Connecting You with God and Others
The Basics of the Gospel
In 1961, at the start of training camp, Vince Lombardi walked into the locker room of the Green Bay Packers and spoke what would become one of the most iconic lines in sports history: “Gentlemen, this is a football!” He was reminding them of the fundamentals. He was going back to basics.
It’s easy to forget the basics, to neglect the core disciplines of a winning team. Lombardi knew no amount of trick plays or player talent would matter if they didn’t master the basics of the game.
And the same thing is true of our Christian lives. If we want to be joyously in love with Jesus, overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit, growing together as the family of God, we must be engaged in the bases of life with Jesus.
It’s time to get Back to Basics.
And to help us do that, I know of no better place to turn than to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians, because it’s all about getting back to basics of following hard after Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and the interdependencies of life in the family of God.
For followers of Jesus, the Gospel, the Good News that God is reconciling all things to himself (including us!) through His Son, Jesus. The Good News that changes everything.
In these verses, we'll discover 4 fruits of the Gospel in our lives:
Our Gospel Family: The gospel enfolds us into uncommon unity. One of the ways you know the gospel is at work is that it brings together people who would never otherwise hang out with one another. Will we allow the gospel to redefine our social circle?
Our Gospel Charity: The gospel infuses in us unexpected affections. The gospel of grace forges deep connections between members of the body of Christ. It teaches us to love one another with the love of Christ himself. Will we allow the gospel to realign our hearts’ affections?
Our Gospel Destiny: The gospel is ushering us to unforeseen glories. The Gospel has bound us together as a family, and given us the affection of Christ for one another, so that the love of Christ might abound in our lives and sweeping us along toward this common destiny of being conformed to the image of Christ to the glory and praise of God! Will we allow the gospel to refocus our dreams?
Our Gospel Priority: The gospel empowers us for unselfish mission. The gospel teaches us to gladly serve and sacrifice for the sake of the gospel. Will we allow the gospel to reprioritize our lives?
It is the good news of Jesus that changes everything.
Music has a way of connecting to our emotions in wonderful ways. Some music helps us rejoice or relax, and other music is deeply therapeutic. Psalm 42 is a therapeutic song, written from the perspective of someone who is desperate for spiritual healing, desperate to be delivered from their spiritual depression.
When our souls are desperate for God, what should we do? Maybe you’ve felt like this in your spiritual life: your prayers feel like they’re bouncing off a glass ceiling, your Bible reading feels like wasted time, you’re craving some experience of God, but right now you’re dry and empty.
It may not be you today but at some point we all face moments like this, and statistically right now it’s those around you, your family, friends and neighbors. Whether it’s you or someone you're called to love, the way toward soul-sustaining water, is found in Jesus.
Water for desperate souls is found in...
the community of Jesus
the promises of Jesus
the cry of Jesus
the hope of Jesus
In this sermon, we explore one of the Psalms of King David that was written while he was fleeing from Saul. David faced intense fears when he penned this song; and yet, the prose explodes with praise and adoration for God.
When you face difficulties or fear, do you put your praise on pause?
Five lessons from Psalm 34:
When faith fails, don’t put your praise on pause. For David, praise is an intentional act in all circumstances. Praise is continual, intentional, and it is anchored in genuine humility.
When faith fails, fear festers. But, it is when we face the hardships that the attributes of God become transforming from theoretical to personal.
When faith fails, we are prone to speaking disgraceful things. So ask yourself, “Am I speaking words of affirmation and grace into the lives of those around me.?” If it doesn’t edify others and honor God, don’t say it.
When faith fails, the impacts of sin ripples beyond the individual. So, when a brother or sister in Christ is in sin, we must do all that we can to restore them to fellowship with God and the body of Christ.
When faith fails, seek peace with Christ. Stop running and cry out to Jesus.
Who can dwell with God?
God has very high standards for who can live with Him. And that is what we are going to consider from Psalm 15. In this short psalm, author King David asks the Lord: “What kind of person may live with you and be in Your holy presence?” David describes the person who can dwell with the Lord in six couplets or pairs of statements in this Psalm.
The One Whose Character is Blameless: The Hebrew word for “blameless” means “whole” or “sound.” It does not mean sinless. Instead, it refers to a person whose character is upright in all areas and who is fully committed to obeying the Lord. Not someone who seems honorable in public but when alone is a very different person. Simply put, they do what is right. When they are faced with a choice between doing what pleases the Lord and doing what pleases themselves, the kind of person they are, the desires they have cultivated, the thoughts they allow themselves to entertain… compel this person to choose to do what is right—to do what pleases the Lord—even when it is costly or painful.
The One Who Speaks the Truth: The person who can live with the Lord speaks truth on the one hand and does not slander anyone on the other. Their speech is always truthful yet never slanderous. Again, the idea goes deeper than simple behavior and speaks of the character of the person. A person who speaks the truth is a trustworthy person. We might say they are a “straight-shooter” – you can trust what they say. All of us know people we don’t trust. We may love them, but we don’t trust them. But when the person who pleases the Lord speaks, they are completely trusted because they speak “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” The second part of the couplet says that they do not slander people. Slanderous statements are often wrong and ignorant, but they may be true statements which are intended to harm or damage someone by sharing them with others inappropriately. When you slander someone, when you gossip about them, it says far more about you than it does them. It reveals what is in your heart: an arrogant, judgmental, and unloving spirit. There is a strong pull to justify slander because the person we are speaking about has hurt us or is so cocky it makes us sick or is a hypocrite who we want to expose. But the kind of person who pleases the Lord and can dwell with Him does not slander anyone.
