Sermon Notes (Page 3)

“Which Is More Important?” Luke 18:18-30

We are given choices all the time.  Making decisions is a critical component of everyday life, although some decisions are certainly more important, more reaching, and more pressing than others.  In placing decisions in a balance, we sometimes become so engrossed on “What’s in it for me?” that we lose sight of the bigger picture.  The eyes of society have blinked with dollar signs for so long that some simply cannot see anything else.  Cost and profit constitute the bottom line.  Our New Testament Lesson speaks of making a decision and also indirectly speaks of greed, which is contrary to the Christian lifestyle.  This has nothing to do with working hard nor feeding your family.  Yet this sermon has everything to do with being a disciple of Jesus.  In church life, today is Stewardship Sunday, which also involves individual decision-making.  Today I pose a question, “Which is more important, money or God?”

“It’s About Time!” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“It’s about time!” is a phrase I have heard most of my life.  My Dad would regularly use an abbreviated version, “’bout time!” when referencing an action which he thought was overdue.  For instance, if the University of Georgia were playing a football game and had numerous penalties, once the referees called a “face-mask” or “pass interference” penalty on the opposing team, my Dad would declare, “’bout time!”

“We All Need Rest” Matthew 11: 25-30

Labor Day is a legal holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Canal Zone, and the Virgin Islands.  The celebration of Labor Day, in honor of the working class, was first suggested by Peter J. McGuire, founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters.  In 1884, the Knights of Labor held a parade on the first Monday of September and passed a resolution to hold all future parades on that day and to designate the day as Labor Day.  Ten years later, the U.S. Congress made the day a legal holiday.

“What Kind of Block Are You?” Matthew 16:21-28

In gaining a better understanding of our text, I’d like to set the scene by describing what happened in the previous verses.  Jesus and the disciples had gathered at Caesarea Philippi, which was a resort community; Jesus and the twelve had gone on a retreat.  He asked the twelve followers, “Who do you think I am?”  Answers included John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

“Being Called to See” Matthew 9:35-38

Robert Parham, former Director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, contrasted blindness and seeing.  He wrote, “Blindfolded Lady Justice symbolizes fairness without prejudicial considerations.  Behind the statue of Lady Justice is the idea that seeing clouds decision-making and corrupts actions.  Equal treatment under the law, for example, can only be achieved through blindness.  So, we talk about a color-blind society.  Politicians protect themselves from the perception of impropriety by setting up blind trusts.  Blindness is an American virtue.  Seeing is a biblical virtue.”

“Solving the Problem Can Begin with Us” Matthew 14:13-21

We all know that Jesus was the Son of God, which means that he was fully divine, but Jesus was also fully human.  He laughed and cried; he was affected by the stress of his workload.  He got tired.  Our passage began with Matthew telling us that Jesus received news of the murder of his cousin, John the Baptist.  Bad news affected Jesus; bad news affects us.  Sure it sells newspapers, and it entices advertisers for the evening news cycles, but we are affected by bad news, and when we aren’t, we become less human and more robotic.

“Dear Emily” I Timothy 4:11-16 NCV

Dear Emily,

          The Apostle Paul wrote many letters, many of which are included in our Bible as Scripture.  Letter-writing has become almost passe, somewhat like the lost art of cursive.  But we know that Paul was writing to his younger minister friend Timothy as a means of encouragement.  That is my hope today.

“Ready to Sing a New Song?” Psalm 98

Madison Baptist Church has been gathering for worship since 1834; that means that our congregation has been singing for almost 183 years.  While James McDonald was the first pastor, I don’t know if he picked the hymns, if someone else had that duty, or if the gathered congregation simply called out favorites.  Over the years, the person selecting music for our church brings their desires, goals, and even personalities into the choices.  I’m not sure that music selection is entirely objective; Renae Hester is different from Elsie Monk who was different from Joe Preston who was different from David Shytle who was different from Carey Huddlestun.  All of us have our gifts and talents, and all of us are unique.  I do not have the same gifts and talents as my predecessor Jim Ross, and his gifts were not identical to his predecessor W. T. Booth.   And this thing called church is bigger than all of that.  With differing gifts and talents from pastors, music ministers, other staff members, and laity, the ministry of the church continues, and today we celebrate this new chapter of Madison Baptist Church’s storied history as Renae Hester begins as our Minister of Music.

“Finding God in the Ordinary” II Kings 5:1-15

Barry Luppin was just twenty-six when a rare nerve disease sent him into the world of silence.  Unable to pursue the law career he had planned, he drifted aimlessly for eight years, remembering beautiful music and the voices of loved ones, and bemoaning his deafness.  Then he determined to “put his chin up and fight.”  He learned to read lips and went into the auto leasing business.  The business prospered into a multi-million-dollar enterprise.  Barry didn’t let his handicap keep him from normal work.  When a customer called, his secretary picked up an extension phone.  She heard the caller and mouthed the words silently to Barry, who sat nearby.  He replied in normal speech.  Callers were never told that Barry was stone deaf.  “If you have a physical handicap, you can run into a corner and hide,” said Barry.  “Or you can just try harder than the next man and make a success of yourself.” (James C. Hefley, Life Changes, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1984, pp. 88-89.)