“The Message of the Cross” (I Cor. 1:18-24 sermon)

A few weeks ago we installed a new wooden cross over our baptistry. Many people have commented that they like it — but some might ask: why would we put a cross here in our worship center? The answer is that the cross is the central element of Christianity. It is the most important symbol of our faith, because it represents the message that is at the heart of the gospel, without which there would be no Christianity at all.

The gospel in a nutshell is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins. The cross is central in that message. Because of that, I want us to spend some time this morning looking at I Corinthians 1:18-25 together, as we study “The Message of the Cross.” Continue reading

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Your First Word of the Day

I suppose a Monday morning “start of the week” blog is as good a time as any to publish some thoughts I have harbored for some time. Several years ago I began writing daily devotionals at shawnethomas.com, in the hopes that the insights might be edifying to those who read them. The feedback I have received from these devotions and from the sermons I have published here has been gratifying — but there is a lingering concern which I would like to address today. Continue reading

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Sunday Afternoon Gleanings (7-26-15)

Samuel Rutherford was a 17th-century Scottish Puritan pastor who was exiled for his faith. He spent much time writing others at home or in prison who struggled with their faith due to their circumstances. Below are some gleanings from this afternoon’s reading in The Letters of Samuel Rutherford which offer both comfort and challenge: Continue reading

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Beloved, “Sister”, Friend

The Song of Solomon is a challenging book to study. In some ways, one feels that to attempt to analyze it is akin to A.T. Robertson’s analogy of “dissecting a flower” by examining the individual characteristics of love in I Corinthians 13.  But the references that Solomon and his beloved make towards each other in Chapter 5 are very instructive to those who seek healthy marriage relationships today: Continue reading

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His Will Is Good

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you might prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Romans 12:1-2 is one of the most powerful, and frequently quoted sets of verses in the Bible, and yet the last little phrase may be one that is often overlooked: “the will of God is … good and acceptable and perfect.” Continue reading

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Legalism & “Renewing Your Mind”

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

One of the biggest challenges facing followers of Jesus Christ is that of the “renewing of your minds.” We are immersed in this world system, and we need a total reprogramming.  The way of Christ is different than what we see and are continually bombarded with in the media.   Continue reading

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Psalm 2: A Word For Our Days

This week I finished a tremendous book, Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It tells the story of a gifted young man who grew up in Germany in the early 1900’s, and who went into the ministry, becoming a noted pastor & theologian. What is striking to read is how Bonhoeffer watched the Germany that he knew, change before his very eyes into something totally unrecognizable from it had been. And what is sobering is that as I read those pages, I kept thinking: “This same thing is what is happening in our country today!” I have heard many people say that they feel like the America we have known is slipping — or has already slipped — away.

How do we respond in such times? Panic? Fear? Anger? As always, God’s word should be our guide as disciples of Jesus Christ. When the recent Supreme Court decision was announced, legalizing same-sex marriage, I began searching God’s word for a Biblical response. The Psalm we are looking at today is the word God settled my heart with. It gives us a balanced, Biblical perspective for our response: not reactionary, not panic — but a response of faith & trust in the God who still holds the whole world in His hand. Let’s look at what this Psalm has to tell us as a word from God for our days:   Continue reading

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