KinmundyChurch.org: Welcome to our church blog!

We Would Like You To Know —

WORSHIP THIS WEEK …  three options:

1.  At this time, due to surging Coronavirus rates, the United Methodists Churches of our Illinois Great Rivers Conference are not holding face-to-face services until at least December 20, 2020. Please click on the link at the blog post of the day in the “Attend Worship at Home” category to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone as of November 22, 2020.

2. 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.

3. If you don’t have the internet and you would like to watch the video on DVD, please call the church office.

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If anyone wishes to have Communion please contact Pastor Dave and he will schedule a midweek morning or evening Communion Service.

PASTOR DAVE intends to telephone all active members this month, so don’t be surprised when your phone rings or there is a message on the answering machine from him!

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The Kinmundy worship planning team met June 15, 2020, and made decisions for our return to worship in the sanctuary. (All interested were invited to attend that meeting.)   WE EXPECT THAT LIFE WILL REMAIN UNUSUAL (and require some inconvenience and discomfort) THROUGH THE SUMMER and hopefully be back to normal this fall. (We hope to return to worship face-to-face soon.)

1. Six-foot social distancing is identified by bulletins placed on pews, which are also marked with a verticle strip of green masking tape. Families can sit together but please maintain that distance with others, especially when moving about.

2. We will still broadcast the service on FM 87.9 so that people can attend in their cars, whether for reasons of safety or comfort (mask optional).

3. For safety, wearing a mask in the church sanctuary is mandatory; the virus is spread by the breath of people, and you can be contagious two weeks before you know it. Outside the church and in your car is a “mask optional” zone.  (When allowed, we will attempt to create a mask optional zone within the church building.) The pastor has a mask for you if you need one!

4. If you are going to sneeze, please cover your mouth with a Kleenex. A box should be present at each seating spot.

5. The pastor will wear a face shield while preaching as “sermon virus” can spread over 20+ feet.

6. Please do not sing aloud in the sanctuary during hymns, as that widely spreads the virus. Humming along softly is OK. Singing outside and in your car is OK. Please enjoy the recorded Southern Gospel music as it is shared.

7. Groups under 50 can meet inside the church building with masks and social distance. We’ll let our bible studies and other groups decide if they wish to meet at the church this summer or wait until the fall. Meeting outside or elsewhere is OK.

8. We are not providing food but you can “bring your own beverage” to any meeting.

9. As United Methodists, we follow our Bishop’s recommendations, which are based on Illinois Department of Public Health safety guidelines. You can view them here:
Coming Back to the Heart of Worship
Phase 4 Guidelines
Phase 3 Guidelines

10.  Our goal is to provide the safest possible environment for inside worship at Kinmundy UMC, plus safe choices for our members to worship in this time of the coronavirus pandemic.  We will not compromise.

(This is why a mask or face shield is required to attend worship in the Kinmundy Church sanctuary.)

CURRENT REALITY: As the Coronavirus spreads, large UMC churches as close as Olney, IL, have retreated to parking lot services, canceling their indoor services. Other churches throughout the south are going backward to online services only. All UMC Church buildings and property in Mississippi are shut down entirely, no gatherings of any kind, including for worship, due to the spread of Coronavirus in that state. We do not feel the need to retreat as long as everyone present cooperates with all known safety precautions. If we do need to make a change, it will be to return to parking lot worship in your cars.

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KinmundyChurch.org: The Blog of the Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Churches, 308 E. 3rd St, Kinmundy, IL, 62854

AFTER CORONAVIRUS requirements cease, we will return to our normal schedule:
Worship at Kinmundy: 9 am Sunday. At Wesley: 10:45 Sunday.
Wednesday@Wesley Bible Study for both churches: 7 pm Wednesdays.

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)

Kinmundy United Methodist Churches
308 3rd Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854
AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS, Worship at 9 am.  Please join us!        

Wesley United Methodist Church
3381 Kinoka Rd, Patoka, IL  62875
AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS, Worship 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!

Posted in Overview | Leave a comment

Sermon 11/29/20: Rule #2: Do All the Good You Can (Advent I)

At this time, due to surging Coronavirus rates, the United Methodists Churches of our Illinois Great Rivers Conference are not holding face-to-face services. Please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Worship Video

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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 play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/29/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 211 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel (with lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xtpJ4Q_Q-4

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 402 Lord, I Want to Be a Christian
Lord, I Want to Be a Christian | St. Cecilia Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a14hbMd3L1U

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: Rule #2: Do All the Good You Can
Text: Ephesians 2:4-10, Galatians 6:7-10
Series: Those Methodist Rules


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

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SERMON NOTES

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Rule #2: from https://www.umc.org/en/content/the-general-rules-of-the-methodist-church
Secondly: By doing good; by being in every kind merciful after their power; as they have opportunity, doing good of every possible sort, and, as far as possible, to all men:
To their bodies, of the ability which God giveth, by giving food to the hungry, by clothing the naked, by visiting or helping them that are sick or in prison.
To their souls, by instructing, reproving, or exhorting all we have any intercourse with; trampling under foot that enthusiastic doctrine that “we are not to do good unless our hearts be free to it.”
By doing good, especially to them that are of the household of faith or groaning so to be; employing them preferably to others; buying one of another, helping each other in business, and so much the more because the world will love its own and them only.
By all possible diligence and frugality, that the gospel be not blamed.
By running with patience the race which is set before them, denying themselves, and taking up their cross daily; submitting to bear the reproach of Christ, to be as the filth and offscouring of the world; and looking that men should say all manner of evil of them falsely, for the Lord’s sake.

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HYMN 246 Joy to the World
Joy To The World (Live At The Helix In Dublin, Ireland/2013)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDmIddF7DfQ

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

As I shared with everybody last week, we as United Methodists are guided by three rules out of our history. The first rule we talked about last week, which is to do no harm. The early Methodists were greatly concerned about the punishment that would come upon them from unholy behavior, as a consequence of unholy behavior. And so their entire motivation was to flee from the wrath to come. In this coronavirus season, we are fleeing from a different kind of wrath, a different kind of wrath that is coming toward us like a flood, if not actually a Tsunami of illness in this pandemic.

So the first rule was to do no harm. The second rule, however, is another way to flee from wrath, to flee from the storm, to seek a place of safety. And that is to do good. Here’s the way the rules put it: it is therefore expected of all who continue therein in the method of society, that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, secondly, by doing good.

There is a phrase that people think John Wesley said, but he never actually said it. But it sums up the way the early Methodists practiced this rule. It’s as simple as this:

Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times that you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.

I can’t imagine a more appropriate way to say that phrase from the Serenity Prayer.
The Methodists, in the early days, had the courage to change the things they could. And we, likewise, need to have the courage to change the things that we can, all the things, by all the means, in all the ways, in all the places, at all the times, to all the people that we can, and then on, on, on, as long as ever we can. That takes some courage at a time when we might be tempted to be afraid.

There is another saying; it’s true in these days of the coronavirus, too. A person looks up at God and thinks, “Sometimes I would like to ask God why God allows poverty, why God allows famine, why God allows injustice in the world.” Or perhaps today, someone might say, “Why does God allow the coronavirus when God could do something about it?”

But then, there’s a second thought that follows right after, “I’m afraid he may ask me the same question.” You see friends, we are not helpless. We are not unable to do something that keeps us safe and people we love safe in this stormy time with the coronavirus. We are not helpless. There are things that we can do about it. And if we do those things in every way that we can and every place that we can, for every person that we can, we’ll not only keep ourselves safe but we’ll keep people safe all around us.

There are things that we can do. They may not be comfortable. They may not be what we would prefer to do, but there are things that we can do about it. And we should keep our mind on those things.

There is a scripture that informs the church for centuries, in fact, it was at the heart of the Reformation. Ephesians 2:4, but God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which He loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses made us alive together with Christ. Hear this phrase. By grace you have been saved. Out of God’s love, out of God’s kindness, out of God’s mercy, we have been saved. And not only that, as verse six says, and raises us up with him, with Christ and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Verse seven, that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace and kindness toward us in Jesus Christ. For by grace, you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing. It is the gift of God not because of works lest any man should boast.

On the screen there is a picture of Martin Luther, a New Testament professor at the seminary in Germany who gravely protested the belief of his church, that people went to heaven not because God was kind and merciful but because of all the works that they had done that were good. The church at that time portrayed God as something like an accountant who would tally up all the good deeds. And if you didn’t cross that magic line of good enough then according to the church of that day, you would not encounter God as a merciful God, not encounter God as a kind God, but as an angry God full of vengeance and judgment for sin.

And so Martin Luther declared it’s not because of works, it’s not because you’re so good that you can brag about it. It’s by grace, it’s by God’s mercy, it’s by God’s kindness. Let go of the idea that good works matter. And that was the reaction of the Reformation to what the church was teaching in those days.

But take a look at the very next verse, the 10th verse. For we are his workmanship, Paul writes, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. It’s not that we do good to go to heaven, it’s not that we do good to earn God’s love. But once God is merciful and kind to us, we realize the message that’s being taught in verse 10. We are God’s workmanship, and we have been created in Christ Jesus not to do wrong, not to ignore right, but to find the courage to do the things we can that are good. We are created for good works.

And every good work that you do today, every good work that you did yesterday, every good work throughout the past week and the week yet to come, Christ Jesus has prepared that beforehand. As you go through your day, there are good things for you to do waiting for you to see the opportunity. God has prepared good things for you to do so that you could walk in them. He’s prepared a path. And that’s what we need to do. There are good things that we’re supposed to do.

Now it’s going to be December in a couple of days. It’s not exactly the right time of year for us to plant flowers no matter how beautiful flowers are. But when you think about it, good deeds can be planted to beautify the world much like flowers. Take a look at Galatians chapter 6:7, “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh for his own selfish purposes or needs only concerned with his benefit, for he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the spirit or from the spirit reap eternal life.” As we go down the path that God has created beforehand for us to walk, we scatter the seeds of holy and good deeds to either side. We are sowing good. We’re going to also reap good.

Verse 9 reminds us. “Let us not grow weary in well-doing for in due season we shall reap.” The day is coming or where what we’ve sown will be growing up all around us in abundance. In due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Friends, do not lose heart.

And now look again at the 10th verse, “So then if we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Your future as intended by God is a future that is filled with you taking advantage of every opportunity to do good. And there are all sorts of ways to do good.

But sometimes doing good means for you to take a giant step back so that somebody you love doesn’t catch the coronavirus. Sometimes, the good opportunity you have is not to go forward but to step backward to keep other people safe, to keep the fire of the storm of the coronavirus from spreading past you into the lives of people that you love.

In the forest fires, they call it a firebreak. They clear an area where the fire can’t pass. And maybe you are doing a kind and good thing when you take a giant step back. And you are, in a way, a firebreak to protect everybody downstream, to protect everybody down line from the harm that is coming. As we have opportunity, Paul writes, let us do good to all and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Here’s the full rule, secondly, by doing good, by being in every kind merciful after their power – in other words, to the extent that you can be merciful – as they have opportunity, John Wesley writes, doing good of every possible sort and as far as possible to all people. Friends, every good deed is a seed.

I found two things this week that meant a great deal to me. If you’re one of those people who has decided that the fire stops before it gets to you, I want you to understand something about your faith. I want you to understand something about your church. We may not be able to do what we’ve always done. We may not be able to gather where we’ve always gathered. We may have to cancel some events, including the face-to-face worship service. We may have to worship in a different way than we prefer. But like this little sign that is on the screen, not everything is canceled.

Church online, not canceled.
Quiet time with God, not canceled.
Praying for the sick, praying for the people who are in trouble, praying for the people who are suffering, praying for your neighbors, not canceled.
Checking on a friend, well, you can’t go down the street, perhaps, but that’s why God gave you a phone. That’s why the US mail comes to take a get well card. Praying for the sick, checking on a friend, not canceled.
Helping other people, you might have to do it in a slightly different way, but helping others, not canceled.
And because we understand our faith this way, being the church, it’s done a little differently, but it’s not canceled, and it’s more needed today than ever.

