Sermon 07-03-2022: “The Who, the Why, and the How of Mission”

July 18, 2022

Scripture: Luke 10:1-20

When I was in college, I was first a writer and later an editor of The Technique, Georgia Tech’s student newspaper. Yes, some of us at Toccoa First earned Ph.D.s in nuclear engineering from Georgia Tech. And some of us worked for the student newspaper… So… Potato, po-tah-to

But one time we had an English professor—who was himself an editor of a national jazz magazine—come and talk to us about how to write newspaper articles. There’s no journalism school at Georgia Tech, keep in mind. And he said that the most important thing about writing news stories is that you need to try to answer the five W’s: Who, what, where, when, and why? And how?

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Sermon 06-26-2022: “‘Setting Our Faces’ to Follow Christ”

June 28, 2022

Scripture: Luke 9:51-62

Our scripture begins, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he—Jesus—set his face to go to Jerusalem.” He set his face… That’s an unusual figure of speech, but it’s used in a few places in the Bible. What does it mean to “set one’s face”? It means that you’ve decided to do something very difficult, or something very costly, or even something risky or dangerous. But you’re determined to do it, no matter how difficult, because you know it’s the right thing to do.

Jesus has “set his face” toward Jerusalem because he knows what’s waiting for him there: the cross. He’s had an appointment to keep with that cross since before the creation of the world. And now his Father has revealed to him that the time has come for him to go to the cross.

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Sermon 06-19-2022: “Challenges to Faithful Christian Living”

June 28, 2022

Scripture: 1 Kings 19:1-18

The twentieth-century English novelist and Christian apologist G.K. Chesterton famously said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

I’m sure most of us can relate. I’m sure the prophet Elijah in today’s scripture could relate! 

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Sermon 06-12-2022: “The Power Behind Positive Thinking”

June 27, 2022

Scripture: Acts 16:6-10, 16-34

Last week, we looked at how the Holy Spirit was poured out on all believers at Pentecost. As I said then, when we place our faith in Christ and are born again, every single one of us receives the Spirit. And the main thing the Spirit does, I said, is to enable us fulfill Christ’s commission in this world, the Great Commission. Today’s sermon is a sequel to last week’s, because in this week’s scripture we see examples of the Holy Spirit in action in the lives of Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and in the lives of people they’re reaching with the gospel.

And I want to focus on three things that the Holy Spirit does for us believers in Jesus. One, the Spirit enables us to overcome disappointing circumstances. As part of this point, I’ll explain the importance of discerning God’s specific will for decisions we make. Point Number Two, he enables us to overcome sin. And, Point Number Three, he enables us to overcome suffering… And when I say “overcome suffering,” I don’t mean we can reach a place where we magically never suffer anymore; rather, I mean that the Holy Spirit will equip to handle it much better, to deal with it much more effectively, without having it destroy us or harm us spiritually. 

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Sermon 06-05-2022: “Treasuring Christ by the Power of the Holy Spirit”

June 8, 2022

Scripture: Acts 2:1-21

I’ve told you before that back in 2012 and 2013, I made two trips to Kenya, in East Africa. I went there to teach indigenous United Methodist pastors—to teach them the basics of church history, Wesleyan theology and doctrine, and things related to liturgy and our Book of Discipline. Kenya was a former British colony and many of my students—about a hundred in all… many of them spoke English quite beautifully, but even the best English speakers in the classes only spoke English as a second language… and some didn’t speak it at all… Their first language was Swahili. Which meant I used an interpreter.

I enjoyed the experience! But it took a little while to get the hang of it… to learn to speak a sentence, or even a half-sentence, then to pause, then to allow my words to be translated… and then continue.

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Sermon 05-29-2022: “From Grumbling to Glory”

June 8, 2022

Scripture: John 5:1-18

Today’s sermon is about healing, both spiritual and physical healing—and about how all healing comes from God. And I want to make three important points about healing that emerge from today’s scripture. Point Number One: grace… all healing is a gift God’s grace. Point Number Two: grumbling… what does a grumbling or complaining spirit have to do with true healing? And Point Number Three: glory… true and complete healing leads to God’s glory; that’s the goal of healing in the first place… So… Grace, grumbling, and glory

But first, let’s talk about grace… 

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Sermon 05-15-2022: “We All Need the Gospel All the Time”

May 31, 2022

Scripture: Acts 11:1-18

Today’s scripture is basically a short summary of all the important events described in Acts chapter 10. So, as much as I would like to read and preach on all of chapter 10, I don’t have time. So I’ll be preaching on this summary instead. But I will make frequent reference to chapter 10.

And the three most important points that I need to make in this sermon are the following: One, non-Christians need the gospel. Two, Christians need the gospel. And, three, because everyone needs the gospel, we need to understand precisely what the gospel is… What does it mean?Because… based on Peter’s own experience, and our experience, it is incredibly easy to forget.

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Sermon 05-01-2022: “But That Night They Caught Nothing”

May 31, 2022

Scripture: John 21:1-19

It’s often emphasized that one difference between the gospel of John and the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is that John contains no parables—no Prodigal Son, no Good Samaritan, no Wise and Foolish Virgins. But I don’t think that’s quite right: it’s just that the parables that Jesus communicates are acted out. They are living parables… In some ways, every miracle Jesus performs in the gospel of John is an “acted out” parable—very symbolic, meant to communicate something important about Jesus Christ, his saving work, and our relationship with him and his Father. That’s why John alone among the gospel writers refers to miracles as signs

And indeed, today’s miracle—a miraculous catch of fish—is an acted out parable intended to encourage us as we live our Christian lives. So I want this sermon to encourage you… by looking at four different aspects of today’s scripture: One, the meaning of the fishing; two, the meaning of the failure; three, the meaning of the forgiveness; and, four, the meaning of the fearlessness. Fishing, failure, forgiveness, and fearlessness.

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Sermon 04-24-2022: “The Problem of Doubt and Its Solution”

May 2, 2022

Scripture: John 20:19-31

One of the most important events that takes place on Easter Sunday isn’t narrated within any of the four gospels. Instead, it takes place in between verse 18, which we looked at last week, and verse 19, the first verse of today’s scripture. 

Last Sunday, on Easter Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene encounters the Risen Lord. And Jesus commissions her to go and tell the other eleven disciples the good news of the resurrection. John, as we saw last week, already believes in the resurrection, based on the evidence of the empty tomb.

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Sermon 04-17-2022: “The Meaning of Easter”

April 25, 2022

Scripture: John 20:1-18

Last week, Augusta National played host to the most prestigious of the four major golf tournaments, the Masters. And I was deeply moved by the press conference that Masters-winner Scottie Scheffler held afterwards. Because like so many championship-caliber athletes, he used his platform as an opportunity to bear witness to his faith in Jesus Christ and to glorify God. He said, “The reason why I play golf is: I’m trying to glorify God and all that He’s done in my life.” He went on to say that as important as his golfing career is, his “identity isn’t a golf score.” 

He said his wife reminded him of this truth before he began the fourth and final round last Sunday—enjoying a three-stroke advantage over his nearest rival. 

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