Wednesday, December 30, 2015

GOD USES SMALL THINGS! Is it about trust or obedience? (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI, on Jan. 3, 2016)

As Paula and I were discussing the new sermon series at Kenwood beginning this weekend ("God Uses Small Things!", she put everything in perspective.  We were talking about having faith in God even when His plan seems to make little sense.  I focused upon trusting God while His plan might seem silly or even crazy.  Paula said (a paraphrase), "You've got to trust and obey."

She nailed it.  That's it.  Not only must we trust, but we must obey.

Sing with me, "Trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

GOD USES SMALL THINGS! (a blogpost for a sermon to be preached at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI, on Jan. 3, 2016)

A stick in the hand of God's servant is much more than a stick.

Any stick, branch, or twig could be a magic wand, sword, or staff when I was growing up.  There was no end to the possibilities.  Possibility was not bounded by "reality."  Anything could be something amazing.  Nothing was impossible.

This truth of children ought to be the truth that Christians live with every day.  With faith all things are possible.  With God anything is possible.  These are not simply theological truths; they are the foundation for our life in Christ.

Our messages through the series, "God Uses Small Things!" will focus on how our God chooses to use small things to accomplish His goals and bring Him glory.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: an expectant audience (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 27, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

This is Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas.  Can you imagine Mary and Joseph on their first Christmas Eve?  Were they waiting with great anticipation?  Were they "ready"?  Can you imagine what it would be like to be waiting for the Messiah to come . . . tomorrow?  

Waiting is a large part of the human experience.  We wait on the mail.  We wait on our children.  We wait for good news.  We wait and wait and wait.  

What have you been waiting for?  

Are you still waiting for the Messiah?

What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: the Modern Audience as Participant (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 27, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

The audience is a central figure in the way we understand literature today.  We focus not only on who wrote what but who would read what.

This ancient gospel is a story for the modern reader as much as the original recipients.  We are the audience.  We are the ones intended to grapple with this difficult story just as much as the people in ancient Israel.  

What are your thoughts as you read the story?   What does the story compel you to do?  Who do you connect with in the narrative?  How has the gospel changed you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: the Audience (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 27, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Joseph, Mary and Jesus are the primary characters in the Christmas story, but they are not the only characters.  There are angels, shepherds, and a whole host of other people.  The last character that I will be talking about on Sunday will be the audience (you and me).

The Christmas narrative presses the listener toward faith.  This incredible demands a response.  This little baby was born the king of the Jews.  He was the son of God.  Jesus was the messiah.  This story demands a decision.

Either you believe that he is who the Scriptures say or you don't.  What will you do with the Christ child?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus and You (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Jesus is the reason for the season.  Right?  Our self-absorbed, narcissistic, me first culture believes that Christmas is all about us, and that is 100% correct.  Just not in the way we think.

What I get, who I see, how much I enjoy the party, where I go, why I wanted the other sweater matter little during this Christmas season.  Christmas centers on us but not in that way.  My personal wants, likes, preferences, and indulgences only obscure the real reason we stand center stage in the cosmic Christmas story.  The haze of personal gratification only confuses the issue.

Christmas is all about us because Jesus made it all about us.  Jesus may be the reason for the season, but we are the reason that he came.

Philippians 2:5b-8 says,

Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus and a Special Sunday of Worship (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

I am getting excited about Sunday, Dec. 20, worship.  We have great music, a few special songs, some video, and the greatest reason to gather - God sent His son into the world for us.  Come and join us as we worship the King, the Christ child, the Savior!

See you Sunday.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus as Stranger (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

Have you ever felt that uneasy feeling like you just don't belong?  Perhaps it was a party or a trip to a new city or a move to another part of the country or a new job.  I think we have all had that sense of being an outsider.  We were different; we didn't belong.

I wonder how Jesus felt as He found Himself in a strange land that He had created.  To be God and experience newness.  To be God and feel the comfort of your mother's touch.  To be God and know hunger.  To be God and . . .

Monday, December 14, 2015

THE CHARACTERS OF CHRISTMAS: Jesus (a sermon to be preached on Dec. 20, 2015, at Kenwood Church in Livonia, MI)

"The Characters of Christmas" series has looked at the primary figures in the Christmas story.  We have considered the active faith of Joseph and the profound belief of Mary.  This week we will look at the Son of God becoming flesh and consider the humility necessary for God to become man.

As we move toward Christmas day, we relish in the opportunity to worship our God and Savior for His mercy and grace.  Won't you join us as we worship the Christ child on Dec. 20 at 9:30am.  Let us gather to give Him praise!

John 1:1-18New International Version (NIV)
The Word Became Flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life,and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name,he gave the right to become children of God 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of graceand truth.15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.