There is every opportunity for you to practice your faith, to do everything that Jesus did in this day and time. Following Jesus Christ has not been canceled by the pandemic … you may simply need to be a little creative about how you follow Jesus Christ.

Barbara Brown Taylor also had a beautiful quote that I found this week. The only clear line, she says, I draw these days is this: “When my religion tries to come between me and my neighbor, I will choose my neighbor.” She goes on to say, “Jesus never commanded me to love my religion.”

Jesus never commanded you to love the style of worship that you enjoy. Jesus never commanded you to do what you’ve always done before, but Jesus asked you to love God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And then right after that, to love your neighbor as yourself. Friends, these are days where sometimes we have to draw a very clear line when it comes to loving our neighbor because we’re in dangerous times for our neighbors. And to follow Jesus means we’ll figure out how to love them because it’s not about us, it’s not about what we want, it’s not about you or I having our way, as if this was some kind of argument.

What it is is very simple. We love God first, we love our neighbor second, and we find a way to worship and be the church that does not transgress those two commandments.

Sometimes, we have to take a step back from the way we’ve always done it before, from the way we would like to do it from this day forward because this is a time between the times that calls for a slightly different way of worship, or following Jesus, than what is our preference.

And every time we do a good deed, in my mind, I like to think of that row of lights along the path there as being a row of seeds that people have sown as being kindness, and mercy, and good deeds. So that even if it’s dark, you can find your way across the uneven ground to the front door of the house because somebody has set out the lights to show you the way in this season to be able to follow Jesus.

Every good deed is a seed, and God gives you many opportunities to sow those good seeds in the lives of people all around you. Please pray with me. “Lord, Jesus, help us not to become trapped and mired in the quicksand that is thinking only of ourselves, thinking only of our safety, thinking only of our well-being, thinking only about what would please us. Help us, Lord, Jesus, just as you went to the cross. Help us, Lord, to take up a cross in this coronavirus season, and do things that might be a little uncomfortable. Nowhere near as painful as a cross, but to do things that are a little uncomfortable to us so that we can be sowers of good seeds. We can be doers of good deeds in the lives of people all around us so that they might see this light shining, and that they might see you alive and at work in their midst. Lord, we ask that you will help us to be doers of good deeds, to do all the good that we can 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.
 

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

Sermon 11/22/20: Rule #1: Do No Harm (Kingdomtide IX)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/22/20.

At this time, due to surging Coronavirus rates, the United Methodists Churches of our Illinois Great Rivers Conference are not holding face-to-face services. Please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video

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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 play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 Give Thanks with a Grateful heart with Lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=047xtru0ZR0

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 Now thank we all our God | Lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePSfu0dF8JU

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: Rule #1: Do No Harm
Text: Romans 13:1-4, 8-10; Philippians 2:3-8
Series: Those Methodist Rules
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Romans 13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Philippians 2:3 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.

The General Rules of the Methodist Church
It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced, such as
https://www.umc.org/en/content/the-general-rules-of-the-methodist-church

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HYMN This Is My Father’s World – with Lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEE5MvoT3oI

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

I’d like to begin with a joke. And like all jokes, it’s always a good thing to give you a bit of warning. The picture on the screen is the picture of the HMS Vanguard, the largest, the newest battleship in the British Navy, commissioned just as World War II was coming to an end. This large battleship was traveling across the ocean at one time, near the coast of France, when suddenly ahead they saw a light of an oncoming ship.

Now, you know there’s protocols in the Navy. The senior officer is allowed to move forward. But the lower ranking ship, the smaller ship, being more maneuverable, is supposed to turn to the side. So the HMS Vanguard shouts through the hailer, “Please divert your course 15 degrees to starboard.”

The oncoming light says, “No. Divert your course 15 degrees to port.”

“Absolutely not,” the captain shouts. “You divert your course 15 degrees.”

“No,” the voice comes back, “Divert your course 15 degrees to the port.”

“This is the captain of Her Majesty’s ship, Vanguard, the largest British battleship afloat. And I am the captain. What’s your rank?”

The answer came back, “I am a seaman first class. Please divert your course immediately 15 degrees to port.”

The captain of the Vanguard shouted back, “We turn aside for no one. We represent the might of the British Navy. I have three destroyers with me and countless support ships and we will take defensive measures if we need to do so. You divert your course 15 degrees to the starboard right now.”

Immediately the voice came. “Sir, I’m a lighthouse. You decide what’s best.”

Now I don’t know if that ever happened. But when a ship gets in an argument with a lighthouse, the ship never wins.

I’d like to give you just a little bit of history from the early Methodist movement. Methodism arose within the Church of England in the 1700s. A number of people came to John Wesley, a Church of England pastor, a professor of New Testament Greek at Oxford. And he said that they came to him because they had a desire to flee from the wrath to come.

They had a very deep awareness of their own sin. They had a very deep awareness of God’s judgment. They had a very deep awareness of the wrath that was going to fall if they did not repent from their sin. So they came to John Wesley to get his advice, and he began to guide them to be more serious about their faith.

And you know what he did? He gave them a number of rules. And Methodists today still have those same rules. We don’t do whatever we want. We follow the rules. We don’t wing it to please ourselves.

We are people who have a 300-year tradition of following what John Wesley called the General Rules. And not only that, following these rules was a requirement to be a Methodist. When you bring that down to today, I would like you to know that we pastors still follow the rules. Our leaders, the district superintendents, still follow these rules, and our Bishop still follows these rules. We’re not here to do what pleases us but to do what John Wesley called the task of being holy. So here was his first rule. Do no harm.

The General Rules of the Methodist Church, now the United Methodist Church, began with this statement. It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation. In other words, to be a Methodist, to be a part of this movement, is to continue to follow these rules. And the first rule is simply this: by doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind, especially that which is most generally practiced such as– and John Wesley went on to make a list of all the things that people in his century and time considered to be evil, considered to be wrong, and flat out they were expected to stop with that behavior. They were expected to do no harm.

Now the world has changed a lot since those days. Maybe a list of what’s evil might be different today, might be different this week than it was several weeks ago. But Methodist people, Methodist pastors, Methodist bishops, we’re still following the same rule. We have an obligation very simply to do no harm.

And out of that rule and out of that obligation comes this video that you’re watching. Earlier this week, considering and praying deeply over what it meant to do harm, our bishop issued the decision that we should not have worship face to face on this Sunday, or next Sunday, or the two Sundays after that. Why? Because we’re in a time of great contagious behavior related to the coronavirus pandemic … it’s getting worse, friends. We’re becoming aware of United Methodist people literally dying from this disease.

And so, therefore, our bishop says the rule is for us to do no harm. And if we come face to face, we risk our own people and their health. And what’s the rule? “Do no harm.” It’s not simply okay for us to sing hymns because we always have, to come together for worship because we always have. We’re not here to please ourselves because the rule is to do no harm. And so here’s a video … because, to the best of my knowledge, you can’t catch the Coronavirus from this video. You will not find yourself in the hospital because of this video. It will not put you on a respirator because of this video. And so our bishop has said that the rule is that we should do no harm.

Well, where is that in the Bible? Let’s turn to Romans 13 Verse 8. This is a New International Version. “‘Let no debt remain outstanding,’ Paul writes, ‘except the continuing debt to love one another for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.’

Jesus said, ‘The great command is this. You should love God with all your heart soul, mind, and strength, oh, oh, oh, and a second just like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” The Commandments – Paul lists several of them here – are summed up in this one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And then we see this tenth verse, “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of law.”

The image you see on the screen is one that I found back last March when I had COVID myself. It vividly illustrates a row of matches that have burned out. And then, we see a match. There’s no other way really to put it. There is “duck” – and because it’s stepped back, because it’s pulled itself down, because it’s not put itself in a place for the fire to catch it, there are six other matches in that row that are not burned down.

I remember putting this picture on my Facebook page and on the church Facebook page and making a very solemn vow to every one of you that I would not, because of my actions, do anything to the best of my ability such that anyone else would ever catch this illness from me. And you know why I made you that promise? Because the rule is, “Do no harm – the Methodist rule.

That’s how we live. Do no harm. And sometimes, that means we’re not able to do what we want. We’re not able to do what we please. We’re not able to do what we find familiar and comfortable and pleasant, because you know something? Sometimes, we have to take up a cross and do something to please God, not please ourselves.

That’s the example that Jesus sets for us. This scripture is from Philippians 2, beginning with the third verse, where Paul writes, “Do nothing from selfishness or conceit. But in humility, count others better than yourself. Let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves,” Paul writes, “which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”

Friends, you and I have freedom because we live in this beautiful country that is free. We believe in equality. But Jesus Christ encourages us not to grasp at our equality, not to grasp at our freedom, but to be like Him. “Though He was in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. But instead,” verse 7, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” And so, you and I are encouraged to empty ourselves of what we want and take on the form of a servant.

Maybe, if we are to love our neighbor, we need to do something that helps our neighbor but doesn’t please us. We used to use the letters WWJD, which stand for, “What would Jesus do?”

Friends, these verses tell us what Jesus did. He took upon Himself the form of a servant. Do no harm. The image on the screen is Jesus on the cross. You can’t get more of a servant than that. But the image of Jesus on the cross is wearing a mask. Wearing a mask is how we take upon ourselves the form of a servant these days. Verse 8, “And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” We’re all asked to take up our cross, just as Jesus did, to put the needs of all of us ahead of our own, and to use our freedom to serve, not to insist on getting our own way.

And being like Jesus is the greatest need that we have, as we deal with this current crisis, that is, the coronavirus pandemic. You see, here is the reality: You can’t win an argument with a lighthouse. You can’t win an argument with a pandemic. You’re good but you’re not that good. All you can do is adjust.

All you can do is adjust. And so the United Methodist churches in our annual conference are taking this week to not worship face to face because we know that people will be traveling. We know that people will be with their families. We know that people will do what people have always done. We won’t be meeting face to face for worship next Sunday because we know that some of the people who are traveling will get the coronavirus. They can’t help it. It wasn’t their choice. And we know that some of the people who have it … because so many have no symptoms that they’re aware of yet … they’re contagious, they’ll be coming to worship.

And you know something, it’s a good Sunday for us not to have face to face worship.

And you know something, of course, if you’re exposed, they want you to take two weeks of quarantine so the Bishop’s not only asking for two Sundays. There’s four. So that when we come back together … Lord willing, I hope so … when we come back together we can be safe and the act of coming to worship and loving one another will not lead to anyone dying in this holiday season.

You know younger people, they still are at risk but they do better. But so many of us are older. I’m 65. So many of us are overweight or have other conditions like diabetes … like me … perhaps like you. We want to protect you during this time. Why? Because we have a rule and the rule says, “Do no harm.”

We want to flee the wrath to come which is to ignore the harm that the coronavirus can do. The image on the screen is of a person petting a bumblebee. Every time I see this photo, it just amazes me. But I also know that there are people out there that are doing things with regard to taking risks that are not that different than petting a bumblebee. You may get away with it once. You may get away with it twice. But friends if you keep trying to pet the bumblebee, bad things are going to happen, and they’ll happen to you.

It’s a very hard thing to say to people, “For your own good, for the good of your neighbor, for the good of your own family stop patting bumblebees.” Because – you know what people say? “It’s a free country. I get to do whatever I want. You can’t stop me from petting bumblebees. We’re supposed to be friends with nature!”

And about all you can do is say, “This is not going to end well.”

But the reason we ask you not to do stuff like this is because the rule is do no harm. We are called by God to do no harm. We are called by God to love our neighbors and to protect them. And sometimes that means whether you do that out of concern for your own safety or whether you do that because someone you respect like a Bishop tells you to, sometimes the wisest and kindest thing that you can do is be just like this match in the middle.

