A Living FAITH! (Sermon Audio)

A Living FAITH! (Sermon Audio)

This is the audio from the September 27, 2020 sermon, “A Living FAITH”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text: James 2:14-26, Matthew 25:34-40

When it comes to faith, there are only two real options:  Faith In Action or Faith Inaction.  A living faith requires that we do something with it.  Today’s message will consider how to grow a faith that is alive and well.

A living faith grows when you have a living:

  • Foundation:
    • Matthew 7:24 — We build our faith on a solid foundation when we both hear and put into practice the Word of God.  Knowing God’s Word is great, but it is in the doing of His Word that our faith has a foundation that can be built upon.  Our foundation is not of stone or sand, but it is the living Son of God, Jesus Christ.
  • Attitude: 
    • Philippians 2:5 — When we built a living faith on the foundation of Jesus, we must take on the very attitude of Christ.  Having an active and living faith will only come about when we humble ourselves and are willing to serve for the good of others.
  • Inclusion:
    • 1 John 3:17 — Having a living faith will require that we have a living and active inclusion of anyone that God calls to Himself — which is everyone!  The activity of our faith can have no exclusions of people when we have the ability and resources to help.  Not only is the living inclusion applied to those our living faith would serve, it is an inclusion that doesn’t leave anyone out when it comes to the responsibility of serving.
  • Trust: 
    • 2 Corinthians 9:10 — Having an active and living faith requires that we have a living trust in the living God.  Putting our faith into action will often test our trust as we begin to question if we have enough of whatever is needed.  Our trust must rise about our ability, bank account, and other resources and rely solely on the One who provides seed to the sower.
  • Help:
    • Psalm 121:1-2 — Growing a living faith that is actively serving others should cause you to look to God as the source of the help which is needed.  You have a living help because it comes from a living God.  The help you give others becomes a “cup of cold water” that blesses both you and the recipient when given in the name of Jesus.

So, what do you have and what are you doing with it?  What will your living  FAITH do today? 

In prayer,
Tom

WORK, For the Night is Coming! (Sermon Audio)

WORK, For the Night is Coming! (Sermon Audio)

This is the audio from the September 6, 2020 sermon, “WORK, For the Night is Coming”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: John 9:1-12, 35-41

Jesus teaches that we must work while it is still day, for a time is coming when night falls and our work will be over.

As the night approaches, how will you:

  • Witness:
    • John 9:1-5, Acts 1:8 — We are called to be God’s witnesses wherever we are.  Even when things happen which are beyond our understanding, God can use the circumstances to bear testimony to His great name.
  • Obey: 
    • John 9:6-12, John 14:15 — The work of obedience doesn’t earn our salvation, but it does show our allegiance to the One who saved us. Obedience is where we put our faith into practice.
  • Repent:
    • John 9:39-41, Revelation 2 & 3 — When we claim to be without sin, the truth is not in us.  God calls each of us to admit our blindness and turn from it to seek Him fully.
  • Know:
    • John 9:35-38, Luke 1:1-4 — God has given us His Word and the examples of faithful Christians so that we may know Him.  Knowing Jesus ought to fill us with a desire to help others know Him more fully.

As you celebrate Labor Day, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus with an awareness that night may be closer than you realize.  As you live each day, be sure to Witness, Obey, Repent, and Know for the night really is coming! 

In prayer,
Tom

Let Freedom RING! (Sermon Audio)

Let Freedom RING! (Sermon Audio)

 

This is the audio from the July 5, 2020 sermon, “Let Freedom RING”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: James 1:19-27

Living in a land where we tend to worship freedom and independence, I believe it is important for Christians to deliberately pause from time to time and examine God’s perspective on the freedom we have been given in Christ.  When we choose to celebrate freedom and to let it ring across the land, it is important for the Christ follower to make sure that Christ is at the center of the freedom we live and the freedom we proclaim.

So, living free in Christ means we let freedom:

  • Rule:
    • James 1:19-20, Colossians 3:15 — When we let freedom rule, we must apply that freedom in such a way that we are “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”  When our freedom comes from Christ, we should quickly learn that the world doesn’t revolve around us and that others have the same freedom.  Allowing freedom to rule for everyone means we will make every effort to understand them through careful listening and paying attention.  The “quick, slow, slow” approach helps us to allow others the same freedom in life that we want for our self.
  • Inspect: 
    • James 1:21, Proverbs 20:11 — When we let freedom inspect, we open ourselves up fully to God so that He can deal with any remnants of sin and self that we are still enslaved to.  Living free in Christ may make all things permissible, but God makes it clear that not all things are beneficial.  We let freedom ring when we allow it to inspect how our thoughts, words, and actions build up or tear down those around us.  An inspected freedom pays close attention to our actions so that they truly represent one who is a child of God. 
  • Nurture:
    • James 1:22-25, Galatians 5:13 — When we let freedom nurture, we gaze intently into the perfect law of God and allow it to teach and train us in all righteousness.  When we are nurtured by freedom, we begin to see the laws of God as “safety fences” which define the boundaries of that which is good, pleasing, and acceptable to God.  When we are nurtured by freedom, we soon discover that our ability to nurture others in their walk with God has grown and become more effective.
  • Glorify:
    • James 1:27, Romans 6:22-23 — When we let freedom glorify, it is quickly apparent as to what type of freedom we are living by.  A maturing freedom in Christ will always glorify Him, a selfish freedom found in the world will always glorify self.  As we live life each day, we ought to be mindful of who will be glorified by what we set out to do.  You see, we often think of freedom as being all about having the ability to do whatever we want, yet in practice it also means we have the freedom not to do the things which would dishonor God.

As you let freedom RING on this 4th of July and every day that you live, will you surrender fully to Christ and let freedom Rule, Inspect, Nurture, and Glorify in your life so that Christ is seen through you? 

In prayer,
Tom

FIX Your Mind! (Sermon Audio)

FIX Your Mind! (Sermon Audio)

 

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! 

In prayer,
Tom

Laying Down Your PALMS! (Sermon Video)

Laying Down Your PALMS! (Sermon Video)

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.

In prayer,
Tom

Finding CALM In the Midst of Chaos! (Sermon Audio)

Finding CALM In the Midst of Chaos! (Sermon Audio)

 

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:

  • Find Compassion:
    • 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.
  • Find Authority: 
    • 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. 
  • Find Lessons:
    • 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.
  • Find Moments:
    • 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.

In prayer,
Tom

A SIMPLE Witness! (Sermon Audio)

A SIMPLE Witness! (Sermon Audio)

 

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.

In prayer,
Tom

Learning to FISH! (Sermon Audio)

Learning to FISH! (Sermon Audio)

 

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:

  • Follow:
    • 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.
  • Include: 
    • 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. 
  • Surrender:
    • 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.
  • Hear:
    • 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”.

In prayer,
Tom