This is the audio from the December 1, 2019 sermon, “Looking For the Perfect GIFT”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: John 4:10, Colossians 1:27
As we enter a season when many individuals are looking for the perfect gift for someone special, or even for themselves, let’s look at some lessons we can we learn from the things we look for in the perfect gift we give or receive. Each of these lessons not only help us to give the perfect gift, they help us see Jesus as the perfect gift that has been given to us.
When looking for the perfect gift, look for:
Psalm 27:13-14 — When giving a gift that we want to be “just right”, we search for something filled with goodness. Something that is appropriate for the person and situation the gift is meant for. The gift must not only meet our standards, but it must be acceptable by the standards the recipient is known for and deserves. Jesus reminds us that while our nature is to give good gifts to our children, even greater is the nature of His Father to give good gifts to those who are His. Even in the midst of a very up and down life, David writes of being confident of seeing God’s goodness in the land of the living. Yes, he knew the goodness of God exists throughout heaven in eternity, but there is also an element of God’s goodness that He showers upon us here on earth — with the supreme example of that goodness being the sending of Jesus to die for our sins.
Psalm 25:8-9 — When looking for the perfect gift, we want to be sure it does what it should. Whether we read them or not, we want to know there are instructions and help available should something not make sense in the use of the gift. With all of the “some assembly required” gifts that we give, the quality of the instructions go a long way in making sure the gift will look and work as it is supposed to. When it comes to the perfect gift of Jesus, God has given us His Word to instruct us in every area of life we will face. Working in combination with His Word, the Holy Spirit has been given to God’s children to help us know and understand the instructions God has given each of us for life. From entering the kingdom of God, to living as kingdom citizens here on earth, to be ready for eternity in the presence of the King, God’s instructions are both clear and complete.
John 8:34-36, 2 Corinthians 3:17 — The perfect gift always comes with an element of freedom, otherwise the gift quickly becomes our master and we soon resent both the gift and the giver for enslaving us. Many people have received gifts that at first glance appeared to be beneficial and wonderful . . . and then they discovered the time and financial commitment required to keep such a gift. God has shown us that His laws, even the “thou shalt not” laws, are given to us for the purpose of teaching us how to live as those who are truly free. The gift of Jesus has been given to us to set us free from both the penalty and the power of sin in our life. Being cleansed of our sins and living by the power of the Holy Spirit within us frees us to live for Christ rather than for self.
John 1:14-17, 14:6 — Finally, the perfect gift is always given in truth. No misrepresentations, no double-talk, no hidden agendas, no bait and switch, and no exaggerations. In a world that not only wants something for nothing, but wants you to believe it is giving you more than it can, truth in giving can be a very uncommon trait. The advertising world thrives on making things appear bigger, better, faster, quieter, louder, or whatever other characteristic you desire; than what they really are. A few years ago, a national sandwich chain took a lot of heat because their “foot-long” sandwiches weren’t really twelve inches long. They’re initial response did little to satisfy the general public as they simply claimed “foot-long” was meant to be an approximate term and not an actual measurement. With Jesus as the perfect gift, He makes it clear that He is truth. In fact, He expects the same from us as He calls us to let our yes be yes and our no be no. Part of the prayer of Jesus for His followers is that we would be set apart by truth, the truth of God’s Word.
In all the gifts ever given, there is none so perfect as Jesus!
It is my prayer that you not only accept this perfect gift, but that you would live your live sharing this gift with others.
This will serve as the November 3 post in the series I am writing this month on giving thanks. This is the audio from the November 3, 2019 sermon, “How To Give THANKS”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Psalm 100, 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Anyhow, this version of “How To Give THANKS” is based around a “made-for-the-movies” stereotypical family thanksgiving day. Here are six things I think we can learn about giving thanks from a traditional Thanksgiving Day gathering:
We give thanks to God, and to others, when we give:
Hebrews 5:11-14 — I know, you probably have the same reaction that the congregation did this morning — “What? Did he say what I thought I heard? He didn’t just say turkey, did he?”. Yep, I said turkey! When you think of Thanksgiving, for most people, the first thing that comes to mind is turkey. It is the traditional main course, the very center and substance to the meal which surrounds it. When I say, “give turkey”, that is what I mean — give thanks with substance and meat at its very heart. Don’t settle for simply mouthing the words thank you when you can give thanks with turkey — with real depth and meaning behind it. This is a thanks that settles in and satisfies the deepest reaches of a person’s being.
