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Speaker: Jerry Cisar Kavin Rowe writes that the goal of biblical leadership is “to cultivate thriving communities that bear witness to the inbreaking reign of God that Jesus announces and embodies, in all that we do and are. That is our goal: Christian communities that are a picture of and testament to God’s reign.” To reach this goal, pastors must…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” (Prov. 29:18 ESV) Every January thousands of sermons are preached with reference to that verse. Most use the KJV 18a: “Without a vision, the people perish.” The sermons that follow are frequently about anything but a prophet…
 
Speaker: Ryan Carver Our world is broken and we all experience the effects of sin. Broken families, broken marriages, and broken friendships are common examples of how we are entrenched in a world that is not the way that it should be. But, God is renewing our broken world and He is starting where the problem originated, the hearts of men. God prom…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar How does Christmas call us to live? Our King was born; light has come; a new day is dawning. What does this mean for how we live this world? How does the kingdom that came from heaven “conquer” the kingdoms of this world? The Beatitudes, which simply means “the blessings,” each begin with “blessed are …”. Jesus’ audience would …
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Psalm 113 calls us to praise Yahweh (the Hebrew name for God)! In every waking moment and in every place upon which the sun sets its light. Always and everywhere, praise Yahweh. Why? Because He is exalted over the nations? Yes, but, by itself, that does not separate Yahweh from the claims of other gods. If that were the only th…
 
Speaker: Peter Stonecipher We’ve all seen images from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II of England in 1953. An estimated three million of Elizabeth’s subjects descended on London hoping to catch a glimpse of their soon-to-be Queen. Certainly, much optimism and hope for days ahead was shared by Elizabeth’s people as they celebrated their new mona…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Advent, a Church season designed to recall the anticipation and waiting for God’s coming, is about hope and faith, for sure, but not in the secular sense of optimism. Rather, hope and faith in the biblical sense that we need a miracle and only God give it. Christmas is about light coming into the world. Not just any world, a ve…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar John the apostle is the J. R. R. Tolkien of the NT writers. My sermon title might more readily be applied to a sermon drawn from Ephesians 6:10-18 where Paul describes what is often called the “armor of God.” There, Paul uses blatant metaphors for spiritual warfare which can’t be missed. This Sunday, I want to propose that John…
 
Speaker: Peter Stonecipher There are many “ingredients” which could make an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one. Excellent food, a talented or famous chef, a beautiful location, and meaningful company could all contribute to elevating an average meal to an exceptional one. It may come as a surprise that the Bible shows God is concerned that our…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar In a recent poll conducted by Lifeway Research and Ligoneer, 51% of Americans said they believe that Jesus was a good teacher but did not think that he was God. Almost a third of those who gave that response claimed to be Evangelical Christians. According to this poll, about a third of people claiming to be Evangelical are inde…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar The Economist published an article asking, “Why shouldn’t parents be treated as badly as smokers?” The author is serious. “Signs proliferate demanding no smoking, no spitting, no parking, even no walking…. The Economist would like to suggest restrictions on a source of noise pollution: children.” Why? Because just as smoking, d…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Orthodoxy, often talked about by students of the faith, refers to soundness of faith, which is often boiled down to belief in the right points of truth. As important as that is, we cannot overlook the importance of orthopraxy… right practice. John, in our text today, wants us to understand that orthopraxy, sound practice of the…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar There are several superpower tests you can take on the internet to determine what your superpower is. This morning I took the one put out by the Des Moines Area Community College. According to them, heroes aren’t born, they’re made with internet quizzes. It turns out that my superpower is invisibility. Many such tests target an…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Friday, after prayer I was looking for a place to work on my sermon and fill my stomach. I walked into a diner and from a distance I immediately recognized someone. This fellow was sitting with two people I had never met but immediately recognized as family members. In fact, I would quickly think, “brother and father” to this p…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Last week we learned that we are in the last hour and must live our lives accordingly. The temptation, of course, is to think that we have plenty of time… no need to get ready now. John wants the disciples in his churches to eagerly anticipate Christ’s return. Will they be ashamed when He comes? Can they have confidence when He…
 
Speaker: Peter Stonecipher Many of us have wondered how we might spend our time if we were given a diagnosis which left us with only a few months to live. Would we travel to exotic places we’ve always dreamed of visiting? Would we methodically check items off our “bucket list”? Would we spend as much time as possible with friends and family? Would …
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Julia Buckley writes about one of the greatest disappointments in her life: “They’re here!” called one of our group, as everyone scrambled to put on snow boots, four extra layers and grab cameras…. Our host slammed his laptop shut, [rushing] us out of the door. ‘She is here,’ he said to us with Confucian wisdom, leading us roun…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar During the Kosovo war (1998-1999), commenting on the rage experienced by victims of the war who had been robbed of not only their possessions but their life’s work, a NY Times journalist asks, “Can such a deep hurt ever heal?” In response, an Albanian newspaper editor related a story to the journalist: “There was a naughty boy …
 
