Michael’s Sermons

 

You Are Chosen With a Purpose

You Are Chosen with a Purpose Exodus 19:1-6 When I look back on the way my elementary school teachers used to supervise physical education, I realize they were really using the time for a personal break. On our playground, the teachers gave us a kickball and got out of the way.  That allowed the dominate children to take control while the shy, reserved, and unathletic children retreated to the background.  They mostly endured the experience but didn’t enjoy it. A pecking order was established from the first day.   What the weaker children experienced could not have been much fun. Typically, it worked like this. Two of the dominant children were either chosen or nominated themselves to choose sides. Then it was like the NFL draft, but we always knew who was going in the first, second, and third rounds.  Occasionally, there was a surprise choice. As the class year went by, alliances were formed, and friends began to choose friends.  For some people, it wasn’t always about winning, but most of the time it was. However, it was always about being chosen. When a game of kickball started, everyone was eventually chosen and placed on a team.  But even a third grader can figure out that if you are always the last one chosen, you have to come to terms with that in some way. Hopefully, your classmates are just saying that you are an easy out, and nothing more, but sometimes it was more. There were a few children that received the ultimate insult. It was usually a non-athletic girl that was the last to be chosen, and someone would...

You Are Loved

You Are Loved Mark 1:4-11 “Sticks and Stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Who made up that lie? Every one of us can recall something painful that someone has either said about us or to us, but we’d rather not because that also recalls the pain. Not only do words hurt, but words kill. Words kill our self-esteem, ambition. hopes and dreams.   Words kill our self-worth.    Words kill love.   But words also have the power to give life. At Jesus’ baptism, God spoke to him.  God could have said anything to Jesus so we should pay attention to what God chose to say to him. Matthew’s Gospel records what God said about Jesus.   Mark’s Gospel has God speaking directly to Jesus: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  (Mark 1:9-11) If Jesus needed to hear words of affirmation like these, how much more do we need to hear them? There is a tremendous amount of negativity in our world. The news feed is mostly negative.  Thankfully, some news networks have recognized this and have designated a small part of the ending of each broadcast for some good news. Every political season, candidates run negative ads because they work. Many parents, teachers, and coaches believe that you motivate people more with criticism than with praise. Many people can only hear those negative voices...

Making Room For Jesus

Christmas Eve Luke 19:1-10 Song: Joy to the World Most of us have ridden a moving sidewalk at an airport.  They are designed to move you through the airport quicker. Some people use them that way.  They will continue to walk on the moving sidewalk and save time. But other people prefer to stop walking on the moving sidewalk.  They prefer to relax a moment and allow the moving sidewalk to do all work for them. Some of these people get in the way of those people that are in a hurry.  They are like people going 55 the fast lane on I-85. If they are blocking the entire sidewalk and you are coming up on them very fast, it’s awkward.  You can’t flash your lights at them to let them know you are coming.  It feels awkward to say, “Excuse me, move over, I’m in the fast lane.” For a lot of us, the fast lane is where we live.  During December, it’s felt like we stepped on a moving sidewalk. There are a few people who decided to let it move for them.  They seemed relaxed and chilled while the rest of the world continues at a frantic pace. Most people have not slowed down enough to enjoy the season because they have been too busy trying to keep up with it all along with the other jobs we have to do. Does this hold true for you? The busier you become, the less room you have for Jesus. There was no room for Jesus in the inn during the first Christmas, and we’ve been struggling to find...

Advent 4 Bringing Our Best to Jesus

Matthew 25-14-30 What if you took your child or grandchild to the emergency room because she was complaining about abdominal pain and the emergency room doctor determined that she had appendicitis and needed surgery. Then the doctor surprisingly said, “We have a surgeon on call, but he’s not the best.  He can do the surgery, but I really wouldn’t want him operating on my child.  If you want the best, I advise you to take your child to hospital X.  They have the best surgeon.   I think you still have time, but it’s your decision.” What If you were managing a baseball team, and you needed a pitch hitter to win the ballgame to send your team to the state championship game.  Are you going to look at your bench and choose the most likable player or are you going to send your best batter to the plate? We usually look for the best people to hire, to give us advice, and to take care of our essential needs. Why shouldn’t God ask and expect the best from us? Jesus told a story about three servants who were entrusted with their master’s wealth while he went on a journey.   Two of them did their best to put the money to work and ended up doubling the money and presented it to him when he returned. The other servant made no effort to do anything with his money.   All he was concerned with was not losing it and returning it when the master returned. For him, the money was a burden.  The servant was relieved when the master returned.  He just wanted to give it back, like it was radioactive,...

Christmas is About Reconciliation

Advent 2 December 9, 2018 Christmas is About Reconciliation Colossians 1:19-23 Recently, Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, gave $1,000,000 to victims of the fires in one of the California communities near the area where he grew up and played football.  It was a very generous and heartfelt donation. However, it prompted his brother to call him out and say that his actions were hypocritical.  He was showing care and concern for strangers, yet he didn’t have enough consideration to pick up the phone and call his mother to check on her while she had her car packed and ready to evacuate her own home. The fires brought out an unfortunate family matter, that the Rogers family has been estranged for years. Crises situations will do that.  The holidays highlight our estrangements as well.  We can move through most the year fine, pretending these issues don’t matter or don’t exist, but when families are supposed to come together, that’s when we are reminded that estrangement isn’t normal. We get word that someone in the family isn’t coming after all, or one of them is showing up for the Christmas meal chronically late, which angers someone in the family because he or she is always late.  Right in the middle of the family gathering, someone brings up politics and an argument starts and before the gifts are unwrapped the family is divided. Usually, people are already stressed, trying to fit schedules with multiple families keep everybody happy. Sometimes when I go fishing, I get a knot in my line, and I cannot reel it in. If it’s just...