The One Who Loves Others: At first glance, this requirement of this verse doesn’t seem very demanding. But keep in mind that the Lord defines “neighbor” as broader than those you live near and perhaps rarely even see much less know. The kind of man or woman who meets the qualifications to live in God’s presence treats everyone—whether known to them personally or not—as those who have been made in the image of God and thus worthy of respect. They do not see others superficially, judging them by their appearance or status but instead by who God has made them to be. Therefore, they have a godly love for them that shows up in how they treat them. They seek to protect rather than destroy their reputations. They look for ways to help them improve their lives and character rather than tearing them down. They refuse to harm them in any way: physically, emotionally, or spiritually. In short, they do them no evil.
The One Who Shares God’s Values: The requirement here is a choosing of allegiances. Are you on God’s side or on the side of His enemies? The second part of the couplet in verse 4 is that they “honor those who fear the Lord.” Perhaps the question to ask is, “Do you see people as they are or do you judge primarily by appearances?” If our allegiance is wholeheartedly with the Lord, then we will honor those who fear Him.
The One Who Lives with Integrity: The person described here has a deep sense of integrity whose commitment to holiness is greater than his commitment to temporal self-interest. How you res
How do you pick up the pieces when you've blown it so very badly?
Peter was devastated by his thrice denial of Jesus. Even after Jesus was raised from the dead, and Peter had met him twice in the flesh, Peter was still thinking, “What must He think of me!?”
For those of us who know what it is to fail the ones we love, we can understand how desperately Peter wanted to open up to Jesus; and yet he couldn’t just bring it up. Jesus, in His mercy and kindness, brings it up for Peter.
For those of us who have failed and let down those we love, this passage from John 21 is for us. We’ll discover three things:
The Danger of Relapse: Jesus never gives up on failures like us. Peter may have given up on himself, but Jesus never gave up on Peter. There is always more mercy in Christ than sin in us.
The Grace of Repentance: Repentance is the tough grace that sets us free. It’s a tough grace that presses our hearts to repentance. We instinctively resist opening at every turn, but repentance is the only way to be free, it’s the only way to heal. Peter had denied Jesus three times, and so three times Jesus asks penetrating questions. Jesus presses deeper, exposing the deadliness of Peter’s self-confidence, and helping him confess out loud how very inadequate he really was. As Peter admits to the inadequacy of his own love for Christ, he is set free from a life of egotistical self-reliance. Peter, who used to think he had to prove himself to be somebody, discovers that the only thing that really matters in the end, is to be loved by Jesus.
The Beauty of Redemption: Brokenness is a prerequisite for usefulness. When Peter felt strongest, he was least useful. But when Peter felt weakest, he was greatly useful. Our greatest ministry is often rooted in our deepest wounds. God takes our misery and turns it into our ministry…because He is the Great Redeemer. Jesus takes each one of us as we are—underserving, inadequate, broken, and sinful—and in His mercy He redeems us, transforms us, and empowers us to be useful for His eternal glory and our everlasting joy. In the grace of God, we need not hid from our brokenness, for it is a prerequisite for our usefulness to God.
Takeaway: In the love of Jesus there is abundant hope for our stories.
No matter what you’ve done, no matter what you’ve become, no matter what’s been done to you, Jesus never gives up on failures like us. There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us.
Breakthrough is the moment when everything changes. The old categories are shattered, and a whole new paradigm is born.
And the greatest breakthrough in all of history is when Jesus rose from the dead. It shatters the old categories and gives birth to a whole new paradigm.
In this passage form John 20:19-31, we explore a 4-dimensional breakthrough from Jesus’ resurrection.
Breakthrough Resurrection: Jesus’ resurrected body broke through all the disciples’ categories. Neither Greco-Roman nor Jewish thought had categories for the kind of resurrection we see here in Jesus. This is important for two reasons. First, it explains their incredulity—the disciples were totally unprepared for this, and it took them a while to adjust. Second, it explains why they couldn’t have made up this story, because they didn’t have a frame of reference for this type of event. Will you allow Jesus to break your categories? We all have our categories for how a god ought to be, and we’ll believe when he fits our preconceived ideas. Of course, then we usually end up with a god who looks strikingly like ourselves and affirms the life we are already living. But Jesus breaks through our reductionistic categories. In fact, breaking our categories is the only what you know we’re encountering the real, living God, and not just some figment of our imaginations.
Breakthrough Blessings: Because the resurrected Jesus is alive forevermore, His blessings in this passage are breakthrough blessings greater and more powerful than any He had previously given. There are four blessings: peace, sending, spirit, and authority. The point of all these breakthrough blessings is that Jesus’ mission will go on through his disciples by the Holy Spirit. This mission continues today in all those who believe. We are Jesus’ ambassadors, emissaries, and representatives. Will you join Jesus on mission in the world?
Breakthrough Confession: Thomas did not at first believe in the resurrection. In fact, his initial reticence earned him the name Doubting Thomas. But when Jesus shows up in the flesh, Doubting Thomas becomes Believing Thomas when he confesses “My Lord and my God!” This confession is like a theological earthquake; it’s the highest Christological confession in the Gospel of John. And it wasn’t just an academic confession, it was deeply personal. Jesus is risen as the Divine Lord of all. Doubting is not the opposite of faith, because doubting may actually be where faith begins. Will you invite Jesus into your doubts? Have you ever prayed your doubts and asked God to help?
Breakthrough Opportunity: Jesus blesses those who will come to believe, but who unlike Thomas, will not have the benefit of seeing the resurrected Jesus first-hand. Jesus offers life in Himself to all who will believe. Will you dare to believe in Jesus?