This is the audio from the January 10, 2021 sermon, “Finding CALM in the Storm”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Mark 1:21-45
Storms come in many shapes and sizes. The storms of life are no different in that even when similar, each storm seems to be unique. As we consider the storms of this year, there are many storms that have been widespread such as the storms of injustice, COVID, political division, and other issues that touch all of us in some way. There have also been the “usual” storms of life that are often dealt with in individual lives in ways that can be unknown to those around us. In all of these storms, I believe that God’s desire for us as Christ-followers is that we would both find and share a CALM that can only come from Him. Today’s message looks at some ways Jesus remained calm in the midst of the storms of sickness, disease, and pure evil.
When the storms of life rage around you, ask God to help you know and share His . . .
Compassion: Mark 1:29-31, 40-41 — One of the foundations of finding and sharing calm in the midst of life’s storms is to approach all people and situations with compassion. We do that when we take the time to listen and fully understand a person to the best of our ability. We experience calm when we experience the compassion of Christ demonstrated toward us. We share calm when we extend that same level of compassion to others — all others.
Authority: Mark 1:25-27, 33-34 — A second foundation of finding and sharing calm in the midst of life’s storms is to submit to the authority of God in all things. When we do that, we learn to trust God whether the storm is dismissed by Him or if He chooses to carry us through it. We can be pretty good at intensifying our storms simply by thinking we know best. We experience calm in the storm when we admit we aren’t in charge and our desired outcome isn’t anywhere near having the same authority as what God wants. We share calm when we allow God to be God and don’t take it upon ourselves to be the final authority in the things that others experience as storms.
Lessons: Mark 1:38-39 — Another foundation of finding and sharing calm in the midst of life’s storms is to look for and learn from the lessons the storms contain. One of those great lessons that Jesus taught over and over again is that the calm He offers is for everyone. When the disciples wanted to pull Him back into the city because there was still a great need, He used the opportunity of the storms to teach them about His purpose on earth. We experience calm in the storm when we open ourselves up to learning the lessons that we might never learn apart from the difficulty. We share calm when we help others see the lessons God would have for them.
Moments: Mark 1:35, 45 — The final foundation of finding and sharing calm in the midst of life’s storms is to look for and savor the moments. Jesus set the example through His practice of finding solitary places to spend time with His Father in prayer. It is not only okay to admit we need a time-out from the storms on occasion, it is necessary to find those moments of solitude and spend them with our Father. In an age of technology that can constantly bombard us with news of the storms all while trying to draw us into them, it is critical that we deliberately step aside for those moments with God. We experience calm in the storm when we spend our moments with God. We share calm in the storm when we help others value and practice time alone with God.
So, as you live through the storms which batter our nation and batter your life, will you pause long enough to find the CALM God wants you to have? Once you find it, will you be obedient in sharing that CALM with others?
This is the audio from the January 3, 2021 sermon, “A NEW Hope”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 2:1-12
As we embark on a new year, many people are inclined to look back to consider the previous year then look forward with the hope that things will be different. While 2020 has definitely given us plenty of things we would not wish to see again in the new year, the truth is that is generally the case every year. It is in the looking ahead and looking to God that we find a hope that can make us new regardless of what our year has been like. Paul writes and tells us that if our hope in Christ was only valid for the time we live on this earth, then we ought to be pitied above all people. The good news is that because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we have a hope that is new and gives us the assurance of life beyond what we experience on earth.
In this message we will look at an encounter one man, his friends, the religious leaders, and a crowd had with Jesus and see the NEW hope God wants us to live with
When we encounter Jesus, we find hope that is . . .
Necessary: Mark 2:1-5 — Early in the public ministry of Jesus, wherever He went a crowd was sure to gather. That was certainly the case in today’s text — the crowd filled the house where Jesus was at and spilled out into all of the surrounding areas where people might just catch a glimpse of Jesus or hear a word of what He had to say. Showing up a little late to the gathering was a paralytic being carried by four of his friends. While he and his friends likely thought the thing most necessary was making this man walk, Jesus had a different idea. When Jesus sees the faith of this man’s friends, He tells him his sins are forgiven. While walking would soon come, the greatest need this man had was for the forgiveness of his sins. In fact, that is the greatest need any of us have regardless of how important we may believe our other needs are. It is in the forgiveness of sin that we find the real hope which is necessary for life eternal.