Today Could Be Your Bethlehem

Advent 1 Today Could be Your Bethlehem Matthew 2:1-12 I have a pastor friend that was adopted into a wonderful family as a baby.  His parents never hid the fact from him that he was adopted.  They wanted him to embrace the story of his life and of their love for him and process it as he grew. There came a time in my friend’s life that he felt the need to search for his biological parents.  He wanted to fill in some unanswered questions. He knew where he was born, but nothing else about the circumstances of his birth. He wanted to know his medical history, the circumstances surrounding his birth, and the reason he was given up for adoption.  He wanted to know if his biological parents were alive.  Would they speak with him?  Did he have any half brothers and sisters? He purchased an Ancentry.com kit, and he was able to find a close relative that eventually led him to his birth mother. Recently, his birth mother and three half-sisters drove down from Pennsylvania to meet him, with the blessings of his parents.   So far, his biological father has not responded to his efforts for conversation. I’ve often wondered about how Jesus processed the information about the uniqueness of his birth. It is clear that the gospel writers want us to see where Jesus came from.  They want us to know that he was unique.   He was both from heaven and the lineage of King David.  These gospel writers want us to see that even before Jesus was born, God was at work in Jesus’ life and had...

The Significance of Leftovers

November 25, 2018 The Significance of Leftovers Mark 4:30-34 Mark 8:14-21 For all of the school teachers present today, here is something that should make you feel good about your profession.  Of the 90 times that Jesus is addressed in the gospels, 60 times he is referred to as “teacher.”  So you are in good company. You often think of Jesus as a preacher, but no one called him “preacher.”  Jesus was called a teacher. When you see the word, “Rabbi,” that is a Hebrew word that means, “teacher.” Teachers are among the most important people in the world. Without teachers, how could children learn to read? How would they learn right from wrong? How could we learn to ride a bike, or tie our shoes? How would a rancher learn to raise cattle? How could a doctor learn to operate? How could an engineer learn to build roads and bridges? We don’t learn to do these things on our own.  We all need teachers. Even people that are inventors build on knowledge that others taught them. You might not have a teaching degree, but all of us are teachers to one degree or another.  What we teach is left up to us.  What we are teaching may be good, or it may be bad. It may be in line with what the Master Teacher taught, or it may not be. What are you teaching those around you?  What are they learning from you? Jesus taught us to “Go and make disciples.”  We cannot make disciples unless we are teachers and we cannot be good teachers unless we understand what it is that we are supposed...

What if We Lived By the National Motto?

What If We By Lived the National Motto? Proverbs 3:5-6 In March, the Tennessee Legislature passed a bill that the U.S. Motto, “In God We Trust,” must be in a prominent location, either as a plaque, artwork or in some other form in all Tennessee public schools. Governor Haslam said that at the end of the day he’s never thought that having a motto somewhere changes a lot of people’s thoughts, but in April he signed the bill into law.  If he wanted to earn the trust of voters, he didn’t have much choice. Perhaps the motto gives God-believing people some feeling of hope that we still have not strayed completely away from acknowledging God as our Lord. However, mottos are not worth much if they are lived out. If no one pays attention to a motto, or if no one is being held accountable to live by a motto, then it becomes like a piece of trash that people walk by, ignore, step on, and even discard. It becomes like a church people ride by every day but never see.  It becomes like a Bible people put on a shelf but never read. It becomes like wedding ring people wear but forget the vows it represents. When is the last time you’ve heard that someone’s behavior about how they use their money was influenced or changed because they were convicted by the motto, “In God We Trust.” That motto is printed on every coin and every piece of currency. Every day, money passes through our hands without us giving any thought to whether we should save, it, invest it,...

Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief

Learning Generosity in the Midst of Grief Luke 6:38 During Vacation Bible School this year, I was showing some preschool children some pictures I took in Liberia. One of the pictures showed a young woman holding her infant child. The picture was of particular interest to me because the T-shirt she was wearing said, “Be Like Jesus.” I asked the children, “What kinds of things should we do to be like Jesus?” The children responded with answers like “be kind, love others, pray for people, and be helpful.” One child said, “Be generous.” Eventually, a boy raised his hand and asked, “What does “generous” mean?” I explained that being generous was sharing what you have with others, like the time a little boy shared his lunch with Andrew, a disciple of Jesus, who then gave it to Jesus, who then multiplied it to feed thousands of people. The children had just finished their meal. So I told them that they had something to eat because other people were generous by providing them with their food. We then looked at another picture of three hungry Liberian children squatting down to eat leftovers from a big bowl used for cooking food for the students at Ricks Institute. While in Liberia, I have known people to eat only a cup of rice a day, and even that was due to the generosity of others. Some have gone without food for days. When Jesus said He was the Bread of Life, he wanted people to hunger for a relationship with him like they desired food when they are hungry. Generosity is one of...