Who you are in Christ

One key foundation for us as Disciples of Christ is to know who you are and what you have in Christ. I mentioned this is previous posts earlier in the week.

Back in 1989 when I came to Christ, I had a very low, almost non-existent, self-esteem. I really thought I was a waste of space and not worth much at all.

Over time this changed to seeing myself through the lens of Scripture. I am now more interested in who God says I am, rather than the world or those around me say.

Every year that goes by I find my mind is being renewed more and more in this area. As a result I did a sermon for my church titled, “10 things God says about you in the Bible”. The summary points and verses are below.

  1. You are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27)
  2. You were chosen before the world was made (Ephesians 1:4-5)
  3. You were created and equipped for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
  4. You are adopted into His family (John 1:12)
  5. You have the Holy Spirit living inside you (Romans 8:11)
  6. You are no longer condemned (Romans 8:1)
  7. You are seated with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7)
  8. You were knit together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)
  9. You are truly loved by God (1 John 4:9-10)
  10. You are free in Christ (John 8:36)

To read the full message with text, audio and powerpoint you can find it here https://www.passionaustralia.org/whoyouare.html

Today I just want to remind you that God made you wonderful. You are amazing. You are special. You are loved. You are priceless in God’s eyes.

Blessings,

Dave

Sermon: Four lessons from Psalm 139

preaching

Hello all,

I recorded a sermon for podcast today. It was one I did several years ago for the church I was Pastor of. On the day we had a problem with our sound recording software. As a result I have been meaning to re-record it for my website.

The title is “Four lessons from Psalm 139”. If you are interested you can listen here, or read the full text here.

Blessings,
Dave

Preaching focuses for me

I have been thinking about some keys to preaching lately. Especially preaching to your audience and context. 

In my most recent church the congregation was a wide range of ages and most were mature Christians, but they did not have a Pastor for four years before I came. So I kept that in mind when preparing my sermons.

Here are some keys I tried to focus on.

1. Biblical – 95% of my messages were based on Bible passages. I aimed to do an introduction, read a passage, share 3-5 points from the text with cross references, summarise the main points and close in prayer. 

2. Brief – I found that 20 minutes was about right in my context. By the time I did the things above and prayed, most sermons were 20 minutes or 2000 words for me. Any longer than that I found that some people started to lose focus.

3. Powerpoint – I always used Powerpoint with the title of the message, the passage, the key points and verses and then the closing summary points. This seemed to help people with their notes and remembering.

4. Series – Preaching in a series or working your way through a Bible book was another key. Generally I would focus on one chapter a week. People knew if I did James 1 one week, then the next it would be James 2.

5. Website – One thing I did each week was to include the sermon text and audio on the church’s website. As I wrote full transcript the congregation could listen to or read the sermon again or catch up if they were away.

6. Fun – I tried to make the sermons fun. Sometimes I told a clean joke beforehand. Sometimes I threw out treats if people could remember my first point or a key fact. This got everyone involved.

7. Practical – my final key was to make it practical. Application points that we could reflect on and put into practice were key. I wanted to give people things that would help them follow Jesus in the church and in the community.

8. Communication – the heart of preaching is communicating. So sermons need to be sent by the preacher and received by the listeners. You can preach the best sermon in the world, but if the people are not getting something to take home, then you have missed the mark.

Preaching for me is a real blessing. It is hard work in the prayer-peration, but it is so good to be able to share God’s eternal Word with people and see their lives change.

Blessings,

Dave

For unto us

In today’s Christmas message I want to look at one verse from the Old Testament section of the Bible in the book of Isaiah. The verse comes from Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6.

It says, “For a Child is born to us, a Son is given to us. The government will rest on His shoulders. And He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

In this verse the baby Jesus is given four amazing titles. Today, I want to look briefly at these titles.

1. Wonderful Counselor

Wonderful Counselor – what a great title. I don’t know about you, but sometimes in this life I need a wonderful counselor. Like most of us, sometimes I just don’t know what to do and I need help.

It is great to know that I can pray to Jesus and ask for His wisdom and His guidance. When I do I find that before long the right path to take opens up. Not only is prayer a great way to find guidance, but also are Jesus’ words in the Bible. In His famous sermon on the mount we see there are so many great truths contained for everyday life. Timeless truth for how to live, how to relate to each other and how to relate to God.

So not only can we pray and receive direction from our wonderful counselor Jesus, but we can also read His words in the Bible.

2. Mighty God

The second amazing title in this passage is mighty God. In His time on earth Jesus showed His power and glory in the way He lived and interacted with those around Him. Shortly after the sermon on the mount, Jesus moved out into the world and did a number of amazing miracles.

In performing these miracles Jesus showed that mighty God is a title that sits well on Him. He healed the sick, drove out demons, calmed the storm and He even raised the dead. Jesus showed that He had power that is not of this world. He did things that no mortal man could do. He did things that only God could do.

At times in life when we feel weak and we don’t think we can do the things we need to do, it is great to know that we have Jesus we can call on for help and strength. The Bible tells is we can do all things through Christ who is our strength (Philippians 4:13). Mighty God is just a prayer away.

3. Everlasting Father

The third title is “Everlasting Father”. This title shows that Jesus is eternal. When I first got interested in reading the Bible in my early 20s, I thought that Jesus came into existence when He was born at Christmas time to Mary.

Before long I realised that Jesus was there at the creation of the world. He was around when Adam and Eve were created. He was around when Noah build his ark, He was around when Moses led the people of Egypt to freedom, He was around the great kings and prophets walked the earth. Then 2000 years ago He walked the earth to show us what God is like, to show us how to live, and ultimately to show us how much He loves us by dying on the cross for our sin. Now He has returned to heaven and He promises to come back for us one day.

