Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sermon Starters: Paradigm Reset (Acts 3:12-19)

Title: Paradigm Reset
Text: Acts 3:12-19
Date: Third Sunday of Easter, April 15, 2018, Forest UMC

  • Have you ever undergone a complete 180 degrees in your understanding of something. Maybe you didn't believe in God and then you did. I hope none of you ever find out that your spouse is having an affair. We call these sorts of radical changes in thinking "paradigm shifts."
  • The phase comes from Thomas Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
  • When a new star just appeared in the sky (Tycho Brahe in 1572).
  • The change from the earth as the center to the sun being the center (now we would say there is no center)
  • Einstein on spacetime
  • Paul's Damascus Road experience
  • The resurrection was a major paradigm shift for the disciples--didn't expect him to die, didn't expect him to rise.
  • The changes of Pentecost--from cowards to radicals, from revolutionaries to evangelists, from disciples to apostles
  • In this passage, the people of Jerusalem had gone from crucifiers to realizing Jesus was the king.
  • Last week, Thomas came to faith. This week, faith changes our paradigms.
1. Faith changes our understanding of the past.
  • The people of Jerusalem
  • The story of the past changes. History is retold.
  • Soviet joke--The future is known. It's the past that keeps changing.
  • Your valuation of things changes--the apostle Paul
  • Now you begin to see God in your past. I don't believe that God decides everything.
  • But now you see where God may have protected you. Doors that opened and closed can take on purpose.
  • Things that seemed meaningless now begin to take on a purpose.
  • You begin to get a bigger picture of the past. Where the glass was empty, it now becomes full.
  • Joseph--you meant it for evil, God meant it for good.
2. Faith changes the possibilities of the future.
  • Look at the disciples, now bold, performing miracles, speaking in tongues
  • The impossible becomes possible ("I can do all things...")
  • Back to the Future, as people begin to disappear from the picture, X-Men: Days of our Future Past. Or some other illustration
  • You get a long view of the story.
  • The problem of suffering and evil is now placed in a much larger context because you trust that God is love. 
  • The worst possible outcome is no longer the worst possible outcome.
  • How God can change the outcome of a life! What would Billy Graham have done in his life if he had not served God? How many destined for a life of abuse became loving parents and beloved people in the community?
3. Faith changes our sense of the present.
  • People now matter to us.
  • We are confronted with a decision to make. Will we move forward with the truth and God or will we continue on our previous pathway?
  • The Lone Ranger when the Captain realizes he has been supporting a crook. Or some other illustration
  • Hebrews 3-4--Every day that is called "today," we have a choice to make. The metaphor of Israel moving toward Canaan.
  • Joshua 24 - Choose you this day whom you will serve.

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