Psalm 126:2-3 –Without a good sense of humor, Thanksgiving and other family gatherings can fall apart quite quickly. We give thanks when we don’t take our self too seriously. God says that a cheerful, or merry, heart is good medicine! I believe that there are boundaries that need to be kept when it comes to humor but laughter is not only good for the spirit, it is good for the body. This is not only true of an individual but it applies to a family, or a church family, as well. Don’t take every situation more seriously than it ought to be taken. True joy can shine through brightly when you give thanks with humor.
2 Peter 1:2, John 10:10 — Does anything symbolize the American Thanksgiving Day gathering any more than a table overflowing with every variety of food imaginable — a table of Abundance? Jesus said He came to not only give us life, but to give us life abundantly! Do you give thanks with abundance, or just enough to get by? When we want to celebrate or to remember great things, we would likely never ask how little can I do and still look good. No, we would examine our resources of every kind to determine how abundantly can I celebrate to make my joy known to all. When we want to express deep-felt thankfulness it ought to be the same way — not what do I have to do but how much can I do. Your generosity overflows when you give thanks with abundance.
1 John 3:18-20 — Ahhh . . . turkey, plenty of good humor, an abundance of food . . . I’m tired. What good Thanksgiving Day gathering would be complete without a Nap? We give thanks when we give Naps! When we allow a person to relax and rest we communicate that we value both them and their time. If every interaction with a person has you walking away knowing that they expect something from you it is not likely that you will feel a true appreciation regardless of any words of thanks. Resting is a God-given concept and gift that we typically don’t use enough ourself and seldom think to give to others. The sabbath concept, a day of rest, is connected by God to the fact that on the seventh day He rested from His work of creation. We, and those around us, are more tolerable when we give thanks with naps.
Ephesians 4:31-32 — What family gathering is complete without that cousin that’s . . . well, he’s just different. Regardless of his different looks, different political views, different lifestyle, different pie preference, or different whatever, he is part of the family so we give Kindness. Extending kindness doesn’t mean that we agree or approve of everything about him — we may pray and work desperately to influence positive change in his life. It does mean, however, that we acknowledge his value as a person and do our best to include him in the family celebration of the Thanksgiving Day gathering. We all sin and find our self in need of God’s greatest kindness — the undeserved gift of forgiveness and salvation through the blood of His Son, Jesus! It is this example that we must follow when we give thanks with kindness.
Proverbs 16:24 — Finally, the part that no one really needs but no Thanksgiving Day gathering is complete without — Sweets! Take away the pie, the ice cream, the cookies, the fudge, the chocolate, the candies, and the other desserts and what do you have? You have one very unhappy and disappointed family! Sweets are those over-and-above extras in life that shout “thank you” in ways that little else can. When we really want to give thanks, we adopt an “and then some” attitude. We do what is expected and required . . . and then some. We walk the extra mile. We take the extra time. We give the extra attention. With our actions we say loudly, “you’re worth it!”. Just as dessert completes the Thanksgiving Day gathering, our expressions of gratitude are completed when we give thanks with sweets.
So, how are you at giving THANKS? I pray that as you gather with others this Thanksgiving day, and any other day, you would give “Turkey”, give Humor, give Abundance, give Naps, give Kindness, and give Sweets!
This is the audio from the October 6, 2019 sermon, “Living As ONE!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: 1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Here are the main points from the sermon:
Being one in Christ means we learn to live as:
1 Corinthians 12:15-16, 2 Corinthians 10:5 — Living as one with Christ and with one another will require a steadfast pursuit of an obedient life. One key to bringing our actions into obedience to the will of God is learning to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” Our obedience to Christ will lead us to do the work that God uniquely created us to do. Not only do we grow in obedience to Christ, our living as one should lead us to a greater obedience or submission to one another. .
1 Corinthians 12:17-21, Ephesians 4:11-16 — Living as one with Christ will also require a recognition of how necessary we are as a part of His body. Our culture seems to have trained us in the very bad habit of evaluating a person’s usefulness based on a standard that doesn’t take into account what each person was created to do. When we come to understand that we are vital to the well-being of the body as a whole, we are more likely to live as one with those who bring different gifts and abilities to the body.
1 Corinthians 12:22-25, Romans 15:5-14 — Living as one with Christ will also require that we accept that we are enough just as Christ made us. To be fair and honest, this isn’t an excuse to quit growing and improving. God’s desire is that we would always give Him our best and be our best in our interactions with others. What it does mean, however, is that when we offer ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, what we offer is enough. We don’t have to become what someone else is or what they want us to be — in fact, doing so would often lessen the effectiveness of the body as it would be missing the part we were created to be!