Exclusive: Mark 2:6-10 — Not only does our encounter with Jesus provide that which is necessary for real hope, He is the exclusive provider of what we really need. The religious leaders gathered in the home that day were offended that Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven. The offense wasn’t in the pointing out that this man was in need of forgiveness but rather in the exclusiveness of God alone being able to forgive sin — and they refused to believe that Jesus was God in flesh. In agreement that only God can forgive sin, Jesus set out to show them His authority by doing what could not be disputed — making the man walk. While it is very easy to say the words, “Your sins are forgiven”, proving that the forgiveness actually took place is virtually impossible by observation of man. The more difficult thing to say, because it would be obvious if it worked or not, would be to tell the man to walk. Jesus made it clear that He is the only way to the Father and He not only forgives our sins, He calls us to walk with Him as living proof He can exclusively do what we need most in providing the hope of eternal life.
Witnessed: Mark 2:11-12 — When the necessary hope of the forgiveness of sins meets the exclusive hope of the power or God at work within us, there out to be a visible result that the people around us can witness. In the text we looked at today, the people caught a glimpse of this new hope because they could see the result of this formerly paralytic man’s encounter with Jesus. Because they could see His power at work, they praised and glorified God for the mighty thing which they had witnessed. The new hope we live with each day ought to have the same results. People should see the transforming work of God in us and know there is such a thing as forgiveness of sins. I believe this is why Peter tells us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us. When God does what is necessary, as only He can, people should see us walking with Him in a way that catches their attention. It is this witnessed hope that carries the message of Jesus to the world and offers to them the same NEW hope that we have found.
As you consider the new year, how hopeful are you? When you consider all the things you believe are necessary for the new year to be successful, is forgiveness at the top of the list? As you seek hope in a hopeless world, are you committed to Jesus as being the only way, truth, and life that can bring hope that lasts beyond life on this earth. As a Christ-follower, are you living in a way that others can witness the result of a new hope residing in you? Are you sharing with them the reason for this hope that you have — which is the hope that they need? I pray that each one of us would look ahead and pursue a NEW hope each day that God gives us life here on this earth.
This is the audio from the December 27, 2020 sermon, “The Gift of WISDOM”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: James 3:13, Matthew 2:1-12
While James tells us that God is gracious in giving wisdom to all who ask, he also makes it clear that wisdom is made known by what we do. In Jeremiah, God tells us to look for the ancient paths and find the good way to walk — presumably by learning from the wisdom of those who walked this earth before us. The wisdom which comes from God is very different from the wisdom of the world and we would do well to find the wisdom that is not self-seeking and self-promoting.
When we seek the wisdom found in Jesus, we find the gift of . . .
Wonder: Mark 9:15 — Wherever Jesus went on this earth, people were filled with wonder. From the wonder expressed by the shepherds and Magi at His birth to the wonder of the teachers in the temple when Jesus was twelve to the wonder often expressed as He taught and performed miracles, wonder was a natural reaction to the Son of God dwelling among mankind. It is this element of wonder that causes us to realize that God’s ways are not always explainable — nor should they be. God’s gift of wisdom allows us to marvel at the mysteries contained within creation and within His Word.
Insight: Acts 4:13 — There are elements of wisdom found throughout scripture that seem to elude the grasp of many of the most studious minds. There is something unique about spending time with Jesus that gives a person insight that could never be gained in any other way. Even when the religious leaders did not like the message being shared by the apostles, they could help but take note of the only possible explanation for the insight being shared was that these men had been with Jesus. Imagine what it would be like to have wisdom that is filled with great insight because you are spending time with Jesus.
