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What to Pray About / How to Gossip Better

Sermon of the Day:

What to Pray About, Part 1 – A 


How to Gossip Better

Article by

Pastor, Des Moines, Iowa

Do you ever wonder how people talk about you behind your back?

Maybe you get the itch when you see people talking quietly close by: Was it something I did? The mind has its mysterious ways of wandering and wondering. Wandering and wondering. Sometimes, the anxiety of imaging yourself the target of gossip can chew a hole through an entire day.

James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one” (James 1:13). Horizontal gossip is first rooted in vertical gossip. Before wielding his seldom-dull axe against gossip towards church members, James swings it at God-gossip.

The burden of this rebuke falls not on something wrongly performed, but on something wrongly said about God. The command is: “don’t talk about God like that.”

What Excuse Do You Make?

The early church, upon having their sin exposed, was gossiping against God rather than owning their sin. And no, maybe the very words “I am being tempted by God” have not tumbled from your lips in these exact sounds units, but you might, like me, recognize yourself in these common excuses:

I would not have sinned if God hadn’t put this trial in my life.

I would not sin with laziness if God would give me more responsibility.

I would not sin with anxiety if God would give me less responsibility.

We transform our churches, small groups, and accountability groups into circles of gossip that slander The Most High. This is the foundation from which James leaps into his more familiar condemnations of gossip, like: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue . . . this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26), and, “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness . . . With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:6–9).

The Opposite of Gossip

For the apostle Paul, gossip is a type of demonic imputation. In his stunning letter written to the church in Philippi, he encourages the church towards unity with this remarkable command for humility: “In humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

The word “count” in this text has a rich biblical history and an entire universe of meaning tightly-coiled within it: circle, highlight, and underline it. For instance, Paul uses the same root word when he says, “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

In other words, the imputation of Christ’s righteousness is a type of anti-gossip: it is the counting of righteousness to a person who is unrighteous. When God speaks behind our backs, God the Son talks to God the Father about us in such a way that he sees us as perfectly righteous, not less righteous. That Christ talks on our behalf, behind our backs, is actually the basis of the good news!

The Worst Accusations Against You

Gossip, then, is a sort of anti-imputation: it is the counting of unrighteousness against people who have been counted righteous in Christ. You might even say that gossip is a type of amputation: a hacking off not of limbs or body parts, but of esteem and honor. Gossip is the satanic tongue.

To the throne of God, Satan drags with him a cosmic bag brimming full of accusations about your sins, failures, and struggles. Worse yet, his bag is filled with true accusations about you packed with stories about your transgressions. If you are like me and your heart rate increases at the possibility of peer-gossip, how do you handle the thought of Satan — knowing far more than your peers do — gossiping behind your back?

If we want to end destructive gossip in our lives, we need to have our eyes opened to see the true work of grace at work in others, and then to count them more significant than ourselves.

Gossip Better

The satanic influence and eternal impact of gossip has become, in painful increments, more clear to me over the last year. Fifteen months ago, I planted a church in Iowa with a small team of people. When you minister in a small new church, unlike in a more established one, it can feel like the balance of your church’s future teeters on the things people say.

James asks the early churches, “Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” (James 3:13) — over and against the volatility of gossip. That’s our cry as a fragile young church. And by God’s mercy, our church is slowly growing, in part because we are learning to gossip about one another like Christ does.

This is not a passionate plea for Christians to “gossip” less, it’s a passionate plea for Christians to gossip better. If you’re going to gossip in your church, as Paul and James would agree, gossip like Jesus. When you talk about other members behind their backs, speak with a flavor that leaves the listener with a higher-view of that member. When you talk behind the backs of church members, talk about the fruit of their spiritual lives — the progress, the work of Christ, in their lives.

In other words: has Christ imputed righteousness to you? Now, impute esteem to others.

 is the lead planting pastor for Frontier Church. Frontier Church exists for the glory of Jesus and the joy of Des Moines, Iowa. Before his call to church planting, Cole was a high school English teacher and wrestling coach
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Confident Prayer / Live to the Lord

Sermon of the Day: 

Confident Prayer Builds Persistence – A 


Romans 14:7-9

For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Good Morning Men.

Romans 14 is a chapter about conviction and conscience. As we learned the other week, Pastor James talked about how not every single choice, decision or lifestyle is noted in the Bible. We have freedom in Christ which is great and awesome. Unfortunately we can also be led astray by poor choices.

