Sermons

Posts about top sermons and ideas for sermon series.

_________ is dead; what’s next?

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Our lives are constant transition, or so it seems. We are constantly seeing the “circle of life” lived out. One thing starts with blazing fury and seems to faze out with equal vigor. When products fail, when leaders step away, when marriages end, when things don’t go as planned, when it feels like everything is exploding (or imploding) right before our eyes, what do we do? We often ask ourselves, “what’s next?”

The great news is God is not a God of confusion, but clarity. And what’s more, God is not accustomed to change. He’s dealt with more change than anyone else. He’s had to initiate a plethora of plans in order to accomplish His purposes. One example of God’s ability to execute His purposes regardless of the situation is that of Joshua. Here’s how God commissions Joshua to accomplish His purposes after a huge transition (the death of Moses, the leadership staple of Israel for nearly a century).

Joshua 1:1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

One thing is clear: God’s plan is Joshua. He wants to partner with Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land, a place replete with blessings. But how does Joshua get there? What’s next?

A Culture Worth Remembering

The first step is actually a look: a look into history. In the first few verses, God recounts the current situation and what He’s already promised to Joshua and subsequently Israel. God recounts that Moses is dead, but God still has active promises waiting to be fulfilled. God already promised Moses (v. 3) and will still go good on His promises. The first thing Joshua had to do was remember where he came from, both physically and spiritually. Joshua was born in Egypt. He knows what it’s like to be in slavery and that God’s freedom is better than slavery any day. Joshua’s also been one of the few who’s always stood for God’s truth. He was one only two of the 12 spies who gave a good report in Numbers 13. Spiritually, Joshua learned from some of the best. In Exodus 33:11, we see that even after Moses departed from His times with God in the tent, Joshua still kept hanging around. Joshua was bred in a culture of honoring God’s Presence in His life. He’s heard the stories. He’s lived the stories.

What stories have you heard? What’s your culture? Where did you come from? Physically, you’ve got a heritage. I’m sure it’s not all daisies and roses, but there is something of value there. What has God already given you through your physical family? friends? coworkers? classmates? What’s your culture? What’s more, what’s your spiritual heritage? Ephesians 1:5 tells us that we were adopted into God’s family. If you believe in Jesus, your spiritual heritage is adoption. God, who saw you clearly and knew everything good and bad about who you would be, choose to love you unconditionally and pour out His grace and mercy on your life. Further, Romans 11 says we were grafted into the blessing that God had planned for Israel. As believers in Christ, we’ve been connected into all the Promises of God (2 Corinthians 1:20). That’s a culture worth remembering and cultivating.

A Connection Worth Maintaining

The second step is also less active: a connection with God. The middle verses of Joshua’s commissioning are ripe with God’s invitation to intimate connection with Himself. He says things like “just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you” (v. 5) and “you will have good success” (v. 8). At the same time, this connection is contingent largely on one thing: keeping in line with God’s Word. He says, “do not depart from it either to the right or to the left” (v. 7). Remember, Joshua is accustomed to time with God. He’s heard all the words Moses has written down. And God says, “Your success, Joshua, is based on one simple thing: stick on the path I’ve already outlined.” This connection is the single most valuable thing Joshua can hold onto.

It’s also evident that as believers maintaining our connection to God is of the utmost importance. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “remain in me and you’ll bear much fruit” (John 15:5). An orange tree doesn’t have to work hard to produce oranges. An orange branch connected to a tree doesn’t have to work hard at all. It’s a natural result of connection. But if you cut off that connection, try as it may, that branch is not going to give you an orange. 100 years from now, most of what we do will not matter. In fact, 1,000 years from now, the only things that truly remain will be the things we’ve done in love through our connection with God. One of the most beautiful things about this is that it absolutely abolishes the idea that we have to prove ourselves or prove our honor. Instead, we see that our honor comes through Jesus, and we have no need to fight for anything else than that. We’re above disappointment; we’re beyond failure, because our God always has another plan to accomplish His purpose if we are willing to stay in it with Him.

