WISE Choices

My mp3 recorder malfunctioned so no audio today, but here is the outline and highlights from the November 4, 2018 sermon, “WISE Choices”, that I shared at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: Matthew 7:21-29

Here are the main points from the sermon:

Jesus taught that many will say to Him, “Lord, Lord”, yet get a response of “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  His explanation for such an interaction reveals the importance of not just hearing the Word of God, but actually putting it into practice.  Every time we encounter the truth of God’s Word, we must choose what we will do with it.  It is my prayer that each of those times result in our making WISE choices.

A WISE choice is a  . . .

  • Willing Choice:  Psalm 119:108
    • God’s desire is that we are both willing and eager to do everything He has commanded.  Acting like we are forced to put the things of God into practice will do us no more good than it does for our witness for Christ.  When our choice to honor God in everything is a willing choice, then others will be able to see the joy we have through living an obedient life.
    • If you have to be forced, coerced, or tricked into it, it is probably not a wise choice.
  • Intelligent Choice:  Acts 13:7
    • Faith in God is not blind faith.  In fact, it is our faith that allows us to see the unseen as if it were seen.  Just because someone says something is from God doesn’t mean that it really is.  We must use the mind that God gave us in order to make intelligent choices that keep us in a life that honors God and helps those around us see a God that can be trusted.  Very few people want to follow someone who doesn’t know what they are doing and when we choose to understand and know God to the best of our ability, we find that we have much more than a “just because” answer to the questions people ask.
    • If you have to ignore clear teaching of scripture, it is definitely not a wise choice.
  • Sacrificial Choice:  Hebrews 13:15-16
    • By nature, sacrifice is difficult otherwise we wouldn’t call it sacrifice.  When we seek to do God’s will, more often than not we find we are called upon to make a sacrificial choice.  This should not come as a big surprise since the life of Jesus on earth can be best characterized as sacrificial.  Honoring God with our choices will mean that we look out for the needs of others even above our own.  Jesus said that unless we are willing to give up everything, we cannot be His disciple — it doesn’t get more sacrificial than that when it comes to the choices we ought to be making.
    • If it only looks out for your good and not the good of others, it is likely not a wise choice.
  • Eternal Choice:  Galatians 6:8
    • One of the reasons that we can make choices that are willing, intelligent, and even sacrificial is because we make them with an eternal perspective in mind.  The seeds we sow today will determine the harvest we experience later.  A huge part of that eternal harvest is not just about us making it to heaven, but it is also about the seeds we plant in the lives of others so that God can bring about the harvest in their life at just the right time.  When we apply an eternal perspective filter to the decisions we must make each day, it ought to change not only what we choose to do but also the how and why of what we choose.
    • If it only satisfies a temporary desire with no view toward how it will influence you and others for eternity, it most certainly is not a wise choice.

A FIRM Standing! (Sermon Audio)


This is the audio from the August 5, 2018 sermon, “A FIRM Standing!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.

Text: 1 Corinthians 15:56-58

Here are the main points from the sermon:

Doing life as a Christian with a FIRM standing means we have a  . . .

  • Faithful Standing:  1 Corinthians 16:13-14
  • Intentional Standing:  Galatians 5:1
  • Rewarded Standing:  James 5:8
  • Multiplied Standing:  2 Corinthians 1:21-22

A Prophet’s Life

Some say it’s a gift,
     but I’m not so sure.
To see what could be
     if our choices were pure.
Just take a look back
     to the prophets of old.
And see what it got them
     when they were quite bold.

They’d speak up for God
     and proclaim forth His Word.
Yet the people would live,
     like they had never heard.
Things haven’t changed much
     as I look around.
Insist on life God’s way
     and few friends will be found.

It seems we’ve grown smarter
     than ever before.
We have better methods,
     our wisdom is more.
God couldn’t mean
     what it looks like He said.
Our own understanding
     beats the words that are red.

Yet faithful I must be,
     no matter the cost.
Anything less and
     my soul will be lost.
What God says still matters
     and I must be true.
To not only live it,
     but speak it to you!
© 2014 by Tom Lemler

The poems had disappeared from my mind for a while but for some reason several of them showed up in my mind all mixed up last night. This is one I sorted out and I think all the lines belong to this poem. 🙂

In prayer,


It’s been quite a year,
     as I look back now.
It’s hard to describe,
     except to say, “Wow!”
You live for so long
     at the point of despair.
And it surely seems
     like no one does care.
You work really hard
     at all that you do.
Yet the credit is taken
     by those around you. 

You watch and you wonder
     what you might have done.
That others don’t see you
     and your gift they do shun.
When people speak poorly
     about that which you do.
There’s none with the courage
     to stand up for you.
And so you do come
     to the end of your rope.
You cry out to Jesus
     for a glimmer of hope. 

So, God gives you strength
     as the years linger on.
You pray for the patience
     to see hope’s new dawn.
You hold tight to Jesus
     in the midst of it all.
You listen more closely
     for the sound of His call.
The years of oppression
     are not wasted, you see.
God uses each moment
     as training for me. 

