A busy summer that included teaching biblical Greek at Tyndale Theological Seminary in the Netherlands meant no time for blog posting. Since some of my most visited posts are sermon outlines, I have posted an outline and audio links of my current sermon series on Acts below (chapters 1-5). In an exegetical sermon series, it is important to determine the proper “scope” of each passage. As described in the “10 Steps to Interpretation,” the interpreter tries to interpret and communicate the text in units that follow the author’s presentation. Using structural and contextual clues, one attempts to divide larger sections into manageable units to preach—but a unit that follows the author’s presentation as closely as possible.
We naturally follow this practice in other disciplines. Teachers usually assign and teach according to the chapters/sections/paragraphs of a textbook’s author. Following the author’s intentioned breaks and transitions makes it easier to teach and understand the content. The biblical writers did not use modern conventions like chapter divisions (the chapter and verse numbering of modern Bibles are a later addition—yet they can help discern sections as long as the interpreter realizes their later origin), but there are clues to where the author intends a shift or new unit. Through a shift in scene, the introduction of a new argument, a change in genre, a keyword, or other technique, the author signals a change. These signals help mark out the smaller units that can be reasonably treated without doing violence to the author’s intention.
*Note – I would normally treat Acts 1:1-11 as a unit, but I wanted to give some background information to Acts and relate it to the Gospel of Luke, while keeping the sermon to 30 minutes. Likewise, Pentecost was meant to be a unified passage, but the theological and literary implications are too great to be covered in one sermon. The exegetical preacher must balance the scope of a passage with laying bare the meaning of the text in a way that the congregation can process (i.e. taking into account cultural attention spans).
|Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3.
||Main point: The Gospel of Christ is based in history and transforms our history. Audio: Transforming History.
||Main point: Jesus gives his followers a clear mission and the resources to accomplish that mission. Audio: A Clear Mission.
||Main point: Times of transition/waiting are times for prayer in which God can direct us how to take the next step. Audio: Praying Through the Transition Process.
||Main point: As promised, Jesus sends the Spirit to empower his people to do supernatural things. Audio: The Promised Spirit.
||Main point: Jesus fulfills scripture, rose from the dead, and gives the Spirit so repent and be baptized in His name. Audio: Jesus-Lord and Christ.
||Main point: We must devote ourselves to Bible, worship, fellowship, prayer, and evangelism. Audio: 5 Essentials to Building a Healthy Church.
||Main point: Give Jesus – exalt Jesus. Audio: What I have I Give to You.
||Main point: Dealing with opposition? You are only responsible for you. Obey God, He will empower you. Audio: Dealing with Opposition and Conflict.
||Main point: The presence of the Lord, and internal opposition to His way, should not be taken lightly. Audio: Are You Serious?
||Main point: If we are in God’s will, nothing can stop us. Audio: Stopping a Freight Train.
Today’s post includes the second installment of a recent sermon series on the book of Haggai. If you are looking for a short, expositional series, then Haggai can be covered in only two weeks. In the actual preaching, I added different illustrations and/or went deeper into certain areas based on the congregation. You can listen to the sermon series at: http://gracefortheway.org/sermons/series/the-book-of-haggai. If you listen and compare the written version below, you will see that any sermon notes or manuscripts are tools to organize a sermon. Just as the Spirit guides in the sermon preparation, the Spirit should guide the proclamation.
Life has so many twists and turns. We really should admit that for the most part we have no idea how things will turn out. Sometimes we are happy-surprised, sometimes we are disappointed-surprised. For instance, when the Star wars prequels came out, everyone was excited to get the back story of Darth Vader. Then right away we were hit with the disappointment that is Jar Jar Binks. Of course there are many more important things in life, which lead to even more profound disappointments: career plans that fall apart, a child who has walked away from the faith, a difficult marriage. There are many things in life that take an unexpected and discouraging turn – that is the human condition, and the people of God are not immune.
The people of God in Haggai’s day had to deal with discouragement. As discussed last time, God told the Israelites to rebuild the temple, and they actually started to do it! In Haggai 2 discouragement sets in. Before diving into Haggai 2, let’s quickly review the historical context. Continue reading
Today’s post includes the basic sermon manuscript from my recent sermon series on the book of Haggai. If you are looking for a short, expositional series, then Haggai can be covered in only two weeks. In the actual preaching, I added different illustrations and/or went deeper into certain areas based on the congregation. You can listen to the sermon series at: http://gracefortheway.org/sermons/series/the-book-of-haggai. If you listen and compare the written version below, you will see that any sermon notes or manuscripts are tools to organize a sermon. Just as the Spirit guides in the sermon preparation, the Spirit should guide the proclamation.
Intro: Valentine’s day was a couple weeks ago. After 21 years of marriage I still haven’t discovered the secret to making one’s spouse feel special and extra-loved on Valentine’s day. But I have discovered several things NOT to do. When your spouse says, “Today is a Valentine’s day, let’s go out tonight and have a nice dinner.” Do not reply, “I already went out for lunch with the guys, but I’ll bring you home leftovers; they’re really good.” It has only taken me 21 years to come to the amazing realization that my wife does not feel valued when I treat her like an afterthought. If you love and value someone, they are a priority.