You can duck, and when you duck, you keep everyone around you safe and healthier than if you exposed yourself and went on to expose them.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we love our families. We love our church family. We love people and it’s so tragic, Lord, that we get this coronavirus from people. And so I simply pray, Lord, that you’d help us to be wise and to know when to duck, to know when to take a step back, to know when to stay home instead of going out, to know how to keep ourselves safe. Lord, to know how to keep others safe, and to have the courage to do the right thing, even if the whole world is telling us to do something different. Even if the whole world is telling us to do what we want to do what we’ve always done before because no one can make us be wise.
Lord, I pray that you’d give us serenity for this pandemic which involves so many things that we cannot change. I pray that you’d give us courage to do the tiny things that we can do to protect ourselves and to protect others. And, Lord, I pray that you would give us the wisdom to know the difference. And we ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ who took up His cross and gave His life for our sins. 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 Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 11/15/20: “If My People” Prayer (Kingdomtide X)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/15/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 Honoring Men and Women who serve, Veterans and First Responders
Bill & Gloria Gaither – A Few Good Men [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ygfbt_4pgM

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 Let Freedom Ring (Lyric Video/Live At Carnegie Hall, New York, NY/2002)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuVEPi4hjHY

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: “If My People” Prayer
Text: 2 Chronicles 7:9-16, Luke 6:27-28, 35-42.
Series: The Prayer Recipes
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

2 Chronicles 7:9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly; for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days. 10 On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the goodness that the LORD had shown to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people. 11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Luke 6:27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. 41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

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HYMN Terry Blackwood, Sue Dodge, Ernie Haase, The Talley Trio – This Land Is Your Land [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzpH3ZrLSEM

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!

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay.

TRANSCRIPT

Oh, Jesus, I pray that you will bless these words and that in the midst of these words, what you need people and want people to hear will enter into their hearts and grow. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

It’s been a wild year and a challenging and difficult year. And in the past week or so, this promise from the Old Testament, which normally pastors preach on the Fourth of July, has been on my mind. And certainly, it is a powerful prayer.

For such a prayer that calls upon God to fulfill this promise that God makes, I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.

A lot of us will pray in different ways and with different words out of a deep heartfelt desire that our land be healed. There’s been a lot of hurt from COVID, from other things. And I think it’s time for healing. I think we need to pray this prayer.

How do we do that? Well, let me change the subject briefly because I think it will give us a way. You’ve heard me mention the name of Stanford University Medical School professor psychiatrist Dr. David Burns multiple times since I’ve been here. Dr. Burns has written a book on just about everything. But from his book on relationships, we find the words I’m about to quote to you.

Dr. Burns set up a very large statistical scientific study. Brought together multiple thousands of people because he wanted to identify in great detail what made a difference in marriage relationships. And he programmed the study to test all kinds of things, every possible variation of what a husband could do or a wife could do that would cause all kinds of trouble.

And when he got all the results, as frequently happens in science, he was very disappointed because all the things he tested for except for two turned out not to matter much at all. Here are the two that really mattered. The findings just seem too simple. By the way, this test cost thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.

The only thing that really seemed to matter is this: do you blame your partner for the problems in your relationship? If so, you may be in for a rough tough time. However, if you’re willing to examine your own role in the problem, and if you feel that it’s your job to make your partner happy … shake your head for just a minute because how in the world can we make anyone happy?

But if that’s your desire, if that’s your goal, if you want that other person to be happy, the prognosis for a rewarding, successful relationship is extremely positive both now and in the future. These appear to be the real keys to success in any relationship.

And I would suggest that they are the real keys in our healing our land. Dr Burns went on to say that individuals who complained and blamed others for the problems in their relationships never seemed to get better. They just kept arguing and fighting with other people no matter what therapy techniques he tried. People who blamed their partners or people in general for the problems in their relationships were angry, frustrated, unhappy, and intensely dissatisfied with their relationships. In addition, this mindset accurately predicted what would happen in the future.

So what that means is that when you express your anger, and you express your frustration, and you express your unhappiness, you will remain dissatisfied forever. Those behaviors, contrary to what most people believe, don’t make anyone happy.
In contrast, people who were willing to assume complete personal responsibility for solving the problems in their relationship and who felt a strong commitment to making their partners happy, not only reported the most satisfying and loving relationships at the time of initial testing but their positive feelings seemed to increase over time. This is within our power.

Here’s the Old Testament prophecy and promise for prayer: Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.” The context for this scripture is the dedication of the temple. Verse 13, when I shut up the heavens. So that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people…

Let that sink in for just a moment. A quick comment on that. We want to believe that God is in control, and a statement like this comes out of it. But we know that God does not spread germs from person to person. We know that people do that. So I think the meaning of this is not so much that God causes disease and pestilence that God allows consequences to come when people are unwise. But when that happens, here is the promise.

If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven. And will forgive them their sins, and heal their land.

Let me tell you how this scripture is normally preached. The way it’s normally preached is the pastor looks out over the audience over the congregation and says, “If my people, who are called by my name–” There’s no question who that is, right? “–will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and call other people to turn from their wicked ways. Blame other people for all the problems that we’re dealing with. Get angry and attack other people because those other people are unholy and they’re the cause of all our problems.

By the way, if you heard talk like that before, there’s a lot of it. But if you look at it closely, that’s not what it says. What it literally says– and I believe, whenever possible, let’s take what the Bible says literally. What it literally says is if God’s people turn… you and I cannot condemn other people and get them to change, but hopefully we can change.
If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves instead of treating other people arrogantly. If my people will pray and seek my face… Not call for other people to pray. If my people will turn from their wicked ways, whatever those are, that will be enough to turn everything around. Because if we turn to God, humble ourselves, and want to be different people, that’s a prayer that God promises to answer: I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.

Jesus says the same sort of thing in Luke 6:27, but to you who are listening I say, “Love your enemies.” Is anyone listening? What’s it like today for us to love our enemies? What’s it like for us today to do as Jesus said, “Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.” Yes, we have been mistreated. But those are the people that Jesus says we need to love.

If you do that, then Jesus says your reward will be great. You know why? And you will be children of the most high. How is it that you recognize God in the children of God? Here are the words that immediately follow: because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Friends, I’ll tell you the truth. I do not always feel like being kind to the ungrateful, and wicked.

Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” How do you recognize God? God is merciful. And if God’s people become merciful, amazing things will happen.

Take a look at verse 40. The student is not above the teacher. But everyone who is fully trained, fully mature, fully grown-up will be like their teacher, will be like Jesus Christ. Because what did Jesus Christ do? Did he practice this principle?

Our problems as a nation are really not that complex, I would like to suggest to you today. The primary problem we have is this. Who is going to be like Jesus? You know what? An angry, upset person is going to say, “You go first.”

Who’s going to be like Jesus? And who’s going to go first?

You probably can’t read that tiny print on the screen there, Jesus is dying on the cross and in incredible suffering, yet he says: Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.

Let that sink in for just a moment. Father, these people are stupid. They don’t know what they’re doing. Forgive them anyway! … because that’s what Jesus is like. Forgive them, Father. They don’t know what they do. Now, it doesn’t matter what side of the dispute, if any of us are wrong. Jesus Christ died for the people on the other side. Jesus Christ loves the people on the other side, and he loves us too.

But will we be able to rise to the challenge to be like Jesus and to go first, to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways of blaming and harming other people? Because if we do, God will hear from heaven and forgive our sins. By the way, did you notice that? We need forgiveness for that kind of bad behavior and then God will move on to forgive the sins of the nation and heal the land.

If we turn, if we become like Jesus, here’s what Dr. Burns said:
Will we blame others for the problems we face?
Will we examine our own role in the problems?
Will we assume complete personal responsibility for solving the problems?


Friends, when there is a problem, we don’t want to wait for other people to fix it. We want to take responsibility. And then finally, we make a strong commitment to the happiness of others.

There’s a phrase from Steven Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, where he advises that what we need in relationships is win-win. I want to be okay, and I want you to be okay. I want to win, but I don’t want you to lose. And I’m not going to let you make me lose.

And Steven Covey has this little line. He says that there is only thing you can do when someone else tries to make you lose, because they think this is a battle. This position you take is a win-win or no deal. And what that means is I won’t agree to anything that harms you. Because, if people believe that this is your commitment, they’ll begin to trust you. And hopefully, they too will have a change of heart.
You see, all these things, the resentments, the things that make us angry, they’re a little bit like autumn leaves. We need to let them fall from the tree. We don’t want to hang onto them anymore, we need to let them go. I want you to know, I don’t know anything about Milton Wagner, whose tombstone we are looking at. I don’t know anything about Jimmy Monteith, except that he won the Medal of Honor.

But when they were called to do something difficult for their nation, they stepped forward. And they gave their lives. It would horrify me to think that Jimmy Monteith, the Medal of Honor winner, died so that I could be free to blame everyone around me for every problem there is in this country. He did not die for me to use the freedom that he paid for with his life so disrespectfully.
Nor did Jesus Christ die for me, for me to use my freedom as a person who is forgiven to treat other people so disrespectfully. But please remember the promise. God says, “If my people — if we are God’s people, we will humble ourselves and seek God’s face. If we will turn from our wicked ways… whatever they might be… He will hear from Heaven, and heal our land.”

Please pray with me:
Lord Jesus, some of us are almost perfect. But most of us are pretty stubborn when we get riled. Most of us are pretty arrogant; when somebody tries to push us around, we push back, and maybe even do a little bit of kicking. Lord Jesus, we’re not always sheeple. Sometimes we’re sheep that bite. Sometimes we’re not as wonderful as we’d like to think we are. But Lord, if your people fall to their knees and ask you to heal their land …
It’s not a great distance physically, Lord, to fall to our knees. But sometimes, for our hearts that are stubborn and contrary, and just love a good fight, Lord, sometimes it’s a very great distance in our hearts. To humble ourselves, and pray, and wish, and hope, that other people will be happy. People who we may not feel any kindness towards, but yet, like Jesus, we choose to be kind. Like God, we choose to be merciful. Lord, help us to pray this prayer with each sincerity so that you would hear from Heaven, and heal our land. And we ask these things 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.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | 1 Comment

Lila McCulley Funeral Service

A graveside service for Lila McCulley was led by Pastor David Kueker of the Kinmundy United Methodist Church on November 13, 2020. Here is a link to the audio recording of that service:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Tsi4IpcOLN_GI3k4X33KVsodRlrSo1Tj/view?usp=sharing
(Double left-click on the link to listen; right-click, select “Save as …” to download.)

OBITUARY
Lila June McCulley, 70, died at 11:51 a.m., Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in the emergency room of OSF St. James/John W. Albrecht Medical Center in Pontiac.

She was born June 9, 1950, in Salem, the daughter of James R. and Nelda Gray Jones. She married Russell McCulley. He survives.

Other survivors include two daughters, Lana (Kevin) Stimpert, Minonk and Stacy (Shane Bartik) McCulley, Champaign; one stepdaughter, Erica Stimpert; two grandchildren, Matthew McCulley and Garrick McCulley and two brothers, Jim Jones, Kinmundy and Don (Hiromi) Jones, West Fayetteville, Ind.

She was preceded in death by her parents and one sister, Nina (Mike) Berry, Springfield.

Lila was valedictorian of the senior class at Kinmundy Alma High School. She received bachelor and master degrees, both in education, from Illinois State University, Normal. Lila taught in both the Minonk-Dana-Rutland and Fieldcrest School Districts for over 28 years. She was a member of the Minonk United Methodist Church, where she served as president of the Women’s group, lay representative at the annual conference for several years and was the communication chair with the Vermilion River District with the UM Women. Lila was also a member of the Home Extension and a sister with Delta Kappa Gamma, Alpha Beta Chapter. She enjoyed serving others, as she assisted at the Minonk Food Pantry, where she was held the post of secretary.

A private family service will be held at Calvert-Johnson & Froelich Memorial Home, Minonk. A graveside service will take place Friday at 2:30 p.m. in Evergreen Cemetery, Kinmundy.

Memorials may be made to the church or to the Minonk Food Pantry.

