Category Archives: New Covenant Info

Put in Your Big Rocks First

What are your priorities? What comes first for you? If you’re like most people, you’ll say that it is God, family, church, your friends, or personal development.

Now ask, what do I do in an ordinary week? Does it match up with my priorities?

Most people live in the urgent. Demands, phone calls, and Facebook messages press upon them, and they feel that they are being pulled in a dozen different directions. Oftentimes, they let those things that are truly important to them slip by. The years go on, and they realize they’ve hardly spent any time with their children or grandparents or never done the things that they truly value.

In Mt. 6:25–34, Jesus said that the world is constantly living in the urgent. They are always worried about food and clothing.

Jesus said that His disciples are not supposed to live that way. They are supposed to make what is most important a priority and to let that dominate their schedule. Jesus said, “But seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” This means that God needs to be first, and then everything else will fall into place. Continue reading

Are You Justified?

Justified Sermon SeriesWe have begun our new series called “Justified” on the doctrine of justification. Justifying ourselves is something we do all the time when our morality, work ethic, ability to get along with people, or honesty is questioned. Even when we do things that are obviously wrong, we still seek to justify ourselves. This started with our first Father and Mother, Adam and Eve. Even after they broke the obvious, clear command of God, they did not take responsibility for their actions. Instead, they shifted the blame. We’ve been doing it ever since.

Ultimately, this effort at self-justification fails. It alienates us from ourselves and others as well as God. It keeps us from taking a serious look at our own actions and improving them. It won’t work because God knows the truth, even when we don’t admit it.

Adam and Eve’s self-justification was symbolized by their attempt to cover their bodies with fig leaves. God provided another way: he provided skins for them. In this he showed that we can find the love, acceptance, and security we need by accepting his method of justification, the death and obedience of Jesus. When we accept this, nothing can separate us from the love of God.

You can listen to this sermon on our web site here.

A Meal with Jesus

This summer, I had the privilege of travelling to New Orleans with my two oldest children. After taking a tour on the Mississippi and a long walk through the city, Anna, David, and I found a wonderful Cajun restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter. Wanting Anna and David to experience some classic New Orleans cuisine, I ordered our meals and an appetizer of alligator and crawfish. Being from South Dakota, I assumed that an appetizer was a couple of bites of each. But this is New Orleans, known as the unhealthiest city in the nation. They serve huge portions. The alligator and crawfish appetizers consisted of two very large plates of fried chunks of meat (pictured right). When Anna and David got their kids meals, David got a hamburger bigger than a softball and Anna got a plate of chicken strips on a mountain of fries. This meal was one of our most memorable experiences on the trip.

That’s what meals do. They build memories. They unite people. They build new friendships and deepen old ones.

Tim Chester in his book A Meal with Jesus, explains that meals can also build the kingdom of God. He writes:

If you routinely share meals and you have a passion for Jesus, then you’ll be doing mission. It’s not that meals save people. People are saved through the gospel message. But meals will create natural opportunities to share that message in a context that resonates powerfully with what you’re saying. (89)

Meals make friends, and friendship opens the door to talk about Jesus.

Meals also build community in the church. In the book of Acts, we find the early Christians eating together: “They broke bread in their homes, and ate together with glad and sincere hearts . . .”

When we use meals to grow the kingdom, we follow Jesus. Jesus says that He came eating and drinking (Lk. 7:34). He was a real man who ate real food. He used food to make friends. He made friends with sinners. He saved sinners from their sin.

Jesus met people where they were. The Pharisees demanded that people come up to the level of the Pharisees before they accepted them; but Jesus went to them where they were, loved them, and ate with them. That’s what Jesus did for you and me. He met us where we were. From there, He led us to new life, hope, and forgiveness.

We can do the same thing. We can’t save people, but we can represent Jesus to the world. We can do this by accepting people like He did and eating with them. Then, we can point them to Jesus as the way to new life and hope for heaven.

I encourage you to be strategic about your meals. Use them to build your family and friendships, but use them also to build the kingdom. Invite someone out to lunch this week who needs love. Most people will accept the offer for a free lunch. Then, you can let the Holy Spirit lead you as you talk together over a delicious meal.

Why Church?

Have you ever had an experience where you came to a strange place and felt like you knew no one? Then, you see a friend or a relative and all of a sudden, you feel much more comfortable. That’s community. It gives us support. When a husband or wife works hard all day and knows that they can come home to one another, it makes it easier to do everything.

When we realize the importance of community, it’s easier for us to find an answer to the question “why church?” The church is a community of people who trust in Jesus to bring them hope and forgiveness and to lead them in their lives. In doing so, there are many trials and difficulties. The church is that home base of support that enables us to encourage one another and know that we’re not alone in seeking to serve Jesus. In his letter to the Roman Christians, the missionary Paul wrote, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves” (Rom. 15:1). The community of Jesus should be a support.

Sometimes, though, we forget that the community consists of a variety of people at different levels. We should not look down on one another, but we should encourage one another. Paul went on to say, “Accept him whose faith is weak . . . let us stop passing judgment on one another . . . Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Rom. 14:1, 13, 19). Continue reading

Are You Living a Fruitful Life?

Do you want to live a fruitful life? A life that produces fruit that is useful and nourishing to those around you and pleasing to God? Have you ever thought about living such a life?

In the last week of Jesus’ life, he did a unique miracle. He went to a fig tree that was filled with beautiful green leaves. He looked at it, and there was no fruit! Then, he cursed the tree. Matthew, a disciple of Jesus who had been an outcast and tax collector for the Roman government, tells us that Jesus said, “May you never bear fruit again!” The tree immediately withered, and Jesus’ followers were amazed.

This miracle is somewhat disturbing because it tells us that people like trees are meant to bear fruit. I used to live in Michigan. In Michigan, you could practically throw a seed in the ground and expect a fruit-tree within a few years! In South Dakota, not so much. I planted an apple tree six and a half years ago, and I only saw apples one year, which were immediately eaten by grasshoppers. I’m thinking of cutting that tree down. Continue reading