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Showing posts from April, 2015

What I’ve Been Trying to Say: Practice Love!

(A sermon based on Philippians 2:1-18 for Sunday, April 26th, 2015--my last sermon as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA)

When all is said and done, it all comes down to love. So “love” is the word and the reality with which I want to leave you.

Well, actually it all comes down to worshipping God. But God is love—that is, God is most defined by God’s love and so to worship God is to worship the One who is perfect love. And actually it all comes down to following Jesus. But Jesus showed us what kind of love God’s love is so to follow Jesus is to practice God’s kind of love.

To worship God is to worship the One who is love.

To follow Jesus is to follow the One who showed us what love is.

So it all comes down to love.

I decided long ago that I would in living my life always try to come down on the side of love. I decided long ago that I would in carrying out my ministry always try to come down on the side of love. I decided long ago that I would in leading the chu…

What I’ve Been Trying to Say: Follow Jesus!

(A sermon based on Mark 8:27-38 for April 19, 2015. Second in a series of my final three sermons as Pastor of First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald, GA)

“I have decided to follow Jesus.” How many times have we sung it? Hopefully every time we sing it we make a recommitment to follow Jesus. In fact, that’s a recommitment we need to make every day.

For the last six years I’ve been steadily encouraging us to follow Jesus. I believe that most of us want to do so; the question is how do we do it?

We follow Jesus by following Jesus. And we have to see Jesus and to see where Jesus is going if we are going to follow him; we have to keep our eyes on Jesus. There are several ways we can keep our eyes on him.

One is to pray regularly. Remember: the crucified and resurrected Jesus is present in you and with you. You have a personal relationship with him and that relationship can and should be developed and deepened. Jesus is not an object to be admired; he is a person to be known and loved.


What I’ve Been Trying to Say: Worship God!

(A sermon based on Psalm 8 for Sunday, April 12, 2015. First in a series of my final three sermons as Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald, GA)

Psalm 8 addresses these words to God: “When I consider the works of your hands …”

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, he replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

The Apostle Paul encouraged the Roman Christians, “I appeal to you … brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

When you put those three biblical passages together you pretty much get what I’ve been trying to say about God during these last six years: (1) consider God, (2) love God, and (3) serve God.

All three passages presume, as the entire Bible presumes, that God is. We Christians presume that, too. But do we move beyond presuming to actually thinking about God? How much attentio…

Following Jesus: Out of the Tomb

(A sermon based on Mark 16:1-8 for Easter Sunday)

We have been following Jesus through all that he experienced during Holy Week. We followed him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, we followed him into Simon’s house (where he was anointed by an anonymous woman) on Wednesday, we followed him to the table on Thursday, and we followed him to the cross and the tomb on Friday. Now, on this Easter Sunday morning, we are going to follow him out of the tomb.

Interestingly, we are told less about Jesus’s resurrection than we are any of the other events at which we have looked. While we are given some wonderful and helpful stories about his post-resurrection appearances, we are told nothing of what actually happened in the resurrection. Oh, we know that he rose from the dead—and that’s enough—but we are told nothing of the process and we are given none of the details. There are good reasons for those intentional omissions. For one, no one actually saw what happened. For another, if someone had see…

Following Jesus: All Along the Way

(An Easter sermon based on Luke 24:13-36)

It was the Sunday on which Jesus was raised from the dead and two disciples of Jesus—one was named Cleopas and the other remains anonymous—were walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a journey of some seven miles. Some of the women who followed Jesus had already encountered the risen Christ outside the empty tomb that morning and had told the eleven remaining disciples and “all the rest” about it. Evidently Cleopas and his friend were among “all the rest” because they knew all about the report. But they didn’t know what to make of it so they went ahead and left town. They were just walking down the road, burdened with sadness and disappointment as they talked about the awful crucifixion of their beloved rabbi.

Suddenly they were joined by a stranger who seemed oddly unaware of what had happened on the previous Friday. When he asked what they were talking about, they told him about the prophet Jesus of Nazareth and how they had hoped he might be …

Following Jesus: To the Tomb

(A Good Friday Meditation)

Today we follow Jesus all the way to his tomb.

We follow him as he is mocked and beaten and spit upon.

We follow him as he takes up his cross and begins the long walk through Jerusalem out to Golgotha.

We follow him as he stumbles under his burden until Simon of Cyrene is pulled out of the crowd to help him.

We follow him as he is nailed to the cross.

We follow him as he suffers and dies.

We follow him as he is taken down from the cross.

We follow him as he is carried to the garden tomb.

We follow him as the stone is rolled over the mouth of the tomb.

We follow him as he lies there in the silent darkness.

That’s what we do today: we follow him all along the way as he moves from his trial to his entombment.

And if we want to we can go to Jerusalem and walk along the Via Dolorosa, literally following in the footsteps of Jesus.

But are we following Jesus to the tomb in our real daily lives? Jesus called his disciples and Jesus calls us (we are als…

Following Jesus: To the Table

(A Maundy Thursday sermon based on John 13:1-17, 31b-35)

It’s Thursday night—let’s follow Jesus to the table.

There Jesus shared a meal with his disciples; he did so because he loved them—“Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (v. 1b). When Jesus knew that his time to leave this world was at hand, he got together for a meal with his friends.
We who follow Jesus are his friends; we are also friends to one another. When we get together we get together as friends; as we live our lives we live them together as friends.

In a very real way, though, we are more than friends to each other because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. In a very real way, we are more than friends to Jesus and Jesus is certainly more than a friend to us—he is our Lord and we are his disciples.
So we want to pay very close attention to what Jesus teaches us by his words and through his actions. We want to see how he related to his followers so that we will know how we are t…

Following Jesus: To Simon's House

(A sermon based on Mark 14:1-11 for Wednesday of Holy Week)

What does it mean to follow Jesus? We learn a couple of things that it means from this anonymous woman who anointed Jesus on Wednesday of Holy Week, just two days before he would be crucified. From her we learn that following Jesus means to embrace who Jesus says he is. Another thing she teaches us that following Jesus means to participate in what he is doing.

This woman is an intriguing character about whom we know nothing other than that she performed this beautiful act of anointing Jesus. It stands to reason, though, that she had encountered Jesus previously and even that she was a follower of Jesus. Indeed, it just may be that Mark purposely contrasts her with other followers of Jesus in order to show through her what a true follower of Jesus looks like. Whereas others failed at following Jesus, she succeeded. Whereas others failed at understanding Jesus, she succeeded.

Think back, for example, to the conversation bet…