Preaching God’s word is a tremendous privilege and none of us who do it take it lightly. As we come to the end of the year, I can’t help but think of all the sermons we preached this year.
And I can’t help but come up with a list of my favorite sermons from 2017. In one sense, it’s hard to pick. After all, each sermon feels like a child that you carry around for a while and deliver into the world. But in another sense, I can pretty quickly go back through the archives of sermons and determine which ones I liked the most.
So, here’s my totally subjective list of my favorite 10 sermons from Gateway in 2017.
10. The Word Made Flesh (John 1:14-18)
Maybe since this is the most recent I just like it more, but I received quite a bit of positive feedback about this message. It was fun because I specifically thought about how there really wasn’t any application other than to experience wonder at the incarnation, and much of the feedback I received indicated that God used it in that way.
9. Don’t Make it Difficult to Turn to God (Acts 15-1:35)
I remember listening to the podcast of this powerful sermon from Seth Troutt while I was on summer vacation. I was moved to tears at one point (on a treadmill), realizing that I have been brought into God’s royal family by Jesus.
8. Preparing for Mission (Acts 1:12-26)
I remember the big idea from this message: The road to extraordinary experiences of God is paved with ordinary obedience to God. That was a theme we saw quite a bit throughout this year’s study of Acts, and I think it resonated with many in our church (since we’re all pretty ordinary).
7. On Trial for the Hope We Have (Acts 25:13-26:32)
In this sermon, Josh Watt said that the goal for Christians is to be a faithful witness, not an impressive winner. I loved how he took this part of Acts, which is easy to skip over or ignore, and pulled out some helpful, practical truth for how to stay faithful even when we face trials.
6. Prayer of the Persecuted (Acts 4:23-31)
This was a good sermon, but it makes this list because of what turned out to be a powerful illustration when I shared about Vaneetha Rendell Riser and how God turned her “what if” to “even if.” It even helped inspire some people in our church to get “even if…” tattoos. Rather than living in fear of what might happen, let’s trust God even if the worst happens.
5. The Beginning of the World (John 1:1)
Seth Troutt’s first sermon at Gateway was the first Sunday of Advent 2016, and this sermon was one year later. It’s been really fun to watch him develop as a preacher this year and provide a helpfully different voice from mine. This sermon is Seth in his wheelhouse, bringing history, theology, and philosophy into our real lives and answering the question, What are you seeking?
4. The Lord Stood By Him (Acts 22:30-23:35)
In this sermon, I talked about how the way to keep going in the midst of fatigue and fear is with the presence and promises of God. The Scriptures really are a story about God’s presence pursuing us and I shared about the promises that I continually turn to. I heard from a number of folks who were helped by those promises.
3. The Wellspring of Wisdom (Prov 4:23)
I think this is the only sermon I preached this year that was on just one verse, which might be why I liked it so much. It was fun to take one verse and drill into it at a deeper level. And it’s a verse about what we should focus on “above all else,” so it’s pretty important.
2. Ask Anything (Q & A)
We had done an “Ask Anything” a few years back, but this one was new in that questions came in live and our entire teaching team (me, Seth Troutt, and Josh Watt) helped answer the questions. We got so many good ones and it was a fun day.
1. Appetites (Genesis 25:27-34)
This was the message from Fuse Sunday, where I directed it to the students while others listened in. It was my favorite sermon of the year, for a few reasons: (1) I love what God is doing among our students, (2) I got to preach it in the round, and (3) I heard from a lot of adults who said something like, “I hope those kids were listening because if I had heard that when I was young it would’ve saved me a lot of pain.”