Lord, Teach Us to Pray

First Sunday/First Principles

Sunday Morning Sermon
October 1, 2017
Luke 11:1 – 13
John McKeel


Prayer is as old as man, as universal as religion and as instinctive as breathing. It is practiced in some form by men of all faiths. Prayer springs from the heart with a need. It is man’s acknowledgement of a Being greater than himself and yet, I dare say, most of our prayer lives are sadly deficient.

The average Korean minister spends three hours every day in prayer. The average American minister spends eight minutes. Most of us spend more time brushing our teeth rather than grooming our souls.

“I don’t have time to pray.”

  1. When a family member becomes critically ill, we suddenly have time to pray.
  2. Susannah Wesley, the mother of John and Charles Wesley, had nineteen children! But she found time to pray.

The Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

  1. Curiously, this is the only thing they specifically asked Jesus to teach them.
  2. There are many kinds of prayers in the world, but they tend to be:
    • Ritualized
    • Prescribed
    • Long
    • Meaningless repetition
    • Prayers that were to impress men rather than express their heart felt needs
  3. Perhaps the followers of John and the Pharisees each had their own “brand” of prayer.
  4. What was it that impressed these hard-working men about the prayers of Jesus?

The Model Prayer

“He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

Jesus, Luke 11:2-4

Beginning with God

  1. Jesus us taught us that prayer begins with a relationship: God is our Father.
    • This dispels fear
    • Encourages hope
    • Removes loneliness
    • Provides resources (Ephesians 1:3)
    • Demands obedience.
  2. “Hallowed be your name”
    • “There is a sense in which we should take our shoes off our feet whenever we use the name,” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
    • God’s name stands for his whole being.
    • The prayer to hallow God’s name means to make him known to the whole world.
  3. “Your kingdom come”
    • Some people have argued that this prayer is no longer relevant since the Kingdom has already come.
    • The truth is “Yes” and “No” (see Hebrews 2:5-9).

Relying on God

  1. “Give us each day our daily bread”
  2. “Forgive us our sins”
    • Our forgiveness isn’t conditional.
    • It is a condition of asking God — God will hear our prayers because we listen to him.
  3. “Lead us not into temptation”
    • God doesn’t tempt us, James 1:13
    • It is a prayer that we will not succumb to temptation.
    • It is a prayer that God lead us through temptation.


After giving us the model prayer, Jesus deals with two big excuses: “God’s mind is already made up so why pray?” (vv. 5-10) and the unspoken belief that God is actually very harsh and unapproachable (vv. 11-13).

  1. “God’s mind is already made up – that’s why we pray ‘Thy will be done.’”
    • Jesus taught God’s door is never closed (vv. 5-8).
    • This view limits God!
      1. One of God’s laws is “gravity” and yet airplanes fly.
      2. Further, God doesn’t just set one door before us, He loves us so much that he places many opportunities in front of us.
    • There is a corollary that turns lack of prayer into an act of faith: don’t pray, endure! Yet the same person will visit a doctor when they are ill or put on a coat when it is cold.
  2. “God is actually very harsh and unapproachable.” To which Jesus responds, “God is our Father” (v. 11-13)


Prayer is actually the expression of a relationship. How is your relationship with God?


PEWSLAG – The Seven Deadly Sins

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 24, 2017
Ephesians 4:20 – 32
John McKeel


  1. Batsell Barett Baxter once wrote, “Of the four major destructive emotions, fear, guilt, hostility, and failure, hostility is the worst.”
  2. What causes so much anger in our world?
    • Depersonalization–Do you ever feel like you are just a number in someone’s account list? Are you just another computer card? We have social security numbers, phone numbers, claim numbers, zip codes, addresses, accounts and the list goes on. Sometimes it makes you want to scream!
    • Selfishness–“I have my rights!” is the war-cry of our age. We have become very independent and very mobile. Can you name all of your neighbors? In the next ten years the average American household will move three times. Do you ever get the feeling that you are all alone? That if no one else cares about me, then I’d better watch out for myself?

5 Stages of Anger

  1. Mild Irritation. Things don’t go just the way we intended them to; we are stuck in traffic or the mower won’t start or the three-year-old has just sung, “I’ve been working on the railroad” for the fifteenth time and we become irritated.
  2. Indignation. We make a judgement about someone or something and we become indignant. However, we are still able to keep our tongue under control.
  3. We you can no longer be silent, the anger becomes “wrath.” Wrath always expresses itself.
  4. When anger becomes violent, then it becomes fury.
  5. When one completely loses control, anger reaches the last and most destructive stage, “blind rage.”

