Choose LIFE! (Sermon Audio)

Choose LIFE! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the January 16, 2022 sermon, “Choose LIFE!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  John 10:10, Deuteronomy 30:11-20

In our existence here on earth, God calls for each one of us to have life to the full as we . . .

  • Choose Love.  Deuteronomy 30:15-16, Proverbs 21:21
    • The choice that God sets before us between life and death is a call for each of us to choose love.  Jesus made it clear that the greatest of all God’s commands is to love the Lord God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and then to love our neighbor like we love our self.  The reason these are the greatest of all the commands is because they provide the foundation for all else.  We choose life to the full when we choose love in everything we do.
  • Choose Inclusion.  Deuteronomy 30:11-14, Acts 2:39
    • Before you start thinking that perhaps this choice of life is only for a select few, God makes it clear that He has set this choice before everyone.  Choosing inclusion doesn’t mean that everything goes or that there are no standards of right and wrong.  Rather, it is a choice to acknowledge God’s invitation to choose life is for all who would accept it.  When we choose inclusion, we set no limits on who we will share with about Jesus.  We choose life to the full when we choose inclusion for all who would seek God.
  • Choose Faithfulness & Forgiveness.  Deuteronomy 30:17-18, James 1:12
    • Throughout scripture we find God informing us of the benefits that come from a life of faithfulness . . . and the consequences of being unfaithful.  The good news is that God is always faithful and will always keep His promise to be found by us when we seek Him with a whole heart.  His faithfulness to forgive give us a fresh start whenever we come to Him in repentance.  We choose life to the full when we choose to live a forgiven life that pursues faithfulness to God in all that we do.
  • Choose Encouragement.  Deuteronomy 30:19-20, Hebrews 3:12-13
    • Life can be very difficult.  While most people don’t like for it to be known or visible, it seems we all face struggles of various kinds . . . in fact, Jesus told us we would.  One of the often used tools of the enemy against us is to make us feel isolated in the midst of our discouragement.  We allow busyness and distractions to not only isolate us from the encouragement we need, but to also keep us from encouraging others as we ought.  God give us one another so that we can lift up the one who is down, strengthen the one who is week, and encourage the one who is discouraged.  We choose life to the full when we choose today to encourage someone else and when we choose today to accept encouragement from others.

Today God has set before you life and death, will you choose LIFE?

A Time To REST? (Sermon Audio)

A Time To REST? (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the January 2, 2022 sermon, “A Time To REST?”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text:  Mark 6:30-44

God created us with a need to rest.  He even set the example for us as we see in scripture following the creation of all things that on the seventh day God rested from all His work.  But rest done God’s way isn’t strictly about us and often helps us to see how God would have us to be involved in the lives of others.  So when our idea of rest seems to be interrupted, perhaps it would be good to consider a time to . . .

  • Retreat.  Mark 6:30-32
    • Finding a place of quiet solitude can be a good thing from time to time.  Making the time to be alone with His Father appears to be a priority of Jesus not only in His actions, but also in the teaching of His disciples.  Even in the midst of good work and productive ministry, briefly stepping back from the needs of people can help us have a better view of things from God’s perspective.  While a time to retreat is good, and even necessary at times, it alone will not assure true rest.
  • Encourage.  Mark 6:33-34
    • Even as Jesus made plans to withdraw to a quiet place with His disciples, a crowd of people ended up arriving at the intended destination even before He did.  Rather than turn around and go back to where they had come from, or even seek out a more secluded place, Jesus took notice of the crowd and had compassion on them.  At their intended place of retreat, Jesus took the opportunity to encourage the people as He began to teach.  When we recognize that our desire for rest isn’t all about us, we are more likely to use our times of stepping away from routine to encourage those we encounter in our quiet places.
  • Serve.  Mark 6:35-40
    • Just as our desire for a time to rest may involve retreat and encouraging others, we may discover it is also a time to serve.  I know it probably sounds strange to think of a time to rest as being a time to serve, yet there is something uniquely refreshing about serving when you know without a doubt that it is God serving others through you.  As Jesus called the disciples to serve the crowd, they did a quick tally and concluded that the task was too big.  When Jesus tells them to see what they can find, I believe He does so to emphasize the impossibility of the task by human standards.  When we serve outside of our comfort zone in ways that require God to work through us, I believe we not only find a time to rest, but also a time of rest.
  • Thank.  Mark 6:41-44
    • Even before the crowd was fed and the leftovers collected, Jesus paused and recognized a time to thank.  Someone has once said (and interestingly the source is greatly debated) that it is amazing what can be accomplished if you don’t care who gets the credit.  I believe that even greater is what can be accomplished if you set out to deliberately give God the credit.  Perhaps one of the reasons we become so weary at times is because we’ve convinced ourselves that everything in front of us has been accomplished by us.  We wear ourselves out just thinking of all we have done.  We are most prepared to find a time to rest when we make it a priority to have a time to thank God.  It is in offering thanks to God that we acknowledge His hand in our life and we are able to lift Jesus up so that many would be drawn to Him.

