The Christmas Family: A Place for YOU! (Sermon Audio)

The Christmas Family: A Place for YOU! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the November 27, 2022 sermon, “The Christmas Family: A Place for YOU!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  Matthew 1:1-16

Today began our Christmas sermon series with a look at the Christmas family.  Often times the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the Christmas family is the simple family of Mary and Joseph and then the arrival of Jesus.  At times we may expand our thinking to include Zechariah and Elizabeth, but Matthew begins his account of the Christmas story with an entire list of the family involved . . . the genealogy of Christ.  If you were to spend time going through the names listed, you would find people from nearly every type of background you can imagine.  There is royalty and refugees, rich and poor, nationals and foreigners, prostitutes and powerful, givers and takers, there are liars, cheats, thieves, holy, noble, humble, and nearly any other characteristic you can imagine.  In fact the list is so varied that I suspect that it shouldn’t be too difficult to see yourself in it in more ways than one.  And the good news when you gaze into this list of the family ancestors of Christ is that seeing a place for them in the family ought to help you to realize this Christmas family has a place for . . .

  • Yourself.  1 Corinthians 6:9-11
    • I suppose it should seem natural to begin our understanding of a place for you with a discussion of it being a place for yourself.  Paul writes to the Corinthians and addresses a sampling of the things that keep people separated from God.  He is even bold enough to tell his audience that they once were defined by these very things until they were washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  It is important to notice that God’s desire is to transform people from that which once identified them to becoming children of the living God.  Jesus was born into this specific family line as listed by Matthew and we have the privilege of being a part of that family when we are born again into the family of God.  When you look at the Christmas family as being the family of Jesus, you find that your past and present do not disqualify you from finding a place for yourself in this family.
  • Others.  1 Corinthians 12:12, 27-31
    • Knowing that there is a place for yourself is great news, but it is not the only news of the genealogy of Christ.  As you look into the lives of those listed in the genealogy of Christ, it is important to note that regardless of what they once were, each one of them needed the others to complete the family line.  Even as Paul writes to let individuals know the great value they have in the family of God, he often reminds them that this is true of others as well.  Living as the Christmas family, the body of Christ, requires that we know it is a place for others.  Jesus made it clear that He came to earth as the central figure in this Christmas story in order to seek and to save that which was lost.  When we consider the scope of God’s family, we must learn to value others and the part God has created for them within the body.  When you look at the Christmas family as being the family of Jesus, you find that it isn’t all about you but that it values others even above yourself.
  • Understanding.
    • When you combine the value of yourself and the value of others within this Christmas family, you discover the value of us.  And while “us” would have been a good topic for this third point, I believe understanding is more fitting because that is the necessary quality that combines yourself and others to become us.  God instructs us as His children to live in understanding with one another.  It is through a deliberate valuing of our similarities and differences that we are able to make the most of the variety of talents, skills. personalities, and giftedness God brings together within His body.  It is in seeking this level of understanding that we find and can declare that each person has value not only to the body of Christ in the big, kingdom sense of the word, but each has great value to the local body of Christ as it meets to worship God, encourage one another, and make Christ known among its community.

Today, how will you see the value which belongs to each person God is calling into His family?

Encouragement and Prayer: Give Thanks to the Lord! (11/23/22)

Encouragement and Prayer: Give Thanks to the Lord! (11/23/22)

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This is the audio from the November 23, 2022 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)

This week we will focus our prayer emphasis on overcoming ungratefulness by growing in thankfulness.  Our level of thankfulness will say a lot to the people around us who need to know of the hope that is found in Jesus.  We all go through struggles that test our faith and we may endure things that no one would be thankful for, but it can be in those times that finding ways to give thanks anyway can speak volumes to others.

“Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”
Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

As you pray this week, ask God to help you examine your current level of thankfulness.  Pray that you would pay attention to what God has done in your life so that you give Him thanks for doing so.  Pray that you would use every opportunity you have to thank the Lord “among the nations” so that the people around you would know of His great work.

