KinmundyChurch.org: Welcome to our church blog!

We Would Like You To Know —

1.  At this time, due to decreasing Coronavirus rates, the United Methodists Churches of our Illinois Great Rivers Conference are worshiping in face-to-face worship services. On May 14, 2021, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference announce a significant relaxation in safety standards in harmony with recent announcements by the CDC and the Illinois State Department of Public Health.

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

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

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

Choice #3: Please click on the link at the blog post for this Sunday in the “Attend Worship at Home” category to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone. Sermons and worship services for previous weeks are also available.
The same links will be provided on the Kinmundy Church Facebook page.
Pastor Dave intends to continue providing an online service on into the future.

Choice #4: You can also click on the links at the blog post of the day in the “Attend Worship at Home” category to have your own worship service experience, for whatever you are interested in. You can listen to the sermon on audio, pray the prayers, play YouTube versions of the hymns, and/or view the sermon slides with the sermon audio.

Choice #5: A copy of the “Worship at Home” service AND a sermon transcript will be emailed or sent by US Mail Monday to anyone who requests it. Call the church office at 547-7423 to subscribe. The transcript can also be read on the blog after 2 pm on Monday and used in your devotions through the week. Pastor Dave intends to continue provide this on into the future.

Choice #6: If you don’t have the internet and you would like to watch the worship video on DVD, please call the church office.

SOBER REALITIES:   Unvaccinated people may choose to wear masks for their own safety and the safety of other non-vaccinated people. Please do not crowd each other as we adjust to this change.  Physical distance is the most effective precaution against COVID!

—————————————————————————————————

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 4, 2022 Getting Ready To Love God (Advent 2)

Image by svklimkin from Pixabay

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/777704568

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3le0gVvcf0

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; 
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today. 
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; 
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

HYMN 239 Silent Night
Kelly Clarkson Featuring Reba McEntire and Trisha Yearwood – Silent Night (LYRICS)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QGP6f9nVC8

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help.
I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.
Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.
Help me to serve you 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.

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

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

HYMN 420 Breathe On Me, Breath of God
Breathe On Me, Breath Of God · Steve Green
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S140Ew5PhI8

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: Getting Ready To Love God
Text: John 14:18-23, Luke 1:37-38, 46-55
Series: People Get Ready

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

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

John 14:18  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” 22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” 23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

Luke 1:37 … For with God nothing will be impossible.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, 52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN 249 There’s A Song In The Air
There’s a Song in the Air
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FuXnYarhb0
or
There’s a Song in the Air – Adele Morgan
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9fBk5H2Pkhs

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

People, it’s time to get ready … for there is a savior that is coming. The old spiritual says there’s a train that’s coming. Don’t miss the opportunity to get on board. This is the season of us getting ready for Christmas. And part of what we’re getting ready to do is we’re getting ready to love God with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our mind, with all of who we are, and with all of where we are. God’s love desires to come and fill all of it.

Let me tell you a story. It’s a famous story. You may have heard it before. I’ve changed it just a little bit. Paul Harvey would always tell this story on his radio show on Christmas Day. And he told a story about a man who was not a churchgoer, who was not a believer, a good man, but he just wasn’t much of a churchgoer. He didn’t believe in all the fuss the churches proclaimed at Christmas. He didn’t believe in all the mangers and shepherds and wise men and such. He just could not swallow the part about Jesus being God coming to earth as a man. It did not make sense to him. It did not seem necessary. He did not understand why God would choose to do that, and he was unwilling to pretend to be something he was not.

So every Christmas Eve, his wife and children would pack themselves into the family car to head to the midnight Christmas Eve service at the church. The church was across the farm fields from where they lived. They would always encourage him to come with them, but he would always say that he felt too much like a hypocrite to attend. He would wait up for their return, sitting by the fire, reading the newspaper.

Just moments after the family drove away, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries, each seeming to get heavier and bigger as they crossed the panes of glass. The beauty was breathtaking but the wind and blizzard conditions made standing next to the window a cold proposition. He wandered his way to the fireside chair and began to read his paper.

Minutes later, he heard a loud thumping sound. First one, then another, then another still. He thought, some kids must be throwing snowballs at the house, so he stirred to go outside and chase them away. But when he peered out the barely opened front door, he was startled to see a flock of birds huddled, coated with the frozen precipitation. They had been caught in the blustery conditions and in their desperate search for shelter had tried to fly through the large bay window.

He couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze to death. The old barn at the corner of the driveway would provide them a warm shelter if he could somehow direct the birds to it. Quickly, he put on his heaviest coat and boots and made his way through the deepening snow to the barn. He opened both doors wide and turned on the lights. But the birds stayed flopping in the snow, almost oblivious to their salvation.

