Posts Tagged 'sermon'



Prayer Practicum: Simple Prayer

Prayer Practicum: Simple Prayer Sermon Audio Here
Click here to play the file

Mark 9:14-29

In seminary, I took a class on Prayer. We used a number of materials, but I was inspired by the book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster. Our Wednesday night small group looked at this book at the end of last year, and I thought it would be helpful to prepare for the approaching Advent season by considering a number of aspects of prayer.

PLUNGE into Prayer: Just As We Are ~ Mark 9:14-19

  • v17 brought my son TO YOU
  • v18 disciples couldn’t help
    • we often try do deal with stuff on our own first… only after it doesn’t work do we finally take the problem to God

The well-known theologian Charles Hodge wrote about his early years at Princeton: “It was my privilege to be the pupil-assistant of Professor Joseph Henry, the illustrious scientist. When, for the first time, electric signals were sent from point to point, the earth itself being used for the return current, Professor Henry put me at one end of the circuit, while he stood directing the experiments at the other. I can well remember the wonderful care with which he arranged them. Very often, when the testing moment came, he would raise his hand in adoring reverence and call upon me to uncover my head and worship in silence. He would say, ‘Because God is here, I am about to ask Him a question.’”

SoWhat? set your heart at rest by recognizing God’s presence – you’re not alone {1 John 3:19-20}

The PROBLEM in Prayer: Beginning Where We Are ~ Mark 9:20-24

  • v20/22 boy in the midst of trouble; doesn’t wait to “clean up” before going to Jesus
  • v23/24 our lack of faith is a lack of trust;
    • we don’t want to admit that WE aren’t in control, even though we never are

Money magazine reported in its January 1997 issue that a group of people were asked which is longer, the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal, and then asked how certain they were that their answer was correct. Among those who were 60% certain, half of them got the answer right–meaning that this group was only a little too sure. But among those who were 90% certain, only 65% got the answer right, meaning that this group was 25% too sure.

SoWhat? continually converse with Christ – choose to connect {1 Thes. 5:16-18}

The POINT of Prayer: Conversion of the Heart ~ Mark 9:25-29

  • v28 The disciples didn’t believe like the father did (v24); Jesus had given them authority. But he had not given it to them apart from God. They needed to rely on God, to know without a doubt the truth that Jesus later expressed, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

The story goes that one time when Bill Moyers was a special assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson, he was asked to say grace before a meal in the family quarters of the White House. As Moyers began praying softly, the President interrupted him with “Speak up, Bill! Speak up!” The former Baptist minister from east Texas stopped in mid-sentence and without looking up replied steadily, “I wasn’t addressing you, Mr. President.”

SoWhat? to see God at work in us, we must focus on Jesus {2 Cor. 4:6}

Prayer isn’t about saying fancy terms, or being spiritually impressive; God wants to connect with us just as we are, right in the moment… so we can be more like Jesus.

NOTE: all blockquotes are sourced from 10,000 Sermon Illustrations by Galaxie Software; Biblical Studies Press, (c)2002

Ruth: The Rest of the Story

Ruth: The Rest of the Story Sermon Audio Here

Ruth 4:9-12

Ever wonder what the point is of the “Biblical Begats”? What do all those lists of ancestors teach us? The main lesson I see in them is that God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things… and there’s always a story behind what God is doing in those lives.

Scriptural Story Shapes Us

As We Share With Our Community ~ Ruth 4:1-12

  • 1-8 Boaz negotiates on Ruth’s behalf; he is granted right of redemption for Ruth
  • 9-10 Boaz shares his commitment with the community
  • 11-12 Community blesses Boaz for his commitment
    • SO WHAT? Untold Stories don’t change anyone; there is power in shared story to change lives

As We Carry Out Our Commitment ~ Ruth 4:13-22

  • 13-16 God blesses the family; Naomi is provided for
  • 17-22 commitment has long term consequences: Boaz becomes great-grandfather of King David
    • SO WHAT? Undone Commitment is merely intention; intention alone doesn’t change anything; we must choose (again and again) to put our commitments into action

Luke 1:67-75: reference that Jesus was the answer to the promise for the House of David – which came through Ruth. Jesus is the Point of the Story of God, the reason which gives meaning to our lives. God committed Jesus for our sake; we respond to His call for God’s glory.

