Displaying Christian Sermons by tag: Sunday Reflection

Charles Stanley (March-26-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Go Together.

If we're going to make disciples of all nations, we first have to be disciples in a local community.

Making disciples of all nations is no small feat—2,000 years after Jesus gave the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20 - And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ``All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. ``Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."), we’re still working on it. But we can’t let the size of the task overwhelm our ability to hear and receive the gift of Jesus’ parting words: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20).

Remember: Jesus’ presence with us is both the means and the end. The point of all our discipleship efforts is to become wholly united with Him. And whether we like it or not, union with Him isn’t a solitary pursuit but, rather, something that happens in community.

“Iron sharpens iron,” as Proverbs 27:17 (Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another) tells us, and Ecclesiastes 4:12 (And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.) says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.” Discipleship is a lifelong journey, and it’s not one we can undertake on our own. If we’re going to make disciples of all nations, we first have to be disciples in a local community.

Think about it

• Reflect on the past month: How have you noticed God’s presence in your discipleship journey? Have friends or family played a part in your growth? What would you like to do differently?

Charles Stanley (March-19-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Welcome the Spirit.

How will you connect with God today?

Imagine that your friends invite you over for dinner one evening. But when you arrive, you find they haven’t set a place for you at the table. It can make for an awkward, disorienting situation. In a way, that’s what it’s like when we say we want to be closer to God but don’t take any steps toward welcoming Him into our daily life.

The good news is that acting on our intentions doesn’t require us to dive into theological study or travel the world in God’s service. Simple spiritual practices—embraced by centuries of believers—are enough to help us experience a richer life in Christ: worship, prayer, meditating on Scripture, and fasting from certain foods or beverages. Integrating each of these things, even if practiced in only brief or small ways, makes space for the Holy Spirit to work in us.

Remember, you’re not responsible for the transformation any more than a farmer is responsible for the sun and rain (John 15:5 - ``I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing). Your job, like the soil’s, is to remain ready to receive.

Think about it

• What are some ways you can increase your connection points with God throughout the day? Are there any missed opportunities?

Charles Stanley (March-12-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Grow as You Go.

We mature as believers when we aim to strike a balance between time alone with God and doing life together in the body of Christ.

How-to guides are all the rage, and that’s no surprise—western culture places high value on the idea of mastering life. But unlike changing a flat tire or roasting your first turkey, authentic biblical discipleship isn’t about technique or skill. And though there are common tools all believers share—spiritual disciplines handed down through the ages—the pursuit of becoming like Jesus isn’t a one-size-fits-all, predictable process.

Our lives take different turns with unique challenges along the way, and God reaches each of us in a manner that speaks to our experiences. Yet there’s one element we all share: the need for other Christians. (See Hebrews 10:24-25 - and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near) We can hear thousands of sermons, attend years’ worth of Bible studies and prayer meetings, and spend countless minutes in quiet time. But it’s life together in the body of Christ that gives discipleship its power.

Think about it

  • How important to you is doing “life together” with other believers? What steps are you taking to make that part of your daily or weekly schedule?

Charles Stanley (March-05-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Becoming Holy.

The Christian's goal is not faultlessness but the pursuit of Jesus, which leads to the abundant life.

It’s common to hear Christians say, “You don’t have to be perfect—God loves you just the way you are.” And that statement is true, except it’s not the whole picture.

Yes, the Lord’s love is unconditional; we can do nothing to change it. At the same time, His plan for all believers is to make us increasingly like Himself. It’s a perfection that transcends our understanding of the term—a perfection found not in how we perform but in our willingness to surrender our life to Him.

In Matthew 5:48 (NIV), Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Instead of hearing those words as an impossible expectation, think of them as an invitation. He’s welcoming you to the abundant life, the healing of your soul, the recovery of your true self. It’s what we know as the process of sanctification.

To be sanctified—in other words, to become holy—is not a pursuit of faultlessness but rather one of becoming more and more like Jesus. And there’s just one way to do that: Say “yes” to His invitation each day. 

Think about it

• Read Matthew 5:6 (Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied) and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit). How do these verses make you feel about Jesus’ command to be perfect?

Charles Stanley (February-26-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Gifted to Serve.

Living in community helps us discover our spiritual gifts and use them to bless others.

