sermons


The choice that changed everything

Nehemiah 9:17

Central Theme: Man choices to sin and God chooses to be gracious.

A ream of paper has 500 sheets–not more and not less. A foot is 12 inches–not more and not less. There are many absolutes in our lives. There is a couple of absolutes that totally changed mankind. First, since Adam’s sin, We all choose to sin and God always chooses to be gracious and forgive. Have a member read Nehemiah 9:17.

I.     Tell the story of the first sin and the fall of mankind from Genesis 3.

A.Eve ate the fruit and Adam followed her.

B.  They were tricked by Satan.

C.God made them leave the garden but he chose to love them and forgive them.

II.     God will always choose to be gracious and loving to you.

A.We must desire God‘s love and his forgiveness.

B.  We don’t always think we need God.

III.     The ways we reject God.

1.  We decide that we can handle everything ourselves.

2.  We work toward being independent of God

3.  We want to please people rather than God

4.  We disobey God‘s laws.

A.There are unintended consequences to all of the bad choices that we make.

IV.     We should never forget that God will always show his love and graciousness to us.

Conclusions: Each of us chooses to sin but God chooses to forgive us all the time.

bulliesFighting Fair

The Philistine also said, “Today I stand and make fun of the army of Israel! Let me have one of your men to fight!”  I Sam 17:10

Introduction–A few years ago, two young men tried to steal my purse from me by grabbing it and driving off in their car.  They weren’t able to get my purse or really hurt me.  You see, even through they were driving a Honda and there were two of them and only one of me, it was not a fair fight because God was on my side.  As we look at the story of David and Goliath, I want us to think about what makes a fair fight.  Have a member read I Samuel 17:10.

  1.  The story of David and Goliath.  Goliath was taunting the Army of Israel and making fun of them.  He said to send one man to fight.  (I Samuel 17)
    1. What Goliath didn’t know was that this was not a fair fight.
    2. He thought he had the advantage but God had the advantage
    3. God sent David to the camp to be able to fight Goliath and to win.
    4. What we need to understand is that God wants us to win every battle and to have the victory everytime and in every way.
  1. God gives victory to his children because he loves us.
  2. Last week we had a funeral for my brother-in-law and it was sad but wonderful because we were able to spend time together and be with the family that does not know Jesus as their Savior and we saw the young people ministering to each other.
  3. Have you ever been in a problem and seen God turn that problem around for your good?
  1. I have a person in my life that has tried to hurt me and my family.  This person has only made us stronger people.
  2. I had a person one time who wanted to really hurt me; and for a while it seemed to work. Then in my hurt, I found SpG and God gave me all you folks to love me and for me to love.

Conclusion:   God doesn’t fight fair when it comes to his children.  There will be people who will try to hurt you; but they cannot because God is on your side and he always gives us victory.

live pageantHow do you tell the Christmas story to a group of people who are intellectually disabled?  Of course, this is a dilemma no matter where your ministry lies.  If you are a parent, can you make the story fresh to your growing brood?  If you preach to a congregation of 10,000, what is the method you will use to keep the message relevant while remain true to the gospel message? Each year I try to find a different way to share the story of God’s love incarnated into a man to the programs I shepherd at The Special Gathering which is a ministry within the mentally challenged community.

This year, I told the story using members who are least  physically able to respond as the characters.  I joked and laughed with them, sharing as humorously as possible the in’s and out’s of the Biblical account.  Because I work with three different programs at Special Gathering, each reenactment had different characters and each one was vastly different because of the diverse personalities that made up the “casts.”

angelIn each program, there was one person whose personality shined through when selected.  I chose the people at random asking them to participate as their character was introduced.  Mary was a young woman who is extremely low functioning in one of our enactments.  Everyone attending applauded when I selected her. Her smile told the story of her delight and her smile carried the action through until the end.

