Michael’s Sermons

 

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...

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...