As a parent of three young kids I’m amazed how frequently I have to tell them the same things over and over. I mean honestly, should I really have to tell my four year old son more than once that he can’t push his two-year-old brother off the couch? I even find myself saying, “Guys, I’ve told you this a hundred times.” Maybe a slight overstatement, but they do need to hear the same messages over and over (and over and over and over…)
In truth, you and I are no different. Over these past five years I find myself and my church in need of hearing these seven themes over and over again.
1. God's grace is greater than our sin.
I heard a great story of Martin Luther being approached by a member of his church who asked when he would preach something OTHER than the gospel to them. Luther responded, “When you show up looking like a people who believe the gospel, I’ll preach something else to you.” We’re all prone to believe we can out-sin God’s grace. That means the message that must saturate every sermon is the one true gospel of Jesus’ perfect life, substitutionary death and victorious resurrection.
2. What we feel doesn't dictate what's real.
Emotions have a way of determining our perceived reality. If I FEEL God has allowed something unjust, God is unjust. If I FEEL God has abandoned me, God must have abandoned me. If I FEEL God is not in control, I must be on my own. The problem is, our emotions frequently conflict with God’s Word. Each time this happens, we have a choice to make: Will Scripture, or my subjective feelings, determine what’s true? I have a friend who says, “Emotions make a great caboose, but a lousy engine.” Each day we have to let the Bible beat our feelings into submission.
3. If it's in the text we have to do something with it.
We tend to treat the Bible like a buffet - we pick what we like and skip what we don’t. Pastors are guilty of this, too. We all have parts of Scripture we’re comfortable preaching and parts we’re not. The task in front of every Bible preacher is preaching the full counsel of God’s Word, regardless of our comfort with what it says. No skipping, no ignoring, no passing over. If God says it, we have to face it.
4. God's always working for our good and His glory.
If you follow Christ for more than a few seconds, something will happen that will make you wonder what God is doing. It may be a trial you face, a loved one who dies, or a situation you never expected. As a result, the most common questions we ask are, “Where is God and what is He doing?” The answer: He is with you and He is working. God is always accomplishing His objective: His glory and your good in all things.
5. Jesus is coming!
Even a cognitive trust that God is pushing His plan forward doesn’t diminish the temporary suffering we all experience. Suffering has a way of obscuring our ability to see God’s hand in our hurts. That means we need our hearts constantly recalibrated to the reality of Christ’s return. Things won’t always be the way they are. Suffering will cease. Pain will pass. Death will disappear. Even the most difficult day will be eclipsed against the backdrop of eternity with Jesus.
6. Christians don't coddle sin, they kill it.
In Romans 8:13, Paul tells us to put to death the deeds of the body. We’re not called to manage sin or minimize it. We’re called to kill it. Over and over we needed to be reminded that sin is not a game. You may not see the immediate consequences of it, but make no mistake, if you’re not killing your sin, it is in fact killing you. The death may be slow, but in the end, death is still definitive.
7. Faith isn’t a feeling, it’s a choice.
As a pastor, I hear people say, “I want to have faith and trust God, but I just don’t FEEL it.” We have to get rid of the notion that faith is a feeling. It’s not. Faith is a decision to believe that God is who He says He is and capable of all He says He is capable of. When we choose faith, our feelings will follow.
So if you’re a preacher, don’t tire of telling people the same things over and over. They need it and so do you. If you’re not a preacher, never tire of returning to God’s Word over and over again for the daily bread that the truth of His Word is for your soul.
Which of these themes do you need to be reminded of today?