So the facts of this verse are:

  • our life is connected to Christ
  • our death is connected to Christ
  • Christ not only died, rose and lived again for our sins but also that He would be Lord of all.

In the commentaries I read about this verse, it is speaking to the believer in Christ. Those who have chosen Christ as the Lord of their life, accepted Him by faith and placed the Word of God as their path and lamp for life.

The Christian life is all about a relationship with Christ. We could talk on this for hours on that so I will try to keep it simple.

In order to build the relationship I have with my wife I constantly think of ways in my day to make her my priority. I look for ways to spend time with her. I consciously make an effort to listen to her, in the good and the bad. These things build my relationship with her. It builds her affection for me, and mine for her.

The same is with Christ, how do we as believers make Him a priority each day. If someone looked from the outside into my life they would be able to identify that I love my wife and make her a priority. Would the same be said about my relationship with Christ?

As a professing believer in Jesus Christ our lives need to be connected to Christ in Word and in deed. All that we say and all that we do should be a reflection of Christ. We are now representatives of Him, so that wherever we go and whatever we do we can have a clear conscience as if Jesus were with us in that very room. That is how our lives are connected to Christ in life.

No surprise here, but someday we all are going to die. When we die what will we be remembered for? What did we do in our life that was connected to Christ, that reflected Christ? Did you leave a legacy of Christ in the hearts and minds of those around you? Or in those you came across throughout your days?

If you could answer yes, praise God lets keep growing and keep learning. If your answer is no, praise God you are reading this and hopefully you want to change that.

God’s Word has so many promises about what we need to do but if I could summarize it all just make Him a priority each day. Seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him. If you feel you are to busy and do not have time, then remove things that are not benefiting any relationship in your life and replace it with reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. Start small if this is new, if your already doing this fight to spend more time.

There is a simple formula to follow: Know Him, and make Him known.

Psalm 86:11

Teach me your way O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth, Unite my heart to fear Your name. 

Thankfulness Personified / Faith, Pleasing and Rewards

Sermon of the Day: 

Thankfulness Personified – A


Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Good Morning Men.

The book of Hebrews is argued to be one of the most important books in the New Testament by scholars. Today lets take a look at the above verse.

The focal point of this verse is faith. According to Hebrews 11:1 (NIV), the definition of faith is; confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Lets look at the obvious facts of this verse:

  1. Without faith there is no way to please God
  2. Whoever comes to God must believe He is who He says He is
  3. God is a rewarder for those who wholeheartedly seek Him

If you and I are real honest, we love to please others. Specifically we want to please those that are important to us. What I think is absolutely fascinating is the innate quality every one of us has to please our earthly fathers. Yet this is almost a precursor of the desire our heavenly father wants us to have for Him.

When we have faith in God, we have faith in His Word. We have faith in His Son. We have faith in the cross and what it represents for our soul. We also have faith in the promises God has left for us. This is where spending time in God’s Word builds our confidence and hope, and as we mature and grow as believers we become assured in this hope.

Here is another human quality divinely ingrained in all of us; we love rewards. From childhood rewards for good behavior, to a paycheck, bonuses, gifts and everything in between. We absolutely love rewards. So when God says that He is a rewarder I get excited, I have to assume you do as well.

There is a catch though! In order to receive God’s rewards we must seek Him diligently. We must overcome the mental and physical obstacles that stop, plague or stunt the belief and growth of a believer (that is why Romans 12:2 says we need renewed minds). In other words we have to work for our reward. We do not work for salvation. Salvation is a free gift, but we do have to work for our rewards. Our rewards start in this life (fruit of the spirit Galatians 5:22), yet get magnified and completed when we are with God in heaven.

Something I just recently heard is that we all want the convenience of transformation, but we want it without the inconvenience. Men if we are going to grow in our faith, if we are going to learn how to diligently and wholeheartedly seek the Lord God almighty. If we want to receive rewards in this life and the next from a God who is faithful and just. Then men we must learn to be inconvenienced. We must learn to build our faith, to have hope to be assured in the promises of God. We must learn to mediate day and night on the Word. We must die to self daily. Lastly, we must be holy because God is holy.

Is that a tall order? Absolutely.

Is it possible for you and I to do all of that? According to the Bible, it is impossible with man. But with God all things are possible.

Build your faith. Build your hope. Find assurance in Christ. Seek God with all your heart.