Ruth: Sudden Redemption

Ruth: Sudden Redemption Sermon Audio Here

Ruth 3:7-13

Have you ever found yourself In over your head, with no idea how you’re going to get help? Ruth did, and shows us a great example of what we can do…

How Can God’s People Navigate Their Need?

Ruth Takes a Risk ~ Ruth 3:1-8

  • v1-6 summary: Naomi knows Boaz is extended family; he might be persuaded to care for Ruth
  • v7 teaching: uncovered his feet (legs);
  • Ruth puts herself in a situation to demonstrate her need
  • v8 he wakes up; legs are cold? Boaz responds to situation

Ruth Dares to Request ~ Ruth 3:9-11

  • v9 “your servant” (‘AMAH’, Jewish, instead of ‘foreigner’ 2:10);
  • ~ “spread your garment” (in 2:12 for God’s refuge);
  • ~ “kinsman-redeemer” (re: transfer of LAND, to keep in family)
  • Ruth boldly asks to be protected and cared for
  • v10/11 Boaz sees her request to be “covered” as a kindness;
  • she’s asking on behalf of Naomi as well as herself;
    Ruth’s request reflects her unselfish motives

Boaz Bargains for Ruth’s Benefit ~ Ruth 3:12-13

  • v12 Boaz knows there’s someone with a closer claim on Naomi’s husband’s land; Boaz doesn’t take advantage
  • v13 I’ll make sure you’re covered, one way or another; Boaz promises Ruth she’ll be cared for

SO WHAT? When we find ourselves in difficulty, what can we do? Like Ruth, we can take a risk by showing we’re in need. Like Ruth, we can dare to ask for help instead of trying to go it alone. And when faced with a needy situation, like Boaz, we can step up and work to find solutions… and sometimes, we ARE the solution ourselves.

Ruth: Rewarded in Refuge

Ruth: Rewarded in Refuge ~ no Sermon Audio available

Ruth 2:8-16

How is Ruth rewarded in the midst of dire circumstances? Through the actions of a kinsman-redeemer, she is supported and sustained. Learning how Ruth receives these rewards can help us be better receivers ourselves.

To Receive from a Redeemer,

Recognize His Right To Support – Ruth 2:8-11

  • summary of 1-7: introduction of Boaz, relative of Naomi’s husband – “a man of standing”
  • v8 Boaz offers protection
  • v9 Boaz offers provision
  • v10/11 When Ruth asks why, Boaz offers understanding

Believe in His Ability To Bless – Ruth 2:12-16

  • v12 Boaz offers blessing (“May the Lord…” )
  • v13 Boaz offers comfort
  • v14 Boaz offers sustenance
  • v15/16 Boaz offers a covering (for her inexperience)

The challenge when reading narrative is to assume that God is bound to do the same things for us that He has done for others in the text. Our goal: not to focus on our circumstances, which always change; rather,to focus on God’s faithfulness, which does not change.

Think of what Jesus, our Redeemer has done for us: He protects us from a lost eternity; He provides everything we need for spiritual growth; He understands our weakness and doesn’t hold it against us; He blesses us with His Word; He comforts us with the Holy Spirit; He sustains us by His loving will; and He covers us with His own blood to mark us as His own.

The JV Team: Secretary and Scribe – Baruch

The JV Team: Secretary and Scribe – Baruch Sermon Audio Here

Jer. 36:1-8/Col. 3:13-17

Background on Baruch – a learned well-connected man, brother to the chamberlain/chief of staff for King Zedekiah, he was willing to help Jeremiah speak to a nation in turmoil.

How Can We Speak To People In Trouble?