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | 1 Comment

Sermon 11/08/20: Prayer and Fig Trees (Kingdomtide IX)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/08/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 Dionne Dismuke, Joyce Martin Sanders, Judy Martin Hess, TaRanda Greene – I Stand Amazed (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwJ3aALR3Z4&list=RDxWLm3asMiGo&index=23

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.

Call to Prayer:
I Must Tell Jesus [Live] Mom Winans 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGCKzQap43g&list=RDSjcdG-dyHlk&index=4

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.

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.

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – My Name Is Lazarus [Live] – Greater Vision
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNsLT1BxUto

MESSAGE: Prayer and Fig Trees
Text: Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-25
Series: The Prayer Recipes
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audio Sermon slides as a PDF file.
(Due to technical difficulties, there are some words left out of this sermon.)
Sermon audio from Wesley UMC.

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SERMON NOTES

Matthew 21:18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he was hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside he went to it, and found nothing on it but leaves only. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?“

21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. 15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons; 16 and he would not allow any one to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he taught, and said to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and sought a way to destroy him; for they feared him, because all the multitude was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city. 20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Master, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

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HYMN Ben Speer – A New Name in Glory [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujerQ8MvbVg&list=RDSjcdG-dyHlk&index=14

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 (Recorded at Wesley Church.)

What we are looking at here is a fig tree, a fig tree in leaf. There was a day that Jesus was walking from Bethany up the road, up the Mount of Olives, and he came across a fig tree and leaf and he was hungry. And he came up to the fig tree and he began to look through the leaves and he found no fruit.

This is what he was looking for. And in Matthew chapter 7 verse 20 it says that thus you will know them whether it’s people or fruit trees by their fruit. There was no fruit on this tree. And Jesus cursed the tree. He said, “May no fruit grow on you from henceforth.” And in Matthew, it says that the tree withered away instantly.

And Jesus turns to the disciples when he says this to them, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith and never doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea it will be done. And whatever you ask and pray or you will receive, if you have faith. Now, this is Matthew’s version, we’ll look at Mark’s version in a little bit because Matthew is almost like the Reader’s Digest version. It’s condensed. It doesn’t really explain itself very well. Why does Jesus hate fig trees?

And I’ve been thinking about this. And it occurred to me that this is inextricably linked with the way the devil tempts Jesus in Matthew chapter 4. Matthew chapter 4 before anything begins the three temptations that Satan brings sort of are a thing to watch out for throughout the book of Matthew. And in fact, Jesus probably was tempted by these same three things throughout the gospel, and, friends, we’re probably still tempted by them today.

Jesus has been fasting and without food for 40 days. The Bible says he was hungry and so here comes the first temptation, “Hey, you’re the son of God. You’ve got the power. If you pray a prayer God will answer it. Why don’t you pray that these stones be turned into bread? Well, what’s the power of that temptation? The power is that you can pray to make your life more comfortable. That’s always a temptation that’s there for us, to go for comfort.

But what brought this to mind was the second one of the temptation to test God. The actual words that Jesus uses are, “Tempt the Lord.” The full context in the Old Testament where he’s quoting is, “To tempt the Lord God to destroy you.” How is it that God would destroy you? Jesus is said is brought to a very high tower on the temple. There is a verse in the psalms that says that “Angels will rush around you to protect you lest you come to any harm lest you dash your foot against the stone.” So here’s a temptation the devil says to Jesus. If you just jump off of here, thousands of angels will come and catch. in midair and bear you safely to the ground. And all of a sudden, you will be accepted by the Jewish people because that’s how they expected the Messiah to come. What’s the temptation? Putting yourself in danger because you believe God will protect you or prevent anything bad from happening to you. So you can do anything you want because you’re counting that God’s going to protect you and everybody around you. Everybody who texts while they’re driving wants God to protect everyone around them. But sometimes, God just lets consequences happen to fools. We cannot manipulate God with a prayer. Even though it’s true we’re limited only by our faith, only a foolish person would try to force God to do something that God does not want to do.

Final temptation, the devil takes Jesus to a high hill where you could see all the kingdoms of the world and the devil says, “If you’ll worship me,” well, what does that mean? Well, “If you’ll make me the priority, if you’ll make what I want the priority, then, you can rule all of these.” And now, we have to connect the dots. You can become the King of Kings without having to go through the cross. We know that Jesus understood the pain of the cross; there in the garden of Gethsemane. He said to God, “Lord, if there’s any other way!” Nevertheless, He said, “Thy will be done, not mine.” So what’s the temptation? To skip the cross and go straight to the winner’s circle.

And friends, the same temptations come to us today. Human beings are still tempted to choose being comfortable. Human beings are still tempted to skip the hard work by saying God will protect me. Human beings are still tempted to skip the part where they take up their cross and willingly endure discomfort in order to fulfill God’s will. Those temptations are still there.

Nonetheless, Matthew 21 seems to indicate that the only limitation upon us is our faith. But watch out for these temptations that Jesus endured and people still endure.

The curious thing, though, is where Jesus says, “You can throw this mountain into the ocean.” Maybe, this parable isn’t so much about fig trees as it’s also about this mountain. What is the mountain?

What I want to tell you, I’ve been here. This is the Dome of the Rock, the third most holy place in Islam. It sits right on top of where they believe the Jewish temple stood. And the Jewish temple plaza, this whole area here, it is five football fields wide, five football fields this way, three football fields this way. They actually expanded the mountain top to hold the temple.

And the theory is that as you go toward the bridge on the Mount of Olives to cross over to Jerusalem, this is what you’re looking at. The theory is that the fig tree that Jesus was looking at was just a tiny little bit down that slope to where all around it all you could see was that mountain. That’s the only thing that makes all of this make sense.

Mark Chapter 11, on the following day when they came from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree and leaf He went to see if He could find anything on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves and Mark explains: For it was not the season for figs. And Jesus said to the fig tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And His disciples heard it.

Well, what is it that Jesus has against fig trees? It’s not even harvest time! Maybe it’s this. As Jesus is going through the leaves, not only does He not see ripe figs, He does not see buds. All He sees are leaves.

Then they cross the bridge into Jerusalem. He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple. And He overturned the tables of the money changers? and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And He would not allow anyone to take the shortcut of carrying anything through the temple. And He talked and said to them, “Is it not written my house shall be called a house of prayer?”

So Jesus is going through the fig trees, looking for fruit, spreading the leaves apart, and then He goes over to the temple and doesn’t like what He sees. Because the temple is full of activities and programs. The temple is full of ornate worship services, and giant choirs and horns blowing in the background. The temple is full of places where people are selling stuff. The temple is full of places where what they’re selling are pigeons because you can’t be forgiven unless you buy a sacrificial animal at the temple. Because it’s not just hot dogs and soda pop that’s for sale – it’s your forgiveness that’s for sale. And they are making money hand over fist. It’s like a mall on Black Friday.

And Jesus looked at that and He says, “What’s supposed to happen is I’m supposed to see people praying. That’s what belongs in God’s house.”

And not only that: People of all nations. There’s actually a sign at the doors of the temple that say, “If you’re not Jewish and you come in here, we will kill you and we’re warning you because it’s your fault.” It says it slightly differently but that’s the meaning of it.

Jesus says, “You have made this place of prayer a den of robbers.” And the chief priests in the Scribes have heard it and sought a way to destroy Him, for they feared Him because all the the multitude was astonished at his teaching; he was actually voicing what they had felt for many years.

And when evening came the disciples and Jesus went out of the city. But as they passed by in the morning headed back to the temple, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said, “Master, look. The fig tree which you cursed has withered,”

And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.” Now we get a deeper understanding of how this prayer matters.

“Truly I say to you,” Jesus said, “Whoever says to this mountain,” and if he’s facing the fig tree he’s talking about the temple mountain behind him, “Whoever says that this mountain be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”

Apparently fig trees take overnight, but Jesus’s prayer that the temple would be different, that it would be cast into the sea, was answered in AD 70 when the Roman soldiers destroyed it utterly. Some prayers take overnight, some prayers take 40 years. But whoever it is, and whatever the prayer, the person who does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.

So there is the recipe for prayer for us. We pray, we believe that God will answer our prayer according to God’s will, and because we believe we are praying according to God’s will, we know that it will come to pass. And we support it with our faith, and we continue to live in hope however long it takes.

Now Mark, of course, wants to give a full answer, so he also adds verse 25, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive if you have anything against anyone. So that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Forgiving other people is an important part of claiming something in prayer. Because a whole lot of our prayers are tied to something and someone who needs forgiveness. Who has done something to hurt us, and they may not deserve forgiveness. But a lot of our prayers are tied to some hurt that we have, and when we pray for God to act we want to forgive as a part of that prayer.

What did Jesus want? What was Jesus looking for? Jesus was looking through the fig tree, and looking for fruit. I think it’s not only that he didn’t find ripe fruit, he found no buds. There was no possibility of this fig tree ever bearing fruit because it was nothing but a bunch of leaves. It was pretty as can be, but it was not in the fruit business. It was in the leaves, keeping busy business.

Let your heart dwell for just a moment on what this pandemic has done to the church. Everything that makes people comfortable is gone. Everything we like, the big praise bands and the hundred-voice choirs and all the things that make it the greatest show on earth, can’t happen in a pandemic. The pandemic has taken away the church that we have tended to love that is all about busyness and activity. And to be honest, the big churches that are more like circuses than like us, they don’t quite know what to do. All of their toys have been taken away except one. Which is that no pandemic, no government mitigation in response to a pandemic– no one can take away the right of Christians to pray.

So Jesus is going through the leaves of the fig tree looking for fruit. He’s going through the leaves of the temple looking for people praying. Because maybe that’s where the fruit comes from is people praying. There’s a place in scripture that says in the second coming when the Son of Man comes, will He find people praying? Maybe what Jesus wants in a church is for people to be praying because that’s the fruit.

I’d like you to imagine with me – this is a story I made up, of course – a farmer who sent his young son out to check on the corn every morning. And the son would come home after a day of looking at the corn and Dad would say, “Well, how’s the corn, son?” And the son said, “The corn looks great.” What an astonishing thing for that farmer to come out to the field and find that the corn did, indeed, look great. But there were no ears on the stalk. And he looked at his boy and he said, “Son, did you get out and actually look at the corn?” And the son said, “No, Dad. You can tell just by driving by that it’s doing great.”

And I wonder if God is looking at the church and looking for the ears of corn the way that Jesus, perhaps, was looking for the people who were praying. Because if they’re there, you’re going to see a harvest. But if nobody’s praying, if everybody’s just tapping their foot to the music, maybe the church is not bearing the fruit that God wants.

We have to ask ourselves, “Are we bearing fruit? Or do we just look good?” Now I do want to reassure all of you. You look really good. But God wants you not just to look good, but to be good. And I think being good involves praying and seeing God answer your prayers.

So let’s pray. Lord Jesus, I thank you that we’re growing. I thank you that our churches are growing. But Lord, churches are more than just leaves. Because the purpose of the leaves is to produce the fruit, and the purpose of all the activities in the church are to produce the fruit of people praying. Are to produce the fruit of new people coming to Christ. And Lord, we often get distracted by the leaves and forget that this is meant to be a house of prayer. Whether we can pray in it, or because of a pandemic we have to pray on the street outside of it, or even have to pray in our homes. What you have asked us to do, Lord, we can still do. Remind us, Lord, and help us to pray that your will be done. 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 Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

KinmundyChurch.org: Welcome to our church blog!

“CORONA BLIZZARD POLICY” – all Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Church activities, including worship, will not meet until children return to school. Our church has a policy that if the schools close because it is unsafe for children to be out, church activities will be canceled that day because it is likewise unsafe for the elderly to be out. On Sunday, 3-15-2020, our Church Council met and decided that we should apply this same policy during the current Coronavirus concern to church activities. On 3-20-2020, following the requests by the President, our Governor and our Bishop, we added public worship. We will still “Worship at Home” with links to new, recorded sermons by our pastor each week – see these in the column to the right under Attend “Worship at Home”. Committees are authorized to make necessary decisions digitally, meeting via email, online and by conference call.