Have a great week.

What is the Bible Good For? – A / What (Not) to Stay Lukewarm

Sermon of the Day: 

What is the Bible Good For? – A 


How (Not) to Stay Lukewarm

Article by

Content strategist, desiringGod.org

I thought I was a Christian for years.

I swore I had a relationship with God.

I believed I could die at any moment and be welcomed into heaven.

I wasn’t. I didn’t. I wouldn’t.

I did not have a category for someone thinking they were a follower of Christ and not actually being one. I assumed that if I had any desire to be a Christian, God should welcome me with shouts of joy. I had never read that there would be people on judgment day who would emphatically greet Jesus, calling him “Lord, Lord,” and yet be rejected by him (Matthew 7:21–23). No one ever told me that people could do a lot of mighty works for God and yet still be lost.

I convinced myself that I was safe from the wrath of God. No one told me that the lukewarm “Christian” gets spit out of God’s mouth (Revelation 3:16). No one informed me that if God was not first in my heart, I was either in urgent need of repentance, or I was lost. In the words of Francis Chan, I was lukewarm and lovin’ it.

Lukewarm and Lovin’ It

“I did not have a category for someone thinking they were a follower of Christ and not actually being one.”

I didn’t cuss much. I wasn’t sleeping around. I went to church most Sundays. I must be a Christian.

I said that Jesus died for my sins. I sang the lyrics on the screen. I prayed before meals. I gave God props for my athletic achievements. I must be a Christian.

Sure, God wasn’t my all in all. Sure, I never read his word. Sure, I didn’t pray very much. Sure, I secretly loved sin. Sure, holiness seemed dreadfully boring. Sure, I rarely owned him in public or spent time with him in private. But he understood. I was only human after all. No one is perfect.

If God had not intervened, I would have awoken from my delusion to a lake of fire. I imagined I feasted at the table of grace, drank from the chalice of eternal life, but I was eating garbage and drinking sewer water. I was dreaming, like those described in Isaiah,

As when a hungry man dreams, and behold, he is eating, and awakes with his hunger not satisfied, or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he is drinking, and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched. (Isaiah 29:8)

I would have been the most miserable creature in all of perdition.

And I kept myself in my delusion, muting my conscience and convincing myself that I was right with God by this simple strategy: I refused to read God’s book and measured myself by the people around me.

How to Stay Lukewarm

Comparing my faith with others around me (including non-Christians) was the easiest way, as C.S. Lewis says, to travel down the gentle slope into hell.

THE DOWNWARD GLANCE

I looked down on those who were “lesser” Christians to confirm my complacency. My assurance of salvation largely came from the fact that I was outwardly better than many of the other goats who claimed to be sheep.

I prayed like the Pharisee: God, I thank you that I am not like other men, fornicators, liars, adulterers — I wouldn’t know I was a Christian without them.

When a duck compares himself with other ducks, he crowns himself a swan.

THE UPWARD GLANCE

When I would come across real believers, I would feel moments of deep conviction. But to stay lukewarm, I concluded that these were simply Christian all-stars.

Instead of having them in the “living” category while I was in the “dead” category, I reasoned that they were the Avengers. They were A+ Christians, I was the C/C- Christian — but both were passing. Just because I wasn’t on the Christian all-conference team didn’t mean I wasn’t on the team. Right?

And once I established the superhero Christian category, I would search for reasons to put believers who made me uncomfortable into it. Oh, he wants to be a pastor! Oh, they were missionaries for several years. Oh, they grew up in a Christian home all their lives. Oh, they just have a personality that gets excited about everything. That explains it.

I gladly resigned myself to being a spiritual hobbit — they too were included in the Fellowship afterall.

Where I Didn’t Glance: the Bible

“My lukewarm churchianity was consumed by living faith in the consuming God of the Bible.”

When I was lukewarm, God’s book was collecting dust in my room, unopened.

Then God led me to his word and saved me. God met a miserable, 6’5” hobbit in his cold, dank, dorm room, making him alive through his Spirit and his word. The lukewarm churchianity was consumed by living faith in the consuming God of the Bible.

There I read that you must be born again to enter the kingdom (John 3:3). There I read that loving Jesus above all others — father, mother, son, daughter, spouse — wasn’t just for super Christians but for all who would follow Jesus (Matthew 10:37–39). There I read that God was disgusted with me for drawing near with my mouth before meals and on Sunday morning, while my heart remained far from him (Isaiah 29:13–14).There I read that I could search the Scriptures in a thousand Bible studies and yet refuse to truly go to Jesus and have life (John 5:39–40).