A Courage Worth Acting Upon

The third step, however, is the crucible of life: being courageous. God concludes his time with Joshua with this phrase: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). If you read through the rest of Joshua, you’ll see all of life isn’t peachy keen. Joshua faces many difficult and even terrifying situations. It’s no wonder, God has to say, “Be strong and courageous” a number of different times! And yet in the whole Bible, Joshua is one of the only main characters who has nothing bad written about him. This is a man who knows his culture, maintains his connections, and acts with courage. But not just Joshua, whenever God gives us a command, it actually comes with the seed of grace to fulfill it. God doesn’t ask us to do anything that we’re not capable of because we’re in Him.

So it goes with us: anyone willing to act in courage will be someone who is used greatly by God. Thus, God is inviting each of us to make courageous decisions. Maybe it’s the decision to begin a relationship with Him, or the decision to let go of an idol or sin-pattern holding you back from the Promised Land. Perhaps, there is truth you need to share in love, or someone from the next generation (physically or spiritually) you must invest in. It could even be the decision to leave the safety of your current job for something else God has for you.

Even with all of the great things that happened in Joshua’s life, he was still just a glim reflection in a mirror of what God did through Jesus (1 Corinthians 13:12) as the fulfillment of all of God’s work. Perhaps, one of the most amazing mysteries of our lives is this: “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). If you’re facing something in life, the chances are good that you’ve already been empowered by God to accomplish what it would take to solve that problem or bring that breakthrough. But before you say no because it looks overwhelming, please first take a good look at the culture and connection into which God’s invited you. And then thoughtfully ponder which courageous decision you’ll make today!

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Covenant Sermon Series: Our Covenant with God

We’ve recently had a new sermon series on Covenant Relationships. We are spending a month learning about how the ideas behind “covenant” help us understand our relationship with God, with each other and with the world. To help provide more background, and because it’s well-done, we showed this video on Covenant made by Bible Project. Here are excerpts from the sermon on Our Covenant with God.

  1. Sermon in a Sentence: God invites you to a covenant in which He is faithful and you are washed, protected, and brought into the family as you submit.
  2. I recently watched a group of 10 year olds playing basketball. Mercy wasn’t under the covenant. It’s poetic irony. Mercy brings us under the covenant, but she wasn’t responding to her name. She wanted to win desperately, but wasn’t willing to follow her coach’s leading. Instead, she kept throwing up air balls. 
  3. God invites you to a covenant. Every covenant has an introduction, historical background, stipulations, and blessings and curses depending on whether both parties keep the covenant. 
  4. In which He is faithful.  God is a faithful partner even when we are not. Let’s review the four covenants we mentioned last week. Noah. I’ll keep the world a safe place. I’ll never destroy it again. Abraham. I’ll bless you so you can be a blessing. Moses. I’ll lead you to the promised land as you follow my ways. David. I’ll be a faithful king and bless you among the nations. In each one of these circumstances, the people were unfaithful, but God remained faithful and true to His Word and Promise. 
  5. And You are washed, protected, and brought into the family. In Ephesians 5:25-32 we read all the things Jesus has done for us. He gave himself for us. He washed and cleansed us. He presented us without spot. He wants the best for us. He nourishes us.
  6. As you submit. This is our half of the covenant. The word mentioned in Ephesians 5:22, 23, and 32 is a combination of a preposition meaning “under” and a verb meaning “plan.” God wants to see us “under the plan.” It’s controversial. But it’s the way God made it. He is looking to be a husband to us. And in turn his expectation is that we would be a wife “subjected to” him. Are you willing to be “subjected to him?” What would it look like in your Finances? In your physical health? Can you imagine if submitted to God’s plan for your business?
  7. Do you ever remember getting a great present or kind gift. Perhaps, you didn’t know how to use it. you had to follow the manual. The user manual wants you to get the best out of the equipment. The world tells us we understand enough to figure it out. How’s that been working for you?
  8. God has ordained, appointed, determined, set an abundant life for you and all you need to do is put yourself in submission to it. Memorize James 4:7: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Proclaim the covenant you’re under. See if God doesn’t come to the rescue. We must be willing to submit ourselves to the covenant or we will not receive its benefits. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

You can watch this sermon and more via our Facebook Live Feed.

