Michael’s Sermons

 

As For Me and My House (Joshua)

May 31, 2020 Today in our walk through the Bible, we have come to the book of Joshua.   This is the first book in the Bible named after a person. Who was this man Joshua? Joshua was born a slave under Pharaoh in Egypt. His parents gave him the name Hoshea, which means “salvation.” After four hundred years of enslavement, this child’s parents had not given up hope that one day they would be free people. With the naming of their child, perhaps his parents were saying that they had not given up hope that God would save them or that their son might be used to save them. But in the beginning, Hoshea was just a slave like everyone else. He was almost 40-years-old when God’s power showed up in full display in a man named Moses, who came from the desert to win their freedom.   Moses was twice his age. Moses spent the first 40 years of his life as a Hebrew in the Egyptian courts of Pharaoh. Pharaoh’s daughter rescued him as a baby from the Nile. Then he spent the next 40 years as a shepherd in the desert. He went there after he killed an Egyptian who was abusing another Hebrew slave.   At age 80, God came to Moses in the wilderness in a burning bush and gave him instructions to go back to Egypt to win the Hebrew people’s release. The Hebrew slaves witnessed God do his work through natural disasters called plagues, which Moses predicted. The final plague was the death of every firstborn who did not trust God by applying blood...

Say it Again Moses (Deuteronomy)

Say it Again Moses May 24, 2020 A Baptist church was looking for a pastor. After many candidates were vetted and interviewed, the perspective candidate preached his trial sermon and wowed the church. Everyone agreed that he was the right person for the job. The vote was unanimous, and the church called their new pastor. On the very first Sunday as their new pastor, the pastor walked to the pulpit, opened up his Bible, and preached another powerful sermon. It was biblically sound, theologically accurate, and useful to the congregation’s everyday life. People nudged each other and said, “This is just who we needed.” On the second Sunday, he walked to the pulpit, opened up his Bible, and preached from the same text. He preached the same sermon as he did the week before. Some heard it for the first time, but those that were there the week before were a bit shocked. On the third Sunday, the pastor walked to the pulpit, read the same passage, and preached the same sermon again. Now the congregation was confused and a bit miffed. Some members approached the deacon chairman and said, “If he dares to preach that sermon one more time – you’ll need to talk with him!” On the fourth Sunday, the pastor walked to the pulpit, read the same passage, and preached the same sermon. After the service, the deacons requested a few moments of the pastor’s time. He invited them into his study and asked, “What can I do for all of you?” They answered, “We are concerned that you keep preaching the same sermon every Sunday....

The Number is Two – The Book of Numbers

May 17 There’s a lot we don’t know about the human body. But when we fail to educate ourselves about the knowable things, we set ourselves up to get sick or to die a lot sooner than we should because we didn’t take care of our bodies. There’s a lot we don’t know about climate change and its effect on our world. But when we fail to educate ourselves about the knowable things and take care of the earth while we can, we set ourselves and future generations up for a bleaker future. There is a lot we don’t know about God. God is too big for us to know everything about Him. But when we fail to educate ourselves about the knowable things, we make life harder on ourselves because we could have voided a lot of needless failures. The Book of Numbers is a story about failure on a massive scale. The book starts where the Book of Exodus leaves off.  If you look at the last verse in Exodus and the first verse in Numbers, you will see that there is only one month separating the two books.  Leviticus is sandwiched between these books, and that throws the chronology off. So, we should ask, “Where did Exodus leave off?” Moses had led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. Through God’s miracles, they were freed from the bondage of Pharaoh. They became a nation of people, and God gave them laws to follow, and he provided priests to assist them in their worship. God was guiding them across the wilderness toward a land He promised their ancestors...

Leviticus – A Savior in the Shadows

 I’ve never met anyone that said, “I sat down and read the Book of Leviticus last night, and it was fascinating.”   No. The truth is that most people, not even church-going people, have read the entire Book of Leviticus.    It’s not entirely uninteresting, but if you have never read the Bible, you need to have read Genesis and Exodus for Leviticus to make any sense. While the Old Testament is mostly written in Hebrew, the word “Leviticus” is a Latin word derived from a Greek word that refers to the priestly tribe of Levi.  To be a priest, you had to be a descendant of Levi, one of the sons of Jacob.    Priests were essential to the worship of the Israelites.   Leviticus has been called a “handbook for priests.”   Reading this book is like reading an ancient religious handbook of rules followed by the priests and the Jewish people. Since these rules have little to do with how WE live, we don’t find the reading all that helpful for us. Also, we don’t have priests in our church, so that’s a strange word to us.  “Priest” is not a Baptist or even a Protestant word.   However, the word is common in both the Old and New Testaments. Priests played an essential role in helping people connect with God.   Throughout the Bible, priests had special access to God. The way the religious system was designed, priests stood between the people and God, usually trying to reconcile people to God. From the first book of the Bible, we learn that fellowship between humanity and God was broken when...

