Michael’s Sermons

 

Do You Need This Medicine?

Proverbs 17:22 March 17, 2019 When hydrogen and carbon dioxide collide, the result is life-sustaining oxygen. When humor and faith collide, the result is laughter that helps save our souls. The Bible says it like this: “A joyful heart is a good medicine.” Proverbs 17:22a Now everyone knows that medicine can be abused. But taken correctly and in the right doses, medicine and save us from pain, heal our wounds, lift us from depression, and it can save our lives. It has been said that laughter is the best medicine. It’s free. It’s natural. It’s healing. It requires no doctor, no prescription.  It can be administered a child or an adult.  Even animals can make us laugh. If you never laugh there is a cost.  If you never laugh, it may be a sign that you are sick.  It’s a sign that you have little joy in your life and that you may have problems dealing with the stress that life brings your way. There are times and seasons in life we will get kicked in the gut and life will try to pull the joy out of us. Every one of us will go through those seasons. Hopefully, none of us will go through a more difficult time than Job.  Remember Job.  He’s the person in the Bible that lost his possessions, his family, and his health.  His friends gave him a lot of bad advice about his situation. They didn’t empathize with him and told him all his problems were his fault. But one of his friends told him that God would “yet fill (his) mouth with...

Laughter is Born

March 10, 2019 Laughter is Born Genesis 17:15-19; 18:9-15, 21:1-6 Abram left the warmth of his tent, walked out into the coolness of the night, and looked up at the stars. It was a clear, still night. It was the kind of night that causes one to be reflective, to think, and ponder. Abram had a lot on his mind. Many years had passed since he and Sarai and their nephew Lot pulled up their tent stakes in Haran and faithfully traveled to a new land that God he would give them and their descendants. Land and descendants were the two key elements of God’s promise.  Can’t you hear Abram questioning God as he looked up at the stars? “Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of the land? How is it possible that my descendants will be as numerous as the stars since I haven’t the first son?”  Abram and Sarai were becoming older by the day. As it stood, Eliezer of Damascus, Abram’s servant, was his only heir. If Abram died, Eliezer would be a rich man, and God’s promise would go unfulfilled. It was enough to make Abram anxious. After all, in his old age, he had left the comfort of Haran to follow God’s call. Abram still believed God, but his belief did not keep him from wondering and questioning. Faith can be difficult in the absence of evidence.  When we cannot see our way through to the other side that is when we need faith. When he looked into the aging face of his wife Sarai, Abram had reason to wonder about...

The Bible is Our Roadmap for Life

The Bible is Our Roadmap for Life March 3, 2019 Luke 24:13-27 All of us need help when we are traveling to find our way. These days, most of us just take out our phone, we speak in the address, and Siri directs us to our destination, one turn at a time. Many of you are old enough to remember when we used one of these (folding map). Chances are good if you under the age of 35, you may have never used a map like this and you never will. Years ago, if we didn’t have a map like this, when we traveled out of town and out of state on vacations, we used to stop and ask directions from strangers. Either that, or we stayed lost a lot because it’s impossible to always know where you are going unless of course, you are a man. Men always know where we are going.  If you don’t believe that, just ask a man if he is lost and he will tell you that he knows exactly where he is. And the women just roll their eyes. O.K, as a man, I will admit that I’ve been lost more than once and it would have helped if I had consulted with a map – or listened to my wife. Confession is good for the soul. If we were all honest, we would say that we have all been lost.  If we were all honest, we would all confess that when we are confused about life, about the direction we are to go, too many of us have turned down several...

Are You a Disciple of Jesus?

February 24, 2019 Are You a Disciple of Jesus? Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 2:4-8 I have been with a lot of people and their families through the dying process.  I have discovered that most families believe that their loved one has moved from this life into a life of comfort, a life beyond this one that is better to a place we refer to as heaven. In fact, very few people believe or even entertain the idea that their loved one might have slipped away into eternal torment, a place we call hell. Recently, a professor at a Baptist college in Missouri was fired because he did not fully embrace the concept of hell as a place of eternal punishment.  Instead, the professor said that more New Testament passages describe hell as destruction rather than eternal punishment. Part of our problem as Baptists is that we spend too time arguing about things like whether hell is a place of destruction or a place of eternal punishment, that we forget the more important issue, that far too many people don’t believe that we can end up in either kind of situation. A lot of people have a difficult time coming to terms with the grace of God and accepting the grace of God and never do, which is necessary for salvation. The irony is that when a loved one dies, even those that may not have accepted God’s grace in their own lives want to claim the grace of God for others. Do you hear what I’m saying? We seem to want to claim God’s grace and the gift of heaven...