That concept of love affecting priorities makes sense to most of us. However, we who say we love and value God very often give God what we have left over in time and resources. Sure, we will worship God—as long as nothing else is going on. Sure we will give our time and money to God—if we happen to have any leftover from spending it on other things. God’s children need a constant reminder to prioritize God and His plan; don’t give Him leftovers. This is the message that the prophet Haggai delivered to the Jewish people of his day. Because Haggai is unfamiliar to many, let me give you some historical context. Continue reading
Black is beautiful. Fellow Christian, it is important to say that – unreservedly and without qualification. Fellow pastors and church leaders, has you church ever explicitly declared this truth?
Father’s Day always falls on a Sunday, and over the years I have discovered that in any given church Father’s Day brings mixed emotions. On the one hand, there is gratefulness and a desire to give thanks and honor dads because fathers have a tremendous impact on their children, on families, and on the nation. Not to mention “Honor your father and mother” made Moses’ top ten list of commandments. On the other hand, observing Father’s Day can be very difficult for those who are mourning a father’s death or for those who are dealing with an abusive or absent father. The pain of those experiences highlights the significance of fathers. For me, being a father has been one of the most difficult and spiritually enlightening tasks I have ever been given. Integrating my faith with fatherhood has been both rewarding and heart wrenching. Whether as a father or relating to our fathers, fatherhood affects our faith journeys. Fatherhood can lead us into a better understanding of faith, of God, and ourselves.
To see how fatherhood can lead us into a deeper understanding of faith, we will examine one father’s journey described in Mark 9:17-27. This unnamed father was struggling. He was dealing with a son who was very troubled and no one had been able to help him. This situation, of course, also raised many faith questions for the father. With raw emotion and real faith struggles, this father sought out someone who made bold claims and performed miraculous deeds. This father sought out Jesus. Continue reading
Below is a link to an article I wrote for a local newspaper. The article (titled “Our Faith Inspires us to Attempt Great Things”) is more devotional and for a wider, general audience. Nevertheless, I post it here for anyone interested.
A Journey of Faith Begins and Ends at God’s House in Bethel.
Study Series Note: This study is one in a series of studies on the Bible’s sacred places (tabernacle, temple, etc.). The last study (posted in September under Study 4) focused on the Creation and the Garden of Eden as a Temple.
All sacred places of the Bible are made sacred by God’s presence. God walked in the Garden of Eden and was close to the people he created, which was why the Garden was closely associated with the later temple. Visiting the houses of God, therefore, doesn’t always entail entering a structure. In today’s study, we jump forward several chapters in Genesis and many thousands of years.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent; the season leading up to Christmas. During Advent, the Church remembers the anxious waiting that preceded the coming of the Christ. Although I posted the following sermon text last year, I am re-posting it (with modifications) as a reminder of the hope and expectation that the first Sunday of Advent usually focuses upon.
Simeon and Anna: An Expectant Faith.
In the last couple years, consumers have started to voice their displeasure with stores advertising for Christmas earlier and earlier. Stores couldn’t wait till Thanksgiving day – the decorating, the sales, and the preparations began shortly after Halloween. The situation seems to have improved, but stores still send out flyers throughout November to entice us to spend as much money as possible on black Friday. Have you received any flyers? Over the last month many Christmas sale flyers have made their way into both my postal and electronic mail boxes. These flyers tell us to be expectant and prepared because our shopping hopes will soon be fulfilled. While many are looking forward to saving 25% on electronics, just as many people wish that stores would at least wait until Thanksgiving before bombarding us with Christmas advertising. Before we become too upset with all this pre-thanksgiving Christmas advertising, we should realize that the first Christmas was actually advertised, and prepared for, centuries before the actual day. Continue reading
Below is the text of the sermon I gave at the “Night in the Light” on October 21, 2016.
In the fourth chapter of the book of James we come to a section that addresses two questions that have always plagued the church: 1) Why do Christians, who should be known for their love, often fall prey to infighting? 2) Why do our prayers often go answered, even though Jesus said, “Ask anything in my name and I will give it to you?” These two questions eventually present themselves to every Christian and to every church context. James not only addresses these questions, he gives a prescription to remedy the underlying ailment. Continue reading
Below is a copy of one of the sermons I preached in Ukraine. This sermon is also available as a PDF on the page devoted to John’s Gospel. (Вы можете скачать эту проповедь в файл PDF на странице «ЕВАНГЕЛИЕ ОТ ИОАННА»)
Сие же написано, дабы вы уверовали, что Иисус есть Христос, Сын Божий, и, веруя, имели жизнь во имя Его.
Введение: я преподaвал курс по Евангелию от Иоанна в Запороской Семинарии. Мы обсуждали многие вопросы, связанные с Евангелием от Иоанна: автор, структура, цитаты из Ветхого Завета, и многие другие вопросы, которые теперь у нас нет времени обговоривать. Поэтому я хочу поделиться с вами только одиним вопросом, который мы обсуждали в курсе – цель написания Евангелия от Иоанна. В отличии от некоторых других библейских авторов, Иоанн ясно сказал почему он написал своё Евангелие. Нам важно понимать эту цель, потому что Иоанн не просто собрал кучу случайных историй и учений об Иисусе, у каждого из которых была своя собственная цель. Но Иоанн имел общую цель. Все написано чтобы способствовать этой цели. Нам важно и необходимо понимать не только значение каждого отдельного стиха, но и общее значение и цель книги, потому что они оба содержат истины, они оба вдохновленны Духом Святым. Continue reading