Have you wondered how to discover your spiritual gifts? There’s an abundance of quizzes and questionnaires online, but as helpful as those resources can be, they’re not authoritative. What if, instead of relying on self-assessments, we approached identifying our gifts as an opportunity to engage our community of believers?

Something beautiful happens when we invite our brothers and sisters in Christ to speak into our lives. In fact, the only way we truly come to know ourselves is in community—seeing and being seen, hearing and being heard, loving and being loved in return. 

Over the next few days and weeks, explore these questions with God: What needs draw my attention? How do I like to help? What needs do others consistently bring to me? What kind of service brings me life? And don’t just stop there. Take time to ask wise and trusted people what gifts they see in you. And always seek confirmation from the Holy Spirit.

Think about it -  Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 and 1 Corinthians 14:26. Do you struggle with believing you have a special gift to offer the church? How do these verses affect your perspective? 

Charles Stanley (February-19-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: We All Win Together.

Are you working to build your kingdom or God's?

Church should be a place where Christians shed the world’s competitive spirit. But instead, it’s sometimes yet another arena where people strive for personal glory.

When we treat our sanctuaries like stages, chasing the spotlight, we end up building our own kingdoms instead of God’s. And our brothers and sisters in Christ can become stepping stones or, worse, collateral damage.

This problem isn’t new, nor is its solution. What Jesus taught the disciples to abandon was not the pursuit of excellence but the path of self-exaltation. In other words, if we’re competing for anything, it should be for last place—so that we might all triumph together in becoming a true reflection of Christ.

Do you see something of yourself in these descriptions? If so, ask the Holy Spirit for help correcting course and aligning your heart with His. 

Think about it

  • Read Romans 12:10-21 and Matthew 20:1-15. Are there any specific areas of your life that need to be reoriented so that they align with these verses? With whom are you competing? How can you shift toward honoring and serving them instead?

Charles Stanley (February-12-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Gaining Wisdom From the Past. 

Looking back can help us discover new truths and move forward with a renewed passion for our Savior.

Moving forward by looking back may seem like nonsense, but then again, much of godly wisdom sounds foolish to earthly ears (1 Corinthians 2:14 - But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised). So, what does this look like in practice?

As a Jewish person, Jesus grew up celebrating Passover, a holiday commemorating the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt. At His final Passover meal—which we know as the Last Supper—Jesus used its rituals to reveal His identity as the perfect sacrificial lamb, the atonement for all humanity’s sin. And the Lord chose to make this astonishing disclosure by honoring tradition.

When you next attend church, keep an eye out for any important practices—like taking Communion, being baptized, saying the Lord’s Prayer, or reciting the Apostles’ Creed—that connect your congregation to the history of God’s people. If you can, dig a little deeper into each to find meaning you may have missed before.

Think about it

  • After the resurrection, two disciples walked with Jesus without recognizing Him (Luke 24:13-35). What opened their eyes? How could church history bring a similar revelation of Jesus’ presence in your life?

Charles Stanley (February-05-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: An Inheritance of Faith. 

Have you thanked God for the people He sent into your life to share His love?

Where does faith come from? For some people, trust in Jesus almost seems genetic—like red hair, a distaste for cilantro, or a quick wit. For others, following the Lord was an unexpected detour from family expectations or cultural traditions. 

Salvation is solely the work of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, but for most Christians, being born again came about with the help of spiritual “midwives.” These are the Sunday school teachers, parents, evangelists, pastors, friends, and strangers who helped usher unbelievers from death to life. 

Write down your spiritual family tree, listing the people who shaped your walk with God. In what ways does your faith look like theirs? What beliefs and behaviors did you inherit from them? Repeat this process, going back as many “generations” as you can, to sketch the fullest picture of your spiritual DNA.

Think about it

• In 2 Timothy 1:2-6 (To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands), the apostle Paul is writing to a young pastor, but imagine him writing a similar letter to one of your descendants. How would he describe your faith?

Charles Stanley (January-29-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Ready and Waiting,

God already loves you, and He always will–no matter what you've done or will do.

Can you think of a pivotal moment that led to your relationship with Jesus? Most of us can name a special person or set of circumstances that helped us get to know Him. Or perhaps you’re reading this out of curiosity, and you don’t know Him at all. Regardless of what state your relationship with God is in, the fact remains: He loves you and will never give up on you.

Paul writes, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us). And John explains that the Lord doesn’t just love us, but He Himself is love (1 John 4:8 - The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love). In other words, God doesn’t have to try to love or talk Himself into loving us—it’s simply who He is. 