Again, everlasting father is a wonderful title. It helps us to know that when we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we are not just trusting in a baby who grew into a man who walked the earth some 2000 years ago, but we are putting our faith in someone who is eternal and everlasting.

4. Prince of Peace

The final title in this verse is “Prince of peace”. Another great title that was given to Jesus. It doesn’t take much to see that the world desperately needs a prince of peace. When we read the newspaper in the morning or watch the nightly news we see peace is needed. At times it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all.

However, when I get troubled by world events like terrorism, wars, floods, earthquakes, famine and the like, I close my eyes and think about the prince of peace. The one who came from eternity, was born in a manger at Christmas, lived amongst us and gives us His peace.

In John 14:27 Jesus said these words to His troubled followers when they were afraid, “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So, don’t be troubled or afraid.”

And in Philippians 4:7, the Apostle Paul who was one of the leaders in the early church said, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you want to experience true and lasting peace this Christmas, it is found in the prince of peace.

Closing

I want to wish you all a wonderfully happy, safe and blessed Christmas. It is my hope and prayer that this Christmas you will experience the love of the child with four amazing titles – the wonderful counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father and the prince of peace. Merry Christ everyone.

Sermon: 5 ways to be a living sacrifice

Today I want to share my sermon I preached the first week of being Pastor at my last church. 

I remember in the week leading up to the first Sunday, God kept on saying, “I want you to be a living sacrifice”.

This took me to Romans 12. In the message I shared 5 points…

  1. Renew our minds (v2)
  2. Use our gifts well (v6-8)
  3. Really love on another (v9-10)
  4. Live in harmony with each other (14-18)
  5. Overcome evil with good (v21)

I really wanted to let the church know I would lead with a sacrifical servant heart.

If you would like to read the full text you can find it here. It also has the audio and a pdf of the powerpoint.

God Bless,

Dave

Sunday sermon: Who God says you are

Who God says we are is a subject that as Christians we need to be reminded of every so often.

For many of us we hold a picture of ourselves that has been generated by what others have said about us over the years. It might be a teacher at school, a former boss or maybe a family member. Some of the pictures might not be that good.

For others the person who has been saying the wrong things has been ourselves. Sometimes our self talk is very negative and quite condemning. For some the things we think or say about ourselves is very wrong.

For this reason I want to look at who God says we are from the Bible. God as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe has so many positive things He says about us in the Bible, so this week I am going to let Scripture speak.

I believe that when we have a right picture of ourselves, through God’s eyes, we truly become alive to our potential and we are able to step out and be all God has created us to be.

I am hoping that we will be reminded of who we are in Christ. You can find the full text here.

God Bless,

Dave

Finding rest in our relationship with Christ

There is an interesting passage in Matthew 11 that I really enjoy reading. It is a short prayer that Jesus prayed in verses 25-30. It says…

25 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank You for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased You to do it this way! 27 “My Father has entrusted everything to Me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.” 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Just before this passage Jesus is talking about the places He went and performed miracles and how people still did not repent. The miracles showed His power and that He was from God, but people still did not believe in Him.

As I reflected in this. three things comes to mind.

1. We approach God simply

Verse 25 tells us that God often hides things from those who think themselves wise and learned. I have met people over the years who have been full of their own wisdom and impressed themselves by how much they know!

However, God wants us to approach Him like a child. He wants us to be curious and humble. He doesn’t want us to be puffed up and full of ourselves. People like that can’t learn, they know it all! Our job is to approach God with the simplicity of a child. Be open and inquisitive because it pleased God for it to be that way (v26). We can learn when we are open to learn, and we don’t think we know it all.

2. Knowing God is about relationship

In verse 27 Jesus talks about His relationship with the Father. He says that no-one truly knows the Son except the Father and vice versa. Then He says that no-one knows the Father unless the Son reveals Him. John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is the way to the Father.

Knowing God is all about relationship. It is about trusting Christ for our salvation and living in relationship with Him. When we pray, we connect with God. When we read the Bible, we learn more about Him. When we are obedient to His Words, we live in tune with the Holy Spirit. This is all about relationship.

3. We find rest in Christ

In verse 28 Jesus stretches out His hand and asks us to come to Him. He invites us to exchange our business and burdens for His rest and peace. In verse 29 He asks us to take on His yoke. Like an ox with a yoke pulling a plow, we join in with Jesus in His work. This work, however, is free from the burden of the obeying the Old Testament law and it is also free from the directionless living of the world.

We also find rest in Jesus in the discipline of being His disciple. As we learn about Jesus and as we grow in Him, we find rest for our weary souls. He is a good teacher as He is gentle and humble. No longer do we have to strive and strain for approval from God, we have it in Christ. We can just focus on Christ and following Him. We can rest in His finished work on the cross.

I really enjoy this short prayer from Jesus. In it we learn a lot about how God wants us to come to him, how He wants us to live in Him and how we can find peace and rest in Christ.

God Bless,
Dave

R.E.M.A.I.N. In Christ

My latest sermon is online. It is titled, “R.E.M.A.I.N. in Christ.

It looked at the passage from John 15:1-5 and used the letters of the word remain to give us some help to stay on track.

Here are the main points…

R- Rest in the finished work of Christ – John 19:30

E – Endurance is vital – Hebrews 12:1-2

M – Maintain a close walk with the Lord – John 15:4

A – Aim to be a vehicle of blessing – 2 Corinthians 9:8-11

I – Imagine eternity with Christ – Philippians 3:20

N – Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world – John 16:33

You can find the full text here.

God Bless,
Dave