On May 24 we began to hold worship on our parking lot.

According to the most recent statement from our Governor, it looks like our first service back together could be June 28, Lord willing.

We will, of course, follow the instructions of our Bishop and governing authorities.

Links to “Worship at Home with Pastor Dave Kueker” will appear in the list at right by 1 am Sunday morning. You are welcome to participate at any time you wish and as often as you like. Prayer needs will be listed on a Facebook post on the church Facebook page, on the Pastor’s personal Facebook page. These, plus a transcript of the sermon will be emailed or sent by US Mail to anyone who requests it from the church office.

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KinmundyChurch.org: The Blog of the Kinmundy and Wesley United Methodist Churches, 308 E. 3rd St, Kinmundy, IL, 62854

AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS cease, we will return to our normal schedule:
Worship at Kinmundy: 9 am Sunday. At Wesley: 10:45 Sunday.
Wednesday@Wesley Bible Study for both churches: 7 pm Wednesdays.

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)

Kinmundy United Methodist Churches
308 3rd Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854
AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS, Worship at 9 am.  Please join us!        

Wesley United Methodist Church
3381 Kinoka Rd, Patoka, IL  62875
AFTER CORONAVIRUS CANCELATIONS, Worship 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!

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Sermon 11/01/20: Pray While Abiding In The Vine (Kingdomtide VIII)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/01/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 “I’d Rather Have Jesus/Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO3rCAbdxRI

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.

HYMN Guy Penrod – ‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6gRAT3sNtQ

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 Bill & Gloria Gaither – Abide With Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu7MffwBwfY

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: Pray While Abiding In The Vine
Text: John 15:1-11
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

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HYMN The Oak Ridge Boys, Gaither Vocal Band – Loving God, Loving Each Other [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxEegcg1DC0

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

We begin our worship each Sunday with this prayer. You may not have thought about it, but what you are asking for in this prayer is for the Lord Jesus Christ to abide with you.

Lord Jesus, today I am not the person I want to be. That’s true, isn’t it? Or the person I can be with your help. That’s also true. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. To abide with me. And because you abide with me, Lord guide me to all that’s good; cleanse me from all that not. That prayer that leads to Christ abiding with you. It’s a powerful prayer.

But this whole concept of abiding – I wanted to look at it with you today. Because there is a promise of answered prayer that comes as a result of abiding. So let’s consider what abiding means.

Inside your body, every living cell of your body is surrounded by blood that flows through your circulatory system. Every single cell. Because everything the cell needs is delivered to it. Everything that it requires to be alive is delivered to it through the bloodstream.
Consequently, Leviticus says that, “Life is in the blood.” And because every living cell is connected to the bloodstream, it has what it needs to be alive. When there is a blood clot in the heart muscle everything downstream from that clot starts to die. It’s being deprived of what it needs to be alive. Not only that if the heart stops, the blood stops flowing throughout the entire body. The blood delivers everything you need to live, to each cell in the body. And so I want to say to you, “To abide in Jesus Christ is like being surrounded by this life-giving blood.” It all comes to you from him.

John 15:1. The first thing about abiding is pruning. “I am the true vine,” Jesus says, “And my father is the vine dresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, He takes away.” And here is the clear point, “Every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

What does it mean to be pruned? A baby is born with arteries that are completely clear. But as life goes on those arteries can sometimes be clogged up just like a garage can get cluttered. One of the jobs of the gardener is to keep the vines from being cluttered with growth that has no purpose. One of the jobs of the Gardener is to declutter our spiritual life. And so he prunes.

But keep in mind if you know anything about pruning – some of you probably know a whole lot more than I do! – you don’t prune the good stuff. You prune what’s not needed.

One of my pet peeves, as you know, you’ve heard me say this before, is the preachers that will tell you that pruning hurts; friends, I don’t know if it does or not, but I want to tell you this: if there’s anything that needs to be pruned in my life that would help my diabetes to go away … if I woke up tomorrow morning 75 pounds lighter because God pruned it right off my body, I’d consider myself a very fortunate person. If it hurts, it would hurt only for a minute.

But God is able to cleanse us from what is not good for us, and in this verse he calls it pruning. Now, if you love equipment somebody is going to say what does God use to do that pruning? What sort of tool or pruning shears is it that God uses? The very next verse says it very plainly: you are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. When you read the words of the Bible, especially the words of Jesus in the Bible, if you are willing to take this verse literally, the words of Jesus in the Bible … “the words I have spoken to you” … have an action of cleaning from your life anything that should not be there.

How does God prune our lives? We can have many theories. A lot of times consequences teach us not to do things. But what the word of God says is the presence of the words of Jesus in your life will clean up your life. So what’s the first thing about abiding? It’s not that you clean up your life. You’ve probably found it’s hard to clean the things up that are hard to stop doing, but if you allow the words of Jesus Christ to flow into your life as a part of your daily prayer, they will do their work in your heart and mind and soul.

So what’s the first part of a powerful prayer? To let Jesus speak first by us listening to his words, and then his words will do their work in our lives. So a powerful prayer has a time in it for you to listen to the words of Jesus. A time for pruning for things to be cleaned up that should not be there.

“Abide in me,” Jesus goes on to say, “And I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches …” You see, there’s the roots, there’s the vine, there’s the branches, and hanging on the branches, fruit is growing. But you have to abide in Me, Jesus says, you have to be connected to me.

Why? Because just as everything required for your life comes through the bloodstream to you, everything that’s required for the life of a branch on the vine comes up from the roots, through the vine (Jesus), to you. That’s your source for all that you need. You are the branches. “He who abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit for apart from Me, you can do nothing.” The fruit that is growing on the branches is the result of what flows to you, through the vine, through Jesus Christ Himself and your relationship with Him. It flows up through his presence in your life, day by day.

And when that connection is there, we are able to ask prayers that Jesus says will be answered. “If a person does not abide in Me,” Jesus says, “He is cast forth as a branch and withers.” If that connection is not present, sometimes it cannot be restored. There’s nothing left to do with the branch that is disconnected and withering except gather it, throw it into the fire, and let it burn.

But Jesus says– take a look at verse seven. This is the promise of answered prayer. Jesus says, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,” that’s the pruning part we just talked about, If those two things are happening, ask whatever you will and it shall be done for you.”
It’s a pretty strong promise that Jesus gives there. Now – it’s conditional. You need to let the Word of God abide in you. And you need to let the connection between you and Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit to be there and to be active. But to the degree that those are strong and active, your prayers will be answered.

Now, somebody might say, “Well, Lord, what if I want a Lamborghini?” The $180,000 sports car, Which by the way, I’ve never wanted because if you’re my size, you can’t fit in one! “What if I pray prayers, Lord Jesus, that are bad prayers, that are bad for me, that are bad for other people?”

Well see, here’s the point, friends: if Jesus abides in you, and if you are cleansed from what shouldn’t be there by the words of Jesus abiding in you, more and more, you will be praying for God’s will to be done, not asking for foolish things that either don’t matter or that harm you or harm other people. If you take time to abide in Jesus Christ and let His words abide in you, it will change what you’re praying for. And more and more you’ll be praying for God’s will to be done.

First, we prune then we abide, then we ask. And if we get the first two right, the asking goes so much better.

We talked about this last week about the relationship between a husband and wife. They become partners. And the idea of abiding is for us to be partners with Jesus Christ. And so in the same way that abiding will become healthier and stronger if you turn towards each other. And that’s our time of prayer each day. We turn toward Jesus Christ and not away. And at different times during the day, we turn toward Jesus Christ. “Lord, what should I do? Lord, I don’t quite understand that. Lord, this hurts my feelings. Lord, this upsets me.” If you turn towards Jesus and understand he’s always turned towards you, it will deepen your relationship into a state of abiding.

And not only that, you let your partner influence you. How much better our lives would be if we allowed ourselves to be more influenced by Jesus Christ? How much better our lives would be if other forces from the news people, the Facebook people, the fake news people, you name it, if they had less influence and Jesus had more influence! You and I would be in a better place and we would live in a better world. Let your Savior influence you and you will abide more deeply in Jesus Christ.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about how Jesus always began his day with prayer. The purpose of that first thing in the morning prayer is to strengthen His abiding in His heavenly father. And when we begin our day with pruning and prayer, it strengthens how we abide in our Savior. Here’s the rest of the promise. “By this, My father is glorified that you bear much fruit.” In other words, that’s God’s will be done. “And so prove to be my disciples as a father has loved me so have I loved you, abide in my love.” Be surrounded by Christ’s love, absorb Christ’s love just as the cells in your body absorb everything they need through the bloodstream.

Abide in his love. Verse 10, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. Just as I have kept my father’s commandments and abide in his love.” So we begin by pruning and then we strengthen the connection that is abiding and then Jesus takes it around full circle to say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The main one of which is to love one another. But that brings us right back around to the pruning, where God’s word helps us keep God’s commandments, and so abide in his love.

The purpose of all this abiding: these things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be full. Aren’t those grapes in the picture wonderful? Aren’t they beautiful? Next time I’m in the store, I’m buying some grapes. They just look wonderful, don’t they? But the reason they look wonderful is because they were attached to the branches, and the branches are attached to the vine. And everything that they need comes up through the root. Friends, you need to take care of your roots. You need to take care of your roots and let them grow down deep into God. All around us, we’re seeing the leaves turn, and they’re beautiful too, aren’t they? They’re there to be a lesson to us every fall to teach us about the beauty of letting go.
Letting go is something that is a part of our life in these Coronavirus days. There’s a lot of things we have to let go of in this time. But they’ll be back. There will be leaves in a few more months. There are things that we need to let go, even if it’s for a while, to make room for what Jesus has for us. And then the next beautiful crop will grow on the new leaves. Please remember you can spray water on living plants, but that water only does its work when it gets into the plant.

Sadly, so many people have their faith only on the surface. And if you spray water on the plants and it doesn’t get into the roots, and the roots don’t deliver it to the vine, and the vine doesn’t deliver it to the branches, it can’t do its work unless it gets inside. So life rises from the roots and goes into the fruits. And for your life, it will come up not from the outside world but up through your connection to Jesus Christ on the inside because he is the root of all good things that grow in our hearts.
Take care of your roots. And to take care of that relationship of abiding in Christ will want to take some time, whether it’s in the morning or throughout the day or in the evening, to bring God’s word into that time and let it work on us. That’s pruning. To take time to listen to Jesus Christ, that’s abiding.

I don’t know how it is for you, but the average amount of television watching that Americans do will astonish you. But if you even gave the equivalent of a half-hour situation comedy to Jesus each day in prayer, if you spent a half hour’s time on prayer, you would be astonished at how that time you spend with your savior will deepen and strengthen the living faith within your hearts. I won’t tell you how to do it, but we all can make time to receive up from the inside, from Christ, what we need to live spiritually. And then, then we can ask, and then God can show us how to receive and keep his commandments.
Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we all know that we should pray. We all know that every relationship is improved by daily communication. We all know that to turn our back on a child or spouse or friend means that that relationship disconnects and begins to wither. And so, Lord, help us not to be so busy that we turn our backs on you. Help us, Lord, not to be so distracted … whether it’s by Facebook or computer games or television or Netflix or whatever it might be that keeps us busy. Lord, help us not to be too busy to spend time with you each day. And allow what helps us to be alive to flow up into our hearts through who you are, through our roots, deep into God. 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.
 

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Sermon 10/25/20: Team Up To Pray (Kingdomtide VII)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/25/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 The Love of God
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5jQD8twNiA

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 God on the Mountain
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCTl4tUYIAg

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: Team Up To Pray
Text:  Matthew 18:14-20, John 20:20-23
Series: The Prayer Recipes
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Sermon audio at Wesley UMC.

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SERMON NOTES

Matthew 18:14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. 15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 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 gather in my name, there am I with them.”