No matter what we do, even if it involves deliberate sin against Him or drifting away in apathy, God won’t ever cease to be merciful and loving. He’ll never stop showing up, leaning in, and inviting us to the abundant life found only in Him—a life of peace, freedom, and joy. Whatever you were and are, God has great plans for what you will be, and He’s here for you.

Think about it - Take a moment to imagine God’s open hand reaching out to you. How do you want to respond to Him?

Charles Stanley (January-22-2023) Daily Devotional: Sunday Reflection: Staying Close to God.

Sometimes we may feel far away from our Father, but nothing can alter our relationship with Him.

A devastating event can certainly strain how we see our relationship with God, but sometimes it’s the everyday grind and goings-on—the mundane things—that most distract us. Yet there’s no need to spiral into shame about the struggle to remain aware of (and present with) Him. In fact, it’s often in the stuff of daily life that we best learn how to maintain a rich connection with the Lord. And when nothing else is helping, we have the gift of His creation to lead our hearts home.

Remember that there’s nothing wrong with struggling to stay focused—we all go through days, weeks, or seasons where connecting feels a little harder. Instead of concentrating on our frustrations and failures, we can choose instead to nurture gratitude in our heart. Connecting with God’s Word daily positions us to hear from Him. And let’s be watchful for the many opportunities our loving Father provides for us to practice knowing Him better.

Think about it

• Isaiah 40:11 says, “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in the fold of His robe; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” What do you enjoy about this description of God?

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As the concept suggests, a preacher is one who practices the art of preaching. The word "preaching" is originally associated with the religious sphere of activity. Language researchers note that of all religious texts, this word - like the type of activity itself - is most closely associated with Christianity. Preachers teach Bible truths when speaking to believers or unbelievers. 

Most of the Bible's sermons are in the New Testament. The sermon, as we find it in the Book of Acts and the Epistles, is expressive, but at the same time brief. It is built on the fundamental truths of Christianity: the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the Church, in whatever form it is delivered - be it an ardent call to repentance for sins and salvation or the gospel story of a relationship with God and people - is by nature Christocentric.

Christian online preaching isn’t just a statement of spiritual truths, but as a sacred act, during which the preacher, in cooperation with the Lord the Holy Spirit, accomplishes the work of salvation for unbelieving listeners and the process of spiritual growth for the saved. Words spoken by a person cannot strengthen faith, but the biblical sermon in the mouths of preachers has a special power that can transform a person's soul. It is on this supernatural power of preaching that the preacher's authority is established.

Despite the fact that the evangelical Church teaches about the priesthood of every born-again Christian, in the work of biblical preaching, special attention is paid to the character and moral character of the preacher. The moral right to proclaim eternal biblical truths, to preach the Gospel from the pulpit or in another setting on behalf of the Church, can not only be those who know these truths, but who have Christian virtues, a character that reflects Christ. We are talking about a person who sincerely loves God and the people to whom he addresses, deeply interested in the eternal and earthly well-being of his listeners. A person with the good name of a Christian, who has a "good testimony" confirmed by time and the Church. Since we are talking about eternal, enduring truths, the writing of which was inspired by the holy God, proclaim them on behalf of the Author, i.e. of God Himself, it is permissible for the one who knows Him personally, has constant communion with Him and obeys Him implicitly. From the point of view of the essence and basis of the message that he proclaims, the preacher is not the author of his message and therefore doesn’t have the right to change the truths being proclaimed. He represents the interests and fulfills the will of the One who authorized him for this with the authority of His glorious name, and, therefore, the preacher is obliged to accurately convey to his audience what was entrusted to him by God. Freely interpreting Scripture and presenting to the audience their own interpretation of eternal biblical truths, posing as God's revelation on behalf of God, is not only a distortion of the truth, but also an ethical violation that entails consequences. However, in the sermon, it is not forbidden to mention personal experience, as well as the experience of other people, examples from various areas of public life to the extent that these examples correspond to the truth and contribute to a more accurate and understandable message of it.  

Of course, in the modern world, taking into account the development of communications, a preacher is expected to possess the skills of oratory. This is not a strict requirement, but it is always encouraged, as it is an undeniable advantage and serves the greater benefit and success of the preaching work.

There are many preachers in modern Christianity who have achieved recognized success in the preaching work.

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