What does the Bible teach about anger?

  1. Anger is a God-given emotion that everyone feels and it is an important part of being a human being.
  2. As such, anger is not necessarily sinful.
    • In fact, God becomes angry (The phrase, “the anger of the Lord” appears 18 times in the Old Testament).
    • Jesus himself became angry while he lived in Judea (Mark 3:5).
  3. However, there are times when anger is wrong.
    • It can disqualify a man from serving as an elder (Titus 1:7). Aristotle said, “quick-tempered persons lose no time being angry, and do so with those they ought not, over things they ought not, and far more than they ought” (BAG).
    • Jesus taught that anger prepared a person for the fires of hell, Matthew 5:21-24!
    • Fathers are to be very careful not to cause their children to become bitter, the fruit of an angry childhood, Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21.
  4. There are times when anger is the proper response, 2 Corinthians 7:10,11.
  5. In other words, a Christian must learn the answers to three questions:
    • What should I become angry about?
    • What safeguards should my anger have?
    • How can I express my anger?

What should I get angry about?

  1. The New Testament teaches that God is angered by:
    • Sin, Eph. 5:5,6.; Col. 3:5,6.
    • People who hid the knowledge of God, Rom. 1:18.
    • People who reject his Son, John 3:36.
    • Stubbornness and rebellion, Romans 2:5-8.
  2. The Bible teaches us to ignore petty disagreements, Proverbs 19:11, and to refrain from close association with angry people, Proverbs 22:24,25.
  3. It also warns us that our tongues can fan a spark into a flame of anger, James 1:19.
  4. The Scriptures teach us to cultivate honesty in our communications and thus avoid arguments that lead to anger, Ephesians 4:25.

What safeguards should my anger have?

  1. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger,” Eph. 4:26. Brooding over wrongs only leads to bitterness and if couples go to sleep “back to back” watch out when morning comes!
  2. “Don’t give the devil an opportunity,” Eph. 4:27. While there are some good reasons to become “righteously indignant,” remember Satan can quickly turn your godly anger into unrighteous rage!
  3. The Biblical answer is confession.
    • First to yourself, “I am angry and here are the reasons why.”
    • Then to God, “Lord, should I be angry and if so how can I express it constructively?”
    • Finally, to the offender in the spirit of loving concern–never vengeance (Romans 12:19).


Marcus the Therapist

QuillJohn McKeel


Marcus the Therapist sat down with Simon the Zealot. Simon was honing his short sword with a stone, then testing its edge by shaving off the hairs on the back of his arm. “Simon, you seem to be a little upset right now.”

Simon rubbed his thumb along the blade drawing a bead of blood as he looked up. He clenched his teeth, narrowed his eyes and spat, “Right about that!”

“Would you like to talk about it?” Marcus asked.

Simon drew a deep breath and then let it out slowly. “Do you think it would help?” he asked.

Marcus smiled knowingly. “It just might.”

“Well,” the Zealot began, “those pansy priests are taking advantage of the poor pilgrims” he said. Marcus cringed at the word “pansy” but nodded and said, “Hmm. Go on.”

“Ya see, the pilgrims walk for hundreds of miles to worship in the Temple,” the crusty Simon observed. “Some of them are leading or carrying precious little lambs they have raised themselves.”

Marcus rolled his eyes. “How will we ever mature as a race if these bloody sacrifices continue?” he thought to himself.

“Well, think about it, Doc. The people love those little lambs, but they hate their sins. They are consumed by guilt …” At the word “guilt” Marcus perked up. “That precious lamb will be their sacrifice to atone for their sins. Can you imagine?” he asked.

Marcus shuddered. He could hardly believe this was the first century! Hadn’t mankind progressed past such barbarity? “Continue,” the therapist nodded.

“When the poor pilgrim and his lamb get to the temple, the bleeding priest looks at the pilgrim’s sacrifice, shakes his head and points to some so-called ‘blemish’ on the little lamb. The sacrifice isn’t good enough. It’s never good enough. Then the priest points the pilgrim to one of the official lamb dealers where he can buy a ‘pre-approved’ lamb – mangy beasts,” Simon spat. “Naturally the priests are getting a kick back on the deal, but that’s not all!” Simon stood up gripping his razor-sharp sword. “The pilgrim can’t even use his own money – it being tainted foreign money and all. He has to exchange it – at a fee – for so-called Temple money. Only it ain’t even real Temple money. It’s a Tyrian shekel it is!” The Zealot raised his sword in holy anger. “I could just run somebody through!”

Marcus took a deep breath. “I see,” the therapist began. “Why don’t you sit back down and breathe deeply for a moment. That’s right. Try breathing in slowly and letting it out in one big exhale.”