John 20:20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Matthew 5:23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

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HYMN You Can Lean on Me
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3iuPezrshI

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

In our society today, more than ever before, there is a deep yearning to be connected to the people we love and you can see examples of it all around you. If you’re ever in an airport, watch as people come off the airplane. Most of them will already be on their cell phone, but if not, when they’re standing in an open area, they will pull out their cell phone to connect with the people that they love. And in fact, among younger people, some would say this device is connected to their hand because you always see it in their hand. They’re continually connecting with other people.

When you’re looking at the picture on the screen, the giant thumbs up, that is the Facebook corporate headquarters sign. Some of you are on Facebook. Some of you may have no idea what Facebook means, but that thumbs up is a big reason why Facebook is a billion dollar corporation. Facebook started on the campus of the university as a way for people to learn the backgrounds of people who were in their class, people who were in their dorm. You could look them up and see a person’s picture and where they were from and what they wanted to say about themselves, and it greatly satisfied curiosity. But that did not make Facebook a billion-dollar company.

What made Facebook a billion-dollar company was that little button that you can click that shows that you approve and like what someone has said. Now, here’s the reality. People will go onto Facebook hundreds of times a day to see who liked what they said because that’s like a little pat on the back. That’s a little I like you back. And everybody wants to find out if someone, even if it’s someone they don’t even know from across the world, actually liked their picture of their granddaughter because whenever you see that thumbs up, you feel a little warmth inside because you like being connected with people who like you and, of course, usually, people you love develop out of the people you like.

Consequently, when there are problems of disconnection, we want to get back to where things were better. John Gottman identified from his scientific research there are seven principles, seven things that couples can do to strengthen their marriage, to keep love alive and two of those, in particular, have to do with feeling connected.

First one, number three is when tough times come … and, by the way, are we in tough times now? We certainly are. When tough times come, you need to turn toward the people you love and the tougher times get, the closer you need to get together to preserve the quality of the connection that you have with someone.

And the second principle– this tends to be a problem for men. You need to let your partner influence you. Now, you don’t need to do whatever they tell you. Some of us worry about that because we love bossy people. But you need to let them feel that you are willing to hear their side. You need to let them feel that you are willing to be influenced. Whatever the decision is, let your partner influence you. This strengthens connection between people.

Now, there are a lot of reasons why people pray. People pray for better health. People pray for a job if they don’t have one. They pray for a promotion if they have a job. But a great deal of human prayers rise up to God out of human difficulty and conflict with another person. A great deal of prayers are about your connection to another person and the trouble that’s happening in your life because there are problems in that connection.

And that leads us to one of Jesus’s recipes for powerful prayer. And it rises up out of this problem of human connection. In Matthew chapter 5 in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “If you are offering your gift at the altar, if you’re there in the middle of a worship service at the temple, and while you are getting ready to make that offering, if you remember that your brother has something against you, that someone you know is upset with you, that someone you know is angry about something you said or did or maybe in just who you are,” — by the way, I want to ask you to raise your hand. But I’ll guarantee you it is not possible that you are so wonderful that there is not someone in this world that doesn’t have a complaint about you, if you’re human. Some of you are human in a way that is very close to the angels. But even Jesus couldn’t make everybody happy. So Jesus says, “If you become aware of that in the middle of worship, what should you do?” Leave.

Please don’t take this literally. Please wait till after church. Because if we took this literally, pastors would be preaching to empty churches every Sunday. We would never make it back to worship.

But the point that Jesus is making is your relationship with other people is very important. Because, if you become aware that there’s something not right in the connection, Jesus says, “Leave your gifts there before the altar and go that you may be reconciled to your brother. And then come and offer your gifts, because reconciliation has a very high priority with God.

Once again, there’s not a single person here who’s not been hurt. There’s not a single person here who’s not been harmed by the actions of another person. And you find yourself saying, “If they only understood me, they’d think differently.” So, friends, this is all of us. This is me too. If I took this literally, I couldn’t stand before you and preach because the list of people I’ve offended is a very long list. Now, by the way, in all honesty, they’re all wrong. (Joking!) Because I didn’t mean to hurt them, pretty much. But the flat reality is, as Jesus says very plainly, reconciliation is so important that their displeasure is a high priority to God to fix.

I don’t want to be that man and wife dealing with that teenager in the picture on the screen! Not fun. So I couldn’t even be here if I took this literally. But I want to share it with you in the way that I think Jesus meant it. We need to make healing, purifying the connection we have with other people, a priority for us. So here is the prayer recipe.

Matthew, Chapter 18, “So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

Now, this is not normal behavior. By the way, sin is normal behavior. But the normal behavior of human beings is if I am having trouble with someone, I go tell Joyce, because I figure Joyce will tell Charles Lee and Charles Lee will tell Jane Lowe and Jane Lowe will tell Patsy and Patsy will tell Susan and Susan will tell Glenn and Glenn will tell Wilk, and Wilk will be just bullheaded enough to go up to that person who has offended me and tell that person to their face. It’s true.

But it’s human nature to do what we call triangulation. I need to tell someone something. I’m going to utilize– I’m going to take advantage of someone else to deliver the message while I hide in the bushes. And one of the principles I tell myself constantly to help me with my problems, if I’m not mad enough to tell them to their face, what they did to me probably wasn’t that bad.

Nonetheless, Jesus says it very plainly, if you’ve got a problem with someone, you should tell them. The last time I preached on this very, very plainly in a church was about 16 years ago. We had big problems in this church and I was getting ready to move to another church, and I thought to myself, “I’m going to do whoever follows me a favor and preach on this.” And I said to them, “Folks, if you’ve got a problem with me, Jesus wants you to call me and tell me. Don’t have someone else call on your behalf.” That’s Sunday afternoon, the husbands of the two women who did it the most called me to tell me that their wives were upset!

The sermon didn’t sink in very far because this is a very human thing. But if talking to the person directly– you’re the one who goes to them– doesn’t work, you can bring two or three people to speak to them. “That if he does not listen,” Jesus says, “take one or two others along with you that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

You need someone to listen because maybe you’re shading the truth. Maybe you’re being so emotionally upset that you’re not hearing what the other person says; you need two or three other people to listen with you so that you can hear. “But if he refuses to listen to them, then tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as” someone who is not worthy of your attention.

Now here’s the prayer recipe. We need to remember this recipe comes up out of the context of how to deal with human conflict. “Truly I say to you,” Jesus says, “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. And whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in heaven, and we need to take that responsibility seriously. Again I say to you, if two or three agree on Earth about anything they ask, It will be done for them by my Father in heaven.”

So here’s the prayer recipe. When issues are critical and difficult, ask someone to pray with you. We understand about praying all by ourselves, and we do a lot of that. But if the issue is serious and critical, we need to team up when we pray. And that means I go to Wilk and I say, “Wilk, I’m really worried. Pray with me. Agree with me in prayer.” I go to any one of you and do the same thing. People will come here into the church to ask me to pray for them. I always ask if it’s okay, but I’ll actually drag Vervadene (my secretary) into the room so that when I pray for them, there’s two or three of us because Jesus says that works. So sometimes, we need to team up to get our prayers answered.

The reason I share with you the prayer requests we share in worship on Sunday morning is so that you and I can agree as a whole church in prayer because sometimes, for prayers to be answered, we need to team up and agree. And certainly, when we pray together, it’s a test, and it is able to help us to more deeply understand what is God’s will here that we should pray for.

Verse 20: We always take this out of context, but it comes out of, particularly, conflict with other people. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them in the midst of them, ready to answer prayer.

On Easter Sunday evening, Jesus looked at the disciples, and he said this very specifically – you’ve heard me say this many, many times, but the reason you hear me say this many, many times is this is part of scripture that I honestly would have to say: “We do not practice this.” And we need to take it seriously.

“As the Father has sent me,” Jesus said, “I am sending you.You now get to do what I did. You’re going to carry on my ministry with the people who need me.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit because you need the Holy Spirit to be able to help people the way that Jesus did.

And then come these words again, which we need to take them seriously, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” When you are I pray for whatever it is we might be praying for, if there are people involved, it is wise for us to add to that prayer, “Lord, forgive my sins and forgive their sins.” Because Jesus said that you and I are the means by which sin are forgiven. I know we expect that other person to ask for forgiveness for their sins, but Jesus told you to do it. And Jesus told me to do it.

So how do we do this prayer recipe? Well, friends, if you bothered to write it down, you will have a list of imperfect people that is quite long. And due to pandemic exhaustion, which is a very fancy scientific way to say that none of us like this thing that we’re doing through, as the little Winnie-the-Pooh thing says, “I’m tired of this.” We’re all tired of this. And because of the way other people behave and because of the way we’re exhausted, we’re less patient, we’re less kind than we would normally be. We’ve had it up to here or higher with what other people are doing. (I’m not even going to mention politics. But we have it up to even higher with stuff that’s going on with politics. We are exhausted with all the stress that we’re going through. But here’s the reality, friends. When you want to confront someone for their wrongdoing, your name should be at the top of the list and you should be that one person who comes first to your mind. Lord, forgive me … because certainly I’m as bad as anyone else and I need your forgiveness as much as anyone else.

This, by the way, is the school teacher. Just look at those eyes. I can’t wait to be home. When is Christmas vacation? We’re going through hard times. But when you get to the next name on the list, it’s of another person. Did you try to go to yourself first? Did you try to speak to yourself directly first? Remember the Lord’s Prayer which we say all the time: Lord forgive us our trespasses, as we pray, and forgive the trespasses of others. The conversation where you go, one on one, may last all of two seconds when the other person says I don’t want to talk to you. But God notices your heart. Would you try to reach out? And then, if that was you.

But once you’ve gone by yourself you need– or, it would be wise for you to say, “I probably need someone to share the burden and I probably need someone to join me in this prayer. I need a team of people praying. I need to ask two or three– as Jesus said, two or three to join with me.” Some needs require us to form a team. So I want to tell you, if you feel that God needs two or three to pray with you, I’ll always be your number two. You can always call me and ask me to pray with you for a third person. And if you feel this is a situation that even needs another, we’ll find someone else to partner with us and we’ll pray as a team.

But I want to say to you honestly if your prayers are not being answered you may want to link up with another person or two other people and begin to pray together for the particular need that is on your heart.

And not only can those people pray with you, they might help you to understand how to pray better. So one recipe for stronger prayers, prayers that are more quickly and rapidly and effectively answered, is for us to team up. I found myself saying to myself last Monday when somebody brought a prayer need to me– I found myself saying, “We need to have two or three people praying together.” And so I wanted to share that with you.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, we pray for many things because we have many hopes for a better life, for a happier life, for better and healthier connections between people in what is perhaps the most stressful year in this entire century. Lord, when our prayers are not immediately answered, help us to think of this prayer recipe. That what we may need to do is to choose one other person, or perhaps two other people, and team up and they can pray with us for our concern and we can pray with them for their concerns. And the three of us together can have faith that you are a God that answers our prayers. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. 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 Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 10/18/20 The Power of A Morning Prayer (Kingdomtide VI)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/18/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 Ann Downing, Squire Parsons, Amy Lambert, Mike Allen – Hallelujah! We Shall Rise (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9P5VdY9ZBk&list=PLrQ_9CjH0M3DrNKFiJwWMcXeunA0lU-NB

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 Alan Jackson – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufYSFCKKoHs

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 Power of A Morning Prayer
Text: Mark 1:32-38, 14:32-41
Series: The Prayer Recipes
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.”

Mark 14:32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba,Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him. 41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

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HYMN Sweet Hour of Prayer – Barbershop Chorus Song – HD – Multitrack
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KwuYo3Wm5I

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

We shared this last week, but it’s a good thing to remember. Business expert Brian Tracy says every failure is a failure to plan. Why? Because when you’re planning, you’re wanting to be ready for every possible thing that could go wrong. You want to be ready for every possible thing that could go right. And if something causes your plans to completely fail, it’s because you didn’t foresee it and you didn’t prepare for it. You didn’t notice it. Something snuck up on you and knocked your hopes all the pieces. Every failure is a failure to plan.