I hear Him more clearly
     because of the pain.
It drives me to seek Him
     and submit to His reign.
His voice is much softer
     and loving to me.
Than I ever dreamt of,
     or thought it could be.
At just the right moment,
     my God says to me.
“My child it is time,
     for you to be free.” 

All this reminds me
     of Joseph in jail.
He sat there for years
     for someone did fail.
To speak up for him,
     his story to tell.
The man only cared
     that his own life went well.
So Joseph was faithful,
     even though treated wrong.
He still sought His God,
     through the night that was long. 

But God was not absent
     or without a plan.
At just the right time,
     He prompted a man.
That man was the king,
     who had quite a dream.
It disturbed him greatly,
     or so it would seem.
He sought out the wisest
     from throughout the land.
But it fell to Joseph
     to tell what God planned. 

God lifted him higher,
     than all but the king.
His purpose through famine,
     was rescue to bring.
God rescued Joseph
     from out of his cell.
For He had a message,
     someone needed to tell.
He rescued Egypt,
     but not them alone.
For to Joseph’s family,
     great mercy was shown. 

So when you are struggling
     in a jail of your own.
I pray that these words
     are good seeds that are sown.
That you hold even tighter
     to God’s gentle hand.
And wait for the purpose
     that God’s already planned.
That you remain faithful
     in all that you do.
Let God fill your life
     with all that’s for you. 

But always remember,
     as part of God’s plan.
You’re called to share
     with your fellow-man.
God uses hard times
     as well as the good.
To teach us His ways,
     so we do what we should.
So when you are lifted
     from the pit of despair.
You can’t help but shout it,
     you know God’s great care! 

So back to the story
     that this poem began.
As much as we’d like to,
     trouble we cannot ban.
But it is our choice,
     what we do with it.
Does it bring us down,
     or do we grow from it?
Part of that growth
     is to let people know.
That the troubles they face,
     also help them to grow. 

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

As I was spending time with God in prayer, praising Him for the incredible opportunities He has been giving me recently, He put this poem in my mind.  This poem is a reminder of where I’ve been and of God’s great work of rescuing me.  His reminder from the life of Joseph is that my rescue is not only for my benefit, but that He means for it to be a help and encouragement to others.  The greatest rescue from bondage that we will ever experience is the rescue of us from sin that Jesus accomplished on the cross.  It is important that we share our stories so that those who are near despair will hear of a  God who rescues at just the right time.  I pray that this poem is an encouragement to you to remain faithful in all things.

In prayer,


The Game

I went to the church
     to hang out with the guys.
It was March Mayhem night
     and I wasn’t that wise.
I joined in a game
     of some quick three-on-three.
Where most of the guys
     were half the age of me!
I held my own,
     at least I do think.
It was the young guys
     who stopped for a drink. 

There is something about
     this desire to win.
When I play a game,
     I must be all in.
No half-hearted effort
     when it comes to ball.
I push through the pain
     and give it my all.
Nothing can stop me,
     at least ‘til I drop.
Out cold on the floor,
     I suppose I would stop. 

The game was intense
     and I had to run.
But the guys weren’t content
     to stop at just one.
So we kept on going
     and played two more games.
My sore, tired body
     was calling me names.
To get into shape,
     I know I should do.
But it isn’t easy
     for me or for you. 

There is a lesson
     that I want to tell.
I kept on playing,
     even after I fell.
I laid on the floor
     and laughed right out loud.
Then got up and played,
     I wasn’t too proud.
Through success and failure,
     I stayed the course.
And kept right on at it
     with all of my force. 

Am I that faithful
     in living for God?
Do I keep on going
     even when I do plod?
Do I give up too easy
     when God calls to me?
Keep your head in the game,
     and your eyes fixed on Me.
Sometimes I get tired
     of doing what’s right.
I want to lay down
     and give up the fight. 

But God helps me see,
     when I’m flat on the floor.
I look up to Him
     and He opens a door.
He picks me back up,
     puts me back on my feet.
Surrounds me with His love
     through the people I meet.
He gently restores me,
     puts me back in the game.
I live one more day,
     to honor His name! 

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

I came to the church for a men’s meeting with a March Mayhem focus.  The idea was that those that wanted to would play some three-on-three basketball while the rest of us played euchre.  I had no intention of letting this old out of shape body play basketball, but somehow I got talked into it.  They were some good games and I had fun, but when it was all over this poem filled my mind.  I pray that it encourages you to give your all in serving Jesus.

In prayer,


When I consider
      how little I know.
It’s pretty amazing
      how far I can go.
If you are thinking,
      I sell myself short.
You’ve probably not heard
      what some would report.
If it can be said
      in a negative way.
I’m quite sure I’ve heard it
      directed my way.

It’s a lesson we’ve learned
      since junior high school.
If I put you down,
      perhaps I’ll look cool.
Somehow we think,
      if we want to be tall.
Then we have one choice,
      make others look small.
Sometimes we forget,
      or simply don’t know.
We can be taller,
      if we were to grow.