There I read that I couldn’t be good enough to put God in my debt (Luke 17:10). That in no way could I please him while I lived in the flesh (Romans 8:8). There I read that I was rightfully cursed for not loving Jesus (1 Corinthians 16:22) and that the punishment would be everlasting torment (Revelation 14:11).

There I read that God wasn’t a socially awkward kid in the lunchroom desperate for anyone to sit with him. There I read that his very name is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16) to whom every single knee in creation will bow (Philippians 2:10). There I read that he did not need me (Acts 17:25); that if I refused to worship him, rocks would (Luke 19:40). There I read that I was created for his glory, not he for mine (Isaiah 43:7).

There I read that if I was lackadaisical about treasuring Christ, about repenting of sin, and refused to surrender in joyful submission, he would spit me out of his mouth (Revelation 3:15–16).

Great News for the Lukewarm

But there I also read that while we were worse than lukewarm, the King of kings died for us (Romans 5:8). That although my sin and apathy had earned me death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ (Romans 6:23). There I also read that Jesus didn’t come for those who are well, but his compassion and grace are for those who are sick in their sin (Luke 5:31).

There I also read that if I was thirsty, if I had no money, God invited me to come and be satisfied in him (Isaiah 55:1). There I also read that if I was tired of laboring for that which left me empty and turned to him, he would feed me with rich food, give me life, and make an everlasting covenant with me through his Son (Isaiah 55:2–3).

There I also read that the Lord is near to anyone who would return to him for pardon. That he offers to the most vile — and lukewarm — sinner absolute pardon and pleasure beyond what he could dare to hope (Isaiah 55:6–9). There I read that this invitation was purchased at the cost of the Son of God (Isaiah 53:1–12).

If you are lukewarm and reading this, there is great news for you: There is still time. Repent. Believe. Rejoice. Live.

Decision Time / Crucified with Christ

Sermon of the Day:

Decision Time: 9 Considerations for Wise Decision-Making-A


Bonus Song:

To Live Is Christ


Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Good Morning Men.

Lets get a little context on this verse, the Author is Paul the Apostle. Paul is writing this letter to the churches of Galatia which is modern day Turkey. Word had gotten to Paul that these churches were getting the Gospel of Jesus Christ twisted between the gospel of faith and the gospel of works. Paul is is making a clear distinction between the law of God and the grace of God.

Lets pull out the facts of this verse:

  1. A Christian is Crucified with Christ.
  2. Christ lives in the Christian.
  3. Our life here on earth is lived by having faith in Jesus.
  4. Jesus loves us and gave Himself, He died for us.

These facts are being addressed to people that are supposed to be born again believers in Jesus Christ. What does it mean to be crucified in Christ?

The first thing is that it is a daily choice. Jesus chose by His great love for us to lay down his heavenly robe so that we may find eternal life and forgiveness in Him. We now have a life we can choose to live for the world and the things of this world. Or we can choose to lay down this false entitlement and live for Christ. Paul the Apostle, arguably the greatest man of God called himself a slave of the gospel. What do we call ourselves when things don’t go our way?

When we make this choice to live for Christ. We now have the Holy Spirit that lives in us. He becomes our counselor and comforter to lead us and guide us in all truth.

This happens through faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in who He is, what He did on the cross and what that represents. The love He has for us is so great and radical that He died for us. Think about that for a minute, Jesus chose to die for you and me.

So what does this mean for the Christian?

Men, we have to die daily. We have to live a life that first of all models the Word of God. The only way to know how to model something is you have to study it then apply it. As we study God’s Word it is supposed to change our lives. It will change how we think, how we act, and how we live. If it has not, then according to the Bible we are fools (Matthew 7:24-27).

Do we always have to be right? Do we always have to make every wrong right? Do we have to prove to everyone that we are right in a certain area? No, no, and no.

We do have to forgive. We do have to love. We do have to be transformed towards holiness. We do have to be renewed in our thinking. We do have to live a life that serves others.

Not sure where you are in your journey and in your walk with Christ. Just know that this life is short and when it ends you and I will have to give an account of what we did with our life. What we did for the name of Christ. Remember that the only thing we can take to heaven is other people!