And that’s why, as I recommended to you last week, unless you’re absolutely sure, unless you’re absolutely perfect, it’s a smart thing to use a recipe. Because I know if you’re like me, from time to time you realize: this doesn’t quite taste the way it should. And you realize, “I left something out. I forgot to do something.” That’s why you have a recipe. Because our minds can’t always catch every necessary detail, because our minds are frequently distracted, so we miss what’s important and get focused on something that’s not important at all. That’s why we need a recipe.

In the same way, when a church tries to do something and it falls apart, it’s not only that we did not anticipate the problem in our plan, but when you think about it, churches plan by praying. Because as we pray, we are figuring out what God is planning. And if we do those prayers exceedingly well, we’ll protect ourselves from any kind of embarrassing failure. God will give us the recipe for what it is that we’re about to do for God’s sake.

And so in these weeks beginning this morning, I want to talk about recipes for how our prayers could become more powerful, because more powerful prayers will inevitably lead to a better life and a better church and a better neighborhood, because we’re to love our neighbors, and a better world. Because every failure in a church is a failure to powerfully pray.

So here’s the first principle. If you call the help desk and say to them, “My computer won’t work,” or, “My printer won’t work, or, “My whatever it is that’s plugged into my computer won’t work,” the very first thing they will ask you is whether your computer is plugged in. You would not believe how often that’s the problem. And not only that, as this picture shows, is everything that’s supposed to be plugged in plugged in?

The second question they will ask you once they know it’s plugged in is, is it turned on? The first question for our spirits in praying more powerfully is are we connected to God? Are we plugged into our heavenly power source? Or are we trying to do God’s work without being plugged into God’s power? That’s the first thing we want to check.

Then the second thing is we want to take some time to turn our spiritual life on. Every morning I get up and I go turn on the coffee pot, and I’m astonished. When I turn it on, it makes coffee. But if I don’t turn it on, it just sits there and does nothing, and your own spiritual life can be like that. God is waiting for you to pay attention to him. Jesus is waiting for you. And when you turn your eyes upon Jesus, you are turning on what is alive in your spirit toward God. Therefore, just like the first thing with a computer is you plug it in and turn it on, it would be wise if the first thing we did each day was to plug our spirit into God’s life and power and turn them on. Because when we read through the life of Jesus for what he said about prayers, one of the very first things we discover is the priority that he gave it.

Let me tell you the story that comes from Mark, chapter 1, which is a story about crowds. They learned that Jesus was at Peter’s mother in law’s house, and they gathered all around him, and a gigantic crowd came together. Jesus drew a crowd. People were filling up the room. People were standing in the doorway. Here’s the scripture: “That evening at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons, and the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he, Jesus, healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons, and the whole crowd was there to hear whatever he wanted to say to them.”

The very next morning, the first thing in the morning, a great while before day – I assume when it was still dark – instead of going back to sleep, Jesus rose and went out to a lonely – I assume quiet place – where he was alone. A lonely place, and there He prayed.

First thing in the morning, Jesus went out to pray, and an odd thing happened. The disciples got up, noticed he was gone, and began to pursue him, to search for him, and they found him. And what’s the very first thing they said? Could be, Lord, what are we going to do today? Because maybe what Jesus wanted was the high priority. I wish I could tell you that.

Here’s what they said to Him. Verse 37: “Everyone is searching for you.”

Apparently, the crowd that showed up the night before came back the next day. “Hey, we found some more sick people. Do that magic stuff and let us watch. Hey, we found some more people who need your help, and we’re all here, and we’re standing in line. And where is Jesus? How could he let us down? All of us are here demanding that Jesus pay attention to us.” Or as the disciples said to Jesus, “Everyone is searching for you.”

It’s astonishing how our society, still today, idolizes a crowd. If there is a crowd of people around you, who want you, or need you, or admire you, or look up to you, we think that’s amazing. I can imagine the disciples thinking that they’ve won the lottery. “We’re going to build the hospital right over there, and we’re going to charge them for everything we do. We’re going to make tons of money. Look, this whole crowd is here. We can become the healing center of all of Israel. All we need is Jesus, and we can plug him in and we can make a fortune. Because all the crowd is here.”

And the disciples are thinking, “You know, what we need to do is do what the crowd of people want.” Now, by the way, if you’re a teenager they call that peer pressure. By the time we are adults, we often call that politics. We live in an age to where people are really worried about what everyone else thinks. And people are really worried about making everyone else happy. Friends, it ain’t gonna happen.

A little girl at Sunday school hears the teacher say, “Class, can you tell me one thing that God cannot do?” And the little girl’s hand just shot right up. And the teacher thinks, “Oh no. When I explain that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, this little girl’s going to be so humiliated.” So she goes into great depth about how powerful God is, and how strong God is, and how smart God is. The little girl’s hand just gets even crazier because she wants to be called on, because she knows something that even God can’t do. And the teacher couldn’t talk her out of it.

Finally, the teacher said, “Honey, what is it that you feel that God can’t do?” And the little girl folded her hands in her lap and said proudly, “I know that even God can’t please everybody.”

But here’s the problem. We should know that, but we still act as if it’s what we should be trying to do to please the crowd.

I’ve also heard, it’s sad and I’ve read it, various people – even pastors who should know better – will say, “Read the Bible. Jesus never turned his back on someone who needed him.” And unfortunately, if you read the Bible, very plainly, that’s just simply not true. Because here’s the verse that contradicts it. Jesus, everyone’s searching for you. We need to go take care of them and do what they want. And Jesus says, “I’ve been out here praying and focusing on what God wants.” And what God wants is for us to go on to other places and preach the gospel. We’ll be back.

But right now what God wants is more important than what the crowd wants. Because that’s the why for Jesus. He says, “That is why I came out, not just to go to other places and preach but to do the Father’s will.” In fact, he said in another place he has always done what pleases his Father. And this is the thing that we need to worry about because the crowd will turn us away from pleasing God because it’s natural for us to try to please them.

And the only protection you have from this is to begin the day by focusing on God and what God wants. And that’s what Jesus did. That’s how he began the day.

And it goes right onto that starry night when they’re in the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus says, “Please stay awake and pray with me.” And he goes apart to pray. And he says, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me but yet not what I will, but what you will.” Because that’s how Jesus prayed.

Then he returns to the disciples and he finds that they’re all sound asleep. See that’s the problem with waiting to pray at night. You can’t always stay awake. Probably better start in the morning when you are awake. And Jesus looks at the men who were his disciples and he says, “Simon–” he said to Peter, “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch? Couldn’t you stay awake for one hour?” Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.

This is how Jesus prayed, starting every morning. And it protected him. Jesus goes on to say, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” That’s why the first thing we want to do is the right thing, which is to pray. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we say, “Thy will be done.” Every time we think of Gethsemane we think, “Thy will be done.” If that’s how you feel we should live our lives, it’s better that you know what thy will be done means on this day. Because it could be that only one of those seven doors in the picture is right. How will you know the one that is God’s choice if you don’t take time to pray?

The saddest thing in life is someone who has lived their life by trial and error. And it’s not a great way for us to live our faith, either. If you just simply try everything, most of it is going to harm you and hurt you. You need to let God guide you. Not only that… If you don’t know the goal for your life, your goal or your goal from God, do you know what happens? Somebody else who has strong goals will give you a goal so that you take care of them, so that your life meets their goals rather than your goals, and you get swept away following someone else or follow a new crowd because the way is wide that leads to destruction, Jesus said, and many people travel the easy way.

It’s not easy to figure out what God wants. And consequently, it’s a good thing to start first thing in the morning on that project. Jesus chose early in the morning to rededicate himself. Jesus chose early in the morning to reorient himself. Jesus chose early in the morning to repent of anything that could be wrong and focus on what God wants and what would be right. And one of the wisest things that any one of us can do is to be like Jesus.

My practice, which has become a habit, is to take up to half an hour every morning to pray. And I open up the Bible and I read it. And I do that every morning of the week until Sunday morning because I think to myself, “surely, church is enough.”

But I felt just a little bit convicted this morning, just felt a little bit like I might be a hypocrite, so I set my alarm today and got up a half an hour early to pray. And I don’t mind telling you, I miss that half an hour really bad! But it was still a good thing to do. It was still the right thing to do because, you see, I needed to find out what my purpose is for today. And if what’s at the heart of my life is Thy will be done, I need to find out God’s purpose for my life today.

I don’t want to sleep through when Jesus is praying in Gethsemane. I want to know what God wants me to do, here and now. Because this life, when you think about it, it’s not about you and what you want. But even more than that, it’s not about them (whoever them is) and what they want. God did not create you and I to please some other group of people. God created you and I to do one thing. Jesus said it: Follow me.

And so when all the rest of them go down that easy path, we need to go a different way because that’s how this thing called faith works. It’s all about follow Me. Following Jesus.

And so we need to pay attention. Lord, which way are you going today? Are you wanting me to drop by that house and encourage that person? Lord, are you wanting me to pray by somebody’s hospital bed? What is it, Lord, that you want from me today? Lord, what’s on your to-do list today that’s my part to take care of so that this person over here, what they do helps and that fits with what this person is doing, but my part that you’ve chosen for me is something important too?

And you know what you’re doing when you’re building that to-do list? That’s your prayer list. But you know what else it is besides being a prayer list? It’s the recipe for what you’re going to do today. And you know something? You may be able to wing it quite well. But if you’re in trouble, you’ll be glad you wrote it all down and you have the recipe with you. God wants that. I’d better take care of that first.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, a lot of people needed you in that city that day, but you were aware of everyone in the nation of Israel and how they needed you. You were aware of what God wanted you to do, and, Lord, that’s the choice you took. You knew you would be back and could then heal some more, but you always chose to do the will of your Father. And you tried to teach your disciples and, throughout the centuries, us as well, that Thy will be done should come first. And Lord, I pray that even though there are days you might say, “You’re off duty today, Dave. Do what you think best,” there are other days to where you have definite and specific things for me to do, for each one of us to do. And Lord, I pray that you will help us to follow the recipe and to discover and then do what it is that you ask of your people. 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.
 

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

Sermon 10/11/20: The Prayer Recipe (Kingdomtide V)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/11/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new 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 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 It Is Well with My Soul | BYU Vocal Point (A Cappella)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FexGqNDBK3g

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 Breathe – Marie Barnett Lyric Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZhUesUaM98

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 Prayer Recipe
1 Thessalonians 5:16-25
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit, 20 do not despise prophesying, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good, 22 abstain from every form of evil. 23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. 25 Brethren, pray for us.

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HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Amazing Grace (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FERANWPVBm8

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

I’d like to tell you a story about my mother. My mother grew up as the middle daughter in a family of four daughters and one son and her mother was not as nice as you would wish. My grandmother. My grandmother was actually kind of mean. And when it came to being in the kitchen my grandmother was a very critical cook. Now, every single one of us here knows somebody who never measures anything. Every one of us here knows somebody who never ever looks at a recipe and my grandmother was that kind of cook. And my mother would stand in the kitchen and want to help and no matter what she did it was always wrong. My mother turned out to be a very anxious, nervous cook who did fine because for the rest of her adult life she never ever cooked anything where she didn’t have a recipe. And not only that, she never ever changed anything about the recipe. So she was still anxious but she was confident because if we follow the recipe and it tastes awful, it’s the cookbook’s fault. And that worked for her.

Now, let me tell you a story about my father. My father graduated from high school in 1945 and he immediately joined the Navy. His older brother was in the army and his older brother said, “You do not want to be in the army.” My uncle actually won medals for surviving on a Japanese island as the last survivor of his unit. So he knew what he was talking about with regard to how tough it is to be in the army.

Well, my dad went to Great Lakes Naval Station and then he was on this little ship. It was a landing ship tank and they transported tanks into the Pacific. And as they were on their way across the Pacific, the war ended. But here’s the problem with being on a ship. The crew was made of 30 people. 30 young men who had never been away from home in their life. And the way it works is the guy who’s best with engines works with the engines. The guy who’s best with the machine guns works with the machine guns. And the guy who is worst at everything is told that he is the cook.

