Sermon Seeds: Adulterous Generation


At one point in Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees and Sadducess (recognized religious leaders of the day), demanded that he give them a sign to prove his authority.

“A wicked and adulterous generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away (Matthew 16:4, Berean Study Bible).”


Aldultery we think we understand. But what about adulterous?

Understanding this word better will help us understand why this commandment is so important to God, and why Jesus spoke about it on more than one occasion.

I went to the Thessaurus to find words that might help us. Consider these: illicit, fast and loose, immoral, cheating, two-timing, moon-lighting.

What about antonyms or the opposite: chaste and pure. To those I would add loyal and committed.

Isn’t it interesting that when God begins this section of rules and commands, he starts by demanding a pure and chaste relationship with himself?

Our relationship with him becomes the standard for our relationships with our mates and with others.

But we’re not naturally wired that way. One of my favorite hymns puts it this way: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above (Come Thou Fount).”

We are prone to wander. We have wandering eyes and wavering commitment. We are tempted to move to whatever seems better than what we have—whether it’s a car, house, a job, or a mate.

We flirt with the new until our heart forgets the promises we made. Our reckless and riotous living is similar to the prodigal son described in Luke’s gospel. We don’t appreciate what we have, so we take what’s not ours…and the chasing and wandering lands us starving in a pig sty of our own making.

The solution? Return to the God who knows us best and loves us most. The God who specializes in restoring because he never stops loving.

And if you haven’t wandered yet? Keep your heart pure!

Just in case you think purity is impossible, God has a word—a promise—for you (and me!):




Sermon Seeds: Harmony


Last week’s commandment reminded us: It all starts at home. (Honor your parents.)

So this week we begin the journey out the door. And we need to remember: it all starts in the heart.

Our commandment is: don’t murder. The focus in the Old Testament seems narrow and we find Jesus much later attempting to broaden our understanding by telling us no one needs to die, no blood needs to be shed for a murder to take place—it all begins in the heart.

Our judgments of others, our attitudes towards others, matter. These are the seeds of our actions—and Jesus is pretty clear: they can lead us to be guilty of murder.

What’s the answer?

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he answered by summing up all of them: love God supremely (first four) and love your neighbor as yourself (last six).

How do we accomplish those commandments that focus on loving those around us, including the less than lovely or loveable? First, we have to get the ones about loving God supremely.

Starting with no lying, stealing, or murdering is like started to read a novel in the middle; or building the roof before you lay the foundation.

Not the best plan. Not God’s plan.

And once we’ve got the order down, let’s try to live in harmony. Not all our notes will be the same…but we can work together to make something beautiful.


Wednesday’s Word: Jesus


Do you remember being a kid in Sunday school—back in the day when the right answer always seemed to be “Jesus”?

It still is.

When you have no words for the hurt in your heart.


When you find yourself at the end of yourself.


When the hours are long and the night is dark.


Or, even when the joy bubbles over in a completely uncontainable manner.


Whisper it…Jesus.

Shout it…Jesus.

Beg, plead, weep it…Jesus.

There’s power in the name of Jesus.



Hopefully Devoted: No Fear


The doctor looks down. Clears his throat. Then slowly looks up.

You look up and are surprised to see the plant manager at your machine, he’s holding an envelope and looking very somber.

As the door opens, the first thing you see is two suitcases.

The phone rings. It’s never good news at 2:00 in the morning…

Bad news comes in so many ways. Some days it feels like you can barely catch your breath before the next discouragement finds its way to your door.

I have friends who are awaiting surgery, hoping for good results from medical tests and court cases. Others are looking for work…still. A few haven’t been able to sleep for the anxious thoughts invading their dreams.

God has a word for us today as we fear the bad news knock on our door: They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the LORD to care for them (Psalm 112:7, NLT)

The LORD is our shepherd, our healer, our door, our guide, bread, water, hope and light. No matter what it is we fear that could be waiting around the corner—God’s got it and you!

You can be confident in his care of and for you.


Wednesday Words: Strength


For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13, NLT).

This is exactly the word I needed for today. I need some of that “withstanding” power.

What great or pressure is coming down on you?

Whatever it is God is able to give you exactly what you need to face it, stand up under it, overcome it, and persevere.

Do you feel like you’ve reached your full capacity—can’t take any more?


Reach out to the capacity maker and capacity filler…he has all the strength you need.

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you (1 Chronicles 28:20a NLT).”


Year in Focus: Get Still!


From Oswald Chambers:
“Whenever God gives a vision to a Christian, it is as if He puts him in “the shadow of His hand” (Isaiah 49:2). The saint’s duty is to be still and listen. There is a “darkness” that comes from too much light— that is the time to listen. The story of Abram and Hagar in Genesis 16 is an excellent example of listening to so-called good advice during a time of darkness, rather than waiting for God to send the light. When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait. God will bring the vision He has given you to reality in your life if you will wait on His timing. Never try to help God fulfill His word. Abram went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all of his self-sufficiency was destroyed. He grew past the point of relying on his own common sense. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure. There is never any need to pretend that your life is filled with joy and confidence; just wait upon God and be grounded in Him (see Isaiah 50:10-11).”
There is so much to glean on this paragraph. Here’s what jumps out at me:
-There’s a darkness from too much light.
-Never try to help God fulfill His word.
-The years of silence were a time of discipline, not a period of God’s displeasure.
-Quit pretending life is sunny—wait and be grounded.

God put me in a job I never would have picked for myself. I was a caregiver for five years for a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Over the years I came to treasure her and the lessons I learned about depending on God. But I started out with a grumbling spirit—arguing often with God about what a waste of my time and talents this job was. She didn’t want me there. Never said my name. Was cross and cantankerous on a daily basis. What on earth could be the point of this?

I learned to wait. I learned a new selflessness. I got still. I listened. I saw God in new ways. Providing care became a passion. Anticipating someone else’s every need became my delight. I was in tune with God and another person and it changed me—for the better and forever.

This time of incubation prepared me, readied me, as moved back into church ministry. Before the caregiving time of learning, I was a broken mess. That time of learning didn’t magically put the pieces back into place. No, my restoration resulted in the creation of a whole new creation.

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5, ESV)

What discipline is God using to make you new? How is he reshaping your life into something new he can use?

Get still!


Hopefully Devoted: Even Though

60394195-CC73-462A-B321-3DD930609685Habakkuk 3:17-19, NLT

Yesterday I listened in on an excellent teaching by Andy Lee. I love her “Bite Of Bread” ministry. The verse she drew from was Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (NLT).

I confess I got stuck on the word “good.”

Here’s the comment I left for Andy after the study: “As you were teaching, I found I was focused on the idea of good…God’s ways are not our ways, we don’t think alike—and we don’t work from the same experiential dictionary or definitions. His concept of what is GOOD for us may not fall within our ability to comprehend, and that may be in part because we are focused on the immediate rather than the future and the big picture which he can fully see. Seeds for more thinking.”

So how interesting it was for me that I found these words when I opened my devotional today: “God alone holds the “big picture of our existence.”

The scripture quoted above was the recommended reading to go along with the devotion.

In essence, Habakkuk is saying: “Even though every thing goes wrong. Even though nothing goes the way I wanted or planned. Even though…yet.”

Yet I will rejoice.

Even though God is working things in a manner that I don’t understand, that hurts, that I don’t want no way, no how. I am going to trust that he knows what he’s doing because he sees the big picture. He knows. And I will rejoice in that knowledge. I will rest in it.

He is my strength to get to the other side of “even though” to rejoicing.