I don’t know why God has so richly blessed me in the ways that he has. I’m not worthy of the friends and family I have or the life I’ve lived. All I can say is that God is extremely good!
What really blows my mind the most is how gracious, good, and giving God has been in spite of my own worst behavior. My life is a testament to the patience of God!
If you ever feel the same way, you’re going to love the reading from 1 Timothy 1:12-17, the second reading for the fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, which falls on September 11.
As I worked my way through this passage and thought about the possible directions in which to run with the words of this epistle, I found myself quite overwhelmed. I wrote this down as my big angle on the text to present in a sermon…
Whoever you used to be and whatever you used to do doesn’t matter nearly as much as what God wants to do in, around, and through you in your new life in Christ.
Hear that? God wants to do some pretty amazing things in, around, and through you. And if you don’t feel worthy of this truth, that’s okay. He makes us worthy by a miraculous work within us on the basis of what his Son, Jesus, did for us when he died on the cross.
So to you who are reading this, I would say, God wants to show you his goodness in ways you probably haven’t anticipated yet. Trust him. The best is yet to come!
Sermon Ideas Based on the Lectionary
Note: The notes in the Reflectionary each week are based on Lectionary texts ten days out (so, the next Sunday, not the coming Sunday). If you need to see notes for this Sunday’s texts, visit last week’s Reflectionary.
For September 11, 2022
Year C – Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost
First Reading and Psalm
Jeremiah 4:11-12, 22-28
WORKING TITLE: Why the World Falls Apart
When we turn ourselves away from the wisdom God has provided to us, both naturally and supernaturally, the result is that we see our world fall apart around us. How can you soak up more of God’s wisdom and walk in it, so that we enjoy the world God intended for us to enjoy?
WORKING TITLE: The Answer to Our Universal Human Predicament
We are all, universally, in the same predicament, having gone our own way away from God, but from Zion, God has raised up a Savior for us all. Are you able to see ways in which your own rebellion and imperfections leave you in need of help and salvation from God? And will you look to Christ alone for that salvation?
Alternate First Reading and Psalm
WORKING TITLE: When God Changes His Mind
God walks with us relationally. His essential character never changes – he is always good, loving, and holy – but he moves through time right alongside us as our story unfolds. Know that God loves you. He sees your sin and your tendency to “quickly turn aside,” and yet he is unrelenting in his loving pursuit of you, willing to involve himself in all that holds you back from a full, intimate relationship with himself.
Working Title: When You Know You’ve Blown It
The pathway to health and restoration will always be through confession, repentance, and renewed trust in God as the giver of life and grace. What sin in your life needs to be brought into the light of God’s truth and judgment? What do you need to offer to him? And can you find the ability to trust God for his forgiveness on the basis of the cross as the evidence of God’s willingness to show grace?
1 Timothy 1:12-17
Working Title: In Spite of What I Used to Be
Whoever you used to be and whatever you used to do doesn’t matter nearly as much as what God wants to do in, around, and through you in your new life in Christ. Fill in the blanks… Even though I used to _____, I received mercy. Even though I used to _____, I am under grace. Even though I used to _____, I’m on a whole new mission with God.
WORKING TITLE: You and I Are Really the Prize
Jesus made it clear that his greatest prize is you, and it’s me, and it’s any other lost sinner who is willing to be found again by God in Christ. If you’ve been avoiding God’s reach because you feel that you are disposable and without value, you must know that you are a prize. And when you open your life to him in honest confession and repentance, he makes you an example to others of what his grace and mercy and power can accomplish.
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:
This three-week series explores the idea of “waiting for when.” “Someday” can create images of unrealistic expectations that should bring us happiness but fall short. Looking at the stories of Leah, the disciples, and Paul, we can see that God will help us even in our striving to be happy; will give us what we need, instead of what we want; and will provide contentment and strength, no matter the desire or situation.
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
I’ve recently refreshed my online bookstore with a lot of my favorite titles in categories like pastoral leadership, preaching, leadership, self-development, reference and commentaries, social justice, and even a section on deconstruction. I’ve also added some fresh touches to my page of resources for pastors and church leaders. And below are other links to articles, videos, books, etc. that I’ve found helpful, interesting, or inspiring lately
- What does it really mean to be “woke?” Benjamin Watson offers some clear education on how we should be defining the word woke. I really appreciate his honesty and clarity. He also references a great book, Woke Church: An Urgent Call for Christians in America to Confront Racism and Injustice, by Dr. Eric Mason.
- Bryan Haley offers some good advice about how to quickly influence your church communications for good. And remember, everything a church does is communications, so it’s kind of important.
- I think Stephanie Hodges’ list of social media post ideas for churches includes 31 days’ worth and is quite helpful.
- Charles Swindoll’s book, Jesus: The Greatest Life of All, book eight in his Great Lives series, is on sale (for at least today – I’m not sure for how long) in Kindle format for just $2.99.
- I love how Pastor Rick Warren makes such a practical application of scriptural ideas to everyday life in his post about four keys for success in your work.
- Jenni Catron blogged about a subject that is highly relevant right now given our current news cycle. She talks about the value of trust for leaders and 5 steps leaders can take to bridge the trust gap.
- Mark MacDonald wrote an article for people in the field of church communications, but that should definitely include pastors, especially when his topic is 3 must-learn church communications lessons. These are applicable to preaching as well.
- Church change is hard, right? But why? Why is it so hard for people to embrace a different direction? Charles Stone answers that question with 8 reasons why church change is hard.
- What will the American church look like ten years down the road? I appreciate the insight with which Carey Nieuwhof answers this question in his post about what might be left of the church in 2032.
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