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KinmundyChurch.org:
The Blog of the Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Churches,
PO Box 158 or 308 E. 3rd St,
Kinmundy, IL, 62854
Church Office: 618-547-7423


Worship at Kinmundy: 9 am Sunday. At Wesley: 10:45 Sunday.
Visit us on Facebook here!
Listen to or download sermons and slides by clicking here.

Vision Statement: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
Mission Statement: “Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional.” (¶126, Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church)

The world has 2 needs and 2 kinds of people: People who need to become disciples
and disciples who need to become disciple-makers.
(T4T)

      

Wesley United Methodist Church
3381 Kinoka Rd, Patoka, IL  62875
Worship Sunday mornings at 10:45 am.

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY:
PLEASE CHECK THE CHURCH FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION!

Weekday policy: if South Central public schools are closed because of bad weather,
church activities that day are postponed.
Be Safe!

We Would Like You To Know —

YOU HAVE FOUR CHOICES TO PARTICIPATE IN WORSHIP, depending on what you feel is best for your own safety and situation in this season. We respect your decision.

Choice #1: You are welcome to attend live, Face-to-Face worship at Kinmundy United Methodist Church at 9 am Sunday morning OR at Wesley, 10:45 Sunday morning.

Choice #2: We broadcast the audio of the live service on your car’s FM radio, FM 87.9, to the parking lot at Kinmundy UMC at 9 am. This is a little safer than inside for those who are unvaccinated, feel ill or are concerned about safety. Just like a drive-in, you can bring snacks and coffee.

Choice #3: You can also click on the links at the blog post of the day in the “Attend Worship at Home” category to have your own worship service experience, for whatever you are interested in. You can listen to the sermon on audio, pray the prayers, play YouTube versions of the hymns, and/or view the sermon slides along with the sermon audio. You’ll find the most recent Sunday at the link at the top of the column to the right on this page.

Choice #4: A copy of the “Worship at Home” service AND a sermon transcript will be emailed or sent by US Mail Monday to anyone who requests it. Call the church office at 547-7423 to subscribe. The transcript can also be read on the blog after 2 pm on Monday and used in your devotions through the week. Pastor Dave intends to continue provide this on into the future.

Posted in Overview, Past Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

February 25, 2024, We Are All Going On To Perfection, Lent 2

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

HYMN Just As I Am
Just As I Am – From the video: “Gospel Music Hymn Sing”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlTSWZ_Ahy4
OR
Alan Jackson – Just As I Am
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9oSB3elWY4

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – The Love of God [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqbqjX2KRyY

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: We Are All Going On To Perfection
Text: 1 John 1:8-10, Philippians 3:12-16, Matthew 5:48
Series: What We All Have In Common.

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

1 John 1:8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Phil 3:12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Matthew 5:48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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HYMN 377 It Is Well With My Soul
Guy Penrod, David Phelps – It Is Well With My Soul (Live) [Official Video]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nJ6wQpLmuo

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

During Lent, I thought it would be useful for us to look at what we all have in common. And today, I want to talk about the reality that we all have this in common: We are all going on to perfection. Those are words that John Wesley used.

We all have a beginning and we talked about that last week. We talked about prevenient grace where Jesus Christ is reaching out to us to lift us up from any reality that is negative, any problem that we have, to reach out and take us and help us, to help us go from a place that can be very dark, the valley of the shadow of death, and then move with Jesus toward green pastures and still waters and what we need. And prevenient grace is that preparation where Jesus is reaching out toward us and helping us toward a brand new beginning, helping us in every struggle. And you see, in prevenient grace, that’s what we see, Jesus Christ reaching out to us in love.

And you see that picture? Isn’t that just a beautiful example of that, of Jesus reaching out? On the other hand, I’d like you to see the rest of the picture this morning. Jesus is saying, “All right. That’s enough. Give me the phone.” And that’s because Jesus understands our problems. Jesus understands where problems come from. And in sanctifying grace, which comes after that new beginning, Jesus begins to help us solve the problems that weigh us down. Jesus begins to help us now to change our lives for the better.

Last week, we talked about this wonderful new beginning, which is a little bit like a baby being born. But now that a baby is born, you want the baby to grow up. And it’s God’s will for all of us. We have this new beginning. But now it’s time to grow up. And sometimes that means that there are things that we have to give up sometimes.

One of the beautiful images for me is the star that led the wise men to Bethlehem. And in Matthew 4:17, it says, “From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” If we want to see that perfect world, that better world, it’s because we are willing to grow up and put down the phone and move toward what God wants, to go this way and not that way. And I shared this picture – that’s the 17-year-old boy who found a new beginning in Jesus Christ on Leap Year Day, believe it or not, Leap Year Day, 1972. It comes around every four years … it’s coming up this Thursday, my spiritual birthday. 52 years ago, my life changed. But since then, my life has also changed day by day because just like the wise men, I’m trying to find my way to where Jesus is. And I’m trying to learn by by being wise.

And unfortunately, I hate to tell you, there’s a lot of that learning that is learning the hard way.

And some of it’s been easier because I was careful to listen to Jesus along the way. But God doesn’t want to leave us in that baby, infantile, helpless place; God wants to help us to grow up and be all that we can be. And so Jesus put it this way in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:48, he said these words, “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” And this phrase comes after when he says, “You need to pray for your enemies.” Well, why would I need to pray for my enemies? Well, because God loves them too, and you need to be like God. It’s not a bad thing to be like Jesus. And you see, that’s part of what this growing up is all about.

A famous football coach Vince Lombardi once said this, “Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection knowing full well, we will not catch it.” Notice what Wesley said, “We’re going toward it.” And Wesley specifically, when he was challenged, he said, “What God wants you to be is made perfect in love in the way you love one another.”

But Lombardi said, “We know full well we will not catch perfection because nothing is perfect.” But he said, “We are going to relentlessly chase it because in the process, we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested,” he said, “in just being good.”

I also am not remotely interested in just being good. I also “in just being good enough.”
And what I hope for us as a church together, I hope for us as individual people of faith, I hope we are far more than merely good. And I hope it is a great desire for us, each of us, to be more than good enough. Because I know if we focus on the right direction, which is perfection, and we will make progress. And not only are we doing God’s will, we will will also never stop learning and our lives will never stop changing for the better.

I am 69 years old today. There are times that I wish I was 25 again. But when I wish that, I always think to myself, I wouldn’t mind being 25, but I sure don’t want to be as stupid as I was back then. When I think about being in junior high again, “Oh, Lord, please no!”

I am thankful for all the progress I’ve made toward perfection, and it has made all the difference in my life. But you see, here’s the reality of perfection. We measure ourselves from where we are to where we wish we could be, and we find that we fall short.

And that’s where this verse really has helped me. “If we say we have no sin,” 1 John 1 says, “we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” If we say that we are perfect, the truth is not in us. “But if we confess our sins,” if we have a conversation with Jesus about how we fall short, about how we are not who we wish we could be, if we have a conversation with Jesus about our desires for what we wish life was like or in other words, “if we confess our sins,” the ways we fall short, “he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Throughout the history of the church, the church has always talked about the need for forgiveness. But that other promise has become very meaningful to me. God is not just willing to forgive you and then let you struggle and try again. God is ready to clean up the mess. God is ready to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. And when I pray for my own health, I remember being hospitalized a few years ago with a giant blood clot in the blood vessels between the heart and the lung. And I think to myself, “That’s something that was not supposed to be there. Therefore, that’s something that is unrighteous. Lord, cleanse my body from everything that shouldn’t be there, like a blood clot. Cleanse my body from everything that shouldn’t be there, like too much blood sugar in my bloodstream. Cleanse my body from something that shouldn’t be there, like an infection.”

And when you are ill, I find myself praying the same things for you. Lord, don’t just forgive us. Take out the trash. Take anything out of our life that holds us back or keeps us down. Cleanse us from all that is not right.

But then John comes back again and just simply says, “If we say we’ve not sinned, not fallen short, not made mistakes, we make God a liar, and His word is not in us.” Zig Ziglar had a famous saying. He once said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing,” he said. “That’s why we recommend bathing daily.”

Friends, however clean you are today, it doesn’t last because the world is not a clean place. As we go back and forth during our day, we get dusty. Sometimes we get muddy. And that’s why we bathe. And if the bathing of your soul that cleanses you from all unrighteousness, it’s a good thing for it to be a daily practice. If not, whenever it occurs to you, just pray: Lord, forgive me and make me better. Make me clean.

Paul also emphasized that he was not perfect. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect,” he says in Philippians 3, “but I press on to make it my own. Because Christ Jesus has made me His own.” That’s prevenient grace and that new beginning. Verse 13, “Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal.”

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature be thus-minded. And if in anything, you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you … because God is seeking to reveal to each one of us the next step in our walk of faith. Therefore, what should we do?

There’s a Japanese proverb that says, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” For a saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up again. We fall down. We get up again because we’re following Jesus. And because of that, we never stop learning. And God has many things to teach us.

Now, occasionally, though, the problems start to pile up. Occasionally, we begin to feel overwhelmed. We’re anxious. We’re afraid. And sometimes when people are anxious and afraid, you know what they do? They get mad so they don’t feel afraid. And sometimes when people get mad, they do things they really don’t want to do, and they say things they really don’t want to say.

Perhaps when something like that happens, a pause is a good idea. Because you know, if you are going in the wrong way, the last thing you want to do is go faster. If you are digging a hole in the wrong place, the last thing you want to do is dig harder. If things aren’t going right, if it’s a bad day, and you can tell … maybe what you need to do is just pause for a moment … because there are a whole lot of things that this pause will do for you. The first one is this: if you’re making a mistake and you stop, you won’t make more mistakes, at least for a little bit. If you’re saying hurtful, angry things to people and you stop, well, you’ll stop doing that. It’s good to pause when things aren’t going well. And just sit down and be still. Perhaps be still and pray. Perhaps be still and ask God to intervene. Perhaps be still so you can hear the God voice speaking to your mind. Perhaps be still so that you can think.

Friends, the devil always wants you to go faster so that you have no time to think.

When things aren’t going well, perhaps the smartest thing we can do is pause and think and listen to the voice of God saying, “Dave, that wasn’t what I asked you to do. Dave, that isn’t what you read in your Bible. Dave, why don’t you ask Me what to do next?” Because we’re always learning. But we don’t always learn very much if we’re rushing off and getting even more lost.

Perhaps a pause is a good idea. And during that pause, you may hear Jesus say, “All right. Give me that phone.” You’re not feeling well. Give your best friend your car keys and tell him not to let you have them until you feel better. If you pause, God will speak to you and help you to know how to follow Jesus. In the middle of that, whatever it is, that storm, that struggle, that difficulty, whatever it is. In the middle of being upset, and I guarantee you this, none of us are wise when we’re emotionally upset.

And so to repent, which means to change our direction. Sometimes it requires us simply to pause and think and ask God for the better thing to do, not just to say no to the bad thing, but to pray and discover what it is we should say yes to. That’s something that is more important. Lord, what do you want me to do now?

Please pray with me. Lord, every now and then, no matter how smart we are, we feel helpless. Every now and then, no matter how much people love us, we feel alone. And sometimes, Lord, we feel betrayed. No matter what the truth is, Lord, sometimes we don’t see the truth clearly. And certainly in this age of misinformation and lies spread as if they were true. Lord, we have to pause and listen for your voice in the midst of the noise of all the voices of this world. And Lord, we pray that in this process of growing up, which involves falling down and getting up and falling down and getting up, that you would help us to learn not only how to walk by faith, but how to walk well in this world and move forward with wisdom from all that we learn. Lord Jesus, we ask this in your precious name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

February 18, 2024, Jesus Loves You And Me, Lent 5

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

HYMN Since Jesus Came Into My Heart
Collingsworth Family Since Jesus Came Into My Heart 2012 NQC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0Eq7yK6eLU

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 191 Jesus Loves Me
Gaither Vocal Band, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Gatlin Brothers – Jesus Loves Me (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FASZ9bzrHwg

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Jesus Loves You And Me
Text: John 3:14-21, Luke 15:4-7, Revelation 3:20
Series: What We All Have In Common.

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

Luke 15:5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

  ————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN 364 Because He Lives
Carrie Underwood – Because He Lives (Live From The Ryman Auditorium/2021)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnUDqibR_W4

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

During the weeks of Epiphany, we’ve been talking about how we as a church can get organized in this coming year to do God’s will. But as we begin this season of Lent, I’d like to suggest that we look at more simple things and more basic things — that we look at what it is we all have in common. And as I said in the prayer, one of the things we all have in common is that Jesus loves you and Jesus loves me, and that Jesus is reaching out a hand and inviting you to be a partner in this life to walk with you. So let’s talk about that.

It all began– it all began as I sat on the floor of the YMCA on the campus of the University of Illinois on the evening of February 29th, 1972. That’s right, leap year day, 54 years ago this coming week. I was a junior in high school. Life had been pretty hard. My handicapped little brother was born when I was nine. He died very suddenly when I was 13. And that cast a shadow over the entire life of our family. Something was not right.

Now, as an adult, looking back, I could say it’s very likely that I was depressed as a teenager, that I found very little meaning in life. But there’s one thing that I do know on the leap year day, my life completely changed. Back then, there was a habit of Christian bands coming to the high school to play little mini, free concerts. And then they would invite you to go where they were playing that evening. And being a guitar player, I loved the idea of free music, and I would go to these and listen to them. And this group came down from Milwaukee. And every year in February, there’s really warm weather. Have you noticed that? They played outside of my high school in the courtyard.

And I sat on the grass and I listened to them and I thought, “That guitar player is really lousy.” Remember, I was a critical kid. But the girl you see on the screen, her name is Mary Darrow, had this smile. And she talked about how she had been a heroin addict on the streets of Milwaukee and how she had been a prostitute in order to afford the drugs that she was addicted to. And she talked about how Jesus changed her life. And I can still barely talk about it without tearing up. And it wasn’t anything about the music, but it was the changed life of a person that caused me to go to the University of Illinois that that evening and sit there in the dark on the floor while a guy who was a former mobile home salesman from Weldon, Illinois, preached a 45-minute long sermon. And I do not remember a word of it, which humbles me greatly since I now preach sermons.

But I do remember this. At the end, he told us all to look down and to close our eyes, every head bowed, every eye closed. That’s something they said back then, 54 years ago. Every eye closed, every head bowed, and I was not having anything to do with it. I was looking directly at him! And he said these words, “If you want what you see, you can have it.” And he said, “You can pray this prayer after me.” And he led us through a prayer. First, he said, “If you want that, please raise your hand.” And then he said, “Pray this prayer.” And I prayed it with him. And then he said, “I don’t want to embarrass you, but if you prayed that prayer, would you stand up?” And I thought to myself, “Well, I’ll stand up,” and people gathered around me to pray for me. And I went home that night, and I thought, “I don’t feel a bit different. That was sure strange!”

