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Posts by Monty
The community outreach events are completed. The music hit home. The preaching connected. Lives were changed forever. Everything you’ve worked towards and focused on the last several weeks has come to fruition. Now what?
You knew this moment would happen, but the hustle and bustle of preparing for the most important service and sermon of the year consumed your every waking thought. Now it’s Easter Monday and the next Sunday sermon is only 6 days away. Maybe you had the forethought to plan the next series, but haven’t had the time to actual prepare.
Not to worry. There are plenty of themes to discuss. Here are a few questions to help you brainstorm and get the ideas flowing:
Consider your Easter Sermon. What was the main point (beyond the obvious)? What are some secondary points that could be used as a sermon series? Could you take the bullet points from your Easter sermon and create a series of sermons to drive the point home? Were there things you left unsaid because of time constraints? Perhaps you can take that sermon and use it as a launching pad into the next few weeks or months. You spent a lot of time preparing for that Easter sermon. Use those resources to your benefit.
Consider your Calendar. What is coming up next on the calendar? Some of the obvious answers would be Pentecost Sunday and Mother’s Day. But what else could you bring a biblical perspective to? What about Tax Day, Earth Day, Cinco de Mayo, or Memorial Day? Okay, maybe Tax Day is a stretch. Take a look at your local calendar as well. Is your church celebrating a significant event? What is going on in your community in the upcoming weeks and months? What can you point out and use as a bridge to your community?
Consider your Context. What are the issues going on in your community right now? Are there social justice issues that need to be addressed from a biblical perspective? Are there positive outcomes in the local government or law enforcement that you can affirm? What are the heart concerns of the community? How can you speak to these issues? Take a few minutes to feel the pulse of your context.
Consider your Church. How’s your church doing? Are there aspects of disunity, bitterness, or un-forgiveness to be confronted? On the other side of this, who do you need to say “thank you” to? Who needs to be encouraged, affirmed, strengthened, and appreciated for all the hard work they did on Easter Sunday? How can you champion the volunteers in the nursery, Sunday school, small groups, greeters, ushers, worship team, and all of the various aspects that it takes to make a service happen?
Consider Christ. Perhaps the most overlooked sermon prep tool is prayer. How is Jesus speaking to you? What is Jesus saying that needs to be preached? How can you point people to Jesus and use their felt needs as a starting point? We have to remember that Christ is more concerned about people than we are. It’s easy to fall into the trap that we alone are responsible for bringing the Word of God to people. However, it’s Jesus who said that He will build His church (Matthew 16:15). Let’s remember to ask God for His help in bring His Word to His people.
I’ve been reading through the Bible chronologically this year with one of The Bible Study App’s reading plans. Right now, I’m reading the Gospel accounts of the Last Supper. I’m struck again by Jesus. At the last meal they would have together before the cross, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, takes off his robes, wraps a towel around himself and washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20). I’ve read this account that’s only recorded in John’s Gospel dozens of times. Yet, like the Holy Spirit often does, this passage was made anew as I read it recently.
Here’s what struck me: Judas was heavily influenced by Satan (if not possessed) at this point (Luke 22:36, John 13:2), but Judas was present for Jesus to wash his feet. I find this humbling and encouraging. What?!? Yes, encouraging. Why? Because even though Jesus KNEW Judas was going to betray Him, Jesus served him. Jesus knew what was in Judas’ heart. He knew the betrayal was coming. Jesus knew the anguish that was coming. The beatings, the scourging, the agonizing walk to Golgotha, and the ultimate torture, the cross. Yet, even in this moment of humbling Himself, Jesus washed Judas’ feet, this man Judas who was pivotal in fulfilling the Scriptures and prophecies about the Suffering Servant. Jesus humbled Himself and SERVED His greatest enemy.
I don’t know about you, but I have trouble serving my closest loved ones. I find it difficult to humble myself, to serve, and to put others’ needs before my own. I can’t fathom putting a backstabber’s needs in front of my own.
At the same time, that is what I am. I am the backstabber, the betrayer. I am the one who put Jesus on the cross. It is my sin that put Jesus there. How many times have I turned from God’s grace to live, act, be, and do what I want for my own selfishness? But Jesus served me by going to the cross. This is humbling because of my sin, but encouraging because of how much Jesus loves me. Even though Jesus knows me, He served me. Even though Jesus knew that I would betray Him, He went to the cross willingly.
John 13:14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
Here is my example. I am to serve, love, and do for others like Jesus did for me. I am to put down my own needs, my own pride, and serve others, even those who will betray me. Even those who will turn their backs on me. I am to love and serve as our Lord and Teacher Jesus Christ loved and served me.