You can find the live video feeds of these encouragement and prayer times on Impact Prayer Ministry’s Facebook page.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer: Give Thanks With Music! (11/22/22)

Encouragement and Prayer: Give Thanks With Music! (11/22/22)

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This is the audio from the November 22, 2022 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)

This week we will focus our prayer emphasis on overcoming ungratefulness by growing in thankfulness.  Our level of thankfulness will say a lot to the people around us who need to know of the hope that is found in Jesus.  We all go through struggles that test our faith and we may endure things that no one would be thankful for, but it can be in those times that finding ways to give thanks anyway can speak volumes to others.

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30 (NIV)

As you pray this week, ask God to help you examine your current level of thankfulness. Pray that you would learn to express your thanks to God through the songs you sing, whether sung privately or publicly.  Pray that God’s name would be lifted up through the music you listen to as well as through the music you share with others in various ways.

You can find the live video feeds of these encouragement and prayer times on Impact Prayer Ministry’s Facebook page.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer: Give Thanks Through Sacrificial Offerings! (11/21/22)

Encouragement and Prayer: Give Thanks Through Sacrificial Offerings! (11/21/22)

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This is the audio from the November 21, 2022 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 5:19-20 (NIV)

This week we will focus our prayer emphasis on overcoming ungratefulness by growing in thankfulness.  Our level of thankfulness will say a lot to the people around us who need to know of the hope that is found in Jesus.  We all go through struggles that test our faith and we may endure things that no one would be thankful for, but it can be in those times that finding ways to give thanks anyway can speak volumes to others.  As you pray this week, ask God to help you examine your current level of thankfulness.  Pray that you would always look for reasons to give thanks and that you would learn to give thanks even when the reasons seem hidden.  Pray that your faith would grow as you daily practice an attitude of gratitude in your relationships with one another and with God.  Pray that you would find ways to express your thanks to those who need to hear it.

“Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High.”
Psalm 50:14 (NIV)

Pray that the offering of yourself and your possessions to God would be done with a thankful heart.  Pray that your promises to God would be fulfilled as you give sacrificially.  Pray about how your giving reflects both your thankfulness and your promises to God.

You can find the live video feeds of these encouragement and prayer times on Impact Prayer Ministry’s Facebook page.

In prayer,
Tom

Loving the Ungrateful: LIFT Them! (Sermon Audio)

Loving the Ungrateful: LIFT Them! (Sermon Audio)

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This is the audio from the November 20, 2022 sermon, “Loving the Ungrateful: LIFT Them!”, shared by Tom Lemler at the Deer Run Church of Christ.

Text:  Luke 15:25-32

As we continue our “Loved By Jesus, Love Like Jesus” series, we will consider a few people who encountered Jesus and experienced His love in the midst of their ungratefulness.  Then we’ll dive into the ending of the story Jesus told about the prodigal son and look at some lessons from Jesus of how that father loved the ungrateful.

Nine of ten lepers — Luke 17:17
Jesus healed them even though they did not return to give thanks.

The people of Jerusalem — Luke 13:34
Jesus longed for them to know His protection even though they had not appreciated His coming.

You and I — Romans 5:8
Jesus loved us enough to die for us while we were as ungrateful as possible — dead in our sins.

How thankful are you? Would the people around you agree? Would God agree? How has, and does, God love you when you are not as thankful as you ought to be?  By examining how Jesus loved the ungrateful and looking at the love of the father for the older son in the story of the prodigal son, we find that we can love like Jesus when we learn to . . .

