Michael’s Sermons

 

Are You Troubled?

Luke 1:26-38 A couple of weeks ago, when I was purchasing some food, I heard some Christmas music playing in the background. I said to the cashier, who looked to be in her thirties, “I hear you’ve got your Christmas music playing. I guess you are already getting into the Christmas spirit.”  Her reply surprised me. “If it were up to me, there would not be anything playing but Scrooge music. I’m not in the mood for anything Christmas.” I guess she could see I was a bit surprised by her answer.   She said, “I was in a relationship for ten years, and it just ended.”   She went on to tell me that she was depressed. She said she cried every day.  In addition, she came in to work one day and dumped her anger on her boss and had gotten written up.  Since there was no one else in line, I continued to listen. I asked if she had anyone to talk with about her grief. I figured since she was talking to me, a stranger, she must not have anyone to tell her troubles to.  She said she had been thinking about going to her church to find someone to talk with. I encouraged her to do that. I told her if she found a good listener, that person could help her process her grief.   I asked her if I could pray for her, and she “yes.”  So right there in the store, we bowed our heads, and I prayed. I acknowledged that God was with her, that even though others would leave her, God never would....

Does God Wear a Watch?

Does God Wear a Watch? 2 Peter 3:8- 15 December 1, 2019 What does it mean when the preacher takes off his watch and lays it on top of the pulpit before his sermon? Usually nothing.  Time is relative. We never seem more aware of it than when we are in church. I’m aware of it because I know you are aware of it. If I can’t say it before noon, I know you aren’t likely to hear it.  Time is relative. How often do you look at your watch when you attend a ball game? Not one time. You watch the game clock but never your watch. You are there for the experience, and time is of no essence. The truth is, if the message is good, if the worship experience is a good one, the preacher will get to the end of the message you’ll realize you were so engaged that you lost track of time. Or, as some of you say, “Preacher, the message was so good today, I didn’t go to sleep.” So, it is a good thing or a bad thing to lose track of time?  Teenagers are out together on a date. They are caught up in an evening of fun, and the enjoyment of one another’s company. They are not into anything sinful; they are simply having fun, and enjoying each other’s company.  But they lose track of time and one of them says, “Oh, no, look at the time; it’s 12:30 A.M! I’m already 30 minutes past curfew.  My parents will ground me for a month.”  They lost track of time. That’s...

If John the Baptist Were Here

December 8, 2019 Matthew 3:1-12 I thought about inviting John the Baptist to fill the pulpit this morning, but today is the Sunday that we light the candle of peace, and John does not seem to be the right choice for this Sunday. Besides, several of my pastor friends have had him in their pulpits, and his preaching was met with mixed reviews. Some of the older people didn’t like how he was dressed. They said he looked like a hippie dressed in that camel hair with his leather belt and laced up sandals. The younger crowd thought what we wore was cool. Someone said he looked like a Biblical version of Crocodile Dundee. Apparently, John offended some of the members of these churches because he refused to eat their cooking.  There are still some people pride themselves on their cooking, gauging their talents on how many helpings of fried chicken, mash potatoes, and gravy the preacher eats. I guess John’s spent too much time out in the desert to be very cultured. He kept saying he was on a strict diet of honey-covered locusts.  He says they are low in carbs. One other thing I should mention,  John prefers the preach outdoors, preferably down by the river.  He likes to have a baptism at every service.  It doesn’t seem like John’s comfortable preaching unless somebody’s getting wet. But here’s the biggest reason I decided not to invite John to preach: his message is offensive to some people. On a Sunday that we are supposed to be focusing on peace, I didn’t think it was a good idea to invite...

You Are A Blessing When…

November 24, 2019 Galatians 3:6-9 Scott Peck in his book, A Different Drum, tells the story of a monastery that had fallen on hard times. All that remained were the abbot and four brothers.  As the demise of their order drew near, the abbot called on an old rabbi friend. They journeyed together to a little hut in the woods for a time of meditation.  As they talked, the abbot explained the problem of the monastery. The rabbi commiserated with him and told him it was much the same at the synagogue. People were not attending as in previous days. These two men wept together and read parts of the Torah and quietly spoke of deep things.  As the abbot prepared to leave, they embraced. “It has been a wonderful thing that we should meet after all these years,” the abbot said, “but I have still failed in my purpose for coming here. Is there nothing you can tell me, no piece of advice you can give me that would help me save my dying order?” “No, I am sorry,” the rabbi responded, “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.” When the abbot returned to the monastery, his fellow monks gathered around him to ask, “Well, what did the rabbi say?” “He couldn’t help,” the abbot answered. “We just wept and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving—it was something cryptic—was that the Messiah is one of us. I don’t know what he meant.” In the days,...

Out-Fiddling the Devil

Luke 4:1-13                                                                                                    November 17, 2019 Those of you who follow country music might remember a song that came out in the late seventies by the Charlie Daniel’s Band entitled “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”    The song features a fiddling duel between the devil and a boy named Johnny. The stakes were high–Johnny’s soul or the devil’s fiddle of gold.     The ballad went something like this: “Well, the devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal. He was in a bind, and he was way behind, and he was willing to make a deal. Well, the devil came across a young man sawing on a fiddle and playing it hot, and the devil jumped up on a hickory stump and said, “Boy, let me tell you what. I guess you didn’t know it, but I’m a fiddle player too, and if you care to make a dare, I’ll place a bet with you. Now you play pretty good fiddle boy but give the devil his due. I’ll bet this fiddle of gold against your soul that I can play it better than you.”    To which the young man responded, “Well, my name is Johnny, and it might be a sin, but I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret that I’m the best that’s...

