We often forget the final chapter of Jonah when we think about this prophetic book. As Jonah witnessed the repentance of an entire city, and thus, the grace God gave, he whines. Yep. He actually whines that God is too gracious. He doesn’t think Ninevah is worthy of God’s forgiveness. Do you ever see yourself as the gatekeeper of God’s grace – thinking it’s unfair God bestows his grace on those you don’t think deserve it?
As Christ has reconciled us to God, we are then, in turn, committed to the ministry of reconciliation. What does that mean though? Paul, in writing to the church at Corinth, addresses to way he has been misrepresented and then calls us see the possibility of each person to become new creations – reminding us that are representatives of Christ. Not to see others with a worldly point of view, we have the opportunity to not just be changed, but to change the world.
I’ve never been good at math, so why not preach a sermon on it? When Paul wrote to the church at Galatia, they were trying to add on to the gospel That’s math he wouldn’t stand for. The relationship between the grace and law is one we often misunderstand, believing our growth depends on how hard we try at spiritual disciplines. But is our spiritual performance the point of God’s grace?
Is the Christian life simply about obedience? It’s far too easy to think that, but God calls us to something far deeper. Is Isaiah 55, where the prophet calls upon Israel to turn from their ways and toward their God, Isaiah is inviting them into a deep intimacy of a life of where they can hunger and thirst for the only One who satisfies. Listen as Stephanie shares her heart of how she see God inviting into a life with Him, where He is working in our hearts and providing for us where we hunger and thirst for more.
God’s pursuit of his people is a running story throughout the whole of Scripture, and in Romans 5 Paul reminds us that though we have been God’s enemies, we have access by faith to a grace we do not deserve. Yet sin still lives in this world and we struggle and suffer. Does this mean we remain at war with God? What kind of enemies are we to God, and how are we kept safe from the wrath of God because of our sin? Romans 5 shows us how.
When God sent Isaiah to King Ahaz to assure him that God would be with him as other kingdoms began to press in, King Ahaz had the chance to ask for the moon for proof. But instead he chose to trust the world and himself more. He chose to reject the opportunity, but God sent a sign anyway. It just happened years later. The story of how a baby came to live among us shows the tension of God’s sovereignty and our free will, and that isn’t even the main point of the story. King Ahaz had a divided heart – and with our sin dividing our hearts from God’s, what does it look like for this division disappear?
It’s May of 2020 and for the last two months it seems only one thought has consumed our minds: how to deal with a new virus that is far more contagious than anything we’ve ever seen. We are watching science unfold before our eyes, everything seems uncertain, and it’s hard to find our footing. With different voices coming at us from every direction, it’s no wonder we feel off-center and are struggling. In this text in Philippians, Stephanie points us to places where we can find promises that will never change in an ever-changing time. Promises of an unchanging God that will always be with us and will always be faithful.
We’ve left God many times, despite his faithfulness to us. We’ve broken God’s heart. And what God has recognized is that we need to be rescued. We are out there in the ocean of our sin and we can’t even grab a life preserver. He has to jump in and get us. Through the story of Gomer, the Lord shows us what his faithfulness looks like in light of our unfaithfulness.
The book of Colossians focuses on how Christ reigns supreme – that he is sufficient for all our needs and the head of all creation and the head of the Church. From chapter 2, Paul reminds the church that with Christ in charge of us, it’s because of him that we are made alive. Our relationships to sin has changed – we are no longer in bondage to it. It’s no doing of our own – it’s all because of Christ’s work on the cross that we are made new.
God’s people had lost hope, and He sent Ezekiel to them with a message – but it was a strange one. A valley of bones? But it was symbolic of their defeat and how they were cut off from the Lord. Ezekiel calls God’s people back to Him, but how can they be made new? How can we be made new? When our heart heart run dry, what is it that will bring us back to life?
It is easy to worship God for what He does, but what do we do when He allows something we don’t like or something we don’t understand? It’s one thing to worship God, and it’s something else to understand why we worship Him. In this sermon, Stephanie speaks on how Psalm 33 explores the desire for worship, the why of our worship, and the response of our worship, and how being rooted in the character of God is the key to our “why”.
What does discipleship in Christ look like? Many turn to 2 Peter 3:18 to understanding this growth in grace, and yet Matthew 5 says something equally powerful about what it looks like to be a disciple. Spoiler alert: it’s not about doing the right thing.
