Last Sunday December 29th was a milestone day at The Eastside Vineyard Church. I preached my 117th and final sermon on the gospel of Matthew!
When we were in the pre-launch phase of the church, Kellie and I prayed and fasted about what series I should preach on when the church launched. We landed on a pretty unconventional idea. Instead of preaching a “felt needs” series on something like marriage or relationships, I felt led to start preaching out of the gospel of Matthew. Chapter 1. Verse 1. One story at a time. In order.
At the beginning, I gave a disclaimer on a weekly basis. That although I started preaching out of Matthew in this manner, I reserved the right to switch gears if it began to ever feel like the idea had run its course.
Well, it never did. 🙂 In fact, since we launched this series, numerous people have told me that they loved how we were taking our time going through this gospel, drilling deep into it, and focusing on stories in Jesus’ life that are often overlooked.
Every once in a while we took a Sunday off from Matthew to preach a stand-alone sermon on Pentecost or Christmas or when Rob Morris from Love146 came in to preach on human trafficking. But the following Sunday we picked up where we left off in Matthew.
It took almost three years. This past Sunday I preached on the final verses of the final chapter of Matthew. 117 sermons from Matthew in all.
A few months back when the end of this series was in sight, the question Kellie and I started to ask was an obvious one: what’s after Matthew? In other words, what should I preach on next? Mark? Ephesians? Habakkuk? 🙂
Once again Kellie and I began praying and fasting and really sought after God about this decision and we felt led to go back to our roots.
You see, when Kellie and I were in the pre-pre-launch phase of the church, we led something called “Thursday Nights at Redemption.” I was invited by a local Lutheran pastor to preach a series of sermons on healing, the power of prayer, and related topics like spiritual warfare at Redemption Lutheran Church in Sterling Heights.
This series launched on May 6, 2010 and lasted 8 Thursdays. But both Kellie and I felt strongly that this was much more than a random way we spent a couple months worth of Thursday evenings in May and June that year.
We felt God telling us it was the *unofficial* launch of a church plant.
At the time planting a church was a far off dream in the future. I was in my 8th year on staff at Kensington Church in Troy. I was just 6 months removed from my 25-day hospitalization at Troy Beaumont. And we were expecting Baby #3.
We thought planting a church was a far off dream… that we *might* launch a couple years from that point… but God had a different timetable. In fact, we had our first-ever “sneak preview” service of The Eastside Vineyard Church just a few months after Thursday Nights at Redemption ended.
Although I have loved our journey through Matthew, that series of sermons on Thursday Nights have been my all-time favorites to research and preach. So as the end of Matthew was on the horizon, we began to think… why not go back to our Thursday Night roots? With a few significant changes.
For example, I had just 8 opportunities to teach on these topics back in 2010. Now we have all the time in the world! And that’s a good thing because some of the topics I tackled back then needed much more than one sermon to cover.
And since doing the Thursday Night series, the “learner” in me has been in overdrive. So I can’t wait to press into the supernatural aspects of our faith that I have been reading, learning, and experiencing since May 2010.
And I don’t have to wait long! 🙂 I am going to start this Sunday. Here is a sneak preview of some of the topics I’ll be preaching on in 2014:
- How do you harmonize the actions of God in the Old Testament with God as He is revealed in Jesus?
- Why did it take 21 days to get Daniel’s prayer answered in Daniel 10?
- Is it God’s will to heal?
- Is God really good… ALL the time?
- What role *should* angels have in our lives?
- What about spiritual gifts like prophecy?
- Is there really a spiritual war going on, or is God like a chess master moving pieces on both sides of the board?
- What is the role of faith in healing?
- How can taking Communion release power and grace into our lives?
The end of Matthew is just the beginning of what God has in store for our church!
Please join us… and please invite a friend! Everything starts this Sunday: January 5, 2014. 10:30am. The Eastside Vineyard Church gathers inside Shelby Jr. High School (51700 Van Dyke, 2 blocks north of 23 Mile). More info at tevchurch.org