But when I woke up the next morning, everything in my life was different when Jesus came into my heart.

Now, interestingly enough, this is a key element of the Methodist story. On the ship across the ocean to Georgia, where John Wesley was going to be a missionary to the Indians, he met some people who affected him pretty much in the same way that Mary Darrow’s smile affected me. He saw something in the Moravians that was different, and for two years, three years, he began to seek it. He began to search for it until finally, he wrote on a Thursday evening in May, “In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle of the Romans.” What did people do for fun before television? They would get together in somebody’s house, and a person would read out of a book, and then they talk about it. About a quarter before 9:00, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, John Wesley wrote this, “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt–“ and this is for the first time that he wrote this, “I felt that I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance–” a feeling, a witness, whatever you want to call it, “an assurance was given to me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

He also wrote in his journal, the next morning that he woke up full of joy and praising God, just like me. And the early Methodists were scorned and ridiculed. But they said things like this, “You can have an experience of closeness with God that is real and will change your life. And if you’re uncertain, you should seek it.” And they would pray on into the evening and overnight to help people find that love and joy and peace.

And we ministers have lots of ways to explain this. This is one of my favorites. It is a Methodist concept that God’s grace is flowing out toward you all the time. And that God’s grace is flowing out toward every single person all the time because every single person has an opportunity to experience the love of God in their heart. And Wesley called that prevenient grace. It’s grace that goes beforehand. It precedes. It’s grace that leads us toward God. It’s like Jesus saying, “Here, come with me.” It’s like Jesus reaching out saying, “Come with me.” And God can prepare you for years, for a moment … and then, all of a sudden, everything changes.

Or you may be like a flower. A seed sprouts and over three months, all of a sudden, there’s something very beautiful. Or you may be like a tree. It may take years. But then, all of a sudden, you have beautiful flowers like the dogwood tree over by the parsonage.

But prevenient grace draws us to a moment of justification. And the way I like to talk about that is through the use of a light bulb. Now, I have a little light bulb here. I used to love to take those four-feet long fluorescent bulbs and wave them around like a lightsaber. But it’s not terribly safe to actually do that. But it’s the same as this.

You see, friends, you and I are like a light bulb. Now, I want to say to you that there is nothing wrong with this light bulb. And there’s nothing wrong with you.

Now, I don’t mean by that that you’re not a sinner, because you are. I don’t mean by that that you’ve not made mistakes because you have made mistakes. I don’t mean by that that you don’t have faults and that you don’t have problems. And I don’t mean that you don’t struggle. What I mean is there’s nothing wrong with what God created in you and I. This light bulb is not broken. There’s nothing wrong with it. But the reason it was made by its maker, the reason that you and I were made by our creator, is for light to shine out of us when we are connected to a source of power. You are meant to be a light. There’s nothing wrong with you that prevents God’s light from shining through you. There’s nothing that would prevent God from lighting you up, but you need to be connected to that source of power or you will never know what God meant for your life to be like.

So, on Leap Year Day, I didn’t feel anything. But when I woke up, I was definitely lit. No question.

Now if you have problems with your computer and you call the help desk, you know the very first thing they will ask you? The very first thing they will ask you is to check and make certain that your computer is plugged in. The second thing they will ask you, if it’s plugged in, is Are you certain that it’s turned on? Friends, sometimes children can rampage through the room and kick the cord and it comes out of the wall and all of a sudden you’re not lit anymore … but there’s nothing wrong that you can’t reconnect with God as often as you need to. But the point I want to make is this, you were meant to be connected with God in a way that God’s power flows into your life, and it’s as much a difference in your life as when this light bulb is turned on and as you see it now. It’s only potential … until it’s connected with a source of power.

You have amazing and wonderful potential. But in order to be and experience what God wants you to know as a human being, that connection needs to be there. Jesus Christ is reaching out to you and wants to ask you to take his hand and follow Him because God loves you and wants you to experience this sort of life. For God so loved the world… When we look at the mess that the world is in, sometimes we wonder, “God, do you really love the world?” But you see, friends, here’s the truth: God loves the world. And by the way, that’s not just us who are here in the church on Sunday morning. God loves the people, but God also wants them to become connected with grace. Because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Verse 17, “For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” That’s what God desires because God loves you and me, and to save us from the mess that the world is in, to take us by the hand and hold us up, to help us in the time of our greatest need.

Not only that, Jesus said this, Luke 15:7, “Just so I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents …” Over one person who takes the hand of Jesus and that power begins to flow into their life, so that they can be light in the darkness of this world. That makes God glad. Last week, we talked about how change is like a snowball rolling downhill. It makes God glad to see your life change.

And there’s more joy in heaven when God sees one sinner who repents than – pay attention to this – over 99 righteous persons who need no repentance.

Please understand this. There’s no such thing as 99 persons who don’t need repentance! There’s no such thing as 99 perfect people who have no reason to pray for their life to be better. It’s almost like Jesus is making a joke. If you think you are that person where there’s no way or nothing about your life, that should change … Well, God still loves you. But when you wake up to the love of God and feel it and experience it, it gives God great joy.

And that’s why in the book of Revelation and, you’ll find this verse, Revelation 3:20. It says this: “Behold,” Jesus says, “I stand at the door and I knock. And if anyone, anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him and he with me. I will come into her life and eat with her and spend time with her. I will come into their life. This is where we get the language of Jesus coming into your heart, coming into your life.

Now, ironically, if you look at the context of Revelation chapter 3, Jesus is knocking actually on the door of a church. And when artists paint the door of the church for this picture, it’s frequently a door that has no doorknob on the outside. And it is possible for a church to be full of people who have never invited Jesus Christ to be a part of their lives. But if you do, if you do day after day in your prayers for three years, as John Wesley did, I want to tell you that based on my experience, your life can be entirely different … because we are loved. We are loved by God. We are loved by Jesus Christ, who rejoices when we rejoice, who weeps when we weep, who cares deeply for us, we are loved, even if sometimes we don’t feel loved.

You see, that’s the human point of view. If everything’s going right, God is wonderful. If things aren’t going the way we want, “God, what did you do?” We never consider that it might be us who have set into motion the problems that we experience in life. Nor do we consider that some people are just simply evil and hurtful. And they set in motion the things that break our hearts. But the human point of view does not always remember God’s love, but we need to understand this: I strongly encourage us to realize that what we all have in common is the love of Jesus Christ. What we all have in common is the truth that Jesus Christ came into this world at Christmas so that life can be different. What we all have in common is that Jesus Christ came into our lives so that we could be fruitful, that good could come, and that Jesus Christ died on the cross so that we could be forgiven.

We all have that in common, but not all of us have achieved the potential. Just like a light bulb that can try as hard as it wants, but it can’t light up until it’s connected to a source of power. What we all have in common is God’s love and the fact that Jesus Christ is reaching out to us.

So at the beginning of Lent, I want to simply ask you this question:

Have you had your spiritual experience yet? Has that moment come to you where you can say, “My life is different.” Maybe overnight, like it was in my experience. Maybe over several months, like with a flower, maybe over years, like a tree. And if you’re not certain, John Wesley wants to say that you can seek it, and God will bless your search because everyone who seeks finds. Everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who knocks upon the door will find that the door swings open.

And because terrible things can happen in our life, maybe something in your life has kicked the cord out of the wall. And you know that in the past, you were connected in a way that you don’t feel today. Well, it’s pretty awkward for me to get down on my knees and crawl under the desk. In fact, it’s pretty awkward for any of us sometimes to fall to our knees and make that connection strong again. But friends, I just encourage you, it’s a good thing. And it’s a good thing to remember in Lent.

And whether your story happened on Leap Your Day or some other day, I would love to hear it. And, in fact, because there’s been sadness in my life, I have had to get under the desk and plug the cord back in several times. I’d love to hear about your experience and pray with you if you would like to pray.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, thank you so much that you love us and you are waiting for us to respond to your love. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you are reaching out to us and you are ready for us to take you by the hand. Because, then, Lord, you can lift us up off our knees. If we need to be carried, Lord, you can carry us. But help us, Lord, to remember and think through in different ways the reality that our lives will be forever changed once your love and power and grace and forgiveness begin to flow into our lives the way electricity flows into the life of something as simple as a light bulb. And so, Lord, we pray for each one of us that your light would shine through us into the darkness of the world. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

February 11, 2024, It’s All About The Temple Of His Body, Epiphany 6

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

HYMN 558 We Are The Church
We Are The Church – drolas94
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ughMVTMhCuc

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 328 Surely The Presence Of The Lord
“Surely The Presence of the Lord is in This Place” | The Arch Street Band
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbt5jMpPUws

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: It’s All About The Temple Of His Body
Text: John 2:13-22, 1 Cor 12:7-15
Series: The True Work Of Christmas for 2024

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”

21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

1 Corinthians 12:7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. …
11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body …

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545 The Church’s One Foundation, v. 1-3, 5
The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ Her Lord – soloist: Rouchelle Liedemann
Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, South Africa
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA-JXeHDRDw

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Amen. We have gathered here to worship. We have gathered here in this beautiful building to be with each other and be with God. We are doing in our worship what’s been done for centuries in churches and what was done in the temple in the New Testament in Jerusalem.

On the other hand, there is a verse in John chapter two that indicates that Jesus wanted to do something new and something new with the temple.

And I’d like to give you a way to think about that. It’s an understanding of systems. Down at the bottom left-hand corner of the picture there, you see two circles that are involved with each other. And this is a systems archetype, the name of which, interestingly, is limits to growth. But honestly, you could also call it limits to change. It comes from the work of MIT professor Peter Senge and his book, The Learning Organization.

But there are two parts. And the first part, just like the medicine you take every day, the first part is the active ingredient. That’s the snowball rolling downhill. That’s the ingredient that brings change. And in every pill, that ingredient is surrounded by filler. You know what the purpose of filler is? To make the medicine easy to swallow. Sometimes the filler is a delayed release to where the medicine slowly enters the bloodstream.

But the whole point of the filler is to be of assistance to the active ingredient and to keep everything calm and comfortable and happy. The reinforcing loop brings change. And if the change comes too quick, too hard, too much of a push, the balancing loop, the part that’s supposed to help you feel comfortable, can rise up and try to stop the change. And in fact, ironically, it’s frequently very, very successful at that. The change is the active ingredient. It’s what we need. The change is something that’s new. But the way we have always done it before is extremely powerful. In fact, there are sociological studies that say that the way we’ve always done it before has 84% of the power. Little wonder if people put it to a vote, new things are turned down. Especially when, like Jesus, Jesus pushed the way the Jewish religion had always done it before. And friends, they pushed back and nailed Jesus to a cross. That’s what happens.

And that has led some people to say that, well, when we need change, what we need to do is do away with that balancing system. We need to do away with the structure. We need to do away with the idea that the way we’ve always done it before should have any influence at all. And of course, you know those people who want to change everything, you probably know somebody like that. I’m worried to say I’m probably like that. Kim makes a delicious supper and I say, “I wonder what this would taste like if you put green peppers in it.” Because I’m that “let’s try something new” guy. But everything new doesn’t always have to change everything that we like. In fact, I want to say that structure can be very helpful to change because successful change requires structure.

And the reason this is important is people who study this say that if you try to change the world, if you try to change the place you work, if you try to change the school system, if you try to change a community, and if you try to change a local church, 84% of the people will rise up and try to stop you. I once had a good friend in college. His father was a pastor. And he said that his father almost got fired because he moved the piano from one side of the pulpit to the other side. And friends, not this church, you people are so nice, but some are like that. Successful change requires structure, for some things to stay the same.

Now, do you like hot coffee in the morning? I know I do. What if you have it poured into your hands? This does not work! Like the little poem says on the screen, hot coffee is a change.

Hot coffee needs a cup …
And the cup needs the coffee.
Coffee without a cup is a mess.
A cup without coffee is just empty.

Another way to look at the same thing is a flower can grow very well in a flower pot. And you can have it in your house. You can have it in the window. But the flower pot needs the flower.
And the flower pot, the way we’ve always done it before, without something living and growing inside of it, is just empty. Consequently, what Peter Senge says, “It’s wise for us not to push growth, but to remove factors that limit it.” And then growth and the way we’ve always done it before cooperate with each other, and they get along with each other.”

So Pastor Dave, where is this in Scripture? Let me show you. Now, keep in mind, this is John chapter 2. This is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Now, this would happen again just before He was crucified. But this is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And in the temple, he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons and the money changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all with the sheep and oxen out of the temple. If you look at the picture of the temple on the screen there, across the back, you know how big that is? That’s five football fields. From the back to the front, that’s three football fields. And in that entire area were people selling oxen and sheep and pigeons for the temple. Because you see, here’s the truth as they saw it. The way they always have done it before is this. You had to buy the sacrificial animal to get forgiven. And they made money off of people having to pay for forgiveness. They not only made money, they got incredibly rich. In fact, the tribe of Levi that ran the temple received an offering of 10% of every crop, every profit throughout the entire land of Israel. Plus everything that was sold in the temple is a giant business. And some people today say the church today is too much like that.

And he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. You see, you couldn’t give a gift to God with the money you had because there was a picture of the Roman Emperor on it, and some people worshipped the Roman Emperor. So you had to exchange your money for Jewish money, and son of a gun, when you changed it, a little bit of it stuck to their fingers. And everything about religion was how to make money. Verse 16. Jesus told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away. You shall not make my Father’s house, a house of trade, a place to make money.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” And just like that snowball rolling downhill, Jesus wants to do a new thing. God wants to do a new thing. God wants to create a new kind of church. And this is where Jesus announces that.

But first, so that everybody’s paying attention, there is what we could call a come to Jesus talk. It’s time for you to understand who’s in charge here. It’s time for you to understand that there’s a new sheriff in town. And you know the interesting thing, see this painting on the screen? This, by the way, is repeatedly done. There’s Jesus dressed like someone in the Bible, but all those other people are dressed in clothes like the people of the time when the painting was painted. Because you see, friends, we still need to understand that Jesus is in charge.

So after Jesus did this, the Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” In other words, if you’re a prophet, prove that what you say comes from God. Verse 19. Here’s Jesus’s reply. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple.” And he’s standing in the middle of that giant building, five football fields by three football fields. He says, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” Verse 20. The Jews then said, “It’s taken 46 years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” Now, here comes the point:

But he spoke of the temple of his body.

Now, what is the temple of his body? God wants to do a new thing, and the temple is now not a building made of stone, but it’s the temple of the body of Jesus Christ. Verse 22. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.

God was going to do a new thing and all the sacrifices in the temple were going to be replaced by a loaf of bread, the body which is given for you. All the sacrifices in the temple to take lamb’s blood in and pour it on the Ark of the Covenant was going to be replaced by a cup that would be passed among people like you without having to buy anything or pay anything, a free gift. Jesus was going to the cross so that he could say, “It is finished.” And when he was raised from the dead, there was a new kind of church, the temple of his body.