It was time for God’s people to rebuild their lives and to rebuild the temple. And as they become more focused on their own home than on rebuilding the temple, Haggai was sent to call Israel to go up to the mountains and bring down the timber to build. But the people weren’t ready, so God has to reassure them that though it will be hard, He will be with them. God’s presence is always a promise, yet we often live as though He is not. Do we see how God longs for us to see Him right here, present with us now?
The world believes that if you do something bad, you can do something good to make up for it. Stephanie explains how this kind of thinking is a form of false repentance. Using the sarcasm from the prophet Micah, we learn the easy way out is to do the good action, rather than turn from our ways. True repentance includes a change of heart.
The last day in the life of Christ included some intimate moments with his closest friends – the disciples. At the last supper, in John 15, Christ shares an illustration with them on how they are to remain connected to him using the image of the vineyard branches and the vine on which it grows. The abiding relationship is natural to the branch and vine, but it must be cultivated in the Christian life. In the same way the vine and branches are connected, we must be connected to Jesus for fruit to grow. Yet in our effort to grow, we tend to concentrate so hard on being the person we think we should be, and work on attaining all those fruits of the spirit. When instead we must to focus on the only one who gets that fruit to grow.
As believers, we are to walk as children of light. Our sinful nature is darkness, but Jesus Christ is the light in us. Through this text, Stephanie shares how our relationship with sin has changed because of what Christ has done, and how in this strength, we are called to take that light to the world.
In this special service for Covenant Presbyterian Church in Casa Grande, AZ, Stephanie shares from 2 Corinthians 4 and how she learned an important lesson about being a jar of clay and how places of discomfort shape and mold us into being more like Christ.
At the heart of the story behind the demon-possessed man is the reality that Satan is after the hearts of God’s people. Satan has power, but he has no authority. Even over our sin. Stephanie shares how Jesus Christ, in his authority, holds the power of spiritual forces of darkness and power over our sin. Through him, we are set free from the bondage, just as the demon-possessed man was set free.
God’s people failed to obey God after he granted them the Promised Land. Charged with rebuilding the walls around the city of Jerusalem, God’s people instead chose to rebuild their own homes. God sent Nehemiah to speak the truth to his people, reminding them of God’s faithfulness in the midst of their sin and brokenness. Stephanie shows us how in our own brokenness, God forgives but he also heals. Only the one who made us can heal us.
There is so much to learn from the complaining of God’s people as they face entering into battle for the Promised Land. One of which is how disappointment can alter our view of God. As the Israelites lost sight of how faithful God was to them, we can also lose sight of who God is for us. Stephanie shares how her own complaining and disappointment revealed the state of her heart, and the dangers that follow when we forget who God is.
Most of us have gone through a dry season in life, whether it’s from friendship, love, or our relationship with Jesus. In this text from Ezekiel, God warns his people they are in grave danger in their disobedience, and how their dry bones will come alive because of God’s grace towards his beloved people.
When we really consider our own brokenness, it’s any wonder that God uses us. Yet he does. In our imperfect and simple offerings to the Lord, he is made great. For it is his power on display in our weakness.
Is it easier to process bad news when followed by good news? The reality of the bad news for us is that we are sinful creatures. Our sin has made us dead and deserving of God’s wrath. The good news is that is not the end of the story.
The alienation between the Jews and the Gentiles ran deep during the time Paul ministered at the church in Ephesus, and the message of the gospel he brought was one of leveling the playing field. In this section of Ephesians, Stephanie speaks about how Jesus came to building something new for the people of God, one without a dividing wall of hostility. Can we seek the truth of reconciliation in our own lives?
With so many things in this world that makes us weary, it is no wonder we struggle to be filled up when we need it. God’s yoke on us is not one made for the beast of burden, like the ox, but one of refreshing and joy. Jesus names the reason for the invitation by revealing to us that the expectation of earning God’s approval through following the law is our burden. And he has come to set us free from it. What a glorious rest indeed.
The cost of discipleship is one we rarely weigh the power of, nor is the weight of the cross with which we are called to carry each day. Stephanie shares how we are often unwilling to go into the difficult places of discipleship, unwilling to give up parts of our lives with which we are comfortable.
2012 was a controversial year for women in the arena of sexualized pop culture. The hugely popular 50 Shades of Grey books were read by most, and the movie Magic Mike was a blockbuster hit. In this workshop talk, Stephanie challenges the division we put on sacred and secular when it comes to pop culture, and asks women to engage in culture from a Christian worldview without discarding it as useless. Pop culture can reveal much about the world around us, but what does it look like to engage in a way that honors the Lord?