Following God Out of Bondage – Exodus 

After Jesus was raised from the dead, he met a couple of people walking from Jerusalem to their home in Emmaus, and Jesus joined them, but they were unaware that it was Jesus. They were telling Jesus about the things that had taken place in Jerusalem, of Jesus being crucified, of his body being missing from the tomb that morning. They were distraught. Jesus did not reveal his identity and after listening for a while, he said, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27 NIV) Now that is a lesson I wish I could have heard because Jesus took the stories of Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, and in the time it took them to complete their walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, he summed up how those stories pointed to himself. As we go to Exodus, which is where we will find the story of Moses, it’s important to note that Jesus connected what happened with Moses with himself.  It will be appropriate for us to do the same. Exodus begins with the author naming the sons of Jacob, all twelve of them, including Joseph, who was made second in charge of all of Egypt by Pharoah. Let’s reach back into Genesis for a moment and talk about Joseph. He was the great-grandson of Abraham, whom God had led from his home in Ur of the...

God – The Creator of New Beginnings

The Book of Genesis April 26, 2020 “In the beginning God”—this is how the book of Genesis and the Bible begins. We can pause right here with the first four words of the Bible and spend some time because there is a lot of information packed in these four words: “In the beginning God…” These words say that God is unexplainable. We cannot explain how God could be present in the beginning because this implies that God was present before there was a beginning. Even a child can formulate the question, “Where did God come from?” Every parent knows the answer to that question. “Honey, go ask the preacher. Let him tell you.” But the child learns quickly that the preacher knows no more than the parents. God is mysterious and much too big for us to comprehend all there is to know about Him. Genesis teaches that we can know God, but we cannot know everything about God. “In the beginning, God” is the prelude for everything else that is to come in the created order. Were it not for God, there would be no heavens, no earth, and no us. The book of Genesis is a story about the beginning of God’s interaction with humanity. It is not a story about the beginning of God because God has no beginning or no end. Again, this is a concept that we cannot comprehend. In our world, things have beginnings and endings. God is not confined to our world. God is not limited by time and space. Genesis is the story of God’s relationship with His created order. It...

What Jesus Cannot Do

Easter Sunday April 12, 2020 It’s dawn in Galilee. Jesus is already awake. It was rare that the sun crested the horizon before Jesus awoke from his sleep. He was an early riser, accustomed to prayer before the day began. The disciples are beginning to stir about, each looking for something to eat and gathering up their items, eager for Jesus to give them the day’s itinerary. As each sit down to eat some cold fish and a few pieces of bread, conversation breaks out. “If we weren’t one of Jesus’ disciples, what would we be doing today?” Thaddaeus asked. One by one, the disciples reflected on their various occupations. Peter and Andrew concurred that they would be washing their nets from their previous night of fishing and getting the night’s catch ready for the morning market. James and John’s response was much the same. Matthew said he would be sitting at his tax collector’s booth, making money and enemies. The others laughed. Bartholomew said that it was his father-in-law’s birthday. If he were with the family, he would be taking the day off to cook for the family. Mentioning his family caused each man to think of the sacrifices they were making to follow Jesus in hopes of God’s Kingdom coming into its own. Each disciple agreed that being with Jesus was worth the sacrifices they were making. “Who knows who will happen today?” asks John. “Will our Lord calm the sea again with his voice? Will he command demons from a madman?” Andrew said, “Perhaps he will he heal the lame or the blind or challenge the...

One Good Empty Thing

Sunrise Service April 12, 2020 Over the past six weeks, life has felt empty for a lot of people, and a good reason. Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, life has been emptied of our regular routines. Schools are empty. Playgrounds for children are abandoned. Graduations have been canceled or postponed. Ballfields are empty. Some recreation departments have resorted to taking down basketball goals or tying up nets to keep teens from gathering on the courts to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Major league baseball parks and NBA arenas are empty. Daycare centers are empty, creating childcare issues for families. Many stores and businesses are empty. You can’t get a haircut, sit down at a restaurant, go to a movie, to the mall, or shop at any store that’s deemed non-essential. When you do go to some stores, some of the staple items we need have been binge bought and the shelves are empty. Compared to regular times, the roads seem empty. No one is traveling because people are staying at home. The hotels are empty. Airbnb owners do not have any guests in their homes. Airports are empty. Uber drivers and taxis drivers have empty cars. Cruise ships are empty, except the ones where people want to get off but cannot. The economy is being walloped, and people’s pockets are becoming empty. For many, there’s not enough to pay the rent, the car payment, or the mortgage. They’ve lost their jobs, and their future is uncertain. If you were to go to the hospitals around here, the visiting rooms are empty. No one is allowed inside to visit their...

The Church Has Left the Building

The Church Has Left the Building April 5, 2020 It’s Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday our children come down the aisle in the traditional service and wave palm branches, reminding us of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as the people sang Jesus’ praises saying, “Hosanna, Hosanna, blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” One year, when I was the pastor at Trinity Baptist in Moultrie, we forgot to order our palm branches. The Saturday night before the service, I lay awake thinking about the children not being able to process into the church. Then I had an idea.  I remembered seeing some Dwarf Palmetto bushes down by a creek where I had turkey hunted the year before.   So I got up early on that chilly Palm Sunday morning, and I was in the woods by daylight.  I walked down a long trail deep into the woods to the creek with my machete. Unfortunately, I did not remember that most of the bushes I needed were growing on the other side of the creek.   The people of my church never knew that for the children to continue waving palm branches that Sunday, I had to be baptized in that cold creek to chop down those Dwarf Palmetto branches. I didn’t fall in the creek before I came to church this morning. Still, I know that many of you would have joined me in going to some extraordinary measures if it would have allowed us to gather for worship today, especially as we begin Holy Week. Our Livestream worship, Zoom Bible studies that are developing, our children’s new Facebook page,...