Do you need a time to REST?
How will a deliberate life of Retreat, Encouragement, Service, and Thanks help you experience a greater rest?

Emmanuel: God With US (Sermon Audio)

Emmanuel: God With US (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the December 26, 2021 sermon, “Emmanuel: God With US”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  Matthew 1:23, John 1:14,16

Jesus came to be God with us and then calls us to represent Him as we allow God to interact with others through us.

God Through US
John 14:11-12, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

When we consider what it looks like for Jesus to live on earth as God with us, we should get a glimpse of how we should represent Him as His ambassador to those who need to not only see God with us, but they need to know God with them.  We do that most effectively when we put into practice the characteristics of Jesus as God with . . .

  • Understanding.  Luke 2:47, James 3:13, Hebrews 4:15-16
    • Not only did Jesus have an understanding of scripture that was unrivaled, He displayed an understanding of people through His willingness to be with them.  In fact, the Bible tells us that we have a high priest in Jesus that understands fully all of our struggles and temptations and comes to us in mercy and grace.  We live as those whom God is with when we pursue a life of understanding and display that understanding through humble interactions with others.  Our willingness to listen to others with an attitude of grace and mercy will help show others that God is with us . . . and that He desires to be with them.
  • Service.  Matthew 20:27-28, 1 Peter 4:10
    • Not only did Jesus come to be with us in understanding, He came to serve.  His entire life of ministry and serving led to the ultimate act of service in going to the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.  We live as those whom God is with when we learn to serve others according to their need.  God’s understanding of the sinful nature of people did not lead Him to distance Himself in condemnation.  Rather, through Jesus, He humbled Himself and took on the form of a servant in order to become servant to all.  Our willingness to serve others, regardless of how much we think they do or don’t deserve it, will help show people that God is with us . . . and that He desires to be with them.

Since God is with us, how is He being seen through us?

Taking HOPE to the World (Sermon Audio)

Taking HOPE to the World (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the December 5, 2021 sermon, “Taking HOPE to the World”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text:  Mark 6:1-13

As believers in Jesus, we are called to carry a message of hope to a world that is in desperate need.  We do that most effectively when we join people in their time of need and offer true . . .

  • Honor.  Mark 6:4-6, Philippians 2:3
    • Taking hope to the world will involve learning to honor those who often feel dishonored and neglected.  While the people of his hometown missed it, one of the greatest ways to actually honor Jesus would be to listen to, and do, what He says.  We can take hope to the world when we show honor by simply listening to the people around us.
  • Opportunity.  Mark 6:2-3, Colossians 4:5
    • Taking hope to the world will involve giving opportunity to those who often feel the world has passed them by.  The people of His day thought they knew Jesus and therefore gave Him little opportunity to provide them with the hope only He could bring.  We can take hope to the world when we give people the opportunity to be who God created them to be.
  • Peace.  Mark 6:7-10, Romans 12:18
    • Taking hope to the world will involve being a person of peace in the way you interact with others.  Jesus instructed His disciples to cast out evil and trust Him completely as they went about sharing the good news of Jesus.  We can take hope to the world when we choose to live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on us.
  • Encouragement.  Mark 6:11-13, Hebrews 3:13
    • Taking hope to the world will involve giving and receiving encouragement through what God does in the lives of people.  We ought to be encouraged by the transformation God does in us and in the lives of those around us.  We can take hope to the world when we choose to be encouragers of every person we meet.