Service: Mark 10:45 — Wisdom is often best seen in what we do, rather than in what we say. The wisdom described by James is something that is seen in the good deeds which come from humility. When we look to Jesus for the gift of wisdom He would offer, we find that He lives a life that is all about serving others. It is by humbling ourselves and finding ways to serve others that we gain entrance into their life to the point that God’s wisdom can be seen in us. It is within this gift of service that we find wisdom by doing unto others what we would have them do unto us.
Delight: Matthew 12:18 — God’s desire has always been that mankind would be delighted with Him even as He delights in us. Godly wisdom helps us to delight in the Lord as we learn the secret of Him being enough for a life of contentment. Our level of delight in life is often directly related to our learning the secret of contentment — whether in plenty or in want. We ought to be filled with great delight as we realize that God delights over us with singing. In a similar fashion to a parent or grandparent giving gifts to children which are a delight to both the giver and receiver, God’s gift of wisdom to us should be a delight to Him and to us.
Obedience: John 15:10 — It should come as no surprise that when Jesus wanted to define what a wise person looked like He told a story. We tell it to our children as the story of the wise and foolish builders — we even have a children’s song to tell the story for us. In it, the wise person is the one who hears the Word of God and does what it says. For most of us, obedience was learned as a desire to avoid the consequences of disobedience. As we grow in wisdom, our obedience ought to grow more and more out of a heart of love. The Bible teaches that as God’s Son walking the earth in human flesh, Jesus learned obedience to His Father and ought to serve as our example in every way.
More: John 16:12 — Just as they do in all of the TV commercials for the “As Seen On TV” products, we’ve reached the point where I say, “But wait! There’s more!” Accepting the gift of wisdom from God should lead us to a realization that there is more than we will ever know or understand. As Jesus taught His disciples, He knew there was a limit to what they could grasp — and even a limit to what they should be able to grasp. The Holy Spirit would be sent after the resurrection of Jesus to help with some of the “More”, but even with an indwelling of God’s Spirit there are elements of God and His nature that are purposefully kept a mystery to us. The gift of wisdom acknowledges that the ways of God are higher, better, nobler, and more perfect than any of the ways of man.
So, as we consider the gift of wisdom which has been offered to us, the question to consider is what are you going to do with that gift? Godly wisdom is not found in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the application of what God has revealed through His Word, His Spirit, and through our times of prayer.
This is the audio from the December 13, 2020 sermon, “The Gift of LIFE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: John 10:10, John 1:1-14
When we read the declaration of Jesus that He came to give us life, and life abundantly, many of us tend to subconsciously insert the word good into the description of the life we expect. Yet it is often in the hard times of life that we most easily recognize the gift of life we have in Jesus . . . and it is in those difficult times that we find the people around us are more eager to listen and receive that gift of life for themselves. This message looks at John’s description of Jesus coming into the world, and how believing that message gives life for us to receive and life for us to give.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, it is up to us to celebrate and share the gift of . . .
Light: John 1:4-9, Matthew 5:14 — Jesus came as a gift of light to a very dark world. The Bible tells us that it was in the fullness of time, or when the time was just right, God sent Jesus to give light to the world. Even as Jesus came to be the light of the world, He gives us the responsibility of being the reflection of His light to the world. When the world is the darkest, our light shines the brightest. Every one of us can give the gift of light simply by letting the light of Jesus shine through us. We give the gift of life as we accept God’s light and share it with everyone we meet.
Inclusion: John 1:10-13, Acts 2:38-39 — Jesus came as a gift of inclusion that offers salvation to all who would call upon His name. There is so much good news in that simple statement, beginning with the good news that you are included! Even among those who reject God’s calling, God’s love continues to include all who would change their heart and mind as they turn toward Him. Peter’s instructions on the day of Pentecost for people to repent and be baptized was not only for those present that day, but was a promise of inclusion for all who would come . . . even to those, like us, who were far off. When we receive the gift of inclusion, it is God’s call to us to offer that same gift to others. The boundaries, barriers, and burdens which we use to create division must all melt away as the gift of life leads us to include everyone we meet.