The place in the Scripture that most plainly talks about this is 1 Corinthians 12, where it says to each – by the way, there are no exceptions – To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. In other words, God is going to work through each one of you people, and He’s going to work through the really smart people, and He’s going to work through the other people. He’s going to work through the people who are really musically talented, and he’s going to work through all the other people because He’s going to work through every single one of the people. Verse 14, For the body, the temple of his body, for the body does not consist of one member, but many. We are the church as we sang at the beginning of our worship today.”

Verse 15, “If the foot should say, “Because I’m not like that person, because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say … or the eye should say, or you name it, doesn’t matter. You are a part of the body! And the church of Jesus Christ is a church that’s not made out of bricks, although we like bricks. It’s a church that’s made out of people, people just like you.

And in fact, you are the church. You are the new temple of his body. As Paul says in verse 27, “Now, now, right now, now, you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Every one of you is needed. Every one of you is important.” And friends, that’s a change.

Now, what actually brings the reinforcing influence for change, the snowball rolling downhill? What is the active ingredient? Friends, it’s the commands of Jesus, in which Jesus says: I want it this way. I want it this way. I want it this way. And the people listen and they let change happen when Jesus asks for it.

But if that change pushes the way we’ve always done it before too hard, what happens is the way we’ve always done it before comes up and crushes, smashes, strangles the new change in order to stop it from happening. Because the purpose of the balancing loop, the purpose of the institution, the purpose of the way we’ve always done things before, is to stop things from changing in any way that would make you or I uncomfortable.

And you can still see that today. Sometimes there are big fights in the church.

But here’s what I would like to suggest to you as an alternative. The commands of Jesus, just as they encourage us to change, will also provide the structure for us to keep everything in balance. So if our choice is to follow Jesus, to do what Jesus asks us to do, we will find that there will be new things and new people, but we will find that what we love and care about will still be true. When we follow Jesus, it all fits together.

So consequently, I want to say to you people of the United Methodist Church of Kinmundy, Illinois, if you will join me in praying that Jesus is Lord, if you will join me in trying to understand the commands of Jesus to live them and do them, we will find two things will happen: The first one is this prayer on the sign at the front of the church will come true because we pray, “Lord, thy kingdom come!” Not mine, not my ideas of what it should be like. “Thy will be done.” And Lord, right here, right now.

We still have this wonderful church building. It will be like a flower pot. But because we follow Jesus, we will be alive and growing and sheltered and protected by the structure like all filler that helps us to grow. And so the future and new things and a new church will evolve as we live out the commands of Jesus. Because as the hymn says, the church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, you are the structure that keeps us on the right path. Your words guide us in this life. But I thank you, Lord Jesus, that your words are also alive in the Scripture. You compared them to seeds. And so, Lord, as we sow your words, your instructions, your way of seeing our world, your way of living in our world, we will find growing within us your presence and your spirit, to cause us to be the church that you need and the church that you want us to be. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

February 4, 2024, It’s All About Carrying (Four Friends), Epiphany 5

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

HYMN God Will Take Care of You
The Oak Ridge Boys – God Will Take Care of You (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ORXnfjQAXA

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Standing In The Need Of Prayer
Standing In The Need Of Prayer (Live) – Women Of Homecoming – Gaither Music TV
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x90HfUJl6eY

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: It’s All About Carrying (Four Friends)
Text: Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 6:33. 18:19-20
Series: The True Work Of Christmas for 2024

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 2:1 And when he returned to Caper’na-um after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door; and he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak thus? It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question thus in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins” –he said to the paralytic– 11 “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.” 12 And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

Matthew 18:19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

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HYMN Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Blest Be The Tie That Binds – Darby Hughes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_AYrlHRm5c

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

We’ve been talking since Christmas about how we kind of need to get organized for what Jesus Christ wants us to do in this new year. And of course, the big question is, what does Jesus Christ want us to do in this new year? And we’ve talked about how Jesus Christ wants us to make Jesus a priority. We’ve talked about the way we’ll understand what Jesus wants, is by becoming aware of the commands of Jesus … because what he said then is still valid today and now.

But today, I wanted to talk about something else that’s also very important. And that’s that we be willing to carry people, that we be willing to be four friends with faith. It’s an exciting time because since Jesus is here! And since Jesus is here, anything can happen. Anything can happen.

And because anything can happen, you and I have a choice in what will happen next. Do you know what that choice is? As you pray, God will answer your prayers. That’s how we have input. We ask out of our hearts and minds, and God answers our prayers. And we’re familiar with that promise from Matthew 6:33 to where Jesus talked about our priorities. He said, “Seek first his kingdom, God’s kingdom, and God’s righteousness …” And by the way, that word righteous also translates as wholeness. Everything is right as it should be.
If we seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, all these things, everything else that concerns us, they’re going to fall in line once we get in line with what God wants. And it starts with prayer. It starts with prayer.

In Mark 2:1, Jesus has become known as someone who can heal people. And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home and many were gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even about the door. And he was preaching the word to them. When Jesus begins to answer prayer, when Jesus begins to act in our world, Jesus draws a crowd.

Now, here’s the problem with that. Imagine that this is the door to the hospital emergency room and this great crowd of people are there because they want a glimpse of Jesus. How can you get through that crowd to where Jesus can help you? And the answer, frankly, is you need four friends.

You need four friends. And they came bringing to him a paralytic… A paralyzed man carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him. Now, something to be aware of: in a desert country like Israel, the roof was probably made of clay tiles. You take them off and carefully set them aside. Maybe it was thatched. Maybe it was branches, sticks, and then covered over with mud. Wouldn’t be too hard to remove, wouldn’t be too hard to repair. But the main thing to remember is that these four friends would not let anything stop them. They removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw, now hear this carefully, their faith, the faith of the four friends, when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “My son, your sins are forgiven.”

Now, this, by the way, starts an argument because there are people there who want to argue, “Who does this man think he is forgiving sins? That’s not his job. He’s not entitled to do that.” But friends, you and I know when Jesus died upon the cross, he certainly settled that. He is able to forgive our sins. You see, sometimes when somebody’s ill, they need forgiveness as well as physical healing.

But Jesus ends the argument by saying this, verse 10, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, take up your pallet, and go home.” And that’s what happened. And he rose and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all. So this huge crowd makes way. And as they do that, they were all amazed and glorified God saying, “We never saw anything like this.” Now, here’s one of the hidden subtexts of this scripture. We’ve never seen God do anything like this. Why is that?

Maybe you’ve not been praying like you could. Maybe when you pray, you don’t have the faith that four friends have. Maybe the reason God does not act is because we do not pray. So I want to suggest this. If you would like to see God act, if you would like to see prayers answered, perhaps we should learn more about praying. Perhaps we should work harder at it. Perhaps we should be intentional in our prayers so that when Jesus sees four of us with faith, God will answer prayers. We’ll still be amazed. We’ll still glorify God. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was normal to see God answering prayers? What we all need are four friends with faith. Why?

Because when Jesus saw their faith … to open up the roof, to let down their friend, to not let anyone stop them … he responded to their faith by answering their prayers. So here’s the question I have for us today. Who will you carry to Jesus in your prayers today?

Now, I do want to say, I know that you are praying people. I know that when you see someone suffering, I know that you pray for them. But is it possible that you only pray when you notice? Is it possible when you see someone who’s horribly ill, you pray for them while they are ill, and then, they get better … Praise God! But then, do you stop praying for them when they get better? As if they don’t need anything else?

Is it possible that we could become people who carry someone who needs God to prayer, to pray every day for God to bless them not just when they’re sick, not just when they’re suffering, but to bless them every day of their life? Because I’ll tell you, needs change. One goes away, but another need arises. Will we be the people who are four friends who pray consistently and intentionally for the people around us?

And what this basically means is, do you have a prayer list? I used to have a prayer list that I would keep on a post-it note. I would put it on the mirror so that I would see it every day when I was shaving. And I would not forget the names on that list.

You would think that we could trust God to remind us when our prayers are needed. But you would also think that when men go to the grocery store without a list, they would remember what they were supposed to bring home. Because sometimes, just like in a grocery store, what attracts our eyes is the only thing we notice. And perhaps, someone who needs our prayers more than anyone else, we just don’t notice. But I know if I make a list, that list will remind me.

And so, because Lent is coming, I want to suggest that it’s possible that what you and I could give up, for Lent, is praying in a sloppy, undisciplined, unserious way. But for Lent, we could dedicate ourselves to seriously pray for specific people and carry them to the Savior, who has what they need, and who is always able to help.

Now, what happens when four friends with faith pray together? Jesus gave this promise. It’s from Matthew Chapter 18. Jesus said, “Again, I say to you, if two of you agree on Earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in Heaven.” Now, that’s somewhat of a miracle these days, because how often do even two people agree on anything?

But it’s another level for you to go out and find someone and intentionally and deliberately agree with them in prayer. Let’s you and I pray together. That sort of agreement releases the power of God, and the reason it works, look at verse 20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” When you take the hand of someone else and you pray together, Jesus said he would be right there. Now, I know he’s here now, and I know when you leave here, he will be with you. I know that. But Jesus said, “When two or three are gathered in my name, when two of them agree on earth about anything they ask,” Jesus is there in a way that is very real and very special. And of course, what we have here with four corners to that pallet is we have four people agreeing. Four people praying. Four people praying in the presence of Jesus for this paralyzed man.

And so I want to set this before you as a possibility in Lent, which starts in two weeks. Two weeks from today, it will be the first Sunday in Lent. I would like to invite those who are interested, those who are interested, not everybody, those who are interested. I would like to organize us into prayer circles. Might just be one, might be more than one. A prayer circle begins with two people, and they agree and pray for two more people to join them because I think there’s something beautiful about this circle of four. A prayer circle that begins with two people might be a husband and wife, might be several women, might be several men, but I’d like to see if you would like to organize ourselves for deliberate prayer. And so let’s say that a prayer circle starts with two, and then two other people join them.

Do you know what they then do next? Four people select four names. Who should we pray for every day? And then, once a week, maybe before church, maybe right after church, the four of you get together and join hands and pray for those four people. And let’s see what God will do in the lives of others. I’d like to just ask you to take a minute and look across the church. Who would you like to pray for you? What would it be like for you to live your life knowing that there were four people who you knew were praying for you every day because you mattered to them? How would that touch your heart?

I think it would be a great blessing, so I want to invite you to contemplate this, to pray about it, sooner or later, we’ll have a meeting with those who are interested, and you’ll tell me what you feel God is telling you about how we can pray for each other and not just for each other inside the church, but also people out there have troubles too. And the thing that I sincerely hope is that we will, in a way, adopt specific people as our particular concern for prayer. And in that way, love will flow out to them, our neighbors, and God will answer our prayers.

Nonetheless, what I think is the message of this scripture is that when four people make a commitment to carry someone to Jesus, amazing, glorious things can happen. And I’m wondering, are you willing to be one of four friends with faith and be a part of a prayer circle for the six weeks of Lent? Now, of course, I hope it’ll keep going after that. But for six weeks, I’d like to see what God would do in our life, in our town, in our church, if we made this commitment.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, when you touch our hearts, our hearts wake up and we feel for the people around us. Lord, when you wake up our minds, we notice things around us. We notice our neighbors. We notice that not everything is perfect. And this motivates us, Lord, out of our hearts and minds to pray for people. Lord, we ask that you would teach us to pray. We ask that you would teach us to know what it means for your kingdom to come, that we would be a part of your will being done on earth right here, right now, just as it is in heaven, and that you would connect us together to pray for one another and for everyone around us. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

January 28, 2024, It’s All About Following (Obedience), Epiphany 4

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

HYMN Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus
Alan Jackson – ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFdrQcfLT9g

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Have Thine Own Way, Lord
Have Thine Own Way – Gospel Music Hymn Sing at Lee University
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8W4ChAKlpo

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: It’s All About Following (Obedience)
Text: Luke 6:46-49, Matthew 28:18-20
Series: The True Work Of Christmas for 2024

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

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HYMN Trust and Obey
TRUST AND OBEY – The Living Stones Quartet LSQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suXUg0dLsAo

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Last week, we talked about the reality that we live in a world that is very distracting. We live in a world that’s always trying to capture our attention. And we find ourselves asking the question, “What’s it all about … when we feel confused? What is it that we’re supposed to do?”

And so this week, I wanted to talk about how it’s all about following because Jesus wants us to follow him. Now, if you’re going to follow Jesus and he goes that way, guess which way you’re supposed to go? As one church put it, if Jesus would vote yes, you can’t vote no … if you want to follow him because following is about obedience. And as the hymns we just sang said, we can trust Jesus. We can trust him and obey him.

But first, I would like to talk to you for a moment about the scandal of the week. I would like to introduce you to Pastor Eli Regalado. And God told him about a year and a half ago that what he should do is start a Bitcoin fund. And God told him to talk to his church members about investing in the fund. And he told his church members that it was God’s will that they invest money with him [laughter] and 300 of them gave him $3.2 million. It works out to an average of about $11,000 each.

The interesting thing is that right after they gave him this money, God told him to keep almost half of it for himself. And not only that– now, you just got to know this man’s a righteous man. He paid his taxes on what he stole— I mean, on what he kept for himself. Then he spent about $300,000 of it renovating his house because the Lord told him to do that. And by the way, he confessed this in a video that he put on the internet. He also allegedly spent that money on buying a new Range Rover, an expensive car, I assume, luxury handbags for his wife, jewelry, they hired an au pair, a servant for their children, and rented boats and snowmobiles.

Later in a video this week according to the New York Times, he issued a video to his investors and he said to them, “Now, folks, please don’t be angry at the prosecutors that arrested me. This is their job and they’re just doing their job.” But he said, “There’s something that I know to be true. The first one is this. It’s either one of two things. Either I was wrong when God told me to do this and you were wrong when God told you to give me the money, or,” he said, “God’s going to work a miracle and restore all the money you lost. I’m praying for a miracle.” Who knows how this is all going to work out? But see, that’s someone who knows what God’s will is as far as he’s concerned.

But friends, there’s a big problem with that. The first problem is this: you are welcome to ask me for directions to the post office. But if I were you, I would not ask me for directions on how to invest your money! I don’t think that’s a pastor’s job to tell you. You need to talk to experts.

But in addition to that, if a pastor, including me, looks at you and says, “God told me that you should do this!” I want to tell you what to do. You hold up a Bible and you say, “Okay, pastor, I believe you. But I need to hear what Jesus told me to do because that’s what’s really important.” And see, this is the problem. It’s hard to hear God’s voice when you’ve already decided what you want God to say.

