Sermon Text and Topics for March 2020

 

 

Lent 2020 Sermon Series Plans
“Leaning In and Listening to Jesus”

 

 

March 1

Luke 9:28-36

“Wake Up and Listen”

 

Over the years as Josh was growing up, it didn’t take long for us to figure out that he is not a morning person. He can get up and go when he has to, but if he has a choice he likes to “sleep in.”   As you might suspect this didn’t sit too well with his father through the years. I don’t wake up extremely early, but when I do, my mind begins racing between different things I need to accomplish. Morning is no time for lying in bed. Consequently, my relationship with my son during the morning hours came to be characterized by a three word phrase. If I said it to Josh once, I said it a hundred times: “Wake up and listen.”   Turns out that’s pretty much what the Spirit of God says to Peter, James and John on the mountain: “Wake up and listen. Get your minds in gear, put away your own agendas, and listen to what my Son tells you.” During this Lenten season we will seek to do one thing: Listen, really LISTEN to the Savior. I can assure you that Jesus has a LOT to say to every one of us. What will it take to get us to a place where we can lean in, listen and heed what he says?

 

March 8

Luke 11:5-13

“God Listens to Us”

 

A few years ago, when Josh was a sophomore in college, he began to hint to us that he needed a vehicle with four doors. Not because he simply wanted it, but because he had become leader of the men’s group at the Wesley Foundation, and needed a way to transport people. His truck wasn’t fitting the bill.   Two Christmases ago his mother and I were able to meet that need, surprising him with a fire engine red GMC Jimmy SUV. Josh was surprised and overjoyed that we had listened to his need and met it! Today’s text brings us some surprising news!   When we begin to truly listen to the Father and the Son through the voice of the Spirit we make an amazing discovery: God listens to us! And not only does he listen... he implores us to speak with him!   Without hesitation or shame or self- deprecating phrases like, “Lord whenever you can get to it I have a tiny request of you.” Like a neighbor in need of bread in the middle of the night, we can share our burden with God and ask God for what we need. If we take our honest needs to Him, God will not be inconvenienced or impatient or intolerant. This is not a formula for fast results, but an invitation to long term, life giving relationship. Remember now, God knows our needs before we ever ask. And His knowledge is always better than ours. We may not get exactly what we pray for! But the awesome truth is that we have an audience with the Maker of the universe: a God who cares deeply about us, and desires what’s best for us. If we truly listen and pray accordingly, His commitment to us always outdistances our expectation.

 


March 15

Luke 11:37-52

“Living from the ‘Inside Out’ Instead of the ‘Outside In’”

 

I know it may astonish some of you, but one of my favorite pass-times is cleaning and detailing cars: not just taking them to Auto Bell and running them through the drive through. I’m talking about cleaning them up from the inside out. If it’s not clean on the inside where you ride, the outside doesn’t make much difference.   This is what’s at the heart of Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees. These men are so concerned with what they look like on the outside, keeping all the rules and regulations, that they’ve neglected the most important thing of all: allowing the Spirit of God to cleanse their hearts! Such people aren’t really concerned with true righteousness. Their main concern is the condemnation of others to make themselves look better in the eyes of God. Our relationship with our Creator gets reduced to whoever can perform the best, and that’s what makes Jesus both angry and sad. These men truly didn’t know how to achieve righteousness of the heart.   And because they didn’t, they failed to recognize that Jesus was there to show them the way! How have we gotten caught up in performance mode? How do we need to allow God to start cleaning us up from the inside out?  

 

March 22

Luke 15:1-10

“The Thing that Makes God’s Heart Sing”

 

Negativity, condemnation, denunciation...all these words and more could be used to describe the attitude of the Pharisees and teachers of the law when they saw the caliber of people Jesus associates with. Not only is he associating with them, he’s celebrating with them!   The parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin and the prodigal son are Jesus’ way of explaining his motives. They are Jesus’ honest attempt to show these hard hearted men what the true heart of God looks like, what makes the heart of God sing its most joyful song. Sadly, these men aren’t much interested in singing songs of celebration. They’re more interested in funeral dirges. Jesus didn’t come to waste his time on people who don’t really believe they have anything for which to repent. He came to give another chance to people who know they need a Savior. He came to celebrate the moment they come out of the darkness into the light. Here’s a shocking question: Does the melody our church sings to the world sound more like a song of celebration or a death march? Today we’ll do our best to lean in and listen to Jesus as he shows us how to sing a song of grace and reconciliation and restoration and rejoicing to the world.

 

March 29

Luke 18:15-30

“Self-Confident Ruler or Trusting Child?”

 

This time through the story of the Rich Young Ruler, I discovered a striking contrast I’d never seen before. It came to me as I was reading the verses that come right before Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler, where Jesus rebukes the disciples for keeping the little children from coming to him. Jesus’ declaration “Let the little children come to me! Do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God” is the key.   He wants his disciples to see that a radical shift of dependence has to happen before his grace can begin to remake us according to Kingdom values.   Look closely at the contrast between the perspective of the little children coming to Jesus and that of the rich young man who asks, “What must I do to inherit the life of the age to come?” What has to happen “in us” before God can begin effectively using us to transform the world “around us?”      


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