Flesh: John 1:14, Hebrews 4:15-16 — The gift of Jesus coming as a baby was the simple act of God taking on flesh. When the Word became flesh, it was able to dwell among us and experience all that we experience here on earth — in the same manner in which we experience it, only without sin. This gift of flesh says that we have a God that understands our weaknesses and can intercede on our behalf as one who has walked many a mile in our shoes. It is only fitting that when we have accepted the gift of Jesus coming in the flesh, that we would give that same gift by being physically present in the lives of others.
Eternity: John 1:1-3, John 11:25-26 — While it is somewhat easy to think of eternity as the “forever” time which is to come, God’s gift of life to us is based on an eternity that includes a “forever” time that has already happened. The timeless nature of God reminds us that the One present at the creation of the world will be present both now and forever more. It is this part of the gift of life that ought to fill us with great hope when we consider the temporary nature of our time here on earth. The gift of eternity ought to shape the way we live in the present as we acknowledge the presence of God before our time, during our time, and after our time here on earth. It is through the sharing of the good news of Jesus that we can point people to the only way which leads to eternal life.
So, as we consider the gift of life which has been offered to us, the question to consider is what are you going to do with that gift? If you’ve not chosen to receive the gift, that is the place to begin. If you have chosen to receive the gift of life, then who are you sharing that great gift with?
This is the audio from the December 6, 2020 sermon, “A Gift of PEACE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 2:14
Have you ever experienced any turmoil or conflict? I suspect the list may be shorter if I ask if you ever have times that are completely free of turmoil conflict! Isaiah foretold of One who would come as the prince of peace yet many, even among those who know Him, struggle to live with peace at various times in their life. Perhaps one of the problems is that we expect all of our conflict to disappear so we can have peace when God wants to give us peace in the midst of our conflicts and troubles!
God’s desire is that in Jesus you will have peace as you discover the gift of . . .
Purpose: Romans 14:18-19 — In order to find peace through the purpose God has for us, we must understand His kingdom is different from the kingdoms of this world. While the kingdoms of this world seek to dominate, conquer, and fulfill the desires of the flesh, God’s kingdom is the place to be filled with joy and peace as we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ and learn to serve others. Our purpose in the kingdom is to represent Jesus and proclaim Him as the way to have peace with God. We become more effective in doing that when we live with a humility that does everything possible on our part to be at peace with one another.
Encouragement: John 16:33 — In order to find peace through the encouragement God gives us in His Word, we must realize that we live in a world that is filled with trouble. While it probably sounds strange to acknowledge the trouble which surrounds us, the encouragement ought to come from a relationship with the God who knows all about that trouble and has overcome it through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We find encouragement in the midst of our troubles when we walk with Jesus every day knowing that He has promised to give us His peace.
Acceptance: 1 Corinthians 16:10-11 — In order to find peace through the acceptance of one another, we must understand just how fully God accepts all who come to Him. As humans, we come in unique packages of differing likes, dislikes, opinions, practices, beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses that are often used by many to exclude any who are different. God’s desire is that we would see the commonality we have in Christ as the basis of accepting one another regardless of how alike or different we may be. When we can accept each person as one who is made in the image of God, we discover that we can accept one another just as Christ has accepted us.
Comfort: Philippians 4:6-7 — In order to find peace through the comfort offered by God, we must be willing to take all of our conflicts and turmoil to Him and trust Him to take care of it as only He can. Many times the greatest trouble we experience is that which grows in our hearts and minds as we go through our own checklists of all the “what-ifs”. It is in the fixing our mind on Jesus and daily taking all of our cares and burdens to Him, that He frees us with a peace that surpasses all understanding. The comfort of this kind of peace is that it is powerful enough to guard our heart and mind as we stay focused on Christ.
Expression: James 3:17-18 — In order to find peace through the expression of our faith, we must be diligent about planting the seeds of peace. You cannot continually plant seeds of discord and truly be surprised when you harvest conflict. How you and I choose to express ourselves not only impacts the level of peace others enjoy, but it greatly influences our peace with God and others. While I use social media as a vital connection point of Impact Prayer Ministry, I do so realizing the very dark side that it has in opening up a channel of expression that often has no restraints. As those who greatly desire to experience a harvest of righteousness, we must pay very close attention to the types of seeds we are planting whether in person or online. May our expressions be those which sow seeds of peace.
