Michael’s Sermons

 

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,...

Living With God During Anxious Times

Living With God During Anxious Times Philippians 4:6-7 Matthew 6:25-27 Everywhere you look, anxiety is running high. Anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension and worrying thoughts. Some people feel a sense of impending doom. When people are anxious, some overeat. Others have no appetite at all. Others smoke or use alcohol or drugs. Some people feel stressed out, and some even have panic attacks. Have you ever had something on your mind that bothered you, and you just couldn’t stop thinking about it? It seemed to consume your every waking minute. Anxiety can be felt in various places in our body: headaches, a nervous stomach, eating disorders, increased blood pressure, or skin issues are a few ways anxiety affects our bodies. Sometimes are anxieties are so high we can’t sleep or we dream about the things that bother us. Recently a nurse told me she kept having this reoccurring dream that she died and I did her funeral at the Pendergrass Flea Market, but not many people came, not even her husband. I didn’t think to tell her the funeral must not have been on a weekend because there would have been thousands there.  But I did tell her I thought she was having that dream because she was thinking a lot about death.  She works in an ICU where there are Covid-19 patients and so she must be thinking about her own mortality. We are social creatures. We are often affected by the anxieties of others. That’s why our leaders need to remain calm during a crisis. Have you ever wondered how a crowd could turn into...

Living With God Through the Exile

Living With God Through the Exile March 22, 2020 Jeremiah 24 Since we met last Sunday the Covid-19 virus has been labeled a Pandemic.  There are now 316, 506 cases with 13,599 deaths and those numbers change by the hour. This crisis is unlike anything we have seen since the early 1900s. We are being told to shelter in place, to maintain social distance, and to keep any gathering very, very small. Instead of our churches swelling in attendance in response to a crisis, our churches are empty. There is no school, no church, no sports.   Restaurants, bars, stores, concerts, conventions, are all either canceled or scaled back in hours.    We are all in a self-imposed exile.    We have been carried away from life as we know it, and this may last for some time. We don’t have any way of knowing when life will return to normal. Some people are freaking out. Some people are angry. Some people are grieving. Their graduation, a chance to play for a championship, or their dream wedding has been canceled.   Some people have been laid off from work. Some are worried about paying their bills, their 401k’s, and of course, their health. Some people are ignoring the warnings. Some people are showing their greed and panic and purchasing more than they need.  Some people are acting like this is the apocalypse. Me? I’m listening to Hank Williams Jr., who sings “A Country Boy Can Survive.” “I got a shotgun, a rifle, and a 4-wheel drive, And a country boy can survive, country folks can survive.”  That’s my philosophy.  If you...

Irrational Faith

Isn’t Faith Irrational? Luke 9:28-36 March 15, 2020 Every week it seems that we there is something new in our world to digest with the Coronavirus, wild stock market swings, social distancing, and people being quarantined. In many cases, all we need is a little rational thinking, a little more common sense. What we don’t need are people trying to take advantage of people’s fears. Last week the New York Attorney General ordered televangelist Jim Bakker to stop promoting an alleged Coronavirus cure by selling a product called “Silver Solution.” Most rational people would know that such a product was a fake, but why would a preacher be selling a product and falsely claiming it would do something that it could not do? There have always been those people claiming to be who they were not and claiming to do what they could not do.  Was Jesus one of those people? By the ninth chapter of Luke’s gospel, the physician informs us that the ministry of Jesus was in full swing. He had trained his disciples and sent them out with power to drive out demons and to cure diseases. He sent them out to preach about the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He sent them out with instructions to take no staff, no bag, no food, no money, or an extra tunic. They carried light loads and heavy hearts, heavy for the people whom they desired to bring into the kingdom of God. A buzz had developed around Jerusalem because of the work done by Jesus and his disciples. Herod, the tetrarch thought he had put...

‘Ole Time Religion?

‘Ole Time Religion? Matthew 10:34-42 Several years ago, I sat on a swing with my father-in-law looking across a dirt road into a field that he used to plow with a mule when he was a boy. As we sat in the shade, he asked, “Can you imagine walking behind a mule all day in weather as hot as this?” as sweat beaded on top of his bald head. Between bites of his tomato sandwich, he told me how he and his siblings grew up on that farm in the 1940s. Along with his father and four brothers, he got up with the crowing of the rooster, ate breakfast, and worked in the field until 11:30. The dinner bell would ring to indicate that his mother and sister had lunch ready, and the mule would pick up the pace, knowing that a break for the farmer meant a break for him too. After a hearty meal and a brief nap, it was back to the field until sundown. As Papa told me of the hard work, I had to admit that I could not relate to physical work that hard as a way of life, year in and year out. Looking out across that field, I visualized him and his brothers stacking bunches of peanuts by hand on a pole to dry. I could see the old stationary peanut picker that had been pulled in the middle of the field, awaiting the boys who would bring the dried peanuts on a sled pulled by the mule. Into the loud combine would go the peanuts, pulling the nuts into a...