The first time we had our presentation, there was a small group of 17 people.  Therefore, we had one angel who came to Mary, Joseph and the shepherds.  This person was animated and funny.  His flair for the dramatic was obvious.  After he had spoken to Mary, I said, “Then the angel disappeared.”  He looked at me quizzically and shrugged his shoulders, acting as though I expected him to disappear.  “Can’t you even disappear?”  I asked.   He pretended to try to disappear.  “What kind of angel are you?”  I asked.  Again, he mischievously responded with a great deal of humor and delight.

Each time he “appeared” the audience laughed with pleasure at his antics and showmanship.  We played off each other and I took my cues from his facial expressions and movements.  We all laughed all through the actions because of his good humor.

At our largest program, there were more than 50 people from which to draw.  Mary was a higher functioning young woman She does not walk or speak.  We call her the “queen” because everyone loves her so much that we fight over who will serve her and push her wheelchair.

Charlie BrownThe surprise, however, was the man I chose to be Joseph.  This Joseph is an amazing actor.  He, too, is physically disabled.  He navigates with a walker.  Extreme palsy plagues the movements of his body, making them exaggerated with spasms and violent jerks.  Yet, in front of an audience, this Joseph came alive with expression and animation.  He was the attentive lover.  His visage stormed with disappointment and anger, when he heard about Mary’s pregnancy.  His face showed shock at the angel visitation; then his movements turned to extreme tenderness toward Mary.

I keep the story simple but embellishing it with the emotions that each character must have felt.  Laughter and silliness are the mark of the day.  Of course, I don’t make fun of the details of the story but, like this year, there is always someone who wants to play the clown and I play off of their ability to laugh at an awkward situation or a unique situation.

After we laugh and play, I turn the story to the seriousness of Jesus’ sacrifice.  The good news of God’s love for us is amplified by the birth and life of this humble god-man who was born in order that he might die for us.

Ethel was a Bible teacher at Special Gathering.  Additionally, she wrote many books for the mentally challenged community and they were published in our monthly newsletter.  Ethel and I shared a passion for writing and Special Gathering.  Therefore, we became good friends through our shared ministry concerns.  In addition, we both excelled at “going to lunch” and we practiced that part of our friendship often.

Ethel wrote for our monthly newsletter “Connecting Point,” and she was incredibly faithful in her efforts.  Even after she moved to Volusia County, Ethel always met our deadlines; and she wrote with great skill and feeling for the special needs population.
As a Bible teacher, Ethel could not be matched.  She taught the Scriptures with a keen eye for truth and clarity.  Her class was a verse-by-verse discussion study for our readers.  It has become the model for our leadership and readers classes.
My first view of Ethel came 22 years ago through Sarah, her daughter who was mentally challenged.  It was my first year at Camp Agape, our annual ministry retreat.  Sarah was my bunk mate.  I had the top bunk and she had the bottom.
On Sunday afternoon, after two days of camp, I thought I was too tired to climb to the top bunk.  Therefore, I decided to lay on Sarah’s bottom bed, thinking that she would never notice or understand.  I was wrong!
Sarah came into the cabin and jumped me.  “Get off my bed,” she insisted. “You can’t get on my bed!”  Ethel had taught Sarah well.  It is vital for our population to understand their rights and Sarah knew that I was an intruder and she wasn’t intimidated by me.  Ethel treated Sarah as an adult, and she allowed Sarah the dignity of being valued for being a child of the Lord.
One year, in touring our campgrounds, Ethel asked Sarah what she liked best about camp.  Immediately, Sarah said, “Pool.”
Shocked, Ethel said, “You don’t know how to play pool.”  Sarah walked over to the pool table and demonstrated to her mother that she certainly did know how to play the game.  Ethel laughed, “Guess she showed me.”
Ethel was never willing to compromise her faith.  Yet, she shared the message of Jesus with compassion and great love.  Her greatest legacy is her faith in Christ and love for all people but especially for the men and women who knew and loved her through her ministry within the mentally challenged community.