We Worship a Personal God

We Worship a Personal God Isaiah 43:3-13 The Message Bible Matthew 14:22-32 Most people have been up close and personal with at least one famous person in their life.  I have shaken the hands of two U.S. Presidents, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush. I met Mohammed Ali and got his autograph. The longtime manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers Tommy Lasorda once told me that I wrote some of the nicest words anybody ever wrote about him in an article published in “The Moultrie Observer.”  He was kind enough to autograph a copy for me. Professional baseball player Jeff Francoeur was in a wedding that I was the officiant of in Moultrie, Georgia. Just because I met these famous people and can tell you who they are when I see their pictures or images on television, doesn’t mean I know them personally. To some people, God seems like a celebrity they have heard about, but they can’t say they actually know personally.  If you ask them if they think God knows them, you might get a wide range of responses. What about you? When you go to church, read the Bible or live each day, does God seems far away from what you are dealing with: the stress, the financial burdens, marital issues, blended family issues, teenage drama, boyfriend and girlfriend problems, health issues, identity struggles, family challenges, or lingering temptations? Do you wonder – “How does God even know I exist among 7 billion people?” If you ever feel like this, then the people that the writer of Second Isaiah wrote to were very much like you.   These people had been exiled...

What’s in a Name?

February 10 What’s In a Name? Exodus 3:1-15 “In the beginning God,” and so the Bible begins with these four words. With these four words, we learn that the Hebrews accepted the existence of God. There is no debate. With these words, there is no questioning whether God is real.  Even though this writer accepts that God is real, it does not mean that he entirely understands God.  There is no claim to that. God was not always looked to direct the lives of the people.  The Bible tells the truth about our relationship with God. Adam and Eve never questioned God’s existence. They just rebelled against God. Rebelling against God remains the fundamental problem of most people. Most people, when pressed, will still acknowledge the existence of God.  While we cannot prove the existence of God, to not acknowledge the existence of God leaves more questions unanswered than answered. If there is no God, the universe, and everything in it, is all here by chance.  The probabilities of all of us and everything in this world being here by chance is so high that we get into the miracle zone. We ARE here because of a miracle but how can you have a miracle without a God? How can matter be derived from nothing without a God? Since that’s not possible, most people will still acknowledge the existence of God, but many are still not sure what role God plays in their lives or in the world. If there is one thing the scientific community will agree on is that there was a beginning. There isn’t a credible...

You Are a Gift

You Are a Gift Matthew 16:24-28 Last December my son John called me and told me what he’d bought me for Christmas. Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy receiving gifts like most people. But when my children spend a lot of money to say, “I love you,” I know how hard they have worked hard for that money. Truthfully, I’d rather they keep their money and use it for their family. I’d rather they pay down something extra on their house payment or give something to those in need. What I’d like for them to realize is that they are my gift. Every time I am with my family, every time we can spend time with each other, that is a gift to me. When my sons took time, spent money to go on a turkey hunt to South Dakota last year, now that was a gift. We will be talking about that trip for the rest of our lives. Anytime you can do something that builds memories like that, it’s a gift, especially when do it with family. When John was learning to walk, he would allow anyone to hold him. He would reach out to a stranger, to someone he’d just met at church, and he would smile and be happy. His little life was a gift to a person who may not have held a toddler in years, but that child blessed their day. He was a gift. There are so many people in this world that do not believe they are a gift. They think they are a burden. They don’t think anyone loves...

We Are Broken

We Are Broken John 5:1-8 When I was a freshman and a sophomore in college, I preached each Sunday to a small congregation of about 40 people in a country church about eight miles from my home in Louisville, Alabama. During those two years, I began to see what is present in the lives of people in every church—brokenness. I had been in a church since cradle roll. I’d been to Sunday school, vacation Bible school, worship, and youth group. But I’d not been in a position to see the brokenness around me. At Dyke’s Baptist Church, as a teenage preacher, I saw divorce, a runaway teenager, a teenage pregnancy, poverty, an alcoholic husband, a child born with a birth defect, aging issues that required hospitalization, and abuse. I was not equipped to minister to these people. For that matter, I was not equipped to preach, but I was called. From that first unorthodox calling, I was learning that even those in the church are broken. We limp to church and we limp home. So what difference does the church make to our brokenness? It is apparent almost 40 years later that just because we profess Jesus, we do not cease to deal with brokenness.  We continue to struggle even though we are church people. People who attend church still divorce, become addicted to alcohol, porn, work, and drugs. People who attend church are wounded, rejected, abandoned, bullied, and abused. People who attend church still become depressed, suicidal, and have mental illnesses. People who attend church still become estranged from family and need medication for depression and counseling to...

You Are Blessed

January 20, 2019 Psalm 1 In a couple of months, a lot of attention in the sports world will turn to the NFL draft. Teams will be very selective in choosing the best players to fill the positions they need for their team. Or they might choose a player they don’t need and trade that player for one they do. A lot of men will be excited about being chosen. Many will be disappointed because they will never get a call. All of us would like to be chosen for good things, but Henry Nouwen, the author of “Life of the Beloved,” says that more than being chosen, every one of us has a yearning to be blessed. He says we need an ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever-new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone and who will guide us by love every step of the way. (72) One of the reasons that we are so hungry for a blessing is that we are people that are filled with self-doubt. We are plagued with an understanding that we are imperfect people. Some of us have a lot of memories and a lot of voices that remind us that we don’t have it all together. Some of those voices come from our childhood and teenage years. Some come from parents, step-parents, bullies, classmates, old boyfriends and girlfriends. They come from messages we’ve received on Facebook, Instagram, and text messages. They come from things strangers have said, and even people we thought were our friends. They have come from...