I’m changing things up!
I’ve been attempting to study and offer sermon ideas from each and every reading assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary each week and to send them out to anyone who wants them at least a week and a half before the Sunday on which they are to be read.
Starting this week, I’m changing the format. Going forward, I’m going to focus on one of the lectionary readings most likely to be studied and read by congregations. It will probably be the gospel reading most of the time, but not always. This week, I’ve drilled into the passage from 2 Timothy 1:1-14. It’s timeless and familiar and is packed with meaning for believers trying to figure out how to follow Jesus in our present cultural surroundings.
Christianity, as an organized religion at least, is losing ground in many places. As an American, I’ve been heartbroken over the last few years to see the church struggle and to know that much of our struggle is self-inflicted.
But I don’t give up hope. I still believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news the world has ever heard and is the good news so desperately needed in a world saturated with bad news today.
Paul admonished Timothy to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands,” based on the reality that, “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” That’s both timeless and glorious! And it leads right into Paul’s other big challenge, which is what we desperately need to hear today:
Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
It isn’t that our message is under attack as much as it is that the forces of life in a broken world constantly assault our faith, but holding onto the hope we have in Christ is everything!
So remember, when you’re afraid, that fear isn’t from God. We have no reason to be spiritually timid. We have every reason to believe that God is going about the work of redeeming, restoring, and renewing all that is broken through the work of Christ and that he has saved us and called us into a holy partnership with him in accomplishing this eternal goal.
I wrote a reflective blog post on how Paul might have defined real spiritual maturity called What Does It Mean to Be Fully Committed to God?
Keep on believing!
This Week’s Big Sermon Idea
The God Who Has Proven Worthy of Full, Total, All-In Commitment
Based on 2 Timothy 1:1-14
In light of what God has done – he has given us a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline and has saved us and called us with a holy calling, having revealed all of this through Christ Jesus – let us then fully and totally commit ourselves and all that we are and have to him. In light of his saving and empowering work in your life, determine to commit every last part of who you are and what you have to him!
A Few Other Sermon Ideas
- Weeping Over What Once Was (Based on Lamentations 1:1-6)
- The Ultimate Cure for Our Most Negative Thoughts (Based on Lamentations 3:19-26)
- Weeping in Babylon and Remembering Zion (Based on Psalm 137)
Creative Sermon Series Ideas from MinistryPass
My favorite resource for sermon series and message ideas, complete series graphics, and video bumpers (but NOT full notes) to get you started is MinistryPass! Each week, I’ll feature a series I would recommend checking out for the upcoming season of the church year. This week:
From the Description:
As Christians, we’re supposed to love everyone. But what do we do about the people who are hard to love? This three-week adult series is about loving people we find it difficult to love (family, enemies, people different from us). By looking at how Jesus dealt with difficult people, different people, and downright unloving people, we see how he gives us an example to follow, and how his Spirit gives us strength to walk the “the Jesus Way” toward those who are hard to love.
African-American Preaching Conference
September 27-29, 2022 (Waco, Texas)
The purpose of the African American Preaching Conference is defined in its permanent title with an emphasis on “Where the Pulpit Meets the Academy.” The preachers and plenary speakers are selected for their widely known expertise as both students and preachers. The program always focuses on the rich legacy of African American preaching in relationship to today’s culture, church, and the academy.
The Church Mental Health Summit
October 10, 2022 (Online)
This one-day virtual event equipping the church to support mental health in their communities has perhaps never been more relevant than now. The church is, too often, ill-equipped to handle the concerns people share about their own struggles with mental health issues. We need to remove the stigma and invite people to bring their hardest struggles to Christ and his body for help.
A Conference for Church Communications Leaders
October 18-19, 2022 (Charlotte, NC)
The Church Communicator Conference is specially designed for the accidental church communicator, the one that wears many hats and may have stumbled upon this role without a plan. Lead pastors and executive pastors will also benefit from this conference as it will introduce principles and concepts that will assist with creating a unified communication strategy that aligns with the vision and mission of the church.
Exiles in Babylon: Theology in the Raw Conference
March 23-25, 2022 (Boise, ID)
To be a Christian is to be an exile. The Bible has a name for the country we’ve been exiled to: Babylon. As exiles living in Babylon, we need to think biblically, Christianly, indeed exilically—not partisanly—through cultural and political issues. This year, our topics include: The Future of the Church, Disability and the Church, Multiethnic Perspectives of American Christianity, a conversational debate on the Problem of Evil, and a pre-conference symposium on Women in Leadership!
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
Books, articles, and blog posts I’ve been reading and other helpful resources along the way…
- A stirring and encouraging reminder from Pastor Rick Warren about 7 Ways to Persist in Ministry.
- Super practical advice from Ron Edmondson about 7 Suggested Reactions to Difficult People In the Church.
- Pastor Brian Moss offers some leadership wisdom with 4 Secrets of a Powerful Ministry Team.
- Hard to read… but necessary research from Pew: Modeling the Future of Religion in America.
- And in answer to Pew, 7 leaders respond in a piece from Sojourners, 7 Reasons Not to Freak Out About the Decline of U. S. Christianity.
- A practical post for pastors from Brandon Kelley on 7 Ways to Design Your Sermon For Life-Changing Impact.
- A book I just read for the second time is Richar Rohr’s The Naked Now: Seeing as the Mystics See.
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About the Cover Art: Photo by Muzammil Soorma on Unsplash.