Luke 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
It’s easy to read this passage and think “How in the world did they NOT recognize Jesus?!?” But taking into account what they said, I can appreciate what they were going through. They were sad, hurting, afraid, and confused. And Jesus kept them from recognizing Him.
A few days ago I ran into a former co-worker. It had been over a year since we connected, so there was a lot to catch up on. After the initial questions of “how are you doing” and “it’s so good to see you” small talk, the conversation turned to our former workplace. She left about nine months after I did, and gave me some insight on how things went. Hearing some of the stories, change, and “occurrences”, I was again reminded of the goodness of God and how I often have my eyes closed to the reality of Christ and His direction in my life. A renewed sense of the sovereignty and grace of God swept over me during our conversation.
I don’t always recognize Christ in my daily life. From my everyday encounters, to those monumental life events, do I truly open my eyes to see Jesus? In times where my family is sick, finances are tight, or work is stressful, do I remember to look for Christ? Fortunately, Jesus gives us “breaking of bread” reminders to gently lead, guide, and direct us.
Luke 24:30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.
Like these two disciples, I need the jolts, nudges, and reminders to open my eyes to the risen Christ. Thankfully, Jesus “interprets to us in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” and leads us by The Holy Spirit to open our eyes.
35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
I am thankful that Jesus makes Himself known through everyday events. It’s up to me to proclaim the risen Christ to others and remember that “The Lord has risen indeed!”
Easter is less than a week away. As we prepare our hearts and minds for remembering the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, here are a few resources that might help in your final preparations.
The bestselling Evidence for the Resurrection answers each question and addresses each theory with historical, archaeological, and cultural proofs. It presents evidence and logic that has convinced critics over the years and will equip you to with the right information when you talk to someone who questions the resurrection story.
Christ in the Passover looks at the origins and symbolism of the Passover and how the Old Testament Passover is relevant today through God’s Son, Jesus. Christ in the Passover shows six ways that the Passover in the Old Testament points to Jesus, who was called the “Lamb of God.”
Feasts of the Bible celebrates and explains the meaning behind the different feasts and why they are important to God. It contains an easy-to-read chart that provides the name and an explanation of each holiday, date of observance, and reveals how each holiday points to Jesus as the promised Messiah.
The Names of Jesus is a bestselling tool for learning the names, character and personal attributes of Jesus. The 50 names are featured in an easy-to-use format along with their Scripture references, the meanings of each name, related titles, and more. Interestingly, the names of Jesus come from both the Old and New Testaments.
Produced out of the conviction that the Bible is a unified message of God’s grace culminating in Jesus, it is a significant new tool to help readers see Christ in all the Bible, and grace for all of life. The Gospel Transformation Bible Notes features specially prepared material outlines passage-by-passage God’s redemptive purposes of grace that echo all through Scripture and culminate in Christ. The notes not only explain but also apply the text in a grace-centered way.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon discusses the seven words that Christ uttered from the Cross: Forgiveness, Salvation, Affection, Anguish, Suffering, Victory, and Contentment.
Preaching the Cross is an inspiring book containing the reflections of experienced pastors, and dedicated to “the next generation of preachers of the cross.” Collected and introduced by Mark Dever, each chapter of this book addresses a different issue in the lives and ministries of contemporary pastors.
Combining scripture, quotes, and brief but powerful meditations, readers will discover the greatest gift that Jesus Christ offers to us is found in eternal life, but there are so many more things He has done for us – and does for us – when we enter into relationship with Him.
Max Lucado examines the symbols surrounding Christ’s crucifixion, revealing the claims of the cross and asserting that if they are true, then Christianity itself is true. The supporting evidence either makes the cross the single biggest hoax of all time, or the hope of all humanity.
Death by Love is a unique book on the cross of Jesus Christ. While many books debate the finer points of the doctrine of the atonement, what is often lost are the real-life implications of Jesus’ death on the cross for those who have sinned and have been sinned against. Written in the form of pastoral letters, Death by Love outlines the twelve primary effects of Jesus’ death on the cross and connects each to the life of a different individual.
In Jesus: The Only Way to God–Must You Hear the Gospel to Be Saved? John Piper offers a timely plea for the evangelical church to consider what is at stake in surrendering the unique, universal place of Jesus in salvation. If you’re concerned about the current state of evangelism–and the church–this book is a must-read.
We hope that you find these titles not only helpful, but also inspiring and encouraging.
See how The Bible Study App’s cross references enhanced for the Resource Guide will save you tons of time and effort.