How To Give THANKS! (Sermon Audio)

How To Give THANKS! (Sermon Audio)

 

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:

  • Turkey:
    • 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.
  • Humor: 
    • 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.
  • Abundance:
    • 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.
  • Naps:
    • 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.
  • Kindness:
    • 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.
  • Sweets:
    • 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!

Living As ONE! (Sermon Audio)

Living As ONE! (Sermon Audio)

 

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:

  • Obedient:
    • 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.  .
  • Necessary: 
    • 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.
  • Enough:
    • 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.

Praying For the BEST! (Sermon Audio)

Praying For the BEST! (Sermon Audio)

 

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:

  • Benefits:
    • 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.
  • Equipment: 
    • 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.
  • Strategy:
    • 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.
  • Testimony:
    • 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.

WORK That Matters! (Sermon Audio)

WORK That Matters! (Sermon Audio)

 

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.

All In

Something I remembered
     while playing some ball.
I can’t go part way,
     I give nothing or all.
I know there are people
     who straddle the fence.
It’s not only painful,
     it doesn’t make sense.
Living with one foot
     upon either wall.
Creates a condition
     where you’re likely to fall. 

Sometimes the middle
     is where you will win.
That’s still not a problem
     if I can be all in.
This poem isn’t about
     choosing a side.
To build up your walls
     and find somewhere to hide.
It’s about convictions
     and standing your ground.
God’s placed you somewhere,
     is that where you’re found? 

How long will you waver
     between this or that?
I wasn’t too sure,
   so I stopped and just sat.
That’s not a bad thing
     if it helps you to find.
Just where you do stand,
     have you made up your mind?
When God defines clearly
     just who you should be.
Then live with a focus
     that the whole world can see. 

God tells us clearly
     to be of one mind.
To not be deterred
     by distractions we find.
To listen to God
     and answer His call.
In whatever we do,
     we give it our all.
If I can do that
     while playing a game.
Shouldn’t my life’s walk
     be focused the same? 

So how do you do this,
     when it might feel odd?
To keep your life focused
     completely on God?
To rest in His presence
     and work in His field.
Both do require,
     to Him you must yield.
To empty yourself
     of your own desire.
Then aim for God’s will,
     which is always much higher. 

Commit yourself fully
     to walk in His way.
Be bold and courageous
     as you live each day.
To give it your all
     even when you feel weak.
Knowing it’s His strength
     that helps you to speak.
To be convinced fully
     that God’s way is best.
And give Him your all,
     in work and in rest! 

© 2014 by Tom Lemler

I was thinking this morning about the way I play basketball with no intent of holding back no matter how tired I am.  It reminded me of how I live and how God wants all of us to live with an “all in” attitude.  Sometimes we tend to be cautious and hold back from a complete commitment in many areas of our life because we want options to remain open.  God wants us to everything as working for Him.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)  I pray that you are “all in” when it comes to serving Jesus in all you do.

Rest

We work hard, we play hard;
     but what about rest.
God says we need it
     to be at our best.
Our life gets so busy
     at work and at play.
Our rest gets put off
     for at least one more day.
So many people
     work just to survive.
We don’t get the rest
     that would help us to thrive.

Go here and do this, 
     and what about that?
If you think you are done;
     well, here’s one more hat.
Some tasks are given,
     we think there’s no choice.
Others we call for
     in the loudest of voice.
We need this, we want that;
     we can’t fall behind.
To have all that we want
     takes the top of our mind.

If I don’t keep going,
     refusing to stop.
Then somebody else
     will climb to the top.
And as I am climbing,
     and taking each rod.
The ladder of this world
     takes me further from God.
The king of the mountain,
     the top of the hill.
Is not that important
     when God says, “Be still.”

Strength for the weary
     and hope for the tired.
Seems so out of reach,
     when you fear you’ll be fired.
So onward we press
     and give it our all.
We will never give up
     ‘til we can’t help but fall.
So many people
     who fall flat on their face.
Need a good chance to rest
     and experience grace.

So when you are tired,
     it seems with no end.
Examine your schedule,
     rest may be your friend.
And as you rest fully,
     as God said you should.
Look for the weary
     and do them some good.
Help carry their burden
     and show them the need.
God’s command to get rest,
     they really should heed.
©

It has been what some would call a “lazy day”, but I prefer to think of it as a “restful day”. As I was resting, falling in and out of sleep, God put this poem in my mind. I am thankful for a work environment that tries to protect my need for rest by valuing the work that I do. I pray that this poem encourages you to rest and to do what you can to help others to rest.

In prayer,
Tom

Work Day

We have had so many “Snow Days” this year that I think God gave me this poem just for fun as I spent a “Snow Day” working to get the building ready for school to resume.
*
The sun’s shining brightly
      so out I do go.
For somebody has to      
     shovel all of this snow.
I know most are tired
      of feeling they’re stuck.
So I head out the door
       and start up my truck.
To have all things ready,
      at least I do pray.
Should schools not be closed
      for at least one more day.
*
Praying for all those who are out today getting things ready for an eventual return to a somewhat normal schedule.