You Were Made for This: An Introduction to the Priesthood (and Yourself)

priestcolor“You were made for this!”

This phrase seems to be thrown around quite a bit these days: Sports commentators talk this way about athletes; teachers about pupils; mentors about those they coach. In short, it is a way of speaking that comes from a recognized “authority” on someone who is ascending in their field. It is language meant to boost esteem and put everyone on alert, that the next star is rising.

In our celebrity-crazed culture, everyone wants to be special. Indeed “special” is the carrot that has motivated so many to aspire to greatness. I’ve felt this pull and have thanked God that my dreams of athletic glory were mercifully cut short. Still, the hunger for this kind of glory remains.

And it remains with such a strong pull because we were made for glory! Not just some of us, but all of us were made to enjoy and exhibit the glory of God. And thus, until we discover the true source of glory, we will chase glory in vain. Therefore, we must see what Scripture says about the glory of God.   Continue reading

From Covenant-Breakers to Covenant-Keepers: How Christ Redeems Marriage and Divorce (Matthew 5:31–32)

sermon05

From Covenant-Breakers to Covenant-Keepers: How Christ Redeems Marriage and Divorce (Sermon Audio)

What does the Bible say about divorce?

Unfortunately, it says quite a bit. As a book that gives us everything we need for life and godliness, the Bible gives instructions about marriage and warnings about divorce. But that is not all that it says.

If our minds jump too quickly, we may only remember the words of Malachi 2: God hates divorce. But we can’t read that prophetic utterance without reading Jeremiah 3, a passage that tells how God issued a certificate of divorce to his covenant people Israel, when their sin destroyed their covenant with God. Moreover, we cannot forget the grace God gives to heal past sins, even as we read and repeat his instructions about covenant marriage and the sinfulness of divorce.

Accordingly, we must understand divorce according to the full gospel story of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. In this context, we begin to see how the whole Bible gives comfort and conviction about this and every subject.

But why are we taking about divorce?

Well, to our series on the Sermon on the Mount, we had to return to one section of the Sermon our schedule forced us to postpone—namely, Jesus’s teaching on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5:31–32. With help from Jeremiah 3, I preached a message on the root problem of divorce (a hard-heart) and how Christ enables covenant-breakers to be covenant-keepers.

You can listen to the sermon online. Response questions are below, as are additional resources—both ethical and practical—regarding marriage and divorce.   Continue reading

Cornerstone: Finding Life in the House of the Lord (Matthew 7:24–8:1)

sermon05

Cornerstone: Finding Life in the House of the Lord (Matthew 7:24–8:1)

Hurricanes. Tornados. Floods. Fires. Earthquakes.

In our world, not a week goes by that we are not confronted with extreme and life-threatening weather. Yet, there is a storm coming that exceeds anything that we have ever known. It is the storm of the Lord that will purify everything on the earth, on the way to making all things new.

On Sunday, our last sermon from Matthew 7 considered this storm and the shelter which is found in the words of Jesus Christ. Indeed, considering the way Christ finished his Sermon on the Mount, we hear again his clarion call to prepare for the last day.

You can find this sermon and the whole sermon series online. There are also response questions below. Continue reading

Are You Going To(o) Fast? (Matthew 6:16–18)

sermon05

Are You Going To(o) Fast? (Matthew 6:16–18)

Fasting.

If you have read the Bible, you’ve probably come across it. It’s mentioned about 75 times. Maybe you’ve even tried to it. But what is it?

Some testify to the miraculous results of this ancient practice. Others just skip over it, an impossible practice that is for “major league” Christians. And still others may be confused by the whole thing, or practice it for the wrong reason(s).

In Matthew 6:16–18, fasting for the wrong reason is what Jesus is targeting. Still, his words are not just relevant for his first century context; they also teach us important truths about denying ourselves and seeking God’s reward.

The truth is, everyone fasts every week, but I suspect most of us don’t think of it as fasting. Yet, how we deny ourselves and indulge ourselves is one of the most important things about who we are and who we are becoming.

Therefore in this week’s sermon I sought to answer a number of questions related to fasting and how Jesus’s words instruct all of us how to tune our fasting to seek the reward of knowing God. You can listen to this sermon online. Further resources about fasting can be found below, along with a few discussion questions. Continue reading

Like Father, Like Sons: A Father-Oriented Approach to Christian Maturity (Matthew 5:43–48)

sermon05

Like Father, Like Sons: A Father-Oriented Approach to Christian Maturity (Matthew 5:43–48)

“Be mature as your Heavenly Father is perfectly mature.” It doesn’t have the same ring as “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” but it may be closer to the reality of what Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:48.