To have much more wisdom
      than those who would teach.
God says if I seek Him,
      it is within reach.
To meditate daily
      on God’s written word.
Gives me more wisdom
      than those that are heard.
To grow up in faith
      and walk in the light.
God directs my path
      so I’m living right.

Some put their trust
      in what’s taught by man.
They can’t wait on God,
      they have their own plan.
Their plan is better
      because they know it all.
Except they forget,
      pride comes before a fall.
They never consider
      who God might use.
Could be somebody else,
      not a person they’d choose.

So, back to the story
      of little old me.
The less I am certain,
      the more I can see.
To only know one thing,
      but to know it quite well.
God wants to work through me,
      in me He does dwell.
I trust in God’s word,
      instead of some man.
When they say I can’t,
      He says, “You can.”

So I fix my eyes
      toward heaven above.
Walk onward in faith,
      filled with God’s love.
Nothing’s too little
      or ever too small.
If God says to do it,
      I give it my all.
And when I am faithful,
      each step that I take.
He lifts me up further,
      all for His great name’s sake.

As I worked on a sermon, “A New JOB”, based on the calling of the disciples by Jesus, and reflected on the fact that my book would soon be in print, this poem came into my mind.  There have been times that I’ve let the words of people keep me from believing that God can use me for His purposes.  Out of a time of despair, God brought me back to Deer Run where He has surrounded me with people who remind me of the value of being faithful.  I pray that this poem is an encouragement to you and brings glory to God.

In prayer,

Hearing God

How do you hear God,
      and how do you know?
What He wants of you,
      and where you should go?
Or have you decided
      it’s impossible.
Your life is all planned
      and it’s already full.
Knowing what God wants
      is just for the few.
I’ll never get there,
      I don’t know about you.

Sometimes I think that
      our search about God.
Seeks an adventure
      or something quite odd.
God’s will must be hidden,
      at least from my sight.
I’ve had no great request
      by day or by night.
I read in the Bible
      and watch on the news.
It seems it’s the great ones
      that God would still choose.

No one is greater
      than he that serves all.
To humble our self
      is the Master’s first call.
Look back in the Bible,
      and here’s what I see.
A lot of great people
      who started like me!
From humble beginnings
      with nothing unique.
But a heart that was open
      to a God they did seek.

To him who is faithful
      with the little things.
God will work with your mouth,
      you may speak before kings!
God’s will shouldn’t scare you,
      or be thought of as hard.
It’s much more deliberate
      than the draw of a card.
He wants us to love Him,
      to serve all mankind.
To walk in His ways,
      with our heart, soul, and mind.

So when you’re discouraged,
      thinking you’ve been left out.
Seek God’s face humbly,
      He’ll remove all the doubt.
Be joyful in hard times
      and pray without end.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus,
      He calls you His friend.
Rest in His goodness,
      be filled with His love.
Be faithful in all things,
     ‘til He calls you above.

The big things get noticed
      because they are large.
Don’t worry about them,
      unless you are in charge.
Go to your neighbor
      and those who have need.
Get rid of your pride,
      remove all your greed.
As you empty yourself,
      God has room to fill.
When He lives within you,
      you’ll walk in His will.

I was resting in my office in the midst of a busy day.  When I awoke from a short nap, this poem was in my mind.  I suppose part of it God had put there through time I spent preparing prayer guides for the next two weeks that will focus on God’s Will.  I pray that God would fill us with a greater understanding of being faithful in the little things that we know He wants us to do.

In prayer,

My Part

To read through the Bible,
      there are many claims.
Of people who started,
      then they hit all those names.
From person to person
      and who begat who.
The mind starts to numb
      and then we are through.
We put down the Bible
      and our reading does stop.
Our intended effort
      becomes a great flop.

As I am preaching
      through the book of Luke.
I come to these names
      and I’d rather not puke.
So I look more closely
      at what’s written there.
And see in this listing,
      a God who does care.
He lists all these people
      and calls them by name.
They were important,
      though most had no fame.

We have great value
      as woman and man.
For we have a part in
      God’s wonderful plan.
God uses people
      like you and like me.
To accomplish His purpose
      throughout history.
He doesn’t measure
      like most people do.
You have great potential
      when He lives in you.

If God could use people
      that nobody knew.
And use them so greatly,
      then He can use you.
One of the secrets
      of living this way.
Is pursuing God fully,
      hearing what He would say.
Then take His full message,
      with others do share.
Then show them that Jesus
      and you really care.

It is in this caring,
      that people will see.
God’s love is for them,
      not only for me.
My part may seem little,
      not important at all.
But that doesn’t mean
      the result will be small.
I will never know,
      unless a list I receive.
Just how many names
      did help me to believe.

So, what is your story?
      What will your legacy be?
How many people,
      will you help to see?
Will you be faithful,
      in doing your part?
That helps someone out there,
      to open their heart.
You may get no credit,
      even if you should.
The real joy comes later,
      when He says, “faithful and good”.

I am spending time with God going over the end of Luke chapter 3 as He refines the sermon I’ll share tonight.  As I am doing so, He put this poem in my mind for me to share.  I pray that it brings glory to His name and accomplishes His purposes for it.  

In Prayer,