I would like to ask you to use your imagination because on the countertop in Vervadene’s office, there’s a nice little stack of rubber bands. And I forgot to bring one in. So I don’t have my rubber band. But I want to ask you to imagine a rubber band.

I know you know what rubber bands are like because one of the scriptures that applies to every situation in life that applies to scripture is this one where Jesus said in Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began–” never said that Jesus ever stopped, “Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” There is something about the Christian life that is about repentance.

And I want to define repentance for you today using this imaginary rubber band. One end of the rubber band is around this finger, which represents what you and I are doing. But the other end of the rubber band is around the idea of what God wants us to do, okay? And if there’s a distance between what God wants us to do and what we’re doing, that creates a tension, a pull. The greater the distance between what you’re doing and what God wants you to do, the more the rubber band will pull you in one direction or another.

The pastor who stole that money solved the problem with that tension by changing what God wanted to match what he was doing, which was not a good idea.

But no matter what you and I are doing, if we listen to God, God will say, “Here’s the next step. Here’s something a little better. Here’s something that’s more pleasing to God. Here’s something that will work better to you.” And the purpose of the tension is to pull you toward God’s way of doing things. That’s what it means to be holy.

Now, here’s the problem. When God is speaking to you, quite often, you will feel that tension … a little bit of worry, that little bit of concern. Am I hearing God correctly? It’s a sign that God is really speaking to you if you feel that pull, that tension.

Be especially careful whenever what you’re doing seems to you to perfectly match what God wants you to do because it’s a warning. Now, what you’re doing may be good. But friends, let’s be honest, you’re not that good that God can’t help you to be more loving or more helpful or more wiser. So that’s what it means to repent, to feel that tension and let it move you toward what God wants.

There’s a beautiful example of this that my father taught me. My father was in the Navy; this picture is of people in the army. My father said one of the most useful things that he learned in his life was that there is a right way and there is a wrong way and there is the Navy way. And frequently, as a teenager, he would express out loud the wish that he could send me out to basic training because it would help me, he said, to live a better life.

These men in the picture are in basic training for the army. They are singing a song as loudly as they can because if they do it in a way that pleases the sergeant, they won’t have to run the obstacle course five more times. They’re highly motivated to sing it the army way because that’s the only way. And my dad loved to tell me stories about basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station and how the purpose of it was to teach them how to obey orders. As you know, in a military situation, especially for any of you who have been through basic training, there comes a time when the sergeant says duck, and you need to duck because bullets are coming your way to where obedience happens exactly and immediately.

And in fact, there are words for that. The word yes, sir means yes. The word no, sir means no. But the word that says, I hear and understand your order is aye, aye, sir. That’s the army way. And the reason they teach this is because if people are able to follow orders, more of them come home alive.

Please keep this in mind, too: there is a right way; there is a wrong way, but there’s also the Jesus way. And basic training for Christians would cover the same sort of thing. We need to learn how to follow orders. Now, not orders from a pastor who’s going to invest your money in Bitcoin, but orders from Jesus because that’s who we follow. So it’s important for us to figure out how to learn to follow orders.

And one of the very first questions related to that is this, what’s an order? Now, the interesting thing is that the Greek language, which is the original language of the Bible, has something grammatically we do not have in the English language. And it’s called the imperative mood. When somebody asked you what you learned in church this morning, you could say, “Well, we studied grammar.” But here’s the imperative mood. The imperative mood is that when Jesus wanted to give you a suggestion, he could use the word a certain way. But when Jesus wants to give you an order, the word is said in a different way, which indicates this is an imperative. This is a command. This is something that is not a suggestion. This is something that you need to do.

And so I thought to myself, what would illustrate that? And I thought of– there are some stop signs … they don’t trust you to see the stop sign. They actually have this big blinking red light on the stop sign to remind you: “This is an order. This is not a suggestion.”

Now, I don’t know how many of you noticed … we’ve been asking you to read the Gospel of Mark, one chapter a day, each day in January. I want to ask you to continue to read the Gospel of Mark, but this week on the church Facebook page, I put all the imperative words that Jesus used from one chapter in the Gospel of Mark on the Facebook page.

Folks, here’s the orders. How would you choose to obey them? Two days later, I put the second chapter up. Now, in a few more days, there’s going to be a chapter where there are no commands. Now, Jesus has a lot to say in that chapter. There’s a lot of good in that chapter, but there aren’t any specific commands. But the reality of this imperative mood is if you have access to the Greek and the little bit of knowledge that’s needed to review it, you can absolutely tell what is a command and what’s a command for us.

Here is why that’s important. This is another one of those overarching scriptures, the Great Commission. At the very end of the book of Matthew, Jesus comes and gives them a summary of what they’re supposed to do now. And these are four commands. They all sort of fit together. Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

And then look at verse 20. From now on, here’s your job, “teaching them” … everyone who would say that they are Christian. “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Now, observe does not mean I’m looking at what Jesus commanded. Observe means that I am living by it, that you literally can see me do what God commands. One of the ways to say this is it’s what a camera would see. That a camera would literally see you obeying what Jesus asked you to do.

So consequently, everything the pastor says, I would suggest, everything that’s in a sermon, I would suggest, should teach you. Not just to know what a commandment is, because how often do we know something and never do it? But teach you how to do what God asks of us because that is what’s going to build the church, because what we need in every human situation and every problem, I would suggest, is to know, what did Jesus say about this? In Luke 6:46, Jesus is just really plain. He looks out at the crowd and he says, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” Friends, that’s the problem we have in church, and here’s why.

Here’s the very next verse from Luke 6. Everyone who comes to me and hears my word and does them, I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation upon rock. Think for a minute. Jesus says, “Upon this rock, I’m going to build my church,” referring to Himself. Jesus is the solid rock. But he is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation upon rock. And when a flood arose, floods and storms always come, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it because it had been well-built. It had been well-built on a good foundation.

Now you’re looking at a picture there of the Wooddale United Methodist Church. They’re a little church in Pennsylvania. They have 45 members. I went looking for a small church that was what seemed, to me, a good example, and they’re the best one I found.

When it came time to look for a church in trouble, I found this one, the Pinewood Church of Christ in Nunley, Tennessee. I don’t know if you can see the picture very clearly, but you can see that the floodwaters are about eight feet deep all around that church. Not a pretty sight.

One of the things they would do in the desert of Israel is they would find a nice flat place to build. And, of course, sand really holds some good weight, but the nice flat sandy places in Israel are all dry stream beds. Friends, if you build your church on a dry, flat, sandy place that is actually a dry river, sooner or later, the storm’s going to come and it’s just going to sweep everything you’ve built away.

But Jesus says, “He who hears and does not do what I say is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.” Looks real pretty, doesn’t it? It saved a lot of money not to build a foundation. Against which the stream broke and immediately it fell and the ruin of that house was great.

And Jesus is looking out onto the crowd and he’s saying, “You have a choice as to how you live your life.” You can build your home on a good foundation and it will last. Or you could take the easy way out. Try to save a few bucks. Build your house without a foundation, but the trouble is, whenever there is trouble, it won’t last.

Consequently, let me tell you a story about Dick. I been blessed to be your pastor here going on almost 10 years. Before that, I was in Caseyville, Illinois, where I was there for nine years and two weeks. Before that, a long time ago, I was in Quincy, Illinois, where I was the pastor there of the Grace United Methodist Church for nine years, 1985-1994. And one of the coolest things in Quincy was to be a part of a group called the Newcomers. And we would meet once a month to play bridge.

And one of the couples in that bridge club was Dick and his wife, and Dick owned the local McDonald’s, at 13th and Broadway. The local McDonald’s in Quincy, and he was an amazing man. He’d been a farmer, and he lost his left arm in a farming accident. Couldn’t farm anymore, and decided to become an owner-operator of a McDonald’s restaurant. Very, very successful at it. Very intelligent, very charming man. And as we played bridge– and he would play bridge one-handed, he had a little rack like for Scrabble that held his cards. And he was so smart. It was just wonderful to talk to him. Such a wonderful man.

And at some point in time in the conversation, I said something to him, “You know, I wonder what sort of creative things you get to do at work at McDonald’s. Do you ever make yourself a sandwich in a different way or something like that?”

And he laughed and he laughed and he laughed. And I said, “What’s so funny?” He said, “Well, Dave, let me tell you something. You know who makes the most successful McDonald’s restaurant owners?” And I said, “No.”

And he said, “Well, they’re not college graduates. They’re not creative thinkers.” He said, “The people who make the most successful owners of McDonald’s are farmers.” And he looked at me and he smiled, and he said, “Dave, do you know why?”

And I said, “No, Dick. Why is that true?”

And he said, “Because if you work on a farm, you’ve learned how to follow directions. And the very best owners of McDonald’s, the very most profitable McDonald’s restaurants are ones where the owner does everything exactly the way it is specified in the owner’s operating manual. There is literally a manual that tells you exactly the temperature for the grease you cook the french fries. You do not turn that up one degree. You do not turn it down one degree. It is done exactly according to the operator’s manual. Because the advantage of a franchise is this: they’ve already worked out what works and what doesn’t. And all you have to do,” he explained to me, “is, if you do it the way they tell you to do it, everything’s going to go well.”

“But,” he said, “whenever you find a McDonald’s that’s in trouble, whenever you find a McDonald’s that’s not making money, whenever you find a McDonald’s where employees are unhappy and they’re quitting. Whenever you find problems,” he said, “you’ll always find it’s because the owner didn’t follow the manual because the manual saves you all kinds of trouble. But an owner that will obey the manual has no problems.”

Now, if they learn something different, by the way, they change the manual. But the reality is, they’ve already figured out all the hard stuff. All you have to do is follow the recipe. And that caused me to think, as I was remembering this yesterday, that a church is a Jesus franchise. And when there are problems, when a church fails… This is a church on a street in a very poor neighborhood in Detroit that is closed down. They were not successful at staying open. Even though they are surrounded by millions of people, they could not keep the church going. And I think about … “Why?”

You see, friends, there is a manual for how to live the Christian life. There is a manual for how to be the church. And what the disciples were told in the Great Commission is to spend the rest of their lives teaching people how to understand and follow the commands that Jesus gave us.

And so what I want to suggest is whenever there’s a problem that we need to resolve, we need to ask ourselves the question: what did Jesus say we should do? Now, it’s wonderful to have pastors give you explanations and creative ideas. It’s wonderful to have experts come in and have workshops. But friends, what we need to understand most for every problem is what does Jesus want us to do? And we will find that answer in the manual.

But what will happen when we read the manual and we look at what we’re doing is we’ll notice that there is a tension between the way we want to do it and the way God wants us to do it. And we have to ask ourselves the question, do we want to move to where we’re in charge? How’s that working out for us? Or do we want to be pulled toward what God wants us to do, which is something we haven’t tried yet? And so you see, there’s that tension between what Jesus wants and what we are doing. And what helps us resolve that tension … if you look down in the bottom left-hand corner there is, what does the manual say? What did Jesus say we should do? And how did Jesus say we should do it?

And if a pastor comes to you, including this one, and says, “Hey, friends, this is how we should do it. This and this and this and this.” I invite you to pretend that you are from Missouri: Pastor, I agree with you, but before I lift a finger, before I do a thing, please show me where Jesus said that … because then you’ll be able to understand truly what God wants.

And let’s have that conversation. Where does Jesus say what we need to do? Because I think that a church is a Jesus franchise. I think that a church is meant to run the way Jesus told us to run the church. And all too often, we get distracted and confused, and we miss what Jesus is telling us.

Yesterday, by the way, somebody asked me if I was going to tell you a joke during the service today, and of course, this has to do with telling corny jokes or bad jokes. I would like to ask you to imagine what it feels like to sign a contract to build a brand-new church. (The picture on the screen shows a giant stack of lumber.) The only problem is, you know who you bought your brand new church from? IKEA. Because, when you buy something from IKEA — I have never visited an IKEA store, but people tell me it’s amazing. They have these amazing things there and they are such a bargain. The problem is you have to put them together. All they give you are the parts and the instructions.

And whatever the perfect church is, whatever is the next step, an improvement upon our church, whatever will solve our problems, whatever those problems are, they come to us like this: parts and instructions. And Jesus asks us to put them together.

But do you know what guides us when we put these things together? It’s the same as always. Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s what Jesus wants, which we’ve gotten from the manual. And what Jesus wants pulls us toward Jesus’ way of doing things and the church becomes the best church that it can be.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, when we bring a frozen pizza in from the garage and we think we remember the temperature to set the oven, remind us to look at the instructions. Lord, when we think we remember everything that goes into banana nut bread, help us, Lord, to look up the instructions, to be certain, so that our efforts are not wasted, so that we do not gamble with the future of our lunch. And Lord, let’s not gamble. Let’s not take risks with the future of our church. Let’s not gamble, Lord. Let’s not take risks with the future of our Christian life. When we pray, Lord, let’s not gamble that our prayers will not be answered. But instead, Lord, help us to pray with the knowledge of what Jesus wants and the knowledge of what we’re doing. And Lord, help us when those two don’t match up to repent and make a change. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

January 21, 2024, It’s All About Fishing (for People), Epiphany 3

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

HYMN 367 He Touched Me
Gaither Vocal Band – He Touched Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m–ptwd_iI

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 420 Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Breathe on me breath of God – Northern Baptist Association
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmkzSjs9eAw&list=RDEMybKCzmDd0sHMKOWa6eeZhQ&start_radio=1

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: It’s All About Fishing (for People)
Text: Mark 1:14-20, 12:28-31, Matthew 4:19, 28:18-20
Series: The True Work Of Christmas for 2024

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God,
15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” 16 And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zeb’edee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him.

Matthew 4:19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Matthew 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

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HYMN 344 Lord You Have Come To The Lakeshore
Lord, You Have Come (to the Seashore) | Fisher of Men | Sunday 7pm Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGpM9m3hNSo

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

As you know, we’re talking about the true work of Christmas, how God touches and changes the lives of people. And as I’ve been thinking about that, I’ve been reminded of this movie, Alfie. What’s it all about, Alfie? Some of you remember the beautiful song that was written. But the song fits into the very end of the movie where Alfie, who is portrayed as an incredibly selfish, an incredibly immoral, a person incredibly lacking in integrity, who takes advantage and uses one person after another, after another, after another. And particularly moves from one girlfriend to another throughout the whole movie. And see, here’s the thing: He’s miserable.

And at the end of the movie, he’s standing by the Thames River in London, and he’s thinking about everything that’s wrong and how he doesn’t want to live like this anymore. And he looks up to the sky, perhaps at heaven, and he says, “What’s it all about?” Because you see, he doesn’t understand. And you think he’s about to have a breakthrough. He’s about to realize how he needs to live a different life. Then, he sees a girl walking by, and he’s right back into the same behavior as before. He didn’t learn anything from what he suffered.

