Why is the world such a hard place right now? Or at anytime in history, for that matter?
We know that chaos is the result of a world out of alignment and unwilling to exist under God’s Kingdom rule.
And we, who have entered the Kingdom, have more reasons than anyone else to be hopeful about the world. We know that it’s possible for a generation of people to hear and respond to the good news and to experience, not only the forgiveness of sin, but the resulting peace as well.
The gospel reading for the fourth Sunday after Pentecost is the sending of the seventy to tell as many of Jerusalem’s neighboring cities as possible. Some believed. Some rejected. But Jesus wanted everyone invited!
Now here we are, a couple thousand years later, continuing to carry out the commission Jesus gave his people so long ago. We’re doing it imperfectly, of course, and we have a lot to fix and correct. But hope remains, not because of the greatness of any church but because of the goodness of God and the grace of Christ.
So… keep going. As the passage from Galatians says,
Galatians 6:9 NRSV
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.
Hear those last few words… Do. Not. Give. Up!
I know it’s hard, and it’s hard because ministry is just so messy! So I wanted to pass along a post I wrote for anyone even thinking about giving up on the mission…
And if you need encouragement or help in your journey, don’t hesitate to connect with me!
Lectionary Sermon Starters
For July 3, 2022
Year C – Fourth Sunday After Pentecost
First Reading and Psalm
2 Kings 5:1-14
Every leader has points of brokenness and pain that end up becoming our greatest points of weakness and failure as long as we’re not willing to humble ourselves to deal with them.
So for Naaman, the commander of one of the most successful armies in the world, confession and humility preceded his ability to move forward in life.
And isn’t it that way for all of us? If we could just do what is necessary to deal with the pain, we’d be so much better off. We’d be able to move forward.
I cried to God for help, and I found healing.
Thus begins the thirtieth psalm as David, the presumed writer, examines all of his suffering in light of the goodness of God.
It’s absolutely amazing what you can get through when you remember that all of your pain is temporary.
Alternate First Reading and Psalm
The entire world, today, needs the comfort of God. From the pandemic to social and civil unrest to war and famine, the world desperately needs the provision of God, which he freely offers through Israel’s offspring – Jesus Christ.
The psalmist, in the heart of the Hebrew scriptures, which are all about the blessing of God toward the nation of Israel, issues a special invitation to ALL people to come and to see what God has done.
Paul has spent the entire book of Galatians building an ironclad legal case against legalism. He’s taken on the false theology of the Judaizers and has piled up the evidence that we are now free from the burden of a law we can’t keep and free from a destiny we couldn’t escape on our own.
We are now equals, and we are free all because of the abundant grace of God in Christ.
Therefore… the final chapter of his epistle focuses less on what we have been freed from and more on what we are now free to do.
There is something about the broken human condition that chooses the misery of self-rule over the mystery of God’s Kingdom.
We see the carnage, all around us, of a world out from under the rule of God. And we also see examples of the kind of restoration and renewal that comes to the lives and communities of those willing to step into God’s kingdom by faith.
Therefore, we keep sharing the good news. We keep on going because someone else who is broken needs healing and some will receive the news we have to offer.
Let me give you # reasons to keep on living under, living out, and sharing the Kingdom of God with others…
A Creative Sermon Series Idea
We sometimes want to believe we can do anything we put our minds to do. And then sometimes we think we’re incapable of anything significant at all. The truth is, God has called you to do some really hard things as a Christian, and he’ll give you the power to do them.
There are six messages in this series. Feel free to use the notes and/or the graphics in any way you need.
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 or sermon outlines) 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:
All of life is a journey of sorts and every journey has certain expectations. We need to know where we are heading, why we are going that way, what we need along the way, and how to know when we have arrived. This four-week series will focus on the idea of traveling along the path of spiritual growth through four passages that help us to answer the key questions of why, where, what, and how.
Books, Links, and Resources for Pastors and Church Leaders
I have a special request for all of my friends in church leadership this week. The folks over at INJOY Stewardship are conducting a survey in an attempt to better resource the church during some very disruptive times. This survey has been taken by 800+ pastors already and it will take less than 3 minutes for you to complete!
After you submit the survey, INJOY Stewardship, who is hosting the survey, will send you an e-book bundle, The Pastor’s E-Book Bundle, which includes their top 3 downloaded e-books to provide helpful resources for you and your church.
I also want to share helpful and encouraging resources each week including articles I’ve read, books I love, and practical tools for leadership. This week:
- An article by Scott Magdalein about 5 Questions New Church Members Want You To Answer.
- A thought-provoking article by Michael O. Emerson on What Happens When White Identity Comes Before Christian Faith?
- A post by Pastor Rick Warren on 8 Steps to Dreaming Bigger Dreams.
- A twenty-year-old article by Dallas Willard on the topic of Following Jesus and Living in the Kingdom.
- Seth Muse has great advice in You’re Asking the Wrong Questions About Your Church Website.
A Conference for Church Communications Leaders
Actually, TWO conferences about church communications – one in the metaverse (August 22-23) and one in Charlotte, North Carolina (November 4-5).
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.
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About the Cover Art: Each week, Vanderbilt Divinity School shares dozens of pieces of art that align with the lectionary readings. The featured piece this week is Dancing Lesson, painted by Thomas Eakins, painted in 1878. (More information.)