ROI: Sow Fruit, Reap Peace and Stability


We are continuing on in our series on Kingdom Return on Investments. Here are top quotes and ideas from the installment on sowing our spiritual fruit.

  1. Jesus can sleep in a storm because of the peace that dwells inside of him. Jesus’ life operated from a place of peace. Because he had this fruit at work in his life, he was able to sleep and in turn affected the situation around him rather than being affected by the situation (Mark 4:35-40).
  2. There’s a battle for your mind. We are to be renewed in our mind. The fruit of the Spirit are how that happens.
  3. The Scripture talks about peace. Bible Concordance on Peace. Primarily, there’s one aspect I want to point out to us: peace means being joined together, being whole. Peace is God’s gift of wholeness. Peace begets Peace.
  4. Our beliefs dictate our behaviors.
  5. The ultimate peacemaker is Jesus and what He did when He died on the cross for us. Think about Ephesians 2. He brought peace to those who were close and those who were far (Ephesians 2:13-14). He joined them together. We’re joined together with God because of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Three Application Points

  • Physical Fruit: Choosing to exercise self-control in a situation that you normally wouldn’t. You have to retrain your body to walk in self-control. Yesterday, I was walking through this market and I saw these beautiful chocolate covered strawberries. They were dipped in powdered sugar, and I’m not even kidding, they were the size of my hand. I said no. I exercised self-control. Something in my brain clicked.
  • Mental/Emotional Fruit: 40 Days of Negativity Fast. You have to retrain your brain to walk in peace. We’ve been doing some of these in our lives. There’s so much negativity in the world today. We need some positivity.
  • Spiritual Fruit: Declare peace. Come home to peace. Share the story from the small group book. (5 minutes). There are those who are overcome by circumstances and those who are overcomers. God says, you’re an overcomer. Read Romans 8. The peace that Jesus cultivated within him because of his closeness to the Father, was the peace that was spoken out over the storm. What storms are you facing? What does it look like to declare peace in those storms?

Tune in to weekly services on our Facebook Live feed here.

New Breakthrough OUTWARD in 2017

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At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our second week focused on our inward relationship with the body of believers. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. Throughout history, from biblical times until now, we have seen thousands of testimonies of cultural revival happening because of a chosen group of people who set themselves aside to pray and fast. 
  2. Azusa Street Revival started in 1906 as a small prayer meeting. Since then, they estimate over 600,000,000 people who have given their lives to Christ can be connected to this prayer meeting.
  3. Daniel was reading Jeremiah and realized that the prophecy was supposed to come true in the year in which he lived, but he didn’t see any revival happening. 
  4. Daniel said no to pleasant things. The Hebrew word here is “Shemuda” (credit attributed to Bill Johnson). When the Angel visits Daniel, he says, he addresses Daniel as “God’s dearly beloved.” The word here is “Shemuda. Something happens when we give up our rights to Shemuda. It’s almost as if our release of Shemuda allows us to become Shemuda to God. Daniel denied his right to desirable things here (Earth), in so doing became desirable there (heaven). Something is added to the favor realm by saying “I know I have a right, but for this season I’m going to say no. I want to push into something that’s greater.” 
  5. Yes, Jesus loves you. No, you can’t stay the same. 
  6. Daniel repented for his friends. We usually just judge our friends. We have to be the ones who can get in the middle of a situation without becoming that situation.
  7. The Angel was sent at the beginning of Daniel’s fast. It took him 21 days to get there, because of spiritual battle. It’s almost as if the Angel was saying, “Thank you for not giving up.”
  8. We underestimate the influence our prayer and fasting has on Earth and in Heaven.
  9. God gives us specific windows of time, or opporutnities, to press into Him to see extreme breakthrough in society. 
  10. Which area of society are you called to: arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, religion?