Speaker: Rob Mastry Some 500 or so years ago, a law school dropout and young philosopher got caught in a thunderstorm on his way back to school from a trip home to visit his family. With lightning crashing all around him, and no prospect of refuge, he trembled in fear. Nearly petrified, the philosophy student cried out in prayer. It was in that mom…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Christian community (fellowship, koinonia) is predicated on forgiveness—the forgiveness of God for our sins. We are a people who have been rescued and still need rescue from sin. When John sets out to communicate the Gospel he heard from Christ, this is where he begins. Some might think that John is laying a guilt trip on us, b…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar When most believers answer the question, “What is the Gospel?” we default to Paul’s way of communicating it. Maybe this is because Paul’s letters are front-ended in our New Testaments, or that he wrote more than any other author wrote, or because more sermons are drawn from them. This isn’t a bad thing, though it is a good thin…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Zack Eswine offers the following illustration. “You hear a crash in the living room. It is a vase. It might have been a vase you loved. You have four children. After you hear the crash, the shouts magnify. “Mom! Dad!” Four different voices run your way to tell you, “I didn’t do it. No. He did it. She hit me!” So there you are, …
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Morgan Lee, Miss Goth Massachusetts, when asked how she would describe Goth, responded: “It’s really a style and a way of thinking. Basically, you’re miserable all the time. We just see the darker side that other people tend to ignore.” The Preacher in Ecclesiastes also sees the darker side of life, but his conclusion is quite …
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Leadership talk has been all the craze for at least the last 3 decades. However, leadership by itself is not a good thing. Great leaders with their followers have accomplished great things and great leaders with their followers have committed many atrocities. There is something in the heart of man that loves what makes a great …
 
Speaker: Peter Stonecipher In some comments on Psalm 42 (especially verses 5 and 11), Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?…The main art in the matter of spiritual living is to know how to handle yourself. You hav…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Karl Malden, playing Reverend Ford in Pollyanna, preaches a memorable sermon. Pollyanna is a perennial optimist.; always sunny and positive. Attending her grandmother’s church for the first time, the preacher emerges from a door to ascend a steep set of steps to one of those old-fashioned pulpits which towers over the congregat…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar MLK Jr. captured the heart of the problem expressed by another preacher in Ecclesiastes 8. “Evil may so shape events that Caesar will occupy a palace and Christ a cross, but that same Christ arose and split history into A.D. and B.C., so that even the life of Caesar must be dated by his name. Yes, ‘the arc of the moral universe…
 
Speaker: Ryan Carver Resting amidst a world of restlessness is not easy and yet this is what we see the Psalmist speaking of as we look at Psalm 4. The writer is speaking about rest on a deeper level. A heart level. A level of trust and reliance on the God of the bible as he shows us what it looks like to trust God amidst terrible trials. How are w…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Exasperated, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes exclaims, “I’ve seen it all in the days of my futility!” It appears that seeing it all has left him with a perplexing question: “Who can find what is right and wise?” Coronavirus pandemic; societal injustices. Scan social media and you are left with the same question. This is not asking…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone? (Eccl. 6:12) On the heels of this last week, one might well be able to relate to the question posed in 6:12, “who knows what is good for a pe…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar In the modern Christian context, the most well-known verses regarding government are Romans 13 (13:1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established….) and 1 Timothy 2:1-2 where we are instructed to pray for rulers and all that are in authority. Indeed, God h…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar For quite different reasons, both Job and the Preacher of Ecclesiastes are not happy with God’s management of the universe. Job goes directly to God with his complaint; being on the precipice of death, he cannot toy around with ideas. The Preacher has space enough to philosophize, it would seem, for he appears to be on a ventur…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, tells of his experiences in the concentration camp, and how they led him to develop of what he called logotherapy, or therapy rooted in the pursuit of meaning. He recognized in the concentration camps that one’s search for meaning is the primary motivational force in life, a…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar It might often seem that the earth is the epitome of unchanging stability; especially in America. No wars within our borders; no food shortages; a great medical community. But then the calm seas begin to rage. In the case of Coronavirus, our sense of safety evaporates; anxieties rise—not just about toilet paper, but also real c…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Functional MRI technology has allowed neuroscientist to measure brain activity during magic tricks. I’m not talking about the tricks you and I do to our kids or grandkids; I’m talking about professional magicians. Magicians tell us, “The hand is quicker than the eye.” But how could that be? Because our eyes interpret according …
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Imagine a distant relative leaves you in her will a beautiful, very valuable grandfather clock from the early 19th century. You want to display it, but it doesn’t work. You could get three different appraisals, hoping for one that will fix its broken-ness. But appraisals only fix the value of the clock. If you bring it to a mas…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar As one commentator puts it, “The appetite for prominence was a problem for the earliest followers and for Matthew’s church. The modern church is by no means immune to the disease.” The disciples’ question in Matthew 18:1, if it were not so sad, would be comical. “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” In other words, “W…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar We are back in our series in Matthew! Peter has made the momentous declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. After commending Peter, Jesus turns his attention to explaining how things will work in His kingdom. He is going to the capitol city in order to be rejected, suffer, and die. Anyone who wants to f…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Does America’s long history of racial injustice have any bearing today? Have we shed the problems of the past and moved on to a just and free society? Even more relevant for the church is the question of whether the church is walking in full repentance for its historic complicity in racism? Might we still be participating in wa…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar The church today is very worldly. Worldliness has invaded the church. I do not mean that we dress like the world, drink like the world, or dance like the world, etc. I mean something more significant, yet far more subtle, than that. We live in a divided world. A world which cannot communicate with their neighbors because they l…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar “Peace on earth…” the angels declared to the shepherds at the coming of the Savior in Bethlehem. In view of the last week, or the last century, some might wonder what the coming of Jesus had to do with peace. This Sunday we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent with the theme peace. Oddly enough, my text this Sunday (Luke 19:41-44…
 
Speaker: Jerry Cisar Advent, that season leading up to Christmas, has not always been about the mad rush to get “ready” for Christmas—buying, wrapping, and mailing the gifts, and then planning the festivities. Advent is about waiting. Not waiting in line at stores; a different waiting. Andre Henry describes Advent as “the time for acknowledging our…
 
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