Who do you need to take HOPE to today?

Living a Transformed LIFE (Sermon Audio)

Living a Transformed LIFE (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the November 14, 2021 sermon, “Living a Transformed LIFE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  Romans 12:1-13

Living the Christian life is only possible by the transforming power of Christ in us.  Paul writes to the Romans, and to us, that when we are transformed by the renewing of our mind we are able to test and approve the will of God.  As those who desire to do the will of God, we place ourselves in position to do that when we are living with a transformed . . .

  • Love.  Romans 12:9a, Matthew 5:43-48, John 15:13
    • Living with a transformed love means that we learn to love like Jesus.  A sincere love is one that is genuine and has a concern for others that is greater than even our concern for our self.  Loving those who love us is relatively easy — at least compared to loving our enemies.  But loving our enemies in addition to our friends is the kind of transformed love that Jesus calls us to live with.
  • Insight.  Romans 12:9b, Psalm 119:99
    • Living with a transformed insight changes who decides what is good and what is evil.  Most people tend to develop a sense of right and wrong from a variety of sources — some times including God’s Word as one of those sources and sometimes not.  Living with a transformed insight should lead us to consider God’s Word as the authority for clinging to what is good and rejecting all that is evil.
  • Freedom.  Romans 12:10, Galatians 5:13
    • Living with a transformed freedom leads us to using our freedoms to serve others according to their needs.  Many times when we seek freedom we desire to be free from anything that isn’t what we want.  The freedom that we really need is a freedom from the bondage of sin and from the trap of our selfish desires.  The devotion and honor that we show one another speaks volumes to others about the true freedom that is available to all.
  • Expression.  Romans 12:11-13, 2 Corinthians 9:12
    • Living with a transformed expression should lead others to ask often about the hope that lies within you.  All of the transformation that takes place within our heart and mind should be evident in our actions and our speech.  What is inside of a person cannot be hidden forever and when we allow God to transform us from the inside out, the expression of that transformation ought to be visible to a world that is watching..

What area of your life is God calling you to open more fully to Him so that you can experience living a transformed life?

A TOUCH of Faith (Sermon Audio)

A TOUCH of Faith (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio and outline from the November 7, 2021 sermon, “A TOUCH of Faith”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text:  Mark 5:21-43

In scripture, the size of a person’s faith never seems to make as much difference as the object of one’s faith.  Imagine what God can do in your life with just a . . .

  • Thought of Faith.  Mark 5:27-28
    • Our actions nearly always begin with our thoughts, and an active faith is no exception.  The individuals approaching Jesus in our text thought that Jesus could do something to help them.  That thought showed itself to be faith when they choose to take action of their own — one asking Jesus to come with him and the other reaching out to touch the garment of Jesus.  We live with a touch of faith when we choose to think about what Jesus can bring to our life and then reach out to encounter Him wherever we are.
  • Observation of Faith.  Mark 5:31-32
    • Because as James writes, “Faith without deeds is dead”, our thought of faith needs to lead us to a faith that is observable.  Whether it is our faith or the faith of others, being able to see it in action helps us to grow in an even greater awareness and practice of faith.  We live with a touch of faith when we take not of all that God is doing in, through, and around us.
  • Understanding of Faith.  Mark 5:33-34
    • Because the thoughts and ways of God are so much higher and purer than our thoughts and ways, gaining an understanding of the ways of God can only be accomplished through faith.  Jesus makes it clear that it was not the touching of His garment in and of itself that brought healing to the woman, instead it was her faith that did so.  We live with a touch of faith when we learn to understand the process of faith is in the person of Jesus rather than in the substance of this world.
  • Challenge of Faith.  Mark 5:35-36
    • Perhaps the most difficult part of a life of faith is the challenge that inevitably comes.  Our request isn’t answered in the way we wanted.  Our loved one remains sick or even dies.  The layoffs at work leave the family struggling to make ends meet.  The cares and trouble of this world can challenge our faith at every level of our life.  We live with a touch of faith when we look to God and trust Him to work in the midst of all these challenges in ways that are ultimately for our benefit.
  • Hope of Faith.  Mark 5:41-43
    • When we consider living with the hope of faith, I believe it is important to remember that there is no evidence that any of the people healed by Jesus are still alive on earth today.  Our hope of faith needs to be greater than simply a hope for a better or longer life on earth.  In fact, the Bible teaches that if our hope is only for this life then we are to be pitied above all others.  We live with a touch of faith when we endure all things with a growing awareness of the eternal home that is the ultimate fulfillment of our hope and faith.