By Knowing Baruch’s Bias
Jer. 36:1-8

  • v1/4 Baruch willing to be a helper: wrote down Jeremiah’s prophecy
  • v5/8 Baruch willing to take a risk: delivered Jeremiah’s message to a hostile crowd

By Showing a Risky Response
Col. 3:13-17

  • v13 take the risk of forgiveness- let go of the right to be offended
  • v14 take the risk of loving above all- love is an ongoing choice, not a feeling
  • v15 take the risk of peace- preempt rising agitation
  • v16 How to do that? By allowing Jesus’ words to take the lead in our lives
  • v17 The result of this risk-taking? We do what we do in Jesus’ name with thankfulness

Baruch served Jeremiah through the fall of Jerusalem, and was carried away into exile with the prophet. He was helpful; he was a risk-taker; and most importantly, he was faithful to serve the Lord in times of trouble. May we be found to do the same.

The JV Team: Apostles on the Outskirts

The JV Team: Apostles on the Outskirts Sermon Audio Here

Luke 6:13-16

Someone on a JV team (or a character actor) is generally lesser known, sometimes to learn a skill (JV) or to fill a role (cast member); all are important to make a program work.

Luke 6:13-16 ~ what happened to the rest of the list? Peter, James, and John are considered Jesus’ Inner Circle. But what happened to those disciples who weren’t on the “inside”? We know Judas’ story? But what about Philip and Bartholomew? What happened to Doubting Thomas?

Once they leave the pages of Scripture, tracking the movements of the lesser known Apostles becomes more challenging. But no matter the historical sources that are used, three things are true of each of them that are helpful for us to remember today.

Remember THIS about the Apostles on the Outskirts:

They were SENT
1) that’s what Apostle means: one who is sent away; like a messenger or ambassador. Even though the lesser known Apostles didn’t have kind of impact on the church that Paul did, for example, they still carried out the charge that was given to them by Jesus: Follow Me.

They were MARTYRED
2) They gave all they had for a very good reason – All of Jesus’ band of followers ended up being killed for their faith. Their faith wasn’t a generic faith that God would be good to humanity; the issue at hand was very specific: Did Jesus rise from the dead? They all were violently killed because they would not deny the Resurrection of Christ.

They MATTERED
3) They MATTERED as they scattered – as the Apostles dispersed, they did not all go the same direction: Andrew went to Russia; Thomas went to India. Matthew went to Ethiopia, while Philip went to North Africa. James son of Alpheus went to Syria, and Simon the Zealot went to Persia. Bartholomew went all over the place: India, Armenia, Ethiopia, and Southern Arabia.

The point is that many Christians in these areas of the world consider these Apostles as THEIR Apostle, responsible for bring them into God’s Kingdom, bringing light to darkness.

These JV’ers weren’t talked about much in the pages of Scripture, but they sure set a great example for us to imitate: Follow Jesus, Give it Everything You’ve Got, and Bring Light to a Dark world: THAT will make all the difference.

Learning from Luke: Road Trip

Please note: this is the LAST in the series through the Gospel of Luke this year. I’ll be taking a week off while I’m at our NACCC Annual Meeting, and then we’ll have a new series based on little-known characters in Scripture: The JV Team.
Learning from Luke: Road Trip Sermon Audio Here

Luke 24:13-27

Last Sunday, there was yet another terrorist attack on US soil; how do we cope so that we can help?

Challenges in Unexpected Stress

Get Confused by Circumstances
Luke 24:13-18 – our responses can be bewildered by events

  • v13/14 Bewildered Response: mourning and confused
  • v15/16 BR: we often don’t recognize Jesus among us
  • v17/18 BR: downcast face=very little hope when we don’t see God at work

Know Content, But Forget Context
Luke 24:19-24 – our view can become limited by stress

  • v19 Limited View: a powerful prophet; truth: Living Word
  • v20/21 LV: possible Messiah; truth: Redeeming Lord
  • v22/24 LV: missing person; truth: Risen and Glorified

Choose to Center in the Circumstances
Luke 24:25-27 – to remind ourselves of God’s role in it all

  • v25 trust God’s word
  • v26 remember God’s reasons
  • v27 search the Scriptures

God’s role is to rule; our role is to cooperate with His reign in our lives.


Pastor Ed Backell

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