New Breakthrough INWARD in 2017

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At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our second week focused on our inward relationship with the body of believers. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. God doesn’t want us to be unaware. He wants us to be fully aware (1 Corinthians 12:1)
  2. God is close. He’s close to us through the life of Jesus in the gospels (John 1:1), and He’s close to us through Holy Spirit (John 14:16), and He’s close to us through each other (John, 20:22, Matthew 18:20). The world knows us by our love (John 13:35) for each other. 
  3. Our life in Christ can’t be fully realized unless we do it within the context of Christian fellowship. 
  4. Only in this crucible can our commitment to Christlikeness be lived out. Interestingly enough, this context, the fellowship of believers (Acts 2:42-47), is both where God’s Presence Manifests (UPWARD) and where people get saved (OUTWARD). 
  5. “Struggle drains you of the illusion of self-sufficiency.” Leadership Freak, Dan Rockwell
  6. Fast on behalf of someone for the purpose of seeing cultural, systemic change in yourself and in them. The motive is love, not your way. Consider their needs above your own (think Esther). Declare a new season of breakthrough. 
  7. Fast in order to strengthen the word of the Lord on a person’s life. (think Paul being sent on his missionary journeys after they laid hands on him (Acts 13). Receive words and pictures that you can share with people. 
  8. Fast for extreme breakthrough in the community (think “the number was added to daily” from Acts 2:42-47). Pray people in to the family of God. 
  9. Fast together by sharing what you’re going through and praying for each other (think community in Matthew 6). Use what you know to intercede for that person.
  10. Fast on behalf of someone to receive biblical insight in an area (think 2 Timothy 3:16). Use Scripture to declare life over that person. 

New Breakthrough UPWARD in 2017

Embed from Getty Images

At Aroma, we’ve developed a habit of beginning each new year with a time of prayer and fasting. We believe it’s a special way to usher ourselves into a new year with a focus on God’s work in our lives. This year, we had a coinciding sermon series:

prayer-and-fasting-2017

 Our first week focused on our upward relationship with God. Here are 10 of my personal notes and highlights from the content of the sermon.

  1. Fasting is giving up something physical to pursue God’s spiritual best.
  2. God has presents for us. We often have to be willing to let go of what we’re holding on to in order to actually receive what He wants to give us.
  3. Relationship with God is a radical and well-rounded pursuit.
  4. Our life is often a tension between two things. There’s absolute truth in God, and there’s an in-absolute journey of God getting us there. It’s the joy and pain of life.
  5. You don’t get anywhere by being half something. The world is looking for a radical picture of life abundant.
  6. The goal of fasting is disciplining yourself so that you’ll receive. Abide in me. Discipline yourself. Then, you’ll bear fruit. Man doesn’t live on bread alone. Do we really believe our spiritual is as important as our physical nourishment. All of these say, “Trust God first. Rely on God first. Then, you’ll get what you need.”
  7. Manna, or God’s supernatural provision in your life, happens in the desert (Exodus 16:1-12).
  8. God is drawing us to an intimate relationship with Him. He’s inviting us upward, to abide. He’s inviting us to receive daily manna, or supernatural provision, in our lives for him. He’s inviting us to deny, even the good things in our lives, so we can walk in His best.
  9. Your taste buds physically reset after 21 days.
  10. Jesus is the only one tempted in every way as we are and yet without sin. One of the greatest examples of temptation he went through happened in Matthew 4. As he was fasting, Jesus was tempted with personal gain (loaves from stones), fame (angels’ care), and political power (the authority over all the nations in the world) (from Redeeming Sex).