So my closing question for you is: By the way you live, talk and act; who is following your example to heaven?

 

 

 

When It’s Too Much to Carry / God’s Time Frame

Sermon of the Day:

When It’s Too Much to Carry


Psalm 27:14

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

“God’s not concerned with timelines.”

Although this was not the primary message yesterday in church, it was a great reminder when I heard this. In fact the above verse and a few men popped into my mind.

The above verse is a great anchor in seasons of impatience because we have to remember to trust in the Lord’s time frame. God is omniscient, He is time, He lives outside of time. For God everything is now. This is hard for us to see most of the time, we want now and expect now. If it doesn’t happen now in our finite minds then we lose hope or we can become discouraged. We must remember to be strong and take heart and keep waiting on the Lord.

In Genesis we read about the story of Joseph. Joseph had a difficult season in his life, you can read about his life from Genesis 37-50. One chapter in this difficult season was when Joseph was wrongly accused of something, and placed in prison. Joseph later helped a man to become free and told the man to please remember him and make mention of him to Pharaoh. This man forgot all about Joseph for two years.

Two more years in prison as an innocent, Godly man. Did God forget about Joseph? Absolutely not.

What about David?

David was anointed as King of Israel 7 years before he actually became King. Did God forget about David as well? Absolutely not. Most of 1st and 2nd Samuel is about David if you want to read up on him.

Have you ever been promised something that didn’t happen right away? Have you ever received a word from God and you start to question it because it didn’t come to pass in your time frame?

Why God allowed David and Joseph to wait, all the answers only God knows. What we do know through the Bible is that God was preparing them. These men needed to be trained and refined through the trials they faced.

My brothers the same goes for us. When we do not get what we want when we want God is preparing us. The preparation may be physical, mental, spiritual or emotional. I know in my seasons of waiting it is all of the above.

God’s timing is perfect and the best thing we can do is learn to trust in His timing. We have promises all throughout the Bible that we can cling to. Promises that can be your anchor through the storms of fear, doubt and everything in between.

Let me close with what Joseph said after all of his ups and downs to his brothers that betrayed him and left him for dead when he was young:

Genesis 50:20

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

My Cup Overflows / Face Your Failures

Sermon of the Day:

My Cup Overflows A – Walk in the Word


John 21:15-18

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

The other day I was asked a question about this passage of scripture and I did not know the answer. So I looked up a commentary from David Guzik on this passage and the answer blew both of us away.

The context of this passage has The Resurrected Jesus rebuilding the faith of His disciples. The disciples have been on a roller coaster of emotions and at this point were very confused. They have been looking through the eyes of man rather than through God’s eyes.

Peter especially had a very big event happen that Jesus prophesied before it even happened.  Jesus told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed (John 18:15-18,25-27). This event really shook Peter and rocked him to his core. Jesus had already told Peter when he returns from falling away to strengthen his brothers (Luke 22:32). This was no surprise to Jesus, but it sure was for Peter.

After Jesus was resurrected from the dead He showed Himself to His disciples (John 21:1-14). The disciples had gone back to what they know best, fishing.

Kind of like us when things get  tough, we turn to what is easy. We must learn to build grit and character.

Jesus arrives on scene and when He gets them all together He has one question for Peter, but He asks it three times. Why?

Several very powerful things were revealed through the commentary by David Guzik. However I want to expand on one of those shortly.

The first is that because Peter failed, everyone knew about it and God had massive plans for Peter. Peter needed to be publicly restored by Jesus. Through this three part confession Jesus restores Peter publicly back into the ministry. This is grace beyond any measure friends. Absolutely beyond measure!

Secondly Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Here Jesus gives a three fold reminder of his denial. This had to hurt really bad. Facing failure is never easy, imagine facing Jesus face to face with your failure.

Jesus restores us by causing us to face squarely our point of failure, then challenging us to set our eyes on the work ahead.” Guzik

Jesus wants our heart men. Not works, not deeds, not superior holiness or knowledge of the Bible. God wants our heart because then and only then will the rest follow in the right way.

This is such an encouragement men. We all fail. Daily. Yet if we are willing to get real, to get transparent to face our failures head on. Turning to Jesus knowing that it is only by Him and through Him that we can be restored, confirmed, strengthened and established.

Now we can move forward to the life and purpose God has called us to live!

Be encouraged. Be Blessed. May God’s face shine upon each of you.

 

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