And I want to suggest the reason why he didn’t learn anything is he was unable to see a pattern. If you do this, then you’re going to suffer. He was disconnected from what was happening in his life, so it would happen again and again and again. And he would never see the connection.

And we have a word for that, actually, a proverb. It’s called not being able to see the forest for the trees. To say you cannot see the forest for the trees means you can’t see the big picture. Why? Because your focus is too much on the details. Or I would honestly say, you can’t see the forest because you’re focused on one tree.

Because here’s the truth. You need the big picture to understand. And that’s true of life, and it is true of our faith, and it is true of our understanding of Jesus. You need to see the big picture. Now, this morning, you could look at your outdoor temperature thermometer. And you would know what the weather was like right here. But it’s the big picture that tells you what’s going to happen with that weather, because the weather that’s off to the west of us is coming this way. Now, if you were looking at the earth in a satellite, you would not see this weather map. You would not see the lines separating the states. You will not see the H, which stands for high pressure. That’s that high-pressure, very clear, very cold air, very sunny days. But you see, when you see the big picture, you can understand what’s happening around you much more clearly than you can simply by looking out the window. The detail of what it is right here doesn’t give you the big picture that helps you to understand.

Now, this is a joke. It says, “This is the big picture that NASA doesn’t want you to see.” Because when you look behind the astronaut there, what you see in the picture is that the earth is flat. That’s not really what you see from outer space; what you see from outer space is that the earth is round. But you see, here’s the reality, if you’re only focused on the detail of one place right here, right where I stand, the world does look flat. But you need to be able to see beyond right here and right now to understand.

So how can we see the big picture? How can we see how everything is connected to everything else? Or to say it a slightly different way, how can we see our world as Jesus sees it?

And what this basically means is this – it’s very, very important. When there’s a problem, it’s important that we not take the problem out of context. Context is the big picture. Not only that, we can’t take a person out of their context. Someone who grew up in California is very different than someone who grew up in Farina, Illinois. Now, that’s not bad; it’s just true. If you want to understand a person, don’t take them out of their context. If they’re a high school student, don’t imagine that they’re in their 40s. Understand people by understanding their context.

One of the reasons there’re so many arguments about politics is people are taking issues out of their context so they can just fight about them. Not only that, but to really understand an idea, you need an example. You need to see ideas and concepts in a context of real life to understand how valid they are.

Now, all of that is true. And consequently, when you look at God and concepts about God and problems about church and difficulties that people who go to church have, you don’t want to take them out of their context if you want to understand. And also, in particular, you don’t want to take a Bible verse out of context because the meaning of what Jesus said in that day, in that time, and in that situation, is related to the context where Jesus said it. We want to look at the Bible in context.

Nonetheless, there is one thing that is true – and it’s what I want to share with you today. There are some Bible verses that provide us with an overview … a context … the big picture. They’re not just about one single place, but they’re about the overview of everything that God is trying to do. And I want to share three of them with you today.

Here’s the first one, Mark chapter 1:14. “Now, after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” In other words, now is the time. God is ready. And Jesus says, because of this, “repent and believe the gospel.” It’s even more clear in Matthew because Matthew adds one little word: From that time, Jesus began to preach. Began. Jesus began to preach, and Jesus never stopped preaching this. This scripture is about an overview. Everything that Jesus said, everything that Jesus did, is connected to this truth. Jesus wants you to repent. Jesus wants you to believe in the gospel because now is the time for that. And this is at the beginning of the gospel. It’s sort of like, “Let me tell you what’s going to happen.” Everything from here on in is about this big picture.

And right after it is another verse that’s a big picture. In fact, I actually call it a bookend. And passing by the Sea of Galilee or along the Sea of Galilee, Jesus saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately, they left their nets and followed him. In Matthew, it’s pretty much the same: And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”

Now, that’s a bookend. That’s at the beginning. This is an introduction. This is the big picture. Everything that Jesus teaches the disciples from here on out connects with how to fish for people. And so when you want to understand all the verses that follow, you can ask yourself, “What does this have to do with repenting? What does this have to do with believing in the gospel?” And also, “What does this have to do with fishing for people?” Because in this verse, Jesus plainly said, “When you follow me, what’s going to be important? I’m going to teach you how to fish for people.”

Now, the other end of the bookend, the very last words in the book of Matthew repeat this same theme. It’s called the Great Commission. Jesus came and said to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Now, four things, I want you to go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And then look at verse 20: Teaching them to observe, to behave, to follow all that I’ve commanded you. Do you see the book ends? I’m going to teach you how to fish for people. Now, everything I told you to do, you go teach everyone else. Everything that Jesus said in the Gospels is connected in some way to us helping people find Jesus Christ a shepherd, Savior, and Lord.

And that is a key way to help us understand any particular verse because each particular verse is a different way to look at that big-picture concept. Fishing for people. Now, it just so happens that, in addition to fishing for people, our Bishop likes to fish for fish. This is Bishop Frank Beard. He grew up in Indiana, and somewhere along the line, he loved to go fishing. And somewhere in January– I have no idea where this picture was taken, but somewhere in January, he went out and caught a 70-pound catfish. It’s hard for me to imagine a fish that big! Bishop Beard is about as tall as I am; he’s not a small man. But there is only one place in the New Testament where it talks about them fishing with a hook – Matthew 17.

So Jesus says, “Follow me. And what I tell you, and you do it, you’re going to become people who can fish for people, and now I want you to tell everybody else what I told you so they can fish for people.” The way they most often fished in the New Testament was with nets. They would take their boat and go in a big circle. And they would draw the net in, and they would catch whatever was inside that circle. And I want to suggest to you, before you go out with some kind of big hook and try to drag somebody to church, nets. Nets are how we want to fish for people!

Which reminds me also of another big, overarching scripture; we talked about this on January 7th. Another big picture is, as Jesus said in Mark 12, the scribe asks the question, “What commandment is the first of all?” and Jesus answered, “The first is ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.'” In some way, everything Jesus says, everything Jesus does, is teaching us how to love God in this way.

And then comes the interesting little phrase right after it, Mark 12:31. “The second is this … Here’s what comes next: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Everything Jesus did, everything Jesus said, is somehow connected with loving God, and not for that love to rest in your heart alone but for it to spread out from you, just like a net, to love your neighbor. You see, the net that is around the fish, it’s made out of love.

And we have a real fancy word for the fish that are inside the net. You know what we call them? Neighbors. In other words, the net of God’s love that you spread to fish for people, you spread it across your neighborhood, and you draw those people in. John Wesley said, “If anybody preaches about anything more than love, he is aside from the mark.” In other words, he’s missed the target because the thing which you need to be is perfected in love and filled with all the fullness of divine love, and of course, that’s first to God and then, as God wishes, outward from us and John Wesley says, “If that is so, that will be fulfilling of all the law of God.”

So you see, we spread a net around the people who are our neighbors. Well, Pastor Dave, who’s my neighbor? What I suggested to you is that you could simply make a list of every person you talk to during the week, and I want to suggest to you, those people are your neighbors. The people who ignore you and don’t talk to you, someone else is going to have to love them. But the people who talk to you … that you see pretty much every week, whether there’s three of them or 30 of them, those people are your neighbors. And God wants you to love them, to spread a net around all those people and bring them in and love them the way God wants them to be loved.

Well, Pastor Dave, how exactly do I do that? You told me not to hook people. I don’t think I’m supposed to lasso people either. Friends, here’s how you spread out that net. The person that you talk to, you simply ask the question, “How are you?”

Now, by the way, have you ever said that the answer, “I’m fine.” This is supposedly the most common lie that anybody ever tells. It’s true. But if you ask somebody once a week, “How are you?” eventually, they’ll feel they know you well enough to tell you the truth. And you know something really strange? Some weeks, they really are fine. Some weeks, things are just great. But if you keep coming up to your neighbor and saying, “How are you?” sooner or later, there’ll be a week where they’ll tell you that it’s been a tough week.

For example, maybe their cat, Blinky, ran away. And they’re just so anxious about how Blinky is doing. And you see, here’s one way to love your neighbor. When your neighbor is having a tough week, love asks the question, “May I pray for you?” If you want to make it a longer question, you say, “I go to a church that prays for big things and little things, including people whose cat ran away. Can I pray for you?” And because caring for neighbors is so rare these days – it didn’t used to be when we grew up – it may shock the person that you actually want to pray for them. But most of the time, they will say, “Yes, please pray for me. Please pray for my cat, for my mom, for my cousin, for my job.” And then, of course, you pray for them.

Now, the next week when you come to talk to them and you ask, “How are you?” And now it’s a very different question — because now, “How are you?” is a question that means, “Did God answer our prayers?” Now you’re having a conversation with someone about whether God answers prayer. Now you’re having a conversation with someone about whether God answered your prayer. Now you’re having a conversation about God’s love.

And of course, you know what we want to hear. “Blinky came home.” But if the cat Blinky hasn’t come home, then you just say, “We’ll keep praying,” because we’re not going to stop praying because love doesn’t stop praying. And so you have this conversation with your neighbor over and over every single week as God answers your prayers, simply by asking the question: “How are you?” That spreads a net of love and concern around people. And eventually, just as we sang, shackled by a heavy burden, Jesus will touch them and set them free because, you see, love notices.

And when love notices, you have the question of whether or not you should ask. I believe that every single one of us has a specialization, a ministry. And one of my ministries is that when I see someone in the grocery store trying to reach the top shelf, I walk up to them and I say, “How can I be helpful? Look at how big and strong I am. Can I help you reach that bottle that’s on the very back of the top shelf?” And they’ll look at me and they’ll go, “Well, yes.” I have just loved my neighbor. And it might be something different from you.

I volunteer at the Kinmundy Public Library on Wednesday afternoons. And there is one woman — I won’t tell you who she is because she does this anonymously. Every single Wednesday, she brings me a paper plate with three cookies on it. And I look forward to it all Wednesday long. She has the spiritual gift of cookies. But there is some way that God made you where you could be helpful. And if you notice your neighbor, all of a sudden, you can step up and do that extremely simple thing of just simply reaching up to a shelf that you can reach and they can’t. It doesn’t have to be something incredibly difficult. Love notices.

And that question, “How can I be helpful,” is so helpful. I was talking on the phone with another pastor on Friday. And when he discovered that I was moving and Kim and I were buying a house, he actually gave me 20 minutes of advice on what we should pay attention to. And I want to tell you, I found it incredibly irritating for two reasons. The first one is I didn’t need any of his advice and I didn’t ask for it.

But the other thing that was incredibly frustrating is I said to myself, “Oh, my God. This is how people feel when I give them advice!” [laughter] So consequently, you can really help yourself do a lot less work if you ask the person, “How can I be helpful?” And let them tell you. It’s a good lesson for me to learn. Pray for me! “How can I be helpful?”

Now, here’s what people are most frightened about regarding what some call witnessing. What if I talk to my neighbor and they have a question about God or the Bible and I don’t know the answer? Won’t I look stupid if I say, “I don’t know …”? And, you see, here’s the best answer for that: “My pastor loves to answer questions at great length, hours and hours and hours. Can he call you on the phone?” Because here’s the point: if you know someone who’s a Bible expert, you don’t have to be the Bible expert. If you know someone who’s an expert in gardening, you don’t have to be an expert gardener. We can use each other’s talents and abilities. “Oh, I know someone who went through that. Oh, she has such a wonderful testimony of how God helped her. Can I introduce her to you?” We can use each other to help God love our neighbors, but it’s still spreading a net that surrounds our neighborhood with love.

Because, friends, here’s the point: I like the image of gardening a little better than the image of fishing, even though Jesus chose fishing, because gardening is something that happens over time. But if you have a garden, you know if you’re going to take care of it, like I’m encouraging you to take care of your neighborhood. You need to go out in the garden every day or almost every day and look and see what’s happening. You need to look at the people who are growing in your garden; maybe there are weeds that need to be pulled. Maybe there are bugs that need to be pulled off the leaves.

Maybe there’s ripe fruit, and it needs to be picked. Have you ever let something sit in the garden too long? It starts to rot, not a good thing. You need to go out among the people in your neighborhood every week and listen to God, and God will tell you how to love those people. Because God is helping the people in your neighborhood every single week. God is helping draw them to Jesus Christ. God is growing new Christians every day all around us. And God has asked us to help in that work of fishing for people, in that work of helping people come to Jesus by loving people as we are guided by God.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, there are a lot of verses in the Bible that are hard to understand. But sometimes the overview is the key to unlock the meaning.

What does this verse have to say about living a different life, about repenting?
What does this verse have to say about us learning how to draw people toward you?
What does this verse have to say about helping people and loving neighbors?

Because God loves us and puts love in our heart to share with others, Lord, may all the verses where Jesus speaks or gives instructions be opened up to us to understand. And, Lord, may these overview verses help us to see how everything connects together. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

Substitute Sermon 01/14/24: “The Time Has Come,” Jesus Said.

On Sunday, 1/14/2024, we did not gather for worship due to very low temperatures of -23 degrees wind chill.

This sermon from the 1st Sunday in Lent, 2021, addresses some of the themes of our current series, and I hope it will be a blessing as a substitute.

Link to Video

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/514792302

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Faith, While Trees Are Still in Blossom 508
Faith, While Trees are Still in Blossom
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJ5G0A7oZ7M

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Children of the Heavenly Father 141
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Le7-y9xVI

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: “The Time Has Come,” Jesus Said.
Text: Mark 1:9-15
Series: The Journey Through Lent To The Cross

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

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HYMN Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go
Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go – Music Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGAPkKXBQKI

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

The true Christmas story is moving along. But it’s moving along from Act One to Act Two. Your typical move, your typical television drama, your typical situation comedy, there will be three acts. The story is divided into three parts. There is the beginning part where you get to meet the people in the story. But then there is a longer second part where things begin to happen to those people. Act two is when things get busy. Act one of Christmas, Jesus is here. There’s mangers, and shepherds, and angels, and wise men. But it’s at the beginning of Lent, it’s in Act two that Jesus begins to do his work, that Jesus begins to fulfill his purpose, that Jesus begins to demonstrate why he was sent here. And Jesus is not only here, Jesus invites us to join him in his work.

Howard Thurman wrote a beautiful poem that he called The Work of Christmas. And here’s how it goes.

“When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and the princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flock,
the work of Christmas begins.”

What is that work?

“To find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among brothers,
to make music in the heart.”

This is what begins to happen in Act two. But you know what most of us do? Act one happens and then we take down all the Christmas decorations and we put them in a box till next year nestled into the foam, protective sheet supports so that nothing bad can happen to that beautiful Christmas in the manger with the angels and the shepherds. And we go on to other things.

It was my proposal this year that we leave Christmas up all the way to February and Kim said, “No. That’s not how we do it in our house.” But just imagine what this is like. Your favorite movie, somebody comes in and turns it off after the first 20 minutes. What good is that? Your favorite situation comedy, 30 minutes long, somebody comes in 8 minutes into it, turns it off. Don’t you want to get to the rest of the story? Don’t you want to get to the place where things actually begin to happen?

