This is the audio and outline from the September 5, 2021 sermon, “The Kingdom of GOD”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 4:26-34
While Jesus lived on earth He had much to say about the kingdom of His Father. As I read through the gospels, I find Jesus talking about the kingdom of God in not only a future tense, but also in the soon to arrive and even in the present tense. Part of the reason for this is the eternal nature of God’s kingdom — no beginning and no end. But it also comes from God’s desire that we would understand what it looks like to live as a kingdom citizen, and that we would begin living that way now rather than it simply be something we hope to attain to someday when this life is over. In Mark chapter four, we find Jesus telling a couple parables about the kingdom of God and in doing so He defines His kingdom as a kingdom of . . .
Growth. Mark 4:27, Colossians 1:6
Seeds are planted in the ground with one primary expectation and that is the expectation of growth. The seeds planted by God’s Word and the life, teachings, and sacrifice of Jesus are the seeds of the kingdom that God has designed for growth. When we recognize the kingdom of God as a kingdom of growth, we ought to be more deliberate about seeking out that which helps our faith to grow and to share the good news that helps others become a part of the kingdom through a relationship with Jesus.
Obedience. Mark 4:28, 1 John 3:24
Jesus says that the seed planted in the ground grows and produces a harvest whether anyone is watching or not simply because it is being obedient to its design. Scripture teaches us that while our obedience isn’t what gains us a place in the kingdom of God, it is a common trait of all those who belong to His kingdom. When we recognize the kingdom of God as a kingdom of obedience, we seek God’s help in taking every through captive and making it obedient to Christ so that our actions would follow with the same level of obedience.
Destination. Mark 4:32, Philippians 3:12-14
In the parables, Jesus talks about a seed growing and producing a plant that was large enough for the birds of the air to come and perch among its branches. Paul would write about our need to press on to a heavenward prize, knowing that an eternal destination awaited that had room for all who would respond by faith to Jesus. When we recognize the kingdom of God as a kingdom of destination, we learn to live as kingdom citizens who are on a journey home and we live a life that shares the good news of a destination that has room for everyone.
How will you live as a kingdom citizen today?
Are there changes you need to make to better live in a kingdom of Growth, Obedience, and Destination?
This is the audio and outline from the August 29, 2021 sermon, “Watch and PRAY”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Goshen Christian Church.
Text: Colossians 4:2-6
If you have any exposure to news sources of various kinds, it probably doesn’t take very long before you see and/or hear something that makes you heartbroken, frustrated, or angry. When we watch and pray instead of just watch, God has a way of turning our broken hearts, frustration, and anger into compassion, understanding, and love as we learn to respond as He would have us to. Today’s challenge for every one of us is to take a good look at our world, our country, our communities, our workplaces, and our homes and see how God would have us Watch and . . .
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.”
How will you Watch and PRAY today?
What would be different in the places where you live if you were to take seriously God’s instruction to be devoted to prayer, being watchful and thankful?
This is the audio and outline from the August 15, 2021 sermon, “A Dash of SALT”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Goshen Christian Church.
Text: Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50
What does the world need? I would guess most Christians would answer that the world needs Jesus. If we bring it closer to home and ask what does your community, your workplace, your home need, I suspect we would have a similar response. But how about if we ask what each of those needs from you? Since they need Jesus and Jesus has called each of us as His followers to be the salt of the earth, perhaps what they need from you is a dash of:
Service. Galatians 6:9-10
Looking to Jesus as our example, we discover that His life was about serving His Father and serving people. We add the flavor of Jesus to the lives of others when we serve them in the name of Jesus. This dash of service needs to become natural for us regardless of what we perceive the immediate outcome to be. Simple acts of kindness and service go a long way toward helping others get a taste of Jesus that keeps them looking for more.
Acceptance. Romans 15:7
Giving a dash of acceptance to the people around you is a very Jesus-like trait, but one that often becomes complicated in our mind. Jesus was a master at accepting the person while calling for a transformation that involved a turning away from sin. God calls each of us to accept one another just as we have been accepted by Him. God’s love was extended to us even in the midst of our sin and transgressions with the call to be washed and purified by the blood of His Son through the wonder of grace. We flavor our community with Jesus when we learn to accept people and call them to become a work in progress in the hands of the Master.
Listening. James 1:19-20
In a world that is increasingly divided in every way imaginable, a dash of listening can go a long ways toward making Jesus known. In a world filled with people so quick to become angry at every social media post and news media report that they disagree with, we would do well to heed the words of James to be “quick to listen”. Often when we are willing to listen, we discover that our differences are not as great as they might first appear. In a culture filled with people crying out to be heard, we can add Christ-like flavor when we choose to practice the art of listening.