So, as we consider the many things that are ours through the gift of Jesus, I pray that the peace of Christ would rule your hearts and minds (and social media accounts) each day that you live!
This is the audio from the November 15, 2020 sermon, “Finding HOPE In the Midst of Chaos”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Goshen Christian Church.
Text: Psalm 42
Have you experienced any CHAOS (Confusion, Hunger, Anger, Opposition, or Suffering) in your life this past year? This past month? This past week? Today? Does it ever feel like one or more of those elements of chaos dominate your thoughts and how you live? If so, I want to share some good news!
In the midst of life’s chaos, God offers . . .
Healing: While we are often quick to desire physical healing for all of life’s ailments, how much do we pay attention to the spiritual and emotional healing that we need in even greater measure? As we face the chaos of life, God offers a healing that will carry us into eternity with Him. While the physical healing of a body is good and something to pray for, it is really only a temporary healing as we all will face a death of this body we live in. When the Good Shepherd anoints our head with oil, He not only sets us apart as His but He brings healing to the hurts we experienced while we had gone astray. We find healing in the midst of chaos when we turn to God in faith and ask draw near to Him.
Opportunity: When confusion is a part of the chaos of life, it is easy to become distracted by what we can’t do to such an extent that we miss what we can do. It is in spending time with God in His Word and prayer that we are able to notice more clearly the opportunities that are present in the surrounding chaos. When chaos makes it difficult for people to know what to do and where to turn, we who are children of God have a unique opportunity to provide an answer. We find opportunity in the midst of chaos when we notice the needs of others and can see how God has prepared us to meet those needs.
Protection: Much like our need to gain a new perspective regarding God’s desire to heal much more than our physical bodies, it is easy to question God’s protection when chaos hits and we suffer. The protection we want is usually an ability to avoid all types of loss and hurt. The protection God offers is the ability to be a peace even in the presence of our enemies. The things that need protected the most in the midst of any chaos is our spirit and our relationship with Jesus. We find protection in the midst of chaos when we hold fast to the Word of God and allow His Spirit to direct each aspect of how we live.
Encouragement: While our ability to handle chaos on our own varies from person to person, nearly all of us reach a point that the chaos is too much and we feel discouraged. It is in the midst of that discouragement that God calls us to comfort one another with the same comfort we have received from Him. Many times it is the things which seem small to us that provide the greatest encouragement to others, just as their small acts of kindness lift our spirits. We find encouragement in the midst of chaos when we keep a firm grasp on the knowledge that God’s goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life.
So, when your soul is downcast within you and the chaos of life seems to be winning, what will you do? Will you take the advice of the Psalmist and “put your hope in God”? I pray that you would gaze deeply into the Word of God and find Healing, Opportunity, Protection, and Encouragement from the One who has called you to Himself because of His great love!
This is the audio from the November 8, 2020 sermon, “ARMS Of Love”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Mark 10:13-16
While the disciples tried to keep the children at arms length away from Jesus, He called them to himself and wrapped them in arms of love. As we seek to be like Jesus, it is important to consider who we have pushed away so that we can repent and wrap them in our ARMS of love.
Today, how will you express God’s love through your . . .
Attitudes: Our actions and our character begin with our thoughts and attitudes. To embrace others with God’s love will require us to fully examine our attitudes toward God, toward them, and toward our self.
Philippians 2:5=8 — Taking on the attitude of Jesus means that we will humble our self and embrace others with a sacrificial love.
Responses: How we respond to people goes a long way toward making them feel like they have been embraced with God’s love or not. Knowing how to speak truth and speak love at the same time is a lesson we need to learn from Jesus as we allow His Spirit to guide our responses to people.
1 Peter 3:15-16 — God tells us to be ready, or be prepared, to respond with gentleness and respect to all who would ask about our hope in Christ. This command seems to assume that we are living in such a way that people will see God at work in us and want to know more about what they see.