Because it’s in Lent that Jesus begins to act. The waiting is over because Jesus is ready.

Let’s look at the scripture. Mark 1:9. At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The way they baptized in those days, and most people are unfamiliar with, the person would kneel in the water and they would make a sign of submission that you would to a Lord or a King. And as they did this, they would bow down, go under the water and come up to experience new life as a servant of the Lord. This is how they could baptize 2,000 people on a single day. Baptism is an act of submission to God’s will. It is a way of saying once, for the rest of your life, “Thy will be done.” It’s part of the preparation for act two.

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. The Holy Spirit comes to make his home in your heart and life and empower you to fulfill God’s will.

Verse 11. And a voice came from heaven. You are my son, whom I love. With you, I am well pleased. These are things that prepared Jesus for his ministry. They prepare us also to serve.

At once, the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness and he was in the wilderness 40 days. Jesus was fasting for 40 days like Moses fasted for 40 days. And it is no coincidence, brothers and sisters, that Lent lasts for 40 days. Jesus is getting ready to act, and times of prayer and fasting are part of getting ready. And they’re a very important theme in Lent.

Now, any time you turn away from the world to turn your eyes upon Jesus, what immediately happens? The world tries to drag you back. The minute Jesus goes into the wilderness to spend time with God, the devil shows up to tempt him to do something else. As it says in the scripture, being tempted by Satan, he was with the wild animals and angels attended him. After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God.

And what is the good news of God? Here it is. The time has come. Those four words, to me, are the heart of what we’re talking about at the beginning of Lent. The time has come, Jesus said. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.

So up until the beginning of Act two, Jesus is getting ready. Well, first, he needs to be born. But then there’s baptism, which is submission to the will of God. There’s being filled with the Holy Spirit, which is to be empowered to do the will of God. Then there are 40 days of fasting and prayer. Then there are temptations, three of them which we still struggle with. But then, finally, Act two is ready to start. Jesus returns proclaiming the good news of God. Jesus is now ready to do what God has brought him into this world to do. “The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent.” We all need to repent. “And believe.” We all need to believe. And what do we believe? “The good news.”

Pastor Dave, what is the good news? Well, the good news is every single thing that Jesus said and did in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But if you wanted to summarize it, there it is on the screen right there. And the good news, honestly, I would suggest to you is this, the time has come. It’s no longer time to sit in your La-Z-Boy recliner. It’s no longer time to lose yourself watching reruns on TV. It’s no longer time to play endless games of solitaire on the computer. It’s no longer time to wait because the time is now.
As it says in Hebrews, “Today is the day of salvation.” Are you ready?

This is the time that I’m a little worried about because that La-Z-Boy recliner has gotten awfully comfortable. And whatever you do to pass the time, and whatever I do to pass the time, that’s gotten awfully comfortable. Are we ready to get up, and to follow Jesus into the new world that he’s calling us to?

You see, what happens right after this, he’s walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and he says to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me.” It’s no longer time to fish. It’s time to follow me.

He says to James and John, the brothers, “Follow me.” It’s no longer time to mend your nets. It’s time to get up and get going. It’s time. Are you ready? Because the time has come. And I want to tell you, with all of the honesty that I possibly can, I am ready because I am so tired of this.

I am so tired of wearing my Birkenstock sandals and walking over to church and getting snow on my toes. It’s just wrong. Some of you have heard me say this. I have an irrational belief that if I dress like it’s summer, summer will come sooner. So far, it’s not worked very well. Not as bad as Texas, but not all that great!

I am so tired of all this waiting and being prevented from doing what I want to do, being hemmed in like there’s barbed wire around the house and you can’t do anything.

Oh, and by the way, are you like me? I am so tired of this (coronavirus). Because ever since March, it’s like I can’t do what I want to do. And my church can’t do what the church wants to do. And my church people can’t do what their hearts most want them to do. I am so tired of limitations, and as a result, I’m ready. I’m ready for Jesus to get us started. I am ready.

Now, here’s a couple of things to know about getting started. There’s a way we used to do things before the coronavirus happened, and there’s a way we used to do things before Jesus came. When Jesus gets us started, He’s not going to take us back to the same old, same old. He’s going to open a door into a better way to live. The Lord of the sheep, the Good Shepherd, does not lead you to green pastures that are worse, but He leads us to a better life.

And what that means, when Jesus calls for us to rise up and get going and start doing is, we’re going to leave the comfort zone of the way we’ve always done it before, and Jesus is going to lead us into a place where the magic happens because the same Jesus Christ that healed people back then is alive with us now. The same Jesus Christ that set people free from demonic oppression back then is still here to set us free today. The same Jesus who was here centuries ago to teach us the truth about God is still in the pages of the Bible, teaching us today. The same Jesus is ready to lead us into new life.

Let’s not be like the people of the nation of Israel in Moses’s day to where we were willing to change, but the change we wanted to do was to go back to Egypt, to go back to the way things were before. No, Jesus says, “Come follow me, and we’re going to go into the kingdom of God.”

Up in the top, right-hand corner of the picture there, you see one of those little cups? I remember– I don’t even know if they still do this, but years ago, I went to Wendy’s and paid for my hamburger. And all of a sudden, there was a rattle of coins into a little cup, and there was a sign above that that said, “Please accept your change.” Jesus Christ is asking us to go with Him into something new. I know you don’t want a repeat of the coronavirus. I know you don’t want a repeat of this last blizzard. But please accept your change. Let Jesus lead you into a new life, whatever that means for you, because He desires that love and joy and peace would become our new normal.

This has always been a part of the Christmas story. Do you remember singing this: “No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground. He comes–“ … Jesus comes. Jesus comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, healing and change and God’s love and grace is going to flow out from the center where Jesus is, to fill the whole earth. That’s the true work of Christmas.

Are you ready for that to happen? Are you ready to experience new life? Are you ready for spring to follow winter? I know I am, and so God says to us– Jesus says to us, “The time has come. It’s no longer time to procrastinate, it’s no longer time to retreat, it’s no longer time to nap our way through the week. The time has come.” Jesus said, “The time is now.”

Now, if you look at the screen, you see the word repent. It’s followed by a semicolon. You see the word believe? We all know we’re supposed to believe but it’s followed by a semicolon. And then follow me, that’s followed by a semicolon.

Have you ever seen someone with a tattoo of a semicolon? Do you know what that means? Now, I’m not encouraging anybody here to go out and get a tattoo, but if you want to take a magic marker and put a semicolon on your wrist, you’re welcome to do that. You’re okay if you want to take some kind of ashes, perhaps, and put a semicolon on your forehead. Do you know what the semicolon means (as a tattoo)?

It’s becoming a sign among people who are struggling with addiction, who are struggling with problems, who are struggling with mental illness, and the idea behind the semicolon is this, “My story is not over as if there’s a period. I’ve had a hard life. But the point of the semicolon is my life is changing as I move into the future. The point of the semicolon is there’s a story that goes on beyond the old story because God’s not finished with me yet.”

And brothers and sisters, God is not finished with you, and God is not finished with this church, and God is not finished with this community. But as Jesus rises up and says, “Follow me.” Will we be willing to leave our net, and our La-Z-Boy recliners, and our computer games, and get up off our comfortable pews, and go with Jesus to where the magic happens?

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are sick and tired of the snow but that doesn’t mean that we’re sick and tired of lying around the house. Lord Jesus, we are sick and tired of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean that we are ready to follow you, and to do your will. Lord Jesus, we are sick and tired of all the limitations we’ve had to live with but that doesn’t mean, Lord, that we’re willing to let you forgive us, and set us free. And like the Good Shepherd in the 23rd psalm, it doesn’t mean that we’re willing to follow you, and allow you to lead us into a beautiful new life which you called the Kingdom of God. Help us, Lord, to understand now that when you began your ministry with these words, “The time has come,” you were asking people to follow you and join you. And Lord, I pray that you would help us to hear that call, to be with you, and to be your servants during this season of Lent. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

EPILOGUE: a few words after the hymn:

I’d like to tell you a little story before we finish with the benediction. For almost six and a half years now, you’ve been looking at this bicycle, and we’ve been finishing the service in this way, because there was a sermon six and a half years ago that made a point about physics. And here’s the point. And you can practice this if you want to go home today and find a bicycle. You cannot balance yourself on a bicycle that’s not moving forward. Did you know that?
Yeah, I do. I learned that the hard way. [laughter] You learned that the hard way, too? Okay.

And there was a sermon six and a half years ago that said, “Friends, the church only stays in balance when it’s moving forward because it’s just like a bicycle.” And that was only meant to be in there one Sunday … but Steve Fox liked it so much, he put it in there every Sunday, and now it doesn’t hardly seem like church if we don’t end our worship this way.

But it’s the same thing as the message today was talking about, we can only live in balance … We can only avoid an accident … if the church is moving forward. May we all move forward together. There is no peace, there is no safety, there is no stability in this crazy world by staying still, we have to move forward.
So now: May the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, the Father, and the presence of the comforter, his Holy Spirit, be with us all now and forevermore. Amen.
Amen.
Now, don’t just sit there, don’t just stand there … Do something!
Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.
 

Posted in Past Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

January 7, 2024, It’s All About Jesus, Christmastide 2

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

HYMN 57 O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing
O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing With Lyrics By David Crowder Band
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F8QQdgnnwo
or
O For A Thousand Tongues – Chris Rice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxkzpMyOPiQ

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − O God, you made of one blood all nations, and, by a star in the East, revealed to all peoples him whose name is Emmanuel. Enable us who know your presence with us so to proclaim his unsearchable riches that all may come to his light and bow before the brightness of his rising, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and for ever. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 171 There’s Something About That Name
Bill & Gloria Gaither – There’s Something About That Name (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwzP1jiYhi0

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: It’s All About Jesus
Text: Philippians 2:1-13, Matthew 6:33-34, 22:36-40 , 25:40
Series: The True Work Of Jesus for 2024

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Philippians 2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

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HYMN 170 O How I Love Jesus
O How I Love Jesus by Alan Jackson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GgQ3MdTn4A

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

This picture was our family New Year’s Day card on Facebook to all of you. And it talks about the fact that the Christmas story has gone on year after year … because the latest chapter, chapter 2024, it is what we do this year … because the Christmas story is going on and this year’s chapter has just begun. And what I put on the picture was, I can’t wait to find out what happens next. But there’s one thing I know, whatever happens in 2024, the Christmas story is always all about Jesus.

Now, the day after Christmas is another holiday. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it or not. It’s called Boxing Day. This is an actual holiday, especially in England. The day after Christmas, people put little boxes of presents together to give to their neighbors, and especially to the poor. And as a sign of their great kindness and charity to the poor, stores in England have their version of Black Friday. Not as much as in the United States, but the day after Christmas, they come out and shop to get a bargain.

But I have a feeling in our United States, Boxing Day might not always happen the day after Christmas, might not always happen after the 12 days of Christmas. But there comes a time when we put all the Christmas stuff in a box and take it up to the attic or down to the basement. And at least for some people, they say to themselves, “Well, Christmas is over till next year.” And unfortunately, if it’s like that, that’s the end of the chapter. Because when you box up everything about Christmas, what you’re in a sense saying is Christmas is over.

But whatever you do with your Christmas decorations, don’t put Jesus in a box and believe that Christmas doesn’t matter until next year. Because here’s the heart of the Christmas story: Jesus is still here today. And because Jesus is here, anything can happen.

And so you have a choice. What will happen next as a part of our Christmas story here throughout this year of 2024? What’s going to be our priority? And let me tell you, when people box up Christmas, part of what they’ve decided is we’re going to have another priority. First priority is probably taking half the stuff they opened as Christmas presents back to the store to switch for something else. It’s astonishing what distracts us from the Christmas story! But if Jesus Christ is the priority throughout this coming year, and I pray that that would be so, The Christmas story will go on. And we’ve had this one verse that reminds us of what that means, the priority is, if you and I choose to seek first the kingdom of God, if you and I choose to seek first the righteousness, the way of life that God asked us to follow, then Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “God’s going to take care of everything else.” Because if Jesus comes first, He begins to sort through and organize our life to do His will. And we will see joyful answers to prayers all year long. But before we get distracted, we need to understand the main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.

Once upon a time, which means this is a made-up story– once upon a time, the children gathered in the front of the church for the children’s sermon. And the pastor sat down and looked over all the eager young faces and said, “Boys and girls, I have a riddle for you. What is small and brown and furry and lives in a tree and eats nuts?” And one little boy’s hand shot up, and he said, “Pastor, it’s Jesus.” And the pastor thought, “Oh, no, I’ve embarrassed him. I’ve embarrassed his parents.” And he says, “Now, boys and girls, now think carefully here. Think carefully. Brown fur. Lives in a tree. Eats nuts.” The little boy just kept shouting, saying, “I know it’s Jesus. It’s Jesus. I know it’s Jesus.” Finally, his mother came up, got him, drug him out of the church, and he said, “Friends, it’s Jesus. Y’all pray for me now.” After church, the pastor came over to the little boy, and he said, “When I was talking about something that’s brown and has fur and lives in a tree and eats nuts, you knew it was a squirrel, didn’t you?” And he said, “Well, that is a squirrel, but weren’t you supposed to be talking about Jesus?”

And you see, we have this problem. We want to start with a squirrel and work our way up to Jesus. Friends, we need to keep the main thing, the main thing, and the main thing needs to come first. We need to start with Jesus and work on to the squirrely stuff. We need to start with Jesus. We need to have our focus where our focus needs to be.

So Paul describes where our focus needs to be. Philippians 2:1. “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility, count others better than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others. That’s perfection in a church.

And then Paul tells us how to do that. Verse 5, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Now, that’s a subtle way to say, “Have this mind. I want you to think like Jesus. Have this heart. I want you to feel like Jesus. I want you to be like Jesus.” And then he describes Jesus in a very beautiful way. And in fact, the way the Greek is written, scholars think that this is actually a hymn. And if it’s a hymn, it’s a Christmas carol because it’s about Jesus coming to be with us. Verse 6, “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men.” Jesus came here from heaven to be God with us. Verse 8, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on the cross.” The entire life of Jesus can be described in these four words, “Thy will be done.” And so the Christmas story is about Jesus coming to be with us and through his entire life saying, “Thy will be done.”

Therefore, because of his choice, because of his priority, because of his intention, thy will be done: God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. This is the consequence of Jesus choosing to make God’s will a priority, therefore.

And friends, here’s our therefore. “Therefore, my beloved,” Paul writes, “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” In this coming year of 2024, as we add to the Christmas story, work out your salvation and what God is doing in your life. Verse 13, “Because God is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” God has chosen to work through us to the degree that we have chosen to pray what Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done.” And this can lead to great changes in our life.