Choosing to live as ONE will always have to begin with me. I must live as Obedient, Necessary, and Enough before I can expect that from others. Because we are part of one body, the body of Christ, after applying these lessons to ourselves we then begin to see how each attribute benefits the body. Our obedience prospers when it is built on the Word of God and grows out of submission to one another. Our sense of belonging grows when we realize just how necessary we are and how equally necessary all of the other members of the body are. Our value is measured accurately when we no longer have to measure up to the standards and expectations of another person whose task is different than ours. When the body functions as one and each part of the body lives as Obedient, Necessary, and Enough, we will make great strides in being the disciples God has called us to be and the witnesses for Jesus that He needs us to be.
This is the audio from the September 29, 2019 sermon, “Praying For the BEST!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.
Text: Philippians 1:9-11
Here are the main points from the sermon:
When it comes to praying for the best, ask God to give you His:
Psalms 103:2-5, Romans 6:22 — While our culture has gradually changed the concept of employee benefits to being something that is earned or deserved, it hasn’t always been this way. For many generations, the “benefit package” was something a company gave to benefit their employees in ways that were above and beyond what they earned. I believe it is in that former context that we pray for, and receive, the best benefits a person could ever obtain. These benefits are completely unearned and belong to all who come into relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ. When we pray for the best benefits, we find that God is generous in supplying so much more than we could think or imagine because what He supplies will last for eternity.
Ephesians 6:10-13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 — At least in my life, and I suspect the same is true for many of you, much has been accomplished with whatever tools happened to be available when the work needed done. What I’ve learned over the years, as better tools became available to me, is that using the best equipment generally yields a result that is far superior to most of my “make do” efforts. As we live the Christian life, God has offered to equip us with the absolute best tools possible if we would only go to Him in prayer. In fact, prayer itself is at the top of the list of the best equipment we can have in living a life of victory over the temptations of the evil one. When we pray for the best equipment, God clothes us with His armor so that on the day of evil we may stand.
Isaiah 55:8-9, Psalms 119:1 — Growing up in a culture that has taught us that we not only can have it our way, but we deserve it our way, makes it difficult to accept that our way isn’t the best way. Growing up on a farm I learned that it was possible to accomplish just about anything given enough time and determination. Looking back I realize there were many things accomplished that took much more time and effort than they would have had to simply because I didn’t know the best way to do them. Too often we settle for mediocrity, or worse, because we insist our ways and plans are somehow superior to anything else. We will only experience the best when we realize and accept that God’s ways are so much better in every aspect than ours. When we pray for the best strategy, we must begin from a position of listening with a blank slate rather than asking God to bless a strategy we have come up with either on our own or through observing others.
1 John 5:9-12, John 4:39-42 — How people respond to what you say has a lot to do with how they perceive the authenticity of your testimony. I suspect we have all received unsolicited advice throughout our life that we simply ignored because there was no evidence that the advice being given had in any way benefited the person giving it. Our prayers for the best testimony begin to be answered when we accept the testimony of God about His Son, Jesus. It is then through living out an authentic relationship with Jesus that we find our testimony about His working in our life is a powerful tool in helping others even have a desire to know Him. When we pray for the best testimony God doesn’t make it more dramatic, He simply shows us how even the small details of our life have a purpose when we use them to share with others how we are a witness of God’s love and power.
Praying for the best will mean we truly want the best. When we pray for the Benefits, Equipment, Strategy, and Testimony that only God can give, we discover He has answered our prayer and filled us with the very best He has — His Son.
This is the audio from the September 1, 2019 sermon, “WORK That Matters!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: John 6:28-29
Here are the main points from the sermon:
When it comes to having work that matters, make sure these elements matter in your work:
Worship that matters:
Romans 12:1 — When you present your body to God as a living sacrifice, your work — the things you do with your body — ought to become a big part of the worship you offer God. Seeing the work that you do as an element of worshiping God helps you to see your work as something that matters to God. Learning to have worship that matters within all of your daily activities will go a long way toward helping others see Jesus in the midst of your daily work. In seeking to have work that matters, find ways in all circumstances to have worship that matters.