Motives: God is one who looks at the heart and judges us accordingly, so it is important that we examine our motives as we reach out to embrace people with the love of God. People will often see through our motives of selfishness and in so doing they will reject the embrace of God’s love. Our goal shouldn’t be to make them be like us, rather it should be to help them become more like Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 — In a world full of people trying to please, promote, and advance themselves, we are called to purify our motives and seek the good of others above that of our self. When we represent Jesus with pure motives, He is seen more clearly and our embrace of people helps them to know God’s love more fully.
Service: Changing our attitudes, responses, and motives to be like that of Christ is not only a good thing, but it ought to lead us to serve one another in love. In a time when the physical embrace is discouraged, we can still embrace one another in the way we serve..
Galatians 5:13-15 — All those in Christ have been set free — not so that we can more fully pursue our selfish endeavors, but so that we can serve all people.
2 Corinthians 9:12 — As we serve people and wrap them in our ARMS of love, the result is that there will be an outpouring of thanksgiving unto God for His glorious work.
So, when you consider your family members, your church family, your coworkers, your classmates, your friends, your enemies, and all other people who may be like you or very different from you, will you choose today to wrap them in the ARMS of your love as you express God’s love to the?
This is the audio from the November 1, 2020 sermon, “What Kind of KING?”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Joshua 24:14-15, 1 Samuel 12:12-25
When it comes to choosing a leader we will follow, the Bible has many examples of what goes wrong when we choose a king other than God. In the midst of an election season, it is good to pause and consider what kind of KING you are seeking.
What kind of . . .
Knowledge: Many choose knowledge as their king while failing to live for the One who can provide the only knowledge that matters. What kind of knowledge you seek will make all the difference when it comes to living for the real King.
1 Corinthians 8:1-3 — When knowledge becomes your king, it puffs up the person claiming to have it while putting down those deemed “unknowing”. Pursuing this kind of knowledge harms not only the person pursuing it, but everyone around them.
Proverbs 1:7 — The kind of knowledge we ought to be seeking is the knowledge that begins with a fear of the Lord. This is a knowledge that produces love and compassion for one another.
Individual: Being drawn to an individual’s personality, charisma, power, or any other trait is not a new thing. What kind of individual you follow will greatly influence what kind of individual you become.
1 Corinthians 1:10-13 — Setting up yourself or any other individual as your king will always lead to division rather than unity. Choosing the kind of individual that lifts themselves up will always lead us to separating by who we claim our leader to be.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 — The kind of individual we ought to be seeking is Jesus. He is the only One capable of being the mediator we need between us and God. The only kind of individual that we ought to seek as our King is the One who made the way for us to approach the living God with confidence.
Nature: While there are those who choose nature itself as their king, this point is more about the kind of nature we live by — the nature of the flesh or the nature of the Spirit. What kind of nature you feed will be the nature that prevails in your words and actions.
2 Peter 2:9-11 — The nature of the flesh is a sinful nature that seeks to please self above all else. When we pursue a nature that puts us first, we reap the results of a selfish society. Choosing the kind of nature that excuses and celebrates sin will lead us down a path of destruction.
Philippians 2:5-7 — Walking by the nature of the Spirit will produce in us a nature that was exemplified by Jesus. Choosing the kind of nature that Jesus did will lead us to a life of humility that seeks to serve others as we consider them and their needs to be more important than our own.
God: What kind of god you seek will determine what kind of god you will find. Choosing knowledge, individuals, or nature as your king will lead you to a god of your own making. There is only one God who is real and deserves to be king of your life.
Philippians 3:18-19 — While it may seem strange to ask what kind of god you are seeking, the truth is that mankind is very good at creating their own gods in their own image. Choosing the kind of god that is all about satisfying our own lusts and desires will leave us unsatisfied in the long run because those gods are really no god at all.
Mark 12:29-30 — Choosing wisely says that we will choose the one God who is both real and deserves to be our King. Choosing this kind of God requires that we are devoted to Him with our entire heart, mind, soul, and strength.