With Simon sitting down again, Marcus continued. “Life’s not fair Simon,” he started. “Sometimes things don’t always go the way we think they should. That’s no excuse though for your losing your temper. You have a choice. You can choose to become angry and lash out and hurt others, or you can be in control. By not reacting to other people’s choices, you are really winning! Doesn’t that feel better?”

Marcus looked down at his sundial. “Well Simon, I think you’ve made good progress today.” He stood up, looked out the window and wondered, “Who is that Galilean with a whip over at the Temple?”

Moral: There is a time to become angry, but listen closely to the sermon this morning to understand the difference between righteous indignation and unholy wrath.


PEWSLAG – The Seven Deadly Sins

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 17, 2017
1 Samuel 18:6 – 9
John McKeel

Envy will Eat You Up

“Envy is the desire to have what another person has,” Tony Campolo. It is not simply a longing to have the same kind of thing the other person has; the envious person wants to strip another of something in order to possess it completely and solely (Proverbs 14:30).

Do you remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)?

The Problem with Envy

“Love does not envy or boast,” 1 Corinthians 13:4

Envy is a pervasive sin.

“A convincing case can be made that the entire free enterprise system is fueled by envy,” – Henry Stein, Ethics (and Other Liabilities), 1982

“We worship success but we really don’t like the successful. We are envious of them,” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Envy Expressed

  1. Envy expresses itself in all walks of life.
    • Children want other children to envy their toys.
    • Adults engage in “conspicuous consumption.”
    • People marry a “trophy spouse.”
    • The desire for envy often leads to overspending and consequent marital conflict. (Disagreements over money is the most often cited cause for divorce.)
  2. Envy is a major cause of unhappiness and self-contempt.
    • The man who covets another man’s wife becomes discontented with his own.
    • The student who envies another’s grades underestimates his own abilities.
    • The woman who envies another woman’s appearance becomes a supporter of a cultural system that diminishes her own value and encourages her own unhappiness.
    • Envy diminishes people’s enjoyment of life because they cannot be content with what they have.

 Overcoming Envy

  1. The root of envy is doubting God. We need to understand, God wills the very best for you!
    • We may think we need something else but God knows what we really need!
    • Why did Cain kill Abel? Envy!
  2. Consider Moses (Numbers 11:16 – 30) or John the Baptist: “He must increase …” (John 3:30).

Wisdom conquers envy.

  1. Other people have made different choices than you, but that doesn’t mean you made the wrong choice.
  2. Perhaps, there is something in your own life that needs to change.
  3. Understand what truly makes you happy.
  4. Know that there are different seasons of life.
  5. Take a “reality check.”
  6. Ask if you are using technology wisely.
  7. Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.”


PEWSLAG – The Seven Deadly Sins

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 10, 2017
Matthew 23:1 – 12
John McKeel

Arrogance v. Excellence

Savanarola, the great Florentine preacher of the fifteenth century, one day saw an elderly woman worshiping at the statue of Mary which stood in his city’s great cathedral. On the following day, he noticed the same woman again on her knees before the [statue]. With great interest, Savanarola observed that day after day, she came and did homage before the statue.
“Look how she reverences the [statue of Mary],” Savanarola whispered to one of his fellow priests.
“Don’t be deceived by what you see,” the priest responded. “Many years ago an artist was commissioned to create a statue for the cathedral. As he sought a young woman to pose as the model for his sculpture, he found one who seemed to be the perfect subject. She was young, serenely lovely and had a mystical quality in her face. The image of that young woman inspired his statue of Mary. The woman who now worships the statue is the same one who served as its model years ago. Shortly after the statue was put in place, she began to visit it and has continued to worship there religiously ever since.”                                                              —Tony Campolo, 7 Deadly Sins, p. 74

We teach our children to be proud meaning we want them to strive for excellence, but there is a sinful pride that is at the root of many sins. Sinful pride is arrogant. It is the sin of exalting oneself and placing one’s own interests above those of others. Pride craves admiration and even adoration, and will not share the limelight. Rather, Christians should:

“…give preference to one another in honor,” (Romans 12:10).

“…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave,” (Matthew 20:26, 27).

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips,” (Proverbs 27:2).