And they’re on their way across the Pacific and I don’t think they had a cookbook. Because my dad said is they would sit in the wardroom which is kind of like the dining room and they would watch the cook in the galley and they would talk about how their mother made things. And the cook was a Polish boy from Chicago. And he listened very carefully as the men would say, “Well, these were the ingredients my mother used and this is how my mother cooked it.” And the Polish cook was taking notes. And so my dad came home from the Navy with the weirdest recipe for spaghetti sauce that you’ve ever heard of because the cook had to take what Mama put in the spaghetti sauce and then substitute something that they had in stock on a Navy ship. So you’ve got Italian spaghetti sauce with no oregano in it because they don’t have oregano on a military ship. You have Italian spaghetti sauce with no garlic in it because there is no garlic. But you know what they put in it? Worcester sauce, mustard which will give it a bite, dry mustard, and sugar, and pepper And it’s utterly marvelous.

When I was growing up we called it long spaghetti because my dad always insisted you had to eat it with the long noodles and you had to twirl, long spaghetti. When my kids were growing up we called it Dad’s spaghetti and because it was so hard to explain it, I started calling it Polish Navy spaghetti in honor of the Navy and in honor of the Polish cook who wouldn’t know anything about Italian cooking. [laughter]

But if you can get the ingredients right and you can get the steps to make it right, you can do it right … even when you don’t know what you’re doing. Because the only other option you have is just to wing it and I’m sure the first few times those Navy boys tried to eat that spaghetti, it was pretty awful. Here’s the thing I think it’s good for us to understand for our faith.

I think with regard to many things of the faith we are winging it. And the results we get are mixed. And that’s because even though your momma may have been so good at prayer that she might have prayed so naturally and beautifully that she never needed a recipe for prayer. Well, friends, you might be good but you’re not that good. I think we could look through the Bible and discover recipes for how to do what Christians do with a high level of excellence. And I want to say to you unless you’re a genius, unless you are a prodigy … Unless you already know, you’d be wise to follow the recipe and when you’ve got the recipe memorized then, if you want to play around, you can do that. But find a recipe because you’re good but you’re not that good. And there are I believe in the Bible there are recipes that tell us how to do everything that God wants us to do. God put them in there on purpose and we want to talk for the next few weeks about recipes for prayer. There is a recipe for praise. There is a recipe for asking for forgiveness. And we can find the verses in the Bible that will tell us what’s a part of that activity and how to go about it every year at Thanksgiving, I like to talk about what I call “The Recipe.””

And so I pick that Scripture for today because it’s a good recipe. But a recipe for prayer has two parts. The first part is the list of ingredients and in prayer what goes into it is a list of people that you’re praying for and a list of needs that you’re praying for. And I want to suggest to you that, just like you have a recipe written out, don’t trust your memory. It’s wise for you to keep a list of the prayers that you pray. A list of the people who need your prayers.

That’s why we have this back page in the bulletin to help remind us all. A list of what is needed in the community. That’s the ingredients for prayer. But then sometimes we need to know how to pray step by step to assemble all the ingredients into the best sort of prayer. Why is this important? Nothing can stop a praying people. The pandemic can shut down a public school but it can’t shut down Christians from praying. The government can tell us it’s not safe to go out of our homes, but the government cannot stop Christian people from praying. You can not be stopped from practicing your faith. But when it comes to prayer, if you know who and you know how, you’re going to be able to do what God needs you to do. We can’t have the church activities we’ve always had. We can’t meet as committees. We can’t send out mission teams. But they can’t stop you from praying. They can’t stop you from singing hymns. They can’t stop you from witnessing to your faith to others. They can’t stop you. Nothing can stop a praying people.

What I like to call the recipe our six statements in 1 Thessalonians 5. Here are the ingredients. Rejoice always. Pray constantly. King James says pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. There’s your recipe. In this situation that I’m facing, what is there about which I can rejoice? Well, whatever that is, write it down on your list.

The recipe calls for us to pray without ceasing. Why is that? All too often, people stop praying before they should. What happens when you’re stirring something and you are supposed to stir it for five minutes longer? Not good. Pray and keep on praying. Pray constantly. Why do people stop? Well, they get tired. Don’t get too tired to pray. Why do people stop? They think they’ve done enough. You probably haven’t prayed enough. Don’t stop praying because you’ve given up hope. Don’t stop hoping. Keep on praying. Pray without ceasing for the people on your list, until you reach a point where you know there’s no more need for prayer. Now think about that for just a minute. Is there ever no more need for prayer? Pray without ceasing. It’s an important ingredient for prayer.

Finally, Paul, says, “Give thanks. Not just when everything’s going great, give thanks “in all circumstances.” Now, why is that? No matter how bad something is, there’s something in the mix for which you can be thankful. You need to find what that is and write it down, and then give thanks to God for what’s good … because you know what happens? You give thanks to God for what’s good, and the good gets bigger. You have a little spark of what’s good and you blow on it, and the spark gets brighter. Give thanks in all circumstances. Find something to be thankful for!

You’ve heard me say this before, the Minnesota state motto is “could be worse.” That’s a joke, but to be honest, if we can’t find anything else to be thankful for we can be thankful because it could be worse. It could be worse.

The rest of verse 18 says, very plainly, “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” You cannot get more plain than that. Find a reason to be joyful. Add it to your prayers. Find a reason to keep on praying and add it to your prayers. Find a reason to be thankful and add it to your prayers because those are the ingredients for this recipe for prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5.

This is followed by three steps. Three things we’re encouraged to do. Verse 19, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The assumption is that God is trying to do something inside of you. God is trying to communicate with you. God is trying to send a message to you. Don’t pour water on that spark that could become a flame. Don’t quench the Spirit.

Last week I talked about the Holy Spirit’s influence as being a little bit like the tide that is nudging you to go in a particular direction. Pay attention when you’re praying, for the Spirits’ urging.

And not only that, verse 20, “Do not despise prophesying.” When you look at the Old Testament, you have prophets; God gives them a message and they speak it, and people are in trouble if they don’t follow what the prophet says.

But in the New Testament, prophesying has a different nature. Prophesying is God is having an influence on you, an influence to do something or say something. It is the tide of the Holy Spirit pushing you toward fulfilling God’s will. Do not despise the fact that God speaks to us, and don’t make your ear deaf to what God is telling you! And if what God is telling you is something for you to tell someone else do not despise the fact that God can talk through other people in order to talk to people who won’t listen directly to God. Do not despise prophesying because when you pray all of a sudden you’ll get a sense there’s something God wants you to do. There’s something God wants you to say.

Do not despise the leading of the Holy Spirit, but verse 21 also says this, “Test everything Hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” What you feel the Spirit is giving to you, test it.

You’ve heard me say before that you don’t want me to work on your car because when I open the hood and look at your courage and I think to myself, “What if I take that hose and disconnect it and plug it in over here? What would that do?” You don’t want me working on your car! In the same way, you want to test when you feel God is telling you to make certain that is something that you should do. How do you test it? You use scripture to test what you feel God is telling you to do. If what you feel God is telling you to do, there is a scripture over here that tells you to do that, ought to do that, you’re probably making the right decision.

I’m someone who, when I make my dad’s spaghetti, I don’t measure it. And there’s times I’ve forgotten how much mustard is supposed to go in, to my great regret. You have to learn sometimes by testing it. Test what you feel God is leading you to do. Maybe I’ll eat some bad batches of spaghetti sauce. But if you test, you will learn.

Business expert Brian Tracy once said that every failure is a failure to plan. Because when there is a failure, when things go wrong, the plan ideally should have figured out what you would do if that thing went wrong. So every failure is a failure to anticipate and plan what should have happened! Or to say it in a different way, you either had a recipe that wasn’t perfect or you missed one part of the recipe because, of course, a recipe is a plan of how to do that.

When you apply that principle to the church, you get a very simple truth. Every failure is a failure to pray. Because if we pray and we hear from God, then we’re able to do things according to God’s will. If we fail to do things well, every failure is an opportunity to learn by repenting. We need to open the Bible and look for our mistakes. We need to learn from our mistakes. But if we pray, we’ll have a leading that will help us to avoid mistakes. If you know how to pray, if you know who to pray for, you can build God’s will into your life.

In the sermon slides, I have a picture of a blueprint. I once knew someone who worked for an electrical contractor. They had the contract to put in the outlets and the lighting for the St. Peter’s Mall in suburban St Louis. And I said to her, “Why would it take you five days to do that?” And she said, “Dave, on a blueprint, it will tell the electrician exactly the place to put an outlet. This many feet from here. This many inches up from the floor. Every outlet in the entire mall must be on a blueprint.” All too often the reason we fail is we don’t pray enough till everything is blueprint clear. And that’s because we have this natural kind of teenage urge to wing it. But, friends, when you wing electrician stuff, it’s dangerous. There are some things that we need to think through carefully. And in the church, what we do is we think and we pray and let God think with us.

W. Edward Deming said, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Now let that sink in. I’m a Type 2 diabetic. If I lost 75 pounds, my diabetes would very likely go away. Please pray for me. But I want to tell you that this body is the actual perfect result of the way I’m living. The plan that I have for what I should eat, for what I should do, is perfectly designed to get me this body, which has 75 pounds more than doctors think it should have.

It’s the same way in society. It’s the same way in the church. It’s the same way in your work. It’s the same way in your kitchen. The results you’re getting are the natural results that come from what you’re doing. And if you pray, God may be able to show you how to shift what you’re doing in order to get different results. So far, apparently, I have been unwilling to shift what I’m doing to get different results, and I might as well smile about it because it’s my plan. I can change it! But if I pray, God will guide me from where I am to where I need to be. It’s very humbling, but my body is the outcome of how I live.

One day, one of Mr. Edison’s friends came up to him, and this good friend saw how tired the man was and said, “Mr. Edison, isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work that you’ve done, you’ve not been able to get any results?” Edison turned in a flash, and his friend wrote this down, “With a smile, he replied, ‘Results? Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know thousands of things that won’t work.'” And sometimes you may feel like that. The way life is going, I know thousands of things that don’t work.

Well, I don’t know if you remember the Saturday Night Live routine and the joke, “It hurts when I do this.” You know what the answer is. Don’t do that.

But the thousands of things that we know that don’t work can help us if we pray about them, if we learn from them, if we let God teach us about that, can send us in the right direction. The Israelites traveled for 40 years in the wilderness until they finally got it right. If we pay attention to what we’re doing, if we pray for God to clearly speak to us, I believe that we’ll receive the guidance to go in the direction we need to go to get to the promised land, whatever that is for your life, whatever that is for our church. If we pray, I believe that God will guide us.

John chapter 20 verse 21. We’ve talked about it week after week after week because I think it sincerely is an instruction for us today. On Easter Sunday, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Everything God sent me to do to help people, Jesus says, I’m now sending you. But think for a moment. Out of all the things that Jesus did and said, what did Jesus probably spend more hours doing every day than anything else? Based on what Scripture says, I believe I can tell you with a great assurance that Jesus spent more time praying than anything else he did. And because of that, he was able to say, “I always do what my father wants me to do.”

Jesus has set an example for us in prayer. More than anything, Jesus prayed. Prayed for a who, and Jesus is sending us to love our neighbors, so that’s our who. How do we love our neighbor? I think the argument from Jesus’ life is the very first thing for us is that we need to pray for our neighbor. And maybe we need to pray until we understand what we’re supposed to do … rather than go off half-cocked, say things we really ought not to say, do things we wouldn’t do if we really thought about it. Let’s take time to pray.

Please pray with me, and then we’re going to sing. Lord Jesus, you prayed. Remind us to pray. You got up early in the morning so that before anything else you did, you prayed. Lord, remind us to pray. Help us, Lord, to get clear and then move forward to do your will. 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.
 

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