Truth. Ephesians 4:15, John 17:17
Service, acceptance, and listening are all great things but they only bring hope for eternal change when accompanied by truth. In the midst of division and conflict, we must choose to submit to Christ as head of all things and the One who is truth. Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify His followers by truth and declared that the source of that truth was God’s Word. Yes, the salt of truth may sting a bit in a world filled with open wounds but when the truth is delivered in a loving atmosphere of service, acceptance, and listening, healing can take place that makes the good news of Jesus truly be seen as good news.
Today, how will you be the SALT of the earth God has called you to be?
This is audio and outline from the July 25, 2021 sermon, “A Useful LAMP”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 4:21-25
When Jesus addressed the multitude in what we call the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “You are the light of the world!” As those called by Jesus to be the light of the world, it is important that we live with a useful:
Life. Mark 4:22, John 10:10
A useful lamp begins with a recognition of the value of life — your own life and the life of every person you will ever meet. Your life is useful not because of how well you measure up to the worlds expectations, but because you were created in the image of God to do the good works He created in advance for you to do. Jesus came to set each one of us free so that we could live life, and live it abundantly. Our lamp is useful when we treat everyone we encounter with the respect that is due simply because God says their life is useful.
Attitude. Mark 4:23, Philippians 2:5
Having ears to hear is much more than simply having physical ears that can hear. In fact, many people have ears which could hear but their attitude is such that nothing makes it in. We have a useful attitude when we open our ears and show by our doing that we understand Jesus has called us to serve others. Our attitude ought to transform our hearing as we grow in our understanding of all that is ours through our relationship with Jesus. Our lamp is useful when the people around us experience a useful attitude from us as we serve them.
Measure. Mark 4:24-25, 2 Corinthians 10:12 & 18
A useful measure is one that evaluates our own life according to the standard of God’s Word and the example of Jesus. Measuring ourselves against one another only serves to feed our pride and arrogance in a way that rarely results in positive change. The standard that ought to be at the front of our mind when it comes to measuring our self, or anyone else, is a desire to hear the words of Jesus, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Our lamp is useful when we measure by God’s standards and not by the standards of the world..
Place. Mark 4:21, Matthew 5:16
They say there are three keys to real estate . . . location, location, and location! The same could be said for living as a useful lamp, location is key. But in this case, it is not so much about a particular location as it is about being the light of Jesus in whatever location you happen to be at. A useful lamp is not one that is hidden under a basket, rather it is one that is set out in the open so all can see the good works of God in you, through you, and by you in order to glorify your Father in heaven.
How useful is your LAMP in helping people see Jesus?
This is audio from a live broadcast of a devotional recap of the July 4, 2021 sermon, “Living As One Who Is FREE”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: John 8:31-51
When we live as those who have been set free by Jesus, we live as one who is:
Forgiven. John 8:31-32, 1 John 1:8-10
Recognizing our sinfulness as well as God’s desire and power to forgive is a big part of the truth that sets us free. Rejecting the truth and claiming that we are without sin simply keeps us enslaved to the sin we refuse to acknowledge. When we experience Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, we find forgiveness through the washing away of our sins by His blood When we live as one who is forgiven, God calls us to also live as one who forgives.
Restored. John 8:34-36, Luke 15:21-24
Living as one who is free through the power of Jesus restores us to the family as full heirs of all that belongs to God. As those who were created by God, who were knit together by God in our mother’s womb, our freedom in Christ builds on the forgiveness of sin found through Jesus and restores us as sons and daughters of the King. When we live as one who is restored, God calls us to also live as one who restores others.
Enlisted. John 8:42, 2 Timothy 2:3-4
Living as one who is free means that we must live as one who has enlisted in service to the King. Because we have enlisted, our freedom is not about is rather it is about the One we serve and the people He calls us to love in His name. Our desire ought to always be about how we can please the One who has enlisted us to be His representative here on earth. When we live as one who is enlisted, God calls us to also live as one who enlists others into the family of God.
Equipped. John 8:49-51, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I know of very few people, if any, who like to be given a task to be done without the resources to accomplish it. Living as one who is free in Christ means we are equipped to to the very things we have been enlisted to do. God’s promise is that He will never leave us nor forsake us and He has given us His Word and His Spirit to equip us for every good work that He has prepared for us to do. When we live as one who is equipped, God calls us also to live as one who equips others with the truth of His Word.