Tell the good news that makes people happy

Luke 2:10

Central Theme:   Telling the good news of Jesus makes people very happy.

Introduction–Have a string of lights wrapped around your neck and drop a box of tinsel all over the floor.  Say, Christmas does not always make me happy. During Christmas time, there is too much work and you can never please everyone. But the good news of Jesus always makes people happy.  Have a member read Luke 2:10.

I.     Tell the story of the birth and the angels and the shepherds from Luke 2.

1.  The angels told the shepherds that this good news will make the whole world happy.

2.  The encyclopedia notes that Jesus is the one man who has changed the world for good more than any other person.

3.  The influence of Jesus has made the world a better place to live.

II.     The angels promised the world happiness.

A. Happiness and joy are not the same.

1.  Joy is a peace and contentment deep inside.

2.  Happiness is feeling or sense of pleasure.

B.  The angel said because Jesus was born the world would have a greater feeling of pleasure.

III.     We talk a lot about what we can do to be better Christians but I want to talk about what God has done to make our lives better.

A. God gave us Jesus to make everyone‘s lives more pleasant and happy.

B.  Our country is the result of this happiness–part of our constitution is that we have the right to try to find happiness.

C. The Howard family is going on a cruise this week.  It will make us all happy and that is part of what God wants for all of us.

Conclusion:  God wants us to be happy and he sent Jesus to make that happen.

The choice that changed everything

Nehemiah 9:17

Central Theme:  Man choices to sin and God chooses to be gracious.

A ream of paper has 500 sheets–not more and not less.  A foot is 12 inches–not more and not less.  There are many absolutes in our lives.  There are a couple of absolutes that totally changed mankind.  First, since Adam’s sin, we all choose to sin; and God always chooses to be gracious and forgive. Have a member read Nehemiah 9:17. 

I.     Tell the story of the fall and sin of mankind.

A. Eve ate the fruit and Adam followed.

B.  They were tricked by Satan.

C. God made them leave the garden but he chose to love them and forgive them.

II.     God will always choose to be gracious and loving to you.

A. We must desire God‘s love and his forgiveness.

B.  We don’t always think we need God.

III.     The ways we reject God.

1.  We decide that we can handle everything ourselves.

2.  We work toward being independent of God

3.  We want to please people rather than God

3.  We disobey God‘s laws.

A. There are unintended consequences to all of the bad choices that we make.

IV.     We should never forget that God will always show his love and graciousness to us.

Conclusions:  Each of us chooses to sin but God chooses to forgive us all the time.

The Power of Courage

Acts 4:29

Central Theme:  God gives us courage to speak and do what is right.

Introduction–Bring one of your gardening books. Explain how much I love gardening and I find it easy to talk to people about gardening.  I like to share tips and information.  Explain how nobody is going to kill me for talking about my garden.  Immediately after Jesus died, arose and ascended into heaven, the church was people who loved Jesus so much that they couldn’t stop talking about Him even though it meant that they would be in trouble.  Have a member read Acts 4:29. 

I.     What would happen to you if you decided to tell every person you met about Jesus tomorrow?  Would that take real courage?

A. Would you be arrested?

B.  Would you be put in jail?

C. Would you be killed?  Would you need courage?

II.     In Acts 12:1-25, we read about a group of people who were so happy that they could not stop talking about Jesus.

A. The church leaders of the day got very angry and put their leaders in jail.

B.  James, the brother of Jesus, was killed.

C. But they had great courage.

III.     We know that Jesus has the power to change lives and we want to tell others about what has happened to us but we are afraid.

1.  God can give us courage and joy.

2.  Tomorrow ask God to give you one person who is hurting and needs your help.

A. Become their friend.

B.  Tell them about Jesus.

Conclusions:  We can make a difference in the world, one person at a time, if we have courage.  God will give us courage if we ask.

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