Today, how will you live with a TOUCH of Faith?

What Does God Want: WALK Humbly (Sermon Audio)

What Does God Want: WALK Humbly (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio and outline from the October 31, 2021 sermon, “What Does God Want: WALK Humbly”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Goshen Christian Church.

Text:  Micah 6:8, Matthew 23:23, Psalm 25:9
James 4:6-10

I suspect we have all had our share of conversations and questions about what God wants and how to know His will.  Many of those discussions I have been involved with have often included an element of a person wanting to justify their own actions by either claiming they are doing what God wants or by saying what He wants is so elusive that it doesn’t matter.  Many times we try to get so specific about the details of life that we miss the big picture that God has stated clearly in His Word.  In fact, God said through the prophet Micah three things the Lord requires that ought to form the basis for our understanding of His will.  Today we look at the third, and final, one of those three things, that we would walk humbly.

Humility in its truest form has to do with viewing our self accurately in relationship to God and one another.  Learning to walk humbly with our God requires that we see Him as God in all aspects of our life.  While the number of Christians who would claim to know more than God is probably rather small, the number that act like we know more than God is likely much greater.  We grow in learning and doing what God wants when we  . . .

  • Worship Humbly.  James 4:7-8, Hebrews 12:28
    • Worship is about attributing worth to something or someone.  We read in scripture of an account of a woman who wanted to know who was right when it came to worshipping God.  It seems we tend to have that same discussion in many church gatherings today.  When we learn to worship humbly, we find that only God is right and our arguments about place, style, volume, or anything else simply reveal our own lack of humility.  The answer Jesus gave in regard to worship was that a time was coming, and had indeed now arrived, when true worship was done in spirit and truth regardless of location or any other details.  Learning to walk humbly with our God should lead us to continually grow in our worship of God that becomes completely about Him and not about us.
  • Act Humbly.  James 4:8-9, James 3:13
    • Perhaps the most easily recognizable trait of walking humbly, or not walking humbly, is found in the way we act.  Our actions are what is visible to others most readily.  When Jesus tells us that unless we change and become like little children we will never enter the kingdom of heaven, the need to humble our self ought to be very apparent.  When we learn to act humbly, we find that the needs of others become more important than our own.  Our words about Jesus are either strengthened by the humility in which we serve others or weakened by the pride which looks out for our own interests above that of others.  Learning to walk humbly with our God should lead us to constantly evaluate our attitudes and motives behind the way we act.
  • Love Humbly.  James 4:10, Ephesians 4:2
    • In case you haven’t noticed, the world is pretty good at messing things up.  Much of what is passed off as love in our society has no humility to it whatsoever and therefore isn’t really love at all.  Godly love will always look for how we can lift up the object of our love, both in the way we lift up God and in the way we lift up the ones we love.  Jesus made it clear that there is no greater love than the willingness for someone to lay down their life for someone else.  We love humbly when we are not only willing to lay down our life, but we lay down our pride and selfish desires so that others can be encouraged and built up in faith.  Learning to walk humbly with our God should lead us to continually live with an attitude of surrendering our will in order to show true love.
  • Know Humbly.  James 4:6, 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
    • As tough as it might be to worship, act, and love humbly, I believe learning to know humbly may be the greatest challenge faced by many of us in our efforts to walk humbly with our God.  Very few people, if any, gain satisfaction from being wrong so we do everything in our power to believe we are right and to convince others we are right.  God tells us that knowledge has a tendency to puff us up.  In fact, without humility, the more knowledge we obtain, the more prideful we tend to become.  God’s desire is that we would use whatever elements of knowledge that we have in ways that build up people without causing division and becoming a stumbling block to others.  As knowledgeable as any of us might think we are, no one other than God has complete knowledge and learning to know humbly will help to keep our pride in check.  Learning to walk humbly with our God should lead us to be always mindful that we do not know it all and that others have knowledge and information that can be useful to us when we filter all of it through the truth of God’s Word.