Is it True? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary? 

November 10, 2019 James 3:1-12 Many years ago, I cut my ministerial teeth on being a youth pastor. Youth pastors have to do some unusual things to keep the attention of their youth. When I studied this passage about the tongue, I asked, “What would make a teenager remember this passage?” I remembered when I was a boy, the cows used to come to the fence in the summertime when we cut watermelons. We would hold the watermelon rinds over the fence and watch the cows stick out their long tongues to get them. A cow’s tongue is about eighteen inches long and I’ve read that some can grow up to three feet. That’s a lot of tongue. So, before I did the Bible study, I went to the butcher and asked for a cow’s tongue. They sell them, you know – to eat. That night in youth group, the title of my message was, “Keep it in your pocket.” We talked about how often we use our tongues to wound people and say things that we should not say.  I might have reminded them that our parents and teachers sometimes tell us to hold our tongues when we want to say something that we should not say. That’s when I pulled eighteen inches of cows tongue out of my pocket.   Of course, you can imagine, that got everyone’s attention.  Some wanted to touch it.  Others were running from it. They didn’t forget my lesson. Each time I made a point, I’d pull out eighteen inches of cow tongue from my pocket and shook it at them. I...

The Future of the Church

October 20, 2019 I want you like at this picture that Joel Logan took of our church not long ago. When we look at our church from this vantage point, we have an entirely different perspective than when we are just walking around on the ground level. Now use your imagination. What if our drone could go even higher, and we were able to see every church in Jefferson? How about every church in Jackson County? What if we had access to a Satellite that was able to pinpoint every church in America? Along with this Satellite, what if there was a supercomputer that stored information about every church and from those statistics we were able to analyze patterns of behavior about why people attend church, why people don’t, who is attending, and who is not?  Would that information helpful to us as we try to grow the church? There’s no supercomputer on a Satellite looking at every church in America. But we do have access to information gathered through reliable polling services like Gallup, the Barna Group, and the Pew Forum that helps us understand what’s happening in our culture that’s affecting how people are responding to the gospel, some of which I will share with you this morning. The Apostle Paul understood the context of the Greek philosophers that inhabited Rome. When he arrived there and noticed that they had a monument to an unknown god, Paul used that as his starting point to say, “Let me tell you about this unknown god. His name is Jesus.” Paul used the context of his culture as a starting...

What Will You Bring to the Table?

Exodus 36:1-8 October 13, 2019 When I was a boy, every summer at Prospect Baptist Church, we held the Baker reunion. The Baker reunion was held in conjunction with my great-grandfather’s birthday. Warren Baker lived to be 100, so we had a lot of birthday gatherings. We gathered under the oak trees, which were adjacent to the cemetery. The men of the church constructed a fence that stretched horizontally through the trees. On the day of the reunion, women threw old quilts and blankets over the fence. After church, people began bringing food out of their trucks and cars. Out came some of the finest cooking South Alabama could offer. Chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, fried okra, and fried squash. If it could be fried, it seemed like it showed up somewhere on the quilted fence. There were homemade biscuits, peas, butterbeans, pineapple casseroles, homemade macaroni and cheese, and fresh-cut tomatoes. I’m sorry. Am I making you hungry? I haven’t even gotten to the deserts: pecan pie, banana pudding, chocolate cake, and several different kinds of homemade ice cream. Do you want to know the best part? Mom and Dad just let me run free as squirrel through those oak trees and among all those relatives, most of whom I couldn’t call by name. I took full advantage of my freedom by filling my plate with everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t. That’s where I decided it was a good thing to eat dessert along with my meal. I didn’t have to wait until I’d eaten all my vegetables. It was great! I never went to a family...

The Power of Inertia

October 6, 2019 Hebrews 3:7-19 NIV There will never be agreement about how the dinosaurs died or even how long ago they lived. Paleontologists point to fossils records and suggest that they lived millions of years ago. Young earth theorists say that can’t be possible. But one thing is clear: they all died. Perhaps it was a cataclysmic event that caused all the dinosaurs to die, like a giant meteor. Perhaps it was something that caused a change in their food source. A paleontologist looking for clues about why dinosaurs became extinct might look to Newton’s First Law of Motion called the Law of Inertia to find a clue. Inertia is not a biological or zoological term. It’s a physics term. Inertia is the resistance of an object to any change in motion, including a change in direction. An object will stay still or keep moving at the same speed and in a straight line unless some external force acts upon it. Another way of saying this is that an object will keep doing what it’s doing unless another force causes it to change its speed or direction. So, as it applies to the dinosaurs, they would still be here had some external force not acted to wipe them out. Today, I want you to think about the Law of Inertia, or Newton’s First Law of Motion, and how it applies to our spiritual lives. First of all, we are creatures of habit, and it is easy for us to remain at rest or in the same uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force. Sometimes that is...