Ever wish you had paid more attention in seminary? Struggling with preparing a sermon? GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins wants to help pastors with useful resources to help them as they serve the Lord.
With more than a quarter century of pastoral leadership, Hawkins makes available some of his most popular sermon outlines for pastors, Sunday school teachers and other Bible study leaders. These free resources can help you as you prepare your sermon or lesson each week.
We should make no mistake about the fact that our nation is becoming morally bankrupt because we live by a philosophy that seldom asks “why” questions and most often simply asks “what” questions. Take most any issue that plagues our culture. Teenage pregnancy is a good example. Do we ask, “Why?” No, we ask, “What? What shall we do about it?” So we distribute condoms to our teenagers. The same applies to most issues we face whether they are drugs, AIDS, or whatever. We are asking, “What?” when we ought to be asking, “Why?”
Jeremiah lived in a day much like ours. His country had been blessed and had prospered but had forgotten her roots and her God. Jeremiah was a man with a burden for the way in which his country had turned its back on God. With a weeping heart he asks, Where is the Lord who brought you out of Egypt?(Jeremiah 2:6). Then he came straight to the bottom line with a word from God, They have turned their backs to me and not their face (Jeremiah 2:27).
Jeremiah was not into the “what” questions. He asks four hard “why” questions in chapter eight. These are the same four “whys” America needs to be asking in these days.
I. A question for the American public (v. 5)
Why has this people slidden back?
II. A question for the American pew (v. 14)
Why do we sit still?
III. A question for the American politician (v. 19)
Why have they provoked me to anger?
IV. A question for the American pulpit (v. 22)
Why is there no recovery? Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?
We are living in the most important days of modern history. These are days of tremendous possibility. Revivals are usually born out of days of great despair when hope is almost gone. It is not too late—if we stop asking “What?” and begin to deal with root issues by asking “Why?” Don’t blame our politicians. We have a generation in America today who does not know Christ because we have failed to make Him known. Jeremiah said it best, Ask for the old paths where the good way is and walk in them and you will find rest for your souls (Jeremiah 6:16).
Vision is vital no matter what our lot in life. God’s vision for the church will do five things.
I. Vision brings definition
When we truly capture the vision for what God wants the church to be, it serves to define our task.
II. Vision brings design
Understanding God's vision for the church helps to design how the church will minister.
III. Vision brings dynamic
God's vision for the church brings a sense of conquest to the work of the ministry.
IV. Vision bring direction
God's vision for the church provides a new sense of purpose and direction.
V. Vision brings dependence
God's vision for the church should be so God-sized that there is no way to accomplish the vision unless God intervenes.
God sees us and our church not so much for what we are but what we could be if we receive His vision for the work of ministry.
For a more detailed exposition on Vision, please see chapter five of The Pastor’s Guide to Leading and Living by O.S. Hawkins.
The beginning of a new year always brings an opportunity for a new beginning. Before they crossed into the Promised Land, Moses reminded the children of Israel of God's care for them as they began their new life. We go into the new year with God’s provision, God’s presence, God’s promise and God’s protection.
I. God's provision (v. 11)
Even though there may be hills and valleys, God will be the source for our provisions.
II. God's presence (v. 12)
Moses refers to the God of Israel as "your God." He is a personal Savior and Lord. His eyes are upon us.
III. God's promise (vv. 13-15)
God promises that if we love Him and serve Him with all our hearts then His blessings will be upon us.
IV. God's protection (vv. 16-24)
The Lord will go before us and drive out our enemies.
For a more complete treatment of this text, see O. S. Hawkins' book, Good News for Great Days, pp. 9-20.
God is always the God of newness. The Bible continually refers to the fact that it is never too late for a new beginning. (Isaiah 43:19, Ezekiel 11:19, Hebrews 10:20, Revelation 21:5) The words of our text are immortal: “Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God.” These now familiar words constitute the formula for us as new things come when we cling to Christ in such a manner.
Personal Renewal Brings New Determination (“Entreat me not to leave you…”)
Ruth was declaring with her words that even though her sister-in-law, Oprah, had turned back, she, with a new determination, would cling to Naomi. Her mother-in-law had made sure she knew the way would be hard. Ruth’s past and future would be against her. We say to our Lord what Ruth said to Naomi.
Personal Renewal Brings a New Direction (“For wherever you go, I will go.”)
In other words Ruth was saying, “This will be my life’s direction.” She had never been that way before. A new direction is always a telltale sign of genuine renewal. We begin to become interested in the things for which Jesus was interested.
Personal Renewal Brings a New Dependence (“And wherever you lodge, I will lodge.”)
Ruth was declaring that she would trust Naomi to meet her basic needs. Her determination instilled a new dependence upon Naomi. When personal renewal comes, it is accompanied by a new dependence of trusting the Lord to meet our basic needs.