Are you living as one who is FREE?
Are you helping others live as those who are FREE?
How did the disciples move from John 20:19 to Acts 2? I believe the secret is found in Acts 1:4 as God calls them to wait — wait for the outpouring of His Spirit. Moving from powerless to Pentecost often means taking time to . . .
Worship. Acts 1:14, John 3:29-30
At the heart, worship is about God becoming greater and us becoming less . . . in our own eyes. Waiting is excellent for learning to worship God in every and all situation we face. While we wait, we worship.
Act. Acts 1:21-22, Jude 1:21-23
Being called to wait doesn’t necessarily mean we do nothing. Often the season of waiting is needed to give us the time to finish work in progress that God has already begun in our life, or through our life.
Inspect. Acts 1:24-26, Romans 8:24-27
The pause brought about by waiting should lead us to take a serious look at both our self and God’s Word. Inspecting our life and our actions should always be done with the desire to gain God’s perspective.
Trust. Acts 2:12-16, 1 Corinthians 1:7-9
Waiting not only helps us to learn to trust God in greater ways, we find that He provides what is needed both while we wait and when it is time for whatever is next. Living with trust says that God’s plan is always better than our plan.
When life doesn’t move at your schedule, pause to see if God is calling you to wait in order to move you from powerless to Pentecost. As you wait, learn to Worship, Act, Inspect, and Trust.
This is the audio from the May 2, 2021 sermon, “The Secrets of a Good CROP”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Mark 4:1-20
When God’s Word is sown into your life, to grow a good crop it is important that you pay attention to the:
Cultivation. Mark 4:3-4, 15
When the seed of God’s Word falls on the hard path in our life, we must make the effort to cultivate the soil of our hearts so that the truth isn’t stolen away by the enemy.
Roots. Mark 4:5-6, 16-17
When the seeds of God’s Word begin to wither in our life, we must make the effort to develop deeper and stronger roots which will nourish us with God’s truth.
Overcoming of Opposition. Mark 4:7, 18-19
When the seeds of God’s Word begins to be strangled out in our life by the things of this world, we must turn to God and put on our spiritual armor so that we my overcome the opposition with truth.
Production. Mark 4:8-9, 20
When the seeds of God’s Word begins to bear fruit in our life, we must be careful to allow God to do the harvesting and the measuring. The production of good fruit isn’t a contest between people, rather it is a result of allowing God’s Word and Spirit to work through us.
This is the audio from the April 4, 2021 Resurrection Sunday sermon, “When Jesus Joins Your Walk”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-35
If you’ve experienced any times of worry, asking questions, life that’s routine, or knowledge that doesn’t make sense then perhaps it is time to consider what can happen when Jesus joins your Worry, Asking, Living, and Knowledge.
Because of the resurrection, you can have hope as Jesus joins your:
Worry. Luke 24:13-17, John 14:1
As the two followers of Jesus return home from Jerusalem following the death and burial of Jesus, they are filled with great concern and worry. It is in the midst of this worry that Jesus shows up to join them in their walk. When we trust God with our worry, He is always willing to walk with us through it as He longs to bring us to the other side.
Asking. Luke 24:18-24, John 16:17-19
For these followers of Jesus, nothing had turned out like it should have . . . at least not from their perspective. They got caught up in the “what-if” game of being filled with questions that had no answers. It is in their asking that Jesus shows up to join them with a few questions of His own designed to get them to think. When we allow Jesus to join our walk, He not only knows the questions we are asking, He also knows the ones we don’t know how to ask.
Living. Luke 24:28-30, Colossians 3:17
Even with worry and questions, there was a life to be lived and these followers of Jesus went about that normal routine upon arriving home. Yet they did not do life alone . . . they invited this stranger who had walked with them to join them for the night. It was in doing life together that the realized who Jesus was. When we include Jesus in every part of our life, we find that He has joined our walk in a way that makes Him real to us.
Knowledge. Luke 24:31-35, 1 Corinthians 13:12
It was when their eyes were opened to who Jesus was that these followers could see how Jesus had joined them in their longing for knowledge. The things that they knew, things that had spend their walk talking about with Jesus, were all made clear when they became aware of the presence of Jesus.
And now for the part we skipped, Luke 24:25-27. When Jesus joins your Worry, your Asking, your Living, and your Knowledge, He always brings truth. As you consider all of the elements of your daily life, will you invite Jesus to join your WALK and fill it with His truth?