Thursday, January 16, 2014

A One-Word Sermon

I recently saw the movie "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel". [I know, I know--it is a couple of years old and can be considered a 'chick flick'! What can I say?]

In the hotel, the young man who is the manager of the hotel excuses the way things currently are by saying: "It'll be alright in the end.  If it's not alright, it's not the end yet."  We pastors have a saying--"That'll preach!"

For my first sermon this year, I introduced a word for 2014: "Yet."  The Apostle Paul uses this little word in Romans 8:25 (NLT): "But if we look forward to something we don't have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently."

'I have not received an answer to my prayer' is a statement of current fact.
'I have not received an answer to my prayer yet' brings God into the picture.

That little word 'yet' is a word of hope and anticipation and expectation.  It recognizes that God is always at work.  It changes our outlook completely on our current circumstances.

We can have hope which is that settled confidence that looks to the future.  And that means today we can have patience--that willingness to walk in faith in the present because of our hope in the future.

What is it that you have been praying for (maybe for years) that you have not seen an answer--yet?  An unbelieving spouse or child? A turnaround in finances? A healing of some kind?  A relationship breakthrough?

As a pastor, I can be easily discouraged and frustrated seeing lack of spiritual growth amongst some in a congregation who should know better (at least intellectually).  It is tempting to give up, to stop praying, to begin to 'play Holy Spirit.'  But by employing that one little word, a different mindset is established: "They have not changed--YET!"

I can continue to pray in confidence. To persevere despite the lack of tangible results.  To guard against emotions of anger, bitterness, frustration, discouragement, anxiety, etc.  To recognize that God has not finished His work: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." (1 Cor. 2:9)

What a great God when we can say: 'It'll be alright in the end.  If it's not alright, it's not the end yet.'

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Living Life After the 'But'

Be honest--the title caught your attention. I want to quickly point out that 'but' only has one 't', not two. But read on please--you won't be disappointed.

Last year, I preached out of the book of Jonah and zeroed in on one word in Jonah's prayer while he was in the belly of the big fish.  It was the word 'but' (Jonah 2:6b).  To sum up Jonah's prayer: "Things are terrible right now, but You brought my life up from the pit."

This became one of those little words that became a common phrase in our church during 2013: "But God..."

The truth is that people always live life after the 'but.' Don't believe me? Here are two options:

     Option #1: Circumstances are terrible, but God will see me through.

     Option #2:  God said He would see me through, but circumstances are terrible.

Guess which option one will find hope, peace, the sufficiency of God?  The person who lives in option 2 may have the head knowledge about God but they have failed to translate that into their life--and the result is worry, anxiety, discouragement, frustration, etc.  Jonah prayed under option #1--because He understood the principle of living life after the 'but.'

Joseph, in speaking to his brothers, understood this: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  (Gen. 50:20)

Paul understood this: “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:7-9)

Jesus understood this in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My Father, if it is possible may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt. 26:39)

Are you struggling with something in your life right now?  Do you have worry, anxiety, etc.?  Are circumstances beyond your control (which, by the way, most are!)?  We spend too much time focusing on hoping that circumstances will change--rather than focusing on He who lives above and outside those circumstances.

Don’t focus on changing the circumstances, or wondering why circumstances don't change---because we can’t change the ‘but’.  We can only change…what side we put God on.

(If you want to be notified of future blog postings, friend me on Facebook 'John Schmidt'.  Also, my recent sermons in both an audio and video format can be found at