On Sunday we finished the last of six expositions of the law that Jesus gives in Matthew 5:43–48. And as Jesus addresses the topic of love and hate, we learn how to grow up in Christ and to become more like our Heavenly Father.

You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and further resources are listed below.  Continue reading

Blessed are the Pure in Heart, For They Will See God (Matthew 5:27–30)

sermon05

Blessed are the Pure in Heart, For They Will See God (Matthew 5:27–30)

Sexual sin. It is a destructive issue we face more often than we like to admit.

Whether it is lust, pornography, adultery, same-sex attraction, or any number of other desires that deviate from God’s good design, we are inclined to bury these parts of our lives in the dark. Yet, in Sermon on the Mount, Jesus wisely and lovingly shines a light on our hearts. Getting to the heart of sexual sin, he explains what lust is, where it comes from, and how, by God’s new covenant grace, it be put to death.

This Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:27–30 to learn from Jesus what lust is and how to combat it. And the answer, which may or may not come as a surprise, is to look more at the beauty and goodness of God than to merely turn away from the flesh. While external barriers and accountability are helpful, it is a heart full of Christ that empowers us to flee from sexual lust.

You can listen to this sermon online, and you can find discussion questions and related resources below. In particular, there are notes below that deal directly with the subject of pornography. Continue reading

Razing Cain: How Christ Crucifies a Heart of Anger (Matthew 5:21–26)

sermon05Razing Cain: How Christ Crucifies a Heart of Anger

This Sunday we looked at Matthew 5:21–26, where we saw the first of six lessons Jesus gives us about the law of Moses applied to his new covenant disciples.

Interpreting the sixth commandment, “Do not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17), Jesus stressed the importance of making peace with those whom we have sinned against. In Sunday’s sermon we looked briefly at how Jesus applied Moses Words, but more importantly we considered a multitude of applications found in Jesus Words.

You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources are listed below. Continue reading

The Good News of the Law: “Getting” the Law, So That the Law Gets Into You (Matthew 5:17–20)

sermon05

The Good News of the Law: “Getting” the Law, So That the Law Gets Into You

What is the purpose of the Law? How are we supposed to apply Moses’ commands to our lives? How does Jesus read the Old Testament? Is there any good news for Christians in Law of Moses?

These questions and more have been raised by Christians for centuries. And one of the most challenging passages on the relationship of the Old Testament to the New is Matthew 5:17–20. This Sunday we considered these words of Jesus and how he helps us to read the Bible and apply the Law to our lives.

You can find the sermon audio online. Discussion questions and additional resources are also available below. Continue reading

Salt and Light: What Y’All Are, When You Are in Christ (Matthew 5:13–16)

sermon05Salt and Light: What Y’All Are, When You Are in Christ (Matthew 5:13–16)

This little light of mine, I’m goin’ let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

If you have been around church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard this children’s song. It takes it wording from this week’s passage, Matthew 5:13–16, where Jesus tells his disciples that they are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

In truth, this is an important passage for understanding who we are. But if we take our cues from this children’s song alone, we might think that Jesus calls us as individuals to be salt packets or lone candlesticks. Yet, the language is clearly addressed to the community of disciples who are following Christ together. And therefore the application is not for individuals, but for the whole community of Christ.

In this week’s sermon I looked at what it means for the church to be Salt and Light. And what we discovered is how Jesus intends his community of faith to be permanent citizens of his kingdom who display covenant faithfulness to his Father in heaven. Such an identity stands in continuity with the Old Testament and against the world around us.

You can listen to the sermon online, Discussion questions are below, as are a list of additional resources. Continue reading

Getting Into the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1–12)

sermon05

Getting Into the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1–12)

This Sunday we started walking through the Sermon on the Mount. Considering the question of true happiness, we first looked at how we should read Jesus’ words. And then we looked at the nine statements of blessing/happiness known as the Beatitudes.

After stating that the Beatitudes are not entrance requirements for the kingdom, but words of wisdom given to Christ’s disciples who are in the kingdom, we looked at each of the beatitudes. These words of Christ are meant to comfort us and challenge us and help us walk with our Lord, for the glory of our Father in heaven.

You can listen to the sermon online. Discussion questions and additional resources, including a sermon series on the Beatitudes, can be found below. Continue reading