Michael’s Sermons

 

Living With a Contagious Grace

August 11, 2019 2 Kings 7:3-9 Did you know you cannot win the lottery anonymously in Georgia? If you want to win the lottery and remain anonymous, you need to buy tickets in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina. Most states want their lottery winners to make media appearances because that’s good for business. They want others to see how the lottery changed the lives of people living off welfare, or how the common laborers at a local plant pooled their money to buy a bunch of tickets to win. They even want you to hear about that wealthy person that wins to show you that people in all economic brackets purchase tickets. They want you to identify with the winners and go out and buy tickets. I’m still waiting for that Baptist preacher to win and now has to explain to his congregation his theology about winning the lotto. He might have to begin with, “Well, the Lord said the devil had that money long enough.” Of course, the lotto system never shows you the numbers of poor people versus other economic brackets that purchase lottery tickets or the number of people that are addicted to buying lotto tickets. The debate will rage on about its good verses its destruction. This sermon isn’t about whether you should or should not purchase lotto tickets. I suppose if you are buying them, and you win, I hope God helps you manage your life and the money wisely because it’s been shown that your good fortune could destroy your life instead of making it better. When I read...

Living With a Contagious Story

Acts 26:12-19 August 4, 2019 From the moment we were conceived, we have had a story. The earliest parts of our story were dictated to us by our birth parents.  Things like our physical characteristics, whether we were loved, or were taught to love of God. So there are parts of our story that we had nothing to do with. Then there are those parts of every story where we begin to take control of our own lives, and our own decisions begin to affect who we are and who we are going to become.  That happens at different ages for different people. We can’t change whether God was spoken about in our homes as a reality to be trusted and loved or as a God to be ignored and rejected. At some point, we decide whether the God of the scriptures is our God. We must begin to decide whether the God who scooped up a handful of clay and shaped us into human beings and breathed into us the breath of life is our God. We must decide if the God who led the children of Israel out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses, through the Red Sea and into the Promised Land, is our God. Is the God who came to the Virgin Mary and told her that she was with child, the promised Savior of the World, is our God. We must decide if Jesus, miracle worker, crucified Jew from Nazareth, a man raised from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven forty days later, is our God. We must decide...

Living with a Contagious Faith

A Genuine Contagious Faith John 4:27-38 July 28, 2019 A few weeks ago, I got into some poison ivy when I helped my son John load some wood. I got it on my arms and even on my legs, which was surprising because my legs were covered. I read that the poison from the vine will travel on your sweat and end up in areas of your body that the vine did not touch. For over a week, I was in some itching misery. I learned that even if you were to burn the vine, the smoke from the burn could cause you to break out. That’s one more contagious vine. While the vines that I touched while working that day were highly infectious to me, I had to convince my wife that I was not contagious to her. While she was caring and compassionate in treating my wounds, I noticed she still took plenty of precautions, like staying as far away from me as possible. Have you ever had some issue and you had to convince other people that you were not contagious? How exactly do other people know you are not contagious? They don’t know until a day or two later, right? By definition, a Christian ought to be contagious. What I mean by that is that we should rub off on other people in positive ways. Our faith should make a difference in the lives of others. Hopefully, we influence people enough that we leave a good impression on people that Jesus makes a positive difference in people’s lives. There is no way our faith can...

Here is Water. Should You Be Baptized?

Matthew 3:13-17 In the 1994 movie, “The Lion King,” Semba, the lion cub, was forced away from his home and he eventually forgot his calling.  Thanks to Rafiki, the baboon, Semba reclaimed his calling and found his purpose. Rafik took him down to a pool of water and told him to look into it and there he would see his father. Semba was skeptical because his father was dead.  At first, he just saw his reflection in the water, but then he began to hear his father’s voice speaking to him from the heavens, reminding him of who he was and the unique calling he had in life. From that day on, Semba was inspired, and he decided to become all that he was meant to be, the King of the Jungle. One of the most important moments or days or times in anyone’s life happens when we realize who we are. Last Sunday in the Reach service we sang, “I Am a Child of God.”  The day we affirm that each of us belongs to God and that God has a purpose in mind for each of us, that is a special day. When you realize that out of the billions of people that are in this world, God knows you by name and has mad you for a purpose, that is the day you should never forget. I was ten years old when God began stirring those thoughts inside of me.   I asked the Lord into my life and asked him to forgive me of my sins.  I was baptized in a small pool with moss growing on...

Living with a Contagious Spirit

Living With a Contagious Spirit July 14, 2019 Romans 12:2; Acts 4:8-13 “Misery loves company,” as the saying goes, but I think happiness loves company even more.  Happy people want to be around happy people. All of us have those times when we feel like someone ought to throw a penalty flag on the world for piling on.  We feel roughed up. We all handle those times differently.  I tend to retreat and want time alone, but if I am around people, the kind of person I need to be around is someone with joy.  I need to be around someone with laughter.  I need to be around someone that has a contagious spirit. Years ago, “The British Medical Journal” published an article that stated that knowing someone happy makes you 15.3% more likely to be happy yourself. http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:zLQTi7XmAVYJ:articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/05/science/sci-happy5+Contagious&hl=en&gl=us&strip=1 The co-author of the study, Harvard sociologist Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis, wrote, “Your emotional state depends not just on actions and choices you make, but also on actions and choices of other people.” (Ibid) I don’t know why it took a Harvard study to figure that out.  “Everybody knows, “If Mama, aint’ happy, nobody’s happy, right?” But that Harvard study did find that happy people live longer, even those that have a chronic illness. (Ibid) The study showed that happy people were effective in spreading their good cheer and that the happiest people were at the center of large social networks.   The study concluded that in many regards, happiness is like a contagious disease. (Ibid) Well, there you are.  Happiness is contagious.  With that little bit of knowledge, those who...