Down in the bottom right-hand corner is a picture of a church in Louisville, Kentucky. When I was in seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, back in 1978, they were a church that was a few blocks down the street from where our United Methodist Church was, where I was a youth minister. At that time, they had about 600 people coming to their church. I went back to Louisville for a Serendipity Small Groups conference that was held at this church. And I thought to myself, “Well, I know exactly where that is.” And I came there, and the church building was all shut up. There were no signs. There was nothing. And I took a look at the address, and I had the wrong address. It was a few blocks farther in the other direction. So I drove past the United Methodist church, which looked exactly the same, came around the corner, and there was this giant campus. In those 21, 22 years or so – I’m not sure which year it was – they had grown from 600 people on a Sunday to 6,000. And I thought to myself, “I wonder how that happened.” I was fascinated. Well, in the years since then– keep in mind, it’s what, 45 years since I was in seminary. They are now the eighth-largest church in the United States. Just like McDonald’s, they’re in nine locations. And in 2019, their average attendance every Sunday was 27,000 people.

And I told you that just simply to tell you this. I extended my stay in Louisville one more day so I could go to their Wednesday night worship service. And the praise band sang praise songs, and people were there. And the man who started this church, had been their pastor for over 40 years before he retired in 2006, Bob Russell stood up in a suit and cowboy boots, and he gave what basically seemed to me to not be a very good sermon. Because, you see, he didn’t tell a single joke. He didn’t tell an amusing story about a squirrel. He just simply talked about the Scripture. And there came a time in this sermon that I would not have said was a very good sermon that he looked out at all the crowd, and he said, “People come here, and they ask us, ‘How did this happen?'” And he looked at the audience. And he wasn’t looking at me, but I felt as if he was because this was my question. “What gimmick did you do that caused this to happen? What’s the secret?” And I remember he looked out over the crowd assembled that Wednesday night, and he said very quietly, very simply, very calmly, he said, “Everything that’s happened here is because of one principle that guides us.” He said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. And what we have tried to do is for the main thing here to always be Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.” And I’ve never forgotten those words because every time I’m tempted to talk about a squirrel or tell a joke or read another book looking for some idea that nobody’s ever tried before, these words remind me to come back to the main thing, because the main thing is always going to be Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 22:36, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, what is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Now if Jesus is the main thing, what Jesus says is the greatest thing that we can do, the first thing that we should do, it becomes something for us to do: to look to God and love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This is what Jesus did.

And, of course, once God has our attention, our focus on God, God points our attention to other people. And the true work of Jesus, the true work of Christmas begins. The one who loves God with all their heart and soul and mind and strength will begin the work of finding the lost, of healing the broken, to feed the hungry, to set free the prisoner, to rebuild the nation, to bring peace among others, to make music in the heart. This is what God calls us to do when we love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.
But you notice the focus of these things are the people around us, which leads to something C.S. Lewis said, “Next to the blessed sacrament…” that piece of bread, that cup that you and I just shared in, that as we believe in what Jesus said, Jesus comes into our lives, becomes a part of our life today, next to the blessed sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object that you will see. Your neighbor’s voice is the holiest sound that you will hear because your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. because the very next thing that Jesus says after the Great Commandment is He says, “A second is like it,” – you see, there’s a first priority and a second priority – “a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
All of the Bible can be summarized in these two commandments. We love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And God tells us now, “Go love your neighbor as yourself.” And what could be more true than that at Christmas? There are people who want to say that we misunderstand the inn, that we misunderstand the stable, that we misunderstand all of that. And we might, but the truth is that Mary and Joseph did not have the help that they needed at Christmas. That is an established fact. And so as you and I seek to practice this commandment, to live out Christmas and do the work of Christmas throughout this whole year, we pray to God to help us to notice our neighbors. Because all too often, we’re so distracted by our own worries and our own stuff, we don’t notice anything that’s going on around us. And when we notice a neighbor in need, we pray, Lord Jesus, work through me to redeem, to help, to save, to forgive my neighborhood.

In Matthew chapter 25, Jesus shares a parable of warning. In fact, there are three warnings in Matthew chapter 25. And the last one says this: At the end of times, God is going to assemble every living person. And as they pass in front of Jesus Christ, he will point to this side or that side and divide them into two groups. And he’ll say to one group, ‘Blessed are you because when I was hungry, you gave me something to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was sick or in prison, you came to visit me. And the people in that group will say, ‘Well, Lord, when did we do that to you?’ And Jesus will say, ‘When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”‘

In other words, they noticed. But what they didn’t realize is that what they did to their neighbor, Jesus counted as what they did to help him. Now, the other group was not so fortunate … because they didn’t see Jesus. They just went on about their business. In fact, you can probably hear them complaining, “Lord, well, if we knew it was you, we would have done something. But those people probably deserved what they got.” And you see, it’s a warning to us. Just like on Christmas evening, to not turn away from what Jesus draws our attention to.

Now, there’s a quirk with regard to this that I mentioned last week. It’s important to mention it again this week. Another beautiful saying from Howard Thurman is this one, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” And last week, I said to you, “Every single one of you has a way that God works through you. Some of you,” I said, “have the gift of making cookies.” On the other hand, some of you do not have the gift of making cookies. And you need to not take cookies to people. Okay?

But there’s something that you do, though, that’s wonderful. And that thing that’s wonderful, that tool, I want to ask you, take it in your hand because whenever you’re doing the thing that makes you feel alive, it’s almost like you can feel God working in you. Take that and look for someone who has their hand outstretched because they need that. And you’re the one that God God sends to them.

So friends, if there’s nothing that brings you greater joy than hammering in a nail, take your hammer and go around and look for things that need hammering. If the great joy for you is to reach a screwdriver in where there’s a loose screw and tighten it, take your tool with you and find the person who needs it. And consequently, each person here will be helping another person in a different way. Don’t try to be like each other.

And for God sake, don’t try to be like me because the last thing your neighbor needs is a long sermon. Hi, my name’s Pastor Dave. I just wanted to stop by and say hello and I have a wonderful sermon from last Sunday. Can I tell you right now on your front porch? No! But you see, if somebody needs a sermon, hey, I got a sermon for you. But I’ll be honest with you, whatever it is that God gave you to use to help people, your neighbors need it more than a sermon. And when they need a sermon, I’ll be there. There’s something that God wants to do through you because somebody out there thinks: “I have trouble believing that God can help me.” And all you do is say, “Let me show you,” and let God help them through you.

A few weeks ago, I explained it this way: Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play. Because a Christmas story for this new year is going to be written by the people who are out there on the court. And you know, when the ball exchanges possession from one team to the next, they all run down to the other side of the court. And guess what? Everybody runs to their position. Friends, you have a position in the kingdom of God. There is something you’re supposed to do. And no one else or not very many people can do it as well as you can.

But when you run down the court and are ready to get involved and not just sit in the stands and watch, what you’ll realize is the very first thing that you actually do as a part of helping somebody is to notice and to pray for them. And you might say to yourself, “I really don’t know what they need me to pray for.” And Tim Keller has this wonderful little quote. He said, “In short, God will either give us what you ask, if you’re asking for the proper thing, or God will do what you would have asked if you knew everything that God knows.” But what it means to play on the team for Jesus Christ is to take up your position and pray for the people around you. Notice what they need. And if that’s your gift, you’re ready. If it’s somebody else’s gift, well, you can pass the word to the person who has that gift. Or whoever it is that has what they need. We talk to each other, and one notices and prays and then another one comes and does the job.

And the work of Christmas, the work of Jesus Christ, gets done. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we have had centuries when people thought that the Christmas story was a spectator sport. We have had centuries to where people have sat in church and thought that that was the main thing that you needed us to do. But Lord, we know the truth is that you want to help the people all around this church who need you. And I pray, Lord, that all people who are seeking a better life might be drawn to this church and might be drawn to the people of this church. And we are people who are praying and people who believe that since Jesus is here, right here, in Kinmundy, Illinois, because Jesus is here, our prayers can be answered and anything can happen. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

December 31, 2023, Christmas Future: Towards Our Own Happy Ending, New Year’s Eve

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost, to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

HYMN 454 Open My Eyes, That I May See
Hymn – Open My Eyes That I May See performed by The Riverside Choir, NYC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7e8dq6xx4k

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN 405 Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God
Seek Ye First – Maranatha! Music [with lyrics]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsBpM9IcBts
or
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God (with Call To Worship) – Malibu Presbyterian Church
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHfzAJS7IRc

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Christmas Future: Towards Our Own Happy Ending
Mark 1:14-15, Matthew 6:31-34, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-14
Series: Christmas Past, Present & Future

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Matthew 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or’What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. … 11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

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HYMN 418 We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
Climbing Jacob’s Ladder [Live) – Ann Downing, Greater Vision, The Nelons, The Ruppes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDJ0WTebhSc
or
Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band – Jacob’s Ladder (Live In Dublin) (Dixieland style)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrOLgWhisVU

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

For the last few weeks, we’ve been talking about Christmas Past, and how everyone was yearning for Jesus to come. We’ve been talking about Christmas Present when Jesus arrived. Chapter one of the Christmas story! And we’ve been talking about how that changes the Future, from then till now, but also changes our future going forward. Why? Simply because Jesus is here and now anything can happen. Anything can happen, and we are moving forward step by step. As in the 23rd Psalm, we are following our Shepherd through this life, because Jesus is with us and we’re moving towards our own happy ending. Now, whatever that happy ending might be as you would define it, for each person it might be a little different. And it’s also how we would define the happy ending for us as a church. Moving forward, what would the future look like? Please understand this. We can have hope in that happy ending because Jesus is with us, and that leads me to something that is both fun and embarrassing to talk about.

I’ve mentioned it quite frequently, and that’s my addiction to Hallmark Christmas movies. If you’ve ever seen a Hallmark Christmas movie, well, then you know what I’m talking about because every single one of them is almost exactly the same. But so far, I haven’t stressed what is the big thing, which is that you can trust … if you spend time watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, it doesn’t matter what they’re fighting about, and it doesn’t matter that grandpa’s Christmas store is going bankrupt, and it doesn’t matter that that New York City boyfriend is going to break up with you. Or that the Hallmark boyfriend who sells Christmas trees for a living and only makes $12 a year. It’s all going to work out … because the main reason why I love a Hallmark Christmas movie, and I think why everyone does, is there’s always a happily ever after.

Now, you know what’s really interesting? I’ll be watching them with Kim and I’ll take my eyes off the screen and they’ll kiss each other and I’ll look back and all of a sudden … it’s over. And I’m like, “What happened?” Well, they kissed and that was it.

Now, here’s the thing. I know it’s happily ever after, but I’ll bet there were still some fights and grandpa’s store still had some troubles because, in life, there are always sequels. But what we like most is that hope of a happy ending.

And friends, Christmas present, Jesus with us. That’s our present, Jesus with us. We have the strength we need, and we are empowered to move forward step by step toward a happy ending for us … in our neighborhood, right here as the year goes by – and that’s what I want.

And I think Howard Thurman summarized the happily ever after ending so beautifully with these words:

“When the song of the angels is stilled, the first Christmas,
when the star in the sky is gone, the first Christmas
when the kings and the princes and the wise men are back home, the first Christmas.
when the shepherds are back with their flock, the first Christmas,

the work of Christmas begins.
(Sometimes when you see this poem, it says the real work of Christmas, the true work of Christmas. People like to change these words to try to bring them up to date. But see, friends, this is the true work of Christmas. It’s going on now for 2,023 chapters and it’s still going on. Because the true work of Christmas is:

To find the lost, to heal the broken, and to feed the hungry.
It might include giving them some winter coats, which they desperately need. The true work of Christmas is to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among others, and to make music, to rejoice, in our hearts.

Friends, if that happened, I think we would call that a happily ever after! Or if real problems get solved and resolved, it’s a happier ever after. And that’s what we want. Now, even though that’s what we want, consider how Jesus does it. You have read this little poem, One Solitary Life on Christmas Cards for many, many years. And you know how it begins with the fact that Jesus lived a very humble life, never went to college, never led an army, was rejected and hung on a cross and died and came back to life.
But the author reminds us when we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely Picaune, meaningless, minor influence on humankind compared with that of this … one solitary life. And friends, the news media today makes certain that we’re aware of how terrible life can be these days. But I simply want to guarantee you that the cruelty and the evil of the world today is almost nothing compared to the cruelty and the evil that was normal on the day when Jesus came into this world. Jesus Christ has forever changed the world that we live in.

And here’s the thing that needs to sink in. We just prayed this a little bit earlier. Lord Jesus, be born in us today. Jesus rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. And you know how he works now? He works through people like you and me. And for all these 2,000-plus years, that’s how the happier has happened. Because Jesus Christ works through people like you and me. And that will be true in this new chapter in the history of the church that begins tomorrow, January 1, 2024. Jesus works through people like you and me.

Let’s take a quick look at that. Now, after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled … no need to wait … and the kingdom of God is at hand. It’s ready. What’s the kingdom of God? Well, we pray it every week in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done here on earth as it is in heaven.” The kingdom of God is ready to happen. So we need to repent. Whatever it is that we need to change our ways, we need to change them. And we need to believe the gospel – that with the help of Jesus Christ, day by day, life can be happily ever after, or at least happier ever after. That’s the work of Christmas that is still going on.

In Matthew chapter six, it tells us what the goal is: Therefore, do not be anxious saying, “What shall we eat, or what shall we drink?” Those of us who are forming New Year’s resolutions, they may be more like, “What shall we not eat? What shall we not drink?” and, of course, “what shall we wear?”

But, friends, the point is, don’t be anxious. For the Gentiles, people who have no spirituality seek all these things and are constantly anxious about them. But believe and remember this: your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Verse 33, So here’s the promise: “But seek first God’s kingdom. Seek first God’s righteousness “ – and by the way, you can translate that word as wholesome, seek God’s wholesomeness, seek God’s healthiness and wholeness – “and all these other things that people are anxious about, all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day” – and I think that’s a beautiful way to say happier today and then happier the next day – “Let each day’s trouble be sufficient for the day.”

And here’s the other important thing about how God does this. Now, there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are varieties of service, but the same Lord. And there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. If you would look at that there are a few things you would see. First of all, it says, “To each is given.” So when you look across the room and say, “Well, God can’t use me because I can’t sing like so-and-so,” or, “God can’t use me because I can’t play a musical instrument like so-and-so,” or, “God can’t use me because I can’t preach a short sermon like Pastor Dave always wishes he could preach” … to each is given. There is some way that God has prepared to work through you, to manifest, to show up, to be visible in this world so as to benefit others for the common good.

And there is a fancy word for this on the screen there. It’s called differentiation. There was one time in your life when 23 chromosomes from your father joined 23 chromosomes from your mother and became a single cell. And then that cell became two cells. This is where identical twins come from because, you see, those cells are still identical. And then two cells become four cells. And then four cells become eight cells.