  • Love Them.  Luke 15:28
    • I suspect that most people find it uncomfortable and discouraging to be around those we consider to be obnoxiously ungrateful.  When we read the reaction of this older son in the story of the prodigal son, we aren’t left to wonder what the father’s reaction was . . . the father loved him and pleaded with him to join the celebration.  The ungratefulness of the son did not lessen the father’s love for him.  In fact, I think it actually makes the father’s love more obvious.  It shouldn’t take too long when we consider our own life to realize that we have been that ungrateful child more often than we care to admit.  Yet, just like the father in the story, Jesus loves us and pleads with us to come home.  When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we must chose to love people no matter what.
  • Include Them.  Luke 15:31
    • While our first reaction to someone that is chronically ungrateful probably would have us running in the opposite direction, the father in our story did his best to remind the son that he was, and had always been, part of the family.  When our ungratefulness isolates us, it simply leads to an even deeper level of ingratitude.  Our act of including those who feel unappreciated goes a long way toward lifting them from the depths of despair that they may be feeling.  Jesus sets the example when He sacrifices Himself so that we can be included and become children of God.  When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we must choose to include them..
  • Focus Them.  Luke 15:29-30
    • As we love and include the ungrateful, we gain an opportunity to help focus them.  The father in our story let the older son talk and give his side of the story but he didn’t leave it there.  Many times our ungratefulness comes because we can’t see the big picture yet we think we know everything that is going on.  Listening to the stories told by others ought to help us have a greater understanding of what is important to them and why they are not thankful for what they have.  When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we must choose to help focus people on the work of God that is taking place all around us.
  • Teach Them.  Luke 15:32
    • The final part of loving the ungrateful enough to lift them is to take the time to teach.  After our thoughts are turned toward God, we are better prepared to accept the teaching that He gives.  When we love, include, and focus the ungrateful around us, and even within us, we set the stage for real teaching to take place.  In our story, the father takes the time to teach the older son why they had to celebrate and just how big of a deal it really was for the younger son to return home.  When we choose to lift the ungrateful like Jesus does, we much choose to teach them accurately and completely according to God’s Word.

Today, how will you LIFT those around you that seem to be ungrateful?

Encouragement and Prayer: Restored Gently! (11/18/22)

Encouragement and Prayer: Restored Gently! (11/18/22)

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This is the audio from the November 18, 2022 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:10-11 (NIV)

This week we will focus our prayer emphasis on how God restores us and calls us to be involved in sharing the good news of that restoration with others.  It is comforting to know that regardless of how much of a lost cause I may look like to myself or to others, God still has the ability and desire to restore me to Himself.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1 (NIV)

 As you pray this week, ask God to fill you with the hope of His glory as He continues His work of restoration in your life even through suffering.  Pray that the restoration you receive from God would help you be willing to restore others with gentleness.  Pray that your compassion in restoring others would not lead you to participate in wrongdoing.

You can find the live video feeds of these encouragement and prayer times on Impact Prayer Ministry’s Facebook page.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer: Restored at the Return of Jesus! (11/17/22)

Encouragement and Prayer: Restored at the Return of Jesus! (11/17/22)

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This is the audio from the November 17, 2022 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:10-11 (NIV)

This week we will focus our prayer emphasis on how God restores us and calls us to be involved in sharing the good news of that restoration with others.  It is comforting to know that regardless of how much of a lost cause I may look like to myself or to others, God still has the ability and desire to restore me to Himself.

“He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.”
Acts 3:21 (NIV)

 As you pray this week, ask God to fill you with the hope of His glory as He continues His work of restoration in your life even through suffering.  Pray for a patient understanding that complete restoration will not take place until Jesus returns.  Pray that you would be involved in living the process of restoration until that time when Jesus returns.

You can find the live video feeds of these encouragement and prayer times on Impact Prayer Ministry’s Facebook page.

In prayer,
Tom

Encouragement and Prayer: Restored Through Repentance! (11/16/22)

Encouragement and Prayer: Restored Through Repentance! (11/16/22)

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This is the audio from the November 16, 2022 live social media broadcast of encouragement and prayer by Impact Prayer Ministry’s director, Tom Lemler.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
1 Peter 5:10-11 (NIV)

This week we will focus our prayer emphasis on how God restores us and calls us to be involved in sharing the good news of that restoration with others.  It is comforting to know that regardless of how much of a lost cause I may look like to myself or to others, God still has the ability and desire to restore me to Himself.

“Therefore this is what the LORD says: ‘If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them.'”
Jeremiah 15:19 (NIV)

 As you pray this week, ask God to fill you with the hope of His glory as He continues His work of restoration in your life even through suffering.  Pray that you would always repent of any sin and wrongdoing that keeps you from serving God.  Pray that the restoration you receive would help others to know of God’s love for them.

You can find the live video feeds of these encouragement and prayer times on Impact Prayer Ministry’s Facebook page.

In prayer,
Tom