How will you WALK humbly today?

When it comes to humility, what do you need to change about the way you Worship, Act, Love, and/or Know?

What Does God Want: LOVE Mercy (Sermon Audio)

What Does God Want: LOVE Mercy (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio and outline from the October 17, 2021 sermon, “What Does God Want: LOVE Mercy”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Goshen Christian Church.

Text:  Micah 6:8, Matthew 23:23, Luke 10:37

I suspect we have all had our share of conversations and questions about what God wants and how to know His will.  Many of those discussions I have been involved with have often included an element of a person wanting to justify their own actions by either claiming they are doing what God wants or by saying what He wants is so elusive that it doesn’t matter.  Many times we try to get so specific about the details of life that we miss the big picture that God has stated clearly in His Word.  In fact, God said through the prophet Micah three things the Lord requires that ought to form the basis for our understanding of His will.  Today we look at the second of those three things, that we would love mercy.

For many people, the level of loving mercy tends to depend on whether we are in need of mercy or if we are expected to show mercy.  To a man who was attempting to justify himself to Jesus by his goodness, Jesus tells the story we know as the story of the Good Samaritan.  When asked who the neighbor was to the man who had been beaten and robbed, the expert in the law said it was the one who showed mercy.  Jesus confirms that it was the right answer by telling the man to “go and do likewise.”  We grow in learning and doing what God wants when we  . . .

  • Learn Mercy.  Matthew 9:13
    • I suspect that to really become good at loving mercy, we need to learn what mercy is.  The religious leaders of the day had missed it so much that Jesus told them to go and learn what scripture means when it says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”  When we learn God’s desire for us to be merciful is greater than His desire for our sacrificial offerings, we get a glimpse into how much He would have us to be merciful in order to reflect His mercy to those around us.  Learning mercy should lead us into a greater understanding of just how lost we are as an individual without God’s mercy. No matter how good we are, or how good we think we are, we need to learn that the sin which separates us from God is far greater than anything we could ever hope to take care of on our own.  It is God’s mercy, the withholding of the punishment we deserve, that ought to teach us the most about showing mercy to others.
  • Observe Mercy.  Psalm 123:2
    • When we lift our eyes toward God and gaze intently into His word, we ought to find our self looking directly into the source of mercy.  Throughout scripture we find God consistently looking for people who would accept His mercy.  We observe mercy as we see God calling and using people in the Bible that would call out to Him in need of mercy and forgiveness.  I believe God also wants us to be able to look around today and observe mercy being shown in a variety of ways and settings.  Given the nature of most news sources today, life is full of examples of wickedness and evil to be observed with little to no effort on our part.  It takes work to look for, find, and observe the many examples of mercy that surround us unnoticed each day.  When we choose to fill our minds with the acts of mercy that take place, we find that our love of mercy grows.
  • Value Mercy.  Luke 6:46
    • While many people define priorities as those things we believe to be important, the practical definition of priorities has more to do with the things we actually do.  Saying something is important but not doing it gives a mixed message at best and shows that you don’t really value that practice as much as you claim.  Because mercy is important to Jesus, and extended to us by Jesus, we show we value the things He values when we extend the same mercy to others that we ourselves have received from God.  Our life needs to be more than just lip service to the idea of mercy — we need to value mercy to the point that we realize we simply cannot live without both giving and receiving it.
  • Encourage Mercy.  James 2:12-13
    • When we love mercy as God desires for us to, we will find ourselves encouraging mercy everywhere we go.  In a world filled with self-proclaimed experts, forgiveness and mercy become rare commodities because no one believes they need them.  We encourage mercy when we “speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom”.  We must learn to see “mercy triumphs over judgment” as a way of life, not just a saying.  We encourage mercy when we accept it and when we give it.  The warning that “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful” ought to be pretty strong encouragement to all of us when it comes to loving, and practicing, mercy.

How will you LOVE mercy today?

When it comes to mercy, what do you need to Learn, Observe, Value, and/or Encourage?