And you know what happens? As life goes on and you grow, each one of those cells becomes different. Some of them become eyes, which allow you to see. Some of them become ears, which allow you to hear. Some of them become the heart, which beats. But as people grow up, all the cells become more and more different. And so Paul says to us, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

God works through our differences. And however it is that you’re different, it’s an advantage.

Now, we’re still trying to figure out how God will use that terrible temper that some of us have. We’re still trying to figure out why God has to put up with sermons that are sometimes too long. We’re still trying to figure out a lot of things. But the fact is that the scripture says very directly, “When the Lord Jesus Christ lives in you, the Holy Spirit shows up in a way that helps people.” And you need to figure out what that is. For some of you, it might be the gift of making delicious cookies. And if it is, you should make cookies, and you should find someone who needs them. Not all of us need cookies, but some of us do. If your gift is writing little notes that show love on cards, you should be doing that because that’s where the Holy Spirit shows up. If your gift is fixing things that are broken, I guarantee you there are people who need the skills you have with tools. Everything about how God made you has a purpose to bring good.

And just in case you wonder why you can’t sing like an angel or preach like Paul, like one hymn says, verse 11 points out: all of these ways that the Holy Spirit shows up are inspired by one in the same Spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills. So you go ahead and make out your resolutions to be a better singer. You go right ahead. You go ahead and make out your resolutions to become a better cookie maker but the plain fact is this: is there some way that you were born a star? And whatever that is, you want to let that light shine because it’s going to benefit the world.

This picture is a piece of factory machinery in China. It makes silk out of thread. Once upon a time, the factory in China could not get this piece of machinery to work right. They had imported it from the United States, where a lot of factory machinery comes from. So they had an engineer fly over from the United States, and he listened to the machine as it worked. And he walked up and down that row and he listened carefully. Then, he asked for a Phillips head screwdriver. And he went to one place and they turned the machinery off. He went to one place and reached the screwdriver into the machinery behind all of those wheels and tightened one screw. Then he counted off the wheels, went down a certain number, reached back in behind the machinery, and tightened a second screw. Then he went all the way down to the other end and tightened a third screw. And he said, “Try it now.” And all of a sudden, it worked perfectly. And he said, “I’ll send you a bill.” He flew back to the United States and sent them a bill for $10,000. The factory manager said, “We will not pay you $10,000. All you did was tighten three screws. I want to see an itemized bill.” It’s very likely you’ve heard this story before. It’s an old story.

The itemized bill came and it said, tightening three screws, $1 per screw.
$9,997: knowing which screws to tighten.

Friends, that’s the manifestation of the Spirit in you. Other people will do their best, but there’s something about you that is just that good. And the rest of us are also good, but we’re just not that good. So when Jesus comes into you – Lord, be born in us today – something special is getting ready to happen.

And that leads me to this other comment from theologian Howard Thurman which we normally see at Easter time but it’s true now too. Thurman served as dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University from 1932 to 1944 and as dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University from 1953 to 1965 (Wikipedia). And these are his words to the students who are praying, “What shall I do with my life? What shall I study? What career shall I undertake?” And Thurman says this,

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Friends, what the world needs is people who come alive. And the Lord Jesus Christ will begin to come alive in you and grow in you. And you will find that even under the worst conditions, you can bloom. You’re supposed to bloom where you’re planted because the way that God wants you to come alive is just as beautiful as this flower blooming in the desert. What the world needs is people who have become alive.

Because when people come alive, the Lord Jesus Christ can care for people through them. It may be your arms around this little girl in the picture, or someone else who needs comfort. But the Lord Jesus Christ is holding them and loving them through you. What the world needs is people who have come alive. That’s where the happily ever after comes from. But what it means for them to come alive is that Jesus Christ is alive in them.

And you see, here’s the truth about happier ever after. C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than anything that we leave behind.” You see, that’s what hope means. Whatever we may leave behind, there are far, far better things ahead as people come alive and work and live toward a happier ever after.

And so this is the prayer that makes that happen, that expresses the desire of Jesus Christ to live through you. And I would like to ask you to pray it with me, except if you see those bold italic words, I would like you to say them when we get there, say them loud.

Lord Jesus, as we turn to you in prayer this day, I ask that you would make each of us an instrument of your love, a means of your grace, an instrument, Lord Jesus, of your peace. And because you live in us, I ask, Lord, for each of us, where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon, where there is doubt, faith, where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light, and where there is sadness, joy.

Oh, divine master, grant that I may not so much seek for me to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive, and it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen. Lord, may these words describe the sort of person we are in this new year. Lord, may these words describe the sort of Church we will be in this new year. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

December 24, 2023, Jesus Is Here … Anything Can Happen, Christmas Eve

Image by Chris Tolworthy via Flickr

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP:
The Centering Prayer:

Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help.
I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.
Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.
Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN O Little Town of Bethlehem
Gaither Vocal Band – O Little Town Of Bethlehem
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwfkGj51S2c

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray!
Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel!

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Joy To The World
Joy to the World performed by Casting Crowns
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0Gd84Ab6k8
or
Phil Wickham – Joy To The World (+ Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee) (Live from Anaheim)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLEfxk4gKz4

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: Jesus Is Here … Anything Can Happen 
Text: Luke 2:6-15, Mark 9:14-29  
Series: Christmas Past, Present & Future

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

Luke 2:6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; 11 for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Mark 9:14 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd about them, and scribes arguing with them. 15 And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed, and ran up to him and greeted him. 16 And he asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” 17 And one of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a dumb spirit; 18 and wherever it seizes him, it dashes him down; and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid; and I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him; and when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has he had this?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into the fire and into the water, to destroy him; but if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” 25 And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You dumb and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again.” 26 And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse; so that most of them said, “He is dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. 28 And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” 29 And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN O Come All Ye Faithful
O Come All Ye Faithful with Lyrics – Martina McBride
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3egGjeiWEA

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Merry Christmas Eve. And here’s the point for today. When Jesus is here, anything can happen. When Jesus is here, anything can happen. Luke chapter 2 verse 10, “And the angel said to them, ‘Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. For to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.‘” You can summarize that in three words. Jesus is here.

And so year after year, since that day, the preacher says to the people, “Be not afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, for to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Jesus is here. No more waiting. No more hoping and yearning that someday God will help us with all we deal with. Jesus is here. And not only that, Jesus is still here. Jesus is Emmanuel, a word which means God with us. One of the names of Jesus Christ, God with us. In other words, Jesus is here. And because Jesus is here, anything is possible.

And as you let that process through your mind, you know where it ends up? What do you want? What is at the center of your heart? What is your deepest wish and hope for your life, your world, your family, your neighborhood? What do you want?

It’s always astonishing to me how anybody can go to a department store and sit on Santa’s lap and speak very honestly about what they want. But we find it hard to pray and ask God for what we want. Friends, if you’re human, you have hopes. If you’re human, you have dreams. If you’re human, there’s something that you want, for this world to be better.

How does that happen? Jesus.

For all these Sundays in December, I’ve been talking to you about my addiction to Hallmark Christmas movies. And I shared with you a couple of times why I like them so much. The first reason I like them is that family comes together. But the other reason I like them, and it’s very personal, I live in a small town. And I’ve lived in this small town now – this is my 10th year with you. I love small towns, but I love small towns even more when they’re small towns like in a Hallmark Christmas movie, to where families get together, but not only that; the whole town is family. No one gets left out at Christmas. The whole town is family.

And when I imagine the perfect Christmas present that I could ask Jesus for, it would be for our town to be like a family, a family that cares. A place in the present day where neighbors truly be neighbors to each other. Because whatever the trouble that’s going on in someone’s life, what your neighbor most needs is to live in a neighborhood where people care. And they know somewhere deep down inside that Jesus loves them, but they’re not always so certain that we do.

What the world needs most is a savior, and we know that that’s Jesus, but what does Jesus need most? The pastor of the world’s largest church in Korea, Yonggi Cho, once summarized what it meant to live in the kingdom of God, what it meant for people to do God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. As he said, what Jesus needs is people who will pray and obey. That pretty well sums it up.

We just sang this song, “Joy to the World,” and the phrase in the song that means so much to me is “No more. No more. Not here, not in our town, not where we live. No more will we let sins and sorrows grow. But we will pray for joy to come to our world, our town, our neighborhood, and that’s the kind of Christmas we want.” Now, it takes a little bit of use of your imagination, but all through the scripture, all through the gospels, you will find little bits of the Christmas story.

So I’d like to change our focus right now from Bethlehem and mangers to a sort of Christmas story that happens in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus goes up onto the top of the mountain to be with God. And he takes Peter and James and John with him up to the top of the mountain, and they spend time with God. Peter feels so blessed, he wants to build little cabins and stay up there forever.

But finally, Jesus says, “It’s time for us to go,” and as they come down the mountain, they come down into a situation of trouble. Mark chapter 9: “When they came to the other disciples, they saw a great crowd about them and scribes arguing with them.” In other words, there was a big fight beginning to happen. Verse 15: “And immediately, all the crowd, when they saw him, when they saw Jesus, they were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him and he asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you for he has a dumb spirit and whenever it seizes him, it dashes him down and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.” These are the symptoms of the disease epilepsy … but here comes the reason for the conflict. Here comes the reason for the disagreement. Here comes the reason why the scribes are arguing with the disciples and criticizing them. The man with the son says, “I asked your disciples to cast it out and they were not able.”

When Jesus sees the crowd coming and he sees that it’s just only going to get worse and the man, the father, is still talking to Jesus. And he says, “But if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” His father is in real trouble. He needs God’s help. And Jesus said to the Father, “If you can?” And then He says these profound words, “All things are possible to him who believes,” and immediately, the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe, help my unbelief.”

Friends, that’s a prayer. I believe. Help my unbelief and help my son. And Jesus has come down from high above in the presence of God to be on earth with people who are in trouble. You see why I say this is like a version of the Christmas story. Jesus Christ has come to be with the people who most need his help today, the people who are praying, “I believe, help my unbelief.” And Jesus, of course, helps this child, and the child is made whole and well, and God’s will is done. And it’s like a Christmas present because it comes from Jesus. Now, here’s the thing, friends. You and I are called to follow Jesus. And we are the ones who do his work today. He has decided to live within us and to minister to the world through us, beginning with the neighbors that are around us.

And we have used these two phrases on the screen as a call to worship many, many times over the last few years where the pastor says, “Lord, I believe,” and you cry out–
Help my unbelief.
That’s how it works, friends. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

And what you’re praying when you pray for that is to see the world as God sees it … where anything is possible because Jesus has no limits in terms of what he can do. We do put limits on Jesus. But if we saw the world as God sees it, we would see that there are no limits on what Jesus can do.

And because of that, the next phrase is this one. Lord, I obey.
And you say? Help my disobedience.

Friends, there’s always disobedience. There’s always some small way that Dave Kueker misses the target. Doesn’t quite get it right. Doesn’t say the right thing. Doesn’t do what’s most needed. There’s always some sliver or great giant mistake with regard to disobedience. But we can call out for God to help us with that. And when you pray for me, I wish you would pray exactly that, “Lord, help focus the preacher. Help guide the preacher. Lord, prune the preacher so that he focuses on doing your will.”

And following Jesus Christ in many ways is a repentance for two simple mistakes. And the simple mistakes are these. Number one, to believe that anything is beyond the power of God. And the second mistake is to believe that you and I can’t do better with God’s help. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

Then of course, the disciples, the nine of them that were at the bottom of the hill, who tried to do their best, who were attacked by the scribes, who felt sad because of the Father’s plea for help that was not received. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” You see, they had cast out demons before. They had done healings before, but today they were not able. In verse 29, Jesus said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” This problem cannot be solved by anything but prayer. And of course, remember where Jesus was. He went up to be with God and prayed, And then he came down the hill to do God’s will, and he was able when they were not.

Friends, you and I need to give some thought to charging the batteries of our spiritual life by spending time in prayer so that when we are needed, God will be able to flow through us. Why? Because God is with us. Jesus is here. Anything is possible. And so when we meet the father of this crippled child, when we meet the mother who has a broken heart, when we see a family that doesn’t have enough to eat, when we find a father or mother who are out of work and are having trouble paying bills, when we say to ourselves, “What do we want?” And we see the neighbors around us, we can add our prayer to their problems and ask God to work because we’re prayed up … because we’re ready.

When we look at everything that Jesus did, it’s possible that Jesus spent more hours praying than anything else that was a part of his ministry. And sometimes we need to charge ourselves up as well.

So a couple of weeks ago, we also reminded ourselves of that wonderful little thing they put on Christmas cards, One Solitary Life, that talks about how Jesus changed the world. And a paragraph from that saying that doesn’t wind up on the Christmas card is this one. I ask you to …

pause for a moment and think of this thing which Christians believe.
We are talking about great adventures,
about things that might not be possible, but yet we’re surrounded by God and miracles. But I remind you that there must be a great adventure in faith before there can be a great adventure in deeds or action. No one has ever done a great thing until he or she has first believed a great thing.

“Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” And so part of the lesson of Christmas, part of the meaning of Christmas, now that Jesus is here, Jesus is asking us to be people who today, at the Christmas of this year, are willing to pray and obey.

This sign has been out in front of the church now for about 2 months: “SEEKING A BETTER LIFE? INQUIRE WITHIN.” Because when you think about the people out there, when you think about them struggling with their situations, they are seeking a better life. And I hope you and I are also seeking a better life.

And then there are those two words, “inquire within.” And in a way, it’s kind of a joke because it’s not just inquire within the church building, but you can learn how to follow Jesus inside this building. But it’s also inquire within your heart and ask Jesus to guide you and live in your life.

And I am hopeful after 10 wonderful years of being your pastor … I find myself from time to time thinking, “What do people out there think about our church?” And I’m sure that there are a lot of things that people think about our church, and some of them are wonderful, and maybe some of them are not so wonderful. But the thing that I wish people thought about our church is that this is the church where the people worship whose prayers are answered.

What I wish people thought about our church was that this is the church where the people worship who pray for us and God answers their prayers.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, a church can become well-known for all kinds of things, good and bad. But when I pray in this new and upcoming year, I pray that we would be a church that seeks to see in our lives, in our world, in our neighborhood, the words from the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth. Thy kingdom come.” Lord, I pray that we would see that begin to be more and more true. And Lord, I ask that You would prune us and guide us so that our focus more and more is about bringing to You the needs of people, not just ourselves, Lord, but our neighbors. And seeing You heal and make whole and solve problems and fix what’s broken … from broken lives, Lord, to broken hearts … and help us to be praying people. Since, Lord, after all, Christmas has come, Jesus is here. And that as we pray and if we pray with faith, anything can happen … because since Christmas, Jesus is here. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | Leave a comment