The Problem with Pride

  1. Pride is a primary barrier to salvation. It makes it difficult for people to accept grace, 2 Kings 5:1-14.
  2. Pride infects Christians in a variety of ways that can spoil their commitment to Christ.
    • “Look at what I have done!”
    • Matthew 6:1-18
  3. Pride mars many ministries.
  4. Pride keeps us from knowing the truth about ourselves.
    • A prideful person will never be able to face those facets of their lives that are evil and need repentance, 1 John 1:9.
    • Christianity delivers us from the dishonesty that stems from pride.
  5. Pride ruins relationships.
    • We would rather have people admire the selves we pretend to be than to love the selves we really are.
    • Pride often acts as a barrier to reconciliation.
    • Parental pride can lead to the destruction of their children.
  6. Pride can destroy a nation. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” (Proverbs 16:18).

Deliverance from Pride

The children worked long and hard on their own little cardboard shack. It was to be a special spot—a clubhouse—when they could meet in in solemn assembly or just laugh, play games, and fool around. As they thought long and hard about their rules, they came up with three rather perceptive ones:
1. Nobody act big.
2. Nobody act small.
3. Everybody act medium.
Just “act medium.” Believable, honest, human, thoughtful and down-to-earth”
—Charles Swindol, Seasons, p. 234

The solution is to develop a healthy humility, but we often confuse humility with humiliation. Humility enhances our humanity and makes us more like Christ, whereas humiliation diminishes our humanity and tempts us to forget that we are made in the image of God. Healthy humility is the recognition that God has imparted to each of us, by his grace, a gift which makes us greater on the inside than most people will ever know.

So how can we be truly humble? By looking to God and cultivating an “attitude of gratitude.” That means it’s important to remember who we were “B.C.” – “before Christ” came into our lives (1 Timothy 1:15 – 17).


First Sunday/First Principles

Sunday Morning Sermon
September 3, 2017
John McKeel

Calvin Coolidge was the 30th president of the United States. He was known as a man of few words and one Sunday his wife Grace was ill and Calvin went to worship by himself. When he returned, Grace wanted to know all about the service.

“What was the topic of the preacher’s sermon?” she asked.

His answer was typically brief: “Sin.”

Not satisfied, Grace tried to pry more out of Calvin. “And what did he say about sin?” she asked.

“He was against it.”

What is Sin?

Obviously, the Scriptures have a great deal to say about sin and there are many different descriptive words for it:

  1. The most common term for sin, hamartia (αμαρτια), literally means “missing the mark,” and thus “failure, sin,” Romans 3:23.
  2. We might miss the mark because we are “ignorant” (agnoma αγνοημα) Hebrews 9:7.
  3. Or because we are “lawless” (anomia ανομια) Matthew 7:23; 13:41; 23:28; 24:12; Romans 6:19.
  4. Many people simply have no time for God or religion (asebia ασεβεια “Ungodliness, impiety”); Romans 1:18; 11:26…
  5. As a result, they are “defective,” something is missing from their life (attama ηττημα) Romans 11:12; 1 Corinthians 6:7.
  6. There are lines and boundaries but if you step over them, you have “transgressed” (parabasis παραβασις) Romans 4:15; 5:14; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2.
  7. If you break the law it is called paranomia (παρανομια) 2 Peter 2:16.
  8. Sin can also be described as a “misdeed, false step, blunder” (paraptoma παραπτωμα) Matthew 6:14, 15; Romans 5:15 ff.
  9. Some sin comes from not listening or paying attention (parakoa παρακοη) Romans 5:19; Hebrews 2:2


Then there are so many different ways to sin! Sometimes we actively sin – these are sins of commission, but sometimes we sin because we fail to act: sins of omission.


This can all be very confusing – even overwhelming so an early Christian teacher boiled it down to an acronym: PEWSLAG and called them the “Seven Deadly Sins,” not because they were particularly evil, but because they are “gateway sins” that lead on to worse.

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Wrath (Anger)
  4. Sloth
  5. Lust
  6. Avarice (Greed)
  7. Gluttony

What are the consequences of sin?

  1. Alienation from God (Mark 7:21-23)
  2. Bondage to Self

What is the solution for sin?

Some Things to Think About


A Google search for “sin” yields over 2,600,000,000 results! How do you describe sin?

John introduced several different definitions for sin and seven different kinds of sin. Which one seems to trip you up the most?

  1. Pride
  2. Envy
  3. Wrath (Anger)
  4. Sloth
  5. Lust
  6. Avarice (Greed)
  7. Gluttony 


  1. A Google search for “sin” yields over 2,600,000,000 results!
  2. He also talked about the difference between sins of omission and commission. Think of an example of each.
  3. Which kind of sin is harder for you to overcome?
  4. Why is God so concerned about our behavior?
  5. Is there such a thing as “victimless sin”? Why or why not?
  6. How does sin harm the sinner?


  • What is the solution for sin? (Explain why.)