Occupation that matters:
Colossians 3:23-24 — “Whatever you do.” While there are some tasks done by mankind that I believe are sinful and therefore should not be done by Christians (or anyone else for that matter), God’s desire is that whatever you do would be done for Him. In the Kingdom workforce, there is work “created in advance” for each one of us to do. Just as we have been created uniquely, the work God has for us to do will rarely be identical to the work He has for someone else. Having work that matters isn’t nearly as dependent on finding the right occupation as it is in working our occupation with the proper attitude.
Rest that matters:
Hebrews 4:9-11 — Having work that matters will require us to have rest that matters. When God chose to rest after the six days of creation, it wasn’t so much that He was worn out and needed it but rather it was to serve as an example of our need for rest. While there are times we must press on even when we’ve become weary, being able to stop and rest at appropriate intervals will generally improve our ability to work in such a way that we believe our work matters. In our culture today, we often have a tendency to fill our “non-work” hours with so much activity that real rest is rather elusive. When we learn to have rest that matters, I believe we will grow in having work that matters.
Knowledge that matters:
2 Timothy 2:15 — We live in a time that I think could well be described as information overload. It seems we are constantly being bombarded with sound bites and headlines that contain talking points of information but very little actual knowledge. When Paul instructs Timothy to “study to show yourself approved”, it is in the context of being a worker who won’t be ashamed. While our culture prides itself on having an ever-increasing base of knowledge, any knowledge that does not have the Word of God as its foundation tend to make a prideful people rather than a humble worker. When we spend time fully digesting and putting into practice the Word of God, we set our self up to have work that matters because we have knowledge that matters.
Having WORK that matters isn’t really so much about what you do as it is about how you do it and who you do it for. I believe you will find that as you fill your life with worship, occupation, rest, and knowledge that matters, you will discover great growth in your understanding and practice of work that matters.
This is the audio from theAugust 4, 2019 sermon, “Count the COST!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Luke 14:25-35
Here are the main points from the sermon:
When it comes to living life and being a disciple of Jesus, He want us to count the . . .
Luke 14:28-30 — Asking what something will cost before you commit to it is not just a wise action, it is a biblical action. Much of the current debt crisis in America is the result of committing to a course of action without considering what it will actually cost. When you are living as a disciple of Jesus, your cash belongs to Him and He ought to have the only say in how you use it. Living that way will cost you greatly, but He promises to increase what you have in accordance to your faithfulness with the small things He gives you.
Luke 14:31-32 — Living as a disciple of Jesus will come with its share of opposition. But worse than the opposition of people who reject Christianity is the opposition of God against those who are filled with pride and reject Him. Counting the opposition means that you consider the ridicule of men to be of no regard in your decisions compared to the praise of the Father saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Luke 14:33 — There is no greater example of sacrifice than Jesus leaving heaven to live on earth for the purpose of being crucified for my sins. Being a disciple of Jesus means that I will not only learn from Him, but I will learn to be like Him. By His own words, doing so will require that I unconditionally surrender all of me to Him and live a life that shows His sacrifice to the world. This isn’t a matter of choosing what I’m willing to give up and then calling it a sacrifice for doing so. No, this is a full surrender so that my life becomes a living sacrifice devoted fully to Him.
Luke 14:34-35 — Most of us are pretty good at surrounding ourselves with the things and people that we know we can put our trust in. As Jesus calls us to give up everything to become the salt of the earth, often time the things we trust the most will have to be put aside so that we can learn complete trust in Him. He is the master at using the most unlikely people to do things they are unequipped for in order to bring praise and glory to Him rather than to mankind.
Counting the COST isn’t really the end to anything, rather it is the beginning point of a decision each of us must make — Is it worth it, and am I willing to pay everything I have in order to become a child of God? I pray that the answer to those questions is a resounding, “Absolutely Yes!”
This is the audio from the July 7, 2019 sermon, “Living As Fully FREE!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the North Wayne Mennonite Church.
Text: Luke 15:11-32
Here are the main points from the sermon:
In Christ, we are fully . . .
1 John 2:12 — When we come home to the Father, our sins are fully forgiven because of Jesus . . . not because of us or our efforts.
1 Peter 5:10 — Even through suffering and difficulty, and sometime because of them, we have a God that will fully restore us to Himself when we “come to our senses” and return to Him.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 — The freedom we find by gazing into the perfect law of God’s Word will fully equip us for every good work He calls us to do..
Luke 15:20 — From wherever we are, our return to the Father will be met with a loving embrace. His touch gives us the hope and courage to grow from the child He created to the son or daughter He designed us to be.
Until we find true freedom in Christ, the freedoms we chase after will only be temporary at best and will never fully satisfy.