The Blessing of Boundaries

June 30, 2019 Dr. Michael Helms Genesis 2:15-17 When I was a boy, I played a lot of yard football and baseball. It didn’t take but a few minutes to mark off boundaries for a football field or establish bases for our baseball game. But sometimes during the game, there was always some dispute about whether the ball or the person went in bounds or out-of-bounds. Somehow, the boundaries seemed to get moved depending on who scored. Everywhere we look, there are boundaries. There are areas where we are allowed to go and not go. Now we can look at boundaries one of two ways.  They are either designed to limit our freedom or to keep us safe. Which is it? Take the boundary markers on the roads, for example.  Are they designed to limit our freedom or to keep us safe? What if we had no road signs, no rules, and just roads?  What would the result be?  We would have chaos, accidents,  traffic jams, and road rage like we have never seen. Without Boundaries There Would Be Chaos The Genesis story of the Garden of Eden helps us understand the importance of boundaries.    This story teaches that if God had not established boundaries, there would be chaos. Out of chaos, God brought order as he created the earth.  Through the created order, boundaries were established. God separated the light from the darkness (1:5). God separated water from water (1:7) and called the dry ground “land” and the gathered water he called “seas” (1:10). God placed living creatures on the land according to their kinds. He placed livestock and wild animals...

Faith for the Skeptic

June 23, 2019 John 20:24-31 Thomas was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. He’s often called “Doubting Thomas.” A better description of Thomas might be that he was a skeptic. I understand what it’s like to be a skeptic. I am a skeptic at heart. My first inclination is to question, and that’s not always a bad thing. That’s better than being gullible. Because I have this in common with Thomas, he’s an important person to me. You would think it would have been easy for Thomas to have faith. He’d been with Jesus for three years. He’d seen Jesus turn water into wine, feed thousands of people with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. He’d seen Jesus make the lame to walk and the blind to see. He’d seen Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead. After Jesus was crucified, Thomas was like the other disciples. He was devastated and afraid. While all the disciples huddled together in a locked room after the crucifixion, Thomas left them. Perhaps he found some solace in solitude or with family. So, after Jesus was raised from the dead and met up with the disciples, Thomas wasn’t with them. Soon, he returned. No doubt, he heard the news, and he came back to see if it was true. When the disciples saw him again, they told him. “We’ve have seen the Lord.” Thomas responded with the words of a skeptic. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25 NIV). I understand Thomas. “Give me some proof....

Compassion: It’s a Messy Word

Matthew 9:35-36 June 16, 2019 Jesus once told the story of a man that was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. He was beaten and robbed and left for dead. Two religious people came by. They may have felt bad for him, but neither did anything for him. But later, a Samaritan, a man of another race, came by and attended to the man’s wounds, put him on his donkey, and carried him to a nearby Inn. The Samaritan gave money to the innkeeper and asked him to care for the man. He told the innkeeper he would pay more when he came back through if necessary. Jesus told this story to a man that had asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” When Jesus asked him which of the three men was the neighbor to the wounded man, he responded with a simple but appropriate answer. It was the one that had shown compassion. One of the things we learn about compassion from this story is that showing compassion can be messy. Think about it. The Samaritan attend to his wounds. He used his wine and what he had to bandage up the man’s injuries. That was messy. Any time we attend to someone’s wounds, whether they are physical, emotional, or psychological, it’s messy. He had to change his schedule. Have you ever had to change your flight, leave your vacation early, cancel an important date? It’s messy, right? Would you do that to help a stranger? The Samaritan altered his schedule. Then he had to sacrifice his money. That’s messy. A lot of us don’t want to give away...

The Confession of a Sin Addict

June 9, 2019 The Confession of a Sin Addict Romans 7:21-8:1 If we patterned our church services after a twelve step program like Alcoholics Anonymous, someone might stand up and introduce themselves each Sunday morning like this: Hello. My name is Michael, and I am addicted to sin. People in a twelve-step program know that they are powerless over their addiction, and without the help of God, they will not overcome it. As I have studied the life of the Apostle Paul, I believe he would have been at home in a local chapter of any twelve-step group meeting. Paul was a recovering religious addict. Before his conversion to being a disciple of Jesus, he was addicted to following the religious rules of the Jewish Law. Every waking moment of his life was spent making sure he didn’t break a single one of God’s commandments. You might ask, “Isn’t that a good thing? Here’s the problem. The Law wasn’t just the Ten Commandments and the other rules and regulations we find in the first few books of the Bible. The religious leaders created hundreds of new rules for people which they placed around the Law called a hedge. The theory was if these rules were unbroken, then a person would not break God’s Law. Take, for example, the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” Exodus 20:8 (NIV) Well, the religious leaders made up all kinds of rules to surround that law. They made up rules about how far people could walk on the Sabbath and how much you could carry on the Sabbath. If you walked...