Personal Renewal Brings a New Desire (“Your people shall be my people.”)
Ruth was saying, “There will be nothing between us.” It is impossible to fellowship with God and not fellowship with His people. To love the Lord is to love his people.
Personal Renewal Brings a New Devotion (“Your God shall be my God.”)
She was saying, “I am not only taking your people as my people, but your God as my God.” If you wish to see an Old Testament conversion, here it is. She was giving up all to follow Naomi’s God.
Personal Renewal Brings a New Dedication
The next verse continues, “Where you die, I will die and there will I be buried” (Ruth 1:17). Ruth is saying not even death will separate us. She was not coming back, even if things did not turn out like she thought they would. We find the same dedication in following Christ.
What constitutes a God-honoring offering? The text unfolds at a private dinner party in a home in Bethany a few days before Golgotha. The Lord Jesus is seated at the table with Lazarus and several close friends. Into the room walks a woman with an alabaster box. Without a word, she kneels at His feet, breaks open her box and pours out a very costly perfume on His feet, then wipes His feet with her hair. Some at the table were quick to rebuke her. But, our Lord honored her. Matthew, Mark and John all recorded it for posterity in order that we would know what makes a truly God-honoring offering. In our own quest to be pleasing to Christ we find four principles leaping from the pages of scriptures into our hearts which signal to us what really makes a God-honoring offering.
I. It is precious to us (vv. 1-3)
When the lady brought her offering, we are told that it was “very costly” (v. 3). In fact, it was worth the equivalent of 300 denarii. This amount was about an entire year’s salary in that first century world. They had no banks, no certificates of deposit, no stocks or bonds, nor savings accounts. This box was her savings, and she poured it out on the Lord. She did not simply dip her finger into her wealth and dab a little on Jesus. She gave something that was precious to her. When King David purchased the threshing floor on Mount Moriah that would become the temple mount, he said he would not offer to the Lord his God a sacrifice of that which costs me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). We honor God in our giving when we give Him something that is precious to us.
II. It is pleasant to others (v. 3)
The whole house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. When the lady gave what was precious to her it became pleasant to others, and everyone got in on the beauty of the gift. When we give a God-honoring offering to the Lord Jesus, we encourage and bless others in the process. This gift is still being a blessing to others today for the Lord said, wherever this gospel is preached, this lady’s gift will be told as a memorial (Matthew 26:13). Later, the Apostle Paul would describe the gift the Philippians sent to him as a sweet smelling aroma…well pleasing to God (Philippians 4:18). A God-honoring offering involves that which is not only precious to us, but that which becomes pleasant to others.
III. It is perplexing to some (vv. 4-6)
Not everyone is blessed by a God-honoring offering. It exposes some. Judas sounds quite holy when he responds, This is a waste; it could have been sold and given to the poor (Matthew 26:8; John 12:5). But what the lady brought was not for sale. It was for sharing, for giving to the Lord Jesus. Judas called it a “waste.” Waste? Waste comes in hoarding up possessions. Waste comes when we keep them from their proper use. There is a lot of waste in the church of the Lord Jesus today. However, most of it is in hoarded resources, and many good men and women will go to their graves with large estates which came from the blessing of God upon them. But what good will it do for the gospel? No, Mary’s gift was not a waste even though, like many God-honoring gifts today, it was perplexing to some who do not know the joy of giving.
IV. It is pleasing to Christ (vv. 7-8; Matthew 26:10)
Our Lord listened to Judas, he saw the broken alabaster box, he felt the oil on his feet, he smelled the perfume in the air, he saw the sweet look of love and sacrifice on her face as she knelt at his feet, and he said, You have done a beautiful thing to me! (Matthew 26:10). The Lord Jesus wrote Mary’s biography that day with those words and recorded it for all posterity. When he writes your biography and mine, I don’t think He will look so much at our prayer journal nor Bible notes as much as at our checkbook. What do your canceled checks say about your love for this one who said, Where your treasure is, there is where your heart will be also. The most important thing about a God-honoring offering is that it is pleasing to Christ.
Long before we thought about giving anything to God, He gave to us. He broke His own alabaster box and poured out on us that which was precious to Him, His only son. This gift became pleasant to others. We are testimonies today of the fact that the gift of Christ is what makes life worth living. Yes, even His gift is perplexing to some. Some today still view the gospel story as “waste.” Finally, the gift of Christ was pleasing to the Father as Isaiah 53:10 attests.
Mary knew the Lord Jesus would not need a marble monument. He would not be in the grave long enough for it to be engraved! So, she did what she could and poured out her gift on His feet. It, like our own God-honoring offerings, was precious to her, pleasant to others, perplexing to some, but mainly, pleasing to Christ. He said, You have done a beautiful thing unto me! Paul said it like this: We make it our aim…to be well-pleasing to Him (2 Corinthians 5:9).