living out the all-sufficient grace of God.  While grace is often defined as an undeserved gift, as I look into the nature of God and the actions of Paul, I see at least five characteristics which represent the grace we need and the grace we ought to share with others.  When the lessons of life seem overwhelming to us and to the people around us, God calls us to lean into, and share, His all-sufficient . . .

  • Goodness.  2 Corinthians 12:14-15, Romans 15:14, 2 Peter 1:3
    • Paul was willing to give of himself because he understood the all-sufficient goodness of God as a good and loving Father.  God’s nature is provide what is best for the good of His children regardless of their level of obedience.  It is a self-sacrificing goodness best demonstrated through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  We carry the all-sufficient goodness of God to others when we help others reach the full potential that can be theirs as a child of God.
  • Restoration.  2 Corinthians 12:19-21, Galatians 6:1, 1 Peter 5:10
    • As one who had lived in total opposition to the gospel of Jesus and to those who believed it, Paul knew first hand the all-sufficient restoration of God.  The power of God at work in a life goes much deeper than a simple surface change — it is a complete restoration to make a new creation in the person sin had destroyed.  Recognizing the tension between what was, what is, and what will be is at the heart of living not only as one who has been restored by God, but as one who carries a message of an all-sufficient restoration to everyone regardless of where they are currently at in the process.
  • Acceptance.  2 Corinthians 13:4-6, Acts 10:34-35, Romans 15:7
    • Paul makes it clear in a number of his writings that he considers himself to be the least worthy of God’s love, yet because of that love he knows the grace of an all-sufficient acceptance.  I suspect that many times we struggle with the word acceptance because there are those that thinks it means nothing needs to change.  God’s acceptance of me, and of you, is always as we are but with His expectation that we will be transformed by His presence in us.  Even when we, or the people around us, are not living fully as we ought, God calls us to accept one another just as He in Christ has accepted us.  Living out that instruction leads us to embrace one another with an all-sufficient acceptance.
  • Compassion.  2 Corinthians 13:9-10, Luke 15:20, 2 Corinthians 1:3
    • As a spiritual parent to the Corinthian church, Paul understood what it meant to share in the pain of others with an all-sufficient compassion.  He understood this is the compassion that God demonstrated toward him even as he lived in opposition to the gospel message.  The picture of the father in the story of the prodigal son is of a dad that has waited for his son to come to his senses and choose to come home.  That home-coming scene is an incredible image of compassion and embrace instead of judgment and condemnation.  We carry that all-sufficient compassion when we welcome home all who have strayed . . . even our self.
  • Encouragement.  2 Corinthians 13:11, 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Hebrews 3:13
    • Paul knew the value of receiving an all-sufficient encouragement from God and from the people God used for that purpose.  Throughout his letters to the churches, we find that encouraging believers everywhere is a core concern of his.  Even when writing the difficult words of needed correction and rebuke, Paul seems to have always done so in ways meant to offer hope and confidence.  In the midst of what seems to be ever-increasing discouragement among people everywhere, imagine the difference you can make in the lives of people when you carry the message of an all-sufficient encouragement that can be found through the grace of God.

How do you need to experience, and share, the all-sufficient GRACE of God today?

Called To BE Different! (Sermon Audio)

Called To BE Different! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the May 8, 2022 sermon, “Called To BE Different”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  2 Corinthians 10 & 11, Romans 12:1-2

As I look back through scripture, I find a consistent record of God calling people to Himself in a way that compels them to be different — different from what they were before and different from the people around them.  Today, let us consider a God who calls us to . . .

  • Believe Differently.  2 Corinthians 10:3-6
    • God calls us to be different as we believe differently through a renewing of our mind.  It is critical that we take every thought captive and make each one obedient to Christ.  Our battle is not a flesh and blood battle, in fact it is most often a battle in the heavenly realms and in our mind.  We are on the road to becoming different when we believe differently about ourselves and about others.
  • Express Differently.  2 Corinthians 10:12,18; 11:30
    • God calls us to be different as we express differently because of the work God is doing in our life.  Jesus says that it is out of the overflow of our heart that the mouth speaks.  Our love for people, or lack of love for people, will speak volumes that will either confirm our words or contradict what we say.  While the world teaches us to promote our self, God wants us to be representatives that make Jesus known.

How will you BE different today?