The man figured that food would entice them, so he hurried back and grabbed a loaf of bread, and sprinkled crumbs in the snow, making a trail of food to the open door. To his dismay, the birds ignored the food and remained helplessly caught in the snow, except for an occasional brave one who would crash into the window pane.

He tried to shoo them into the barn by walking around them, waving his arms like a monster and rushing and hurrying to them to the barn. But the birds scattered in every direction except the right one. He then realized that the birds were afraid of him. To them, he was a weird and awful creature.

If only he could let them know that he was trying to help them and not hurt them. If only they could somehow know that he could be trusted, that he loved them and wanted the best for them. He thought to himself, if only I could be a bird, I could speak to them in their language. I could lead them, and they would follow the way they needed to go into the warm safe.

And at that moment, across the fields, the church bells began to ring. It was midnight. It was Christmas Day, and the sound of the chimes reached his ears above the whistling, piercing sounds of the wind. And he fell to his knees in the snow because now he understood.

Unfortunately, the church bears responsibility for teaching people to be afraid of God, when really what people need to learn first is to be aware of God’s love and God’s desire to help them. This has always been true. This scripture is not exactly a part of the Christmas story. But John 14, the night before Jesus dies on the cross, he reminds the disciples of an important fact:

“I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you. Before long,” Jesus says, “the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Look at verse 21. “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. And the one who loves me will be loved by my Father. And I, too, will love them and show myself to them.”

Then Judas – not Judas Iscariot – There were two disciples named Judas – said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” Now, please keep that in mind. Jesus is going to show himself to them, not the world. Jesus is going to come to them, not to the world. And here’s Jesus’s answer to the question. Verse 23. Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.”

And so the angel says to Mary, “You’re going to have a baby. God is going to come and be born as a human being. God is going to come to you and to all of us and to dwell with us by being born.” Mary says, how can this be? And the angel gives an explanation. But the end of his explanation is a good thing for us all to remember. “For with God, nothing will be impossible.”

Now, notice the response of Mary, which is a response of love toward God. Mary said, “Behold, I am a handmaid, the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. And lo and behold, it happened just like that. A baby began to grow inside of Mary. Jesus Christ was dwelling literally within her body.

The angel had said to Mary, “Your cousin Elizabeth is expecting a child.” This child will become John the Baptist. That’s the confirmation of what the angel is saying. So Mary rushes to visit Elizabeth, and they rejoice together. And Mary knows that what the angel said is true.

But notice in this next verse what it means to her, verse 46. And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth, all generations will call me blessed. For he who is mighty has done great things for me. And holy is his name, and his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of low degree. Here’s what it means for Mary for Jesus to come: He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant Israel in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his posterity forever.

You see, even for Mary, it was not just that Jesus was coming to her, but that Jesus was coming to her and through her to bless all people.

In the 2000 years since, we in the church have learned a few things that are perfectly illustrated by that little story of the birds freezing on Christmas night. We have tried for centuries to open the doors and turn on the lights, as if unlocking doors and turning on lights would be all that was necessary for the world to come here to receive everything that Jesus Christ could do for them. But friends, I’m sorry, no matter how bright the lights– lately, our custodian, Joyce, in Christmas times, she likes to leave the lights on so the stained windows are lit up. But no matter how bright the lights, no matter how beautiful the windows, no matter how big and wide open the doors are, the birds don’t understand.

We can make a trail of food. As Patsy pointed out, there’s cake in there, and there’s cookies, and there’s going to be coffee, right after worship. And there’s soup suppers and potlucks and SALT potluck lunches and all kinds of things. But the world does not seem to understand that this is where Jesus Christ can fulfill all the hungers of the heart.

And if you go out there and try to wave your arms and herd people and force them to come in, all you’ll discover is that they are afraid, just like the man in the story. If only they could know that we could be trusted.

Many centuries ago, there was a division between the churches in the west, headquartered in Rome, that became the Catholic Church. And the churches in the east of Rome, centered in Constantinople, that became the Orthodox Churches. In the Orthodox Church understanding, their word for Mary was Theotokos, the God-bearer. Which literally means the one that gives birth to Jesus, but it also means the one who is carrying Jesus, who everywhere she goes, is bringing Jesus. Literally, wherever she goes, God is with us.

And this, of course, is the doctrine of the incarnation, that God is now with us. And this is why Jesus has another name, Emmanuel, God is now with us, because wherever God dwells, he goes, and he is with the people there.

Let me tell you another story. This story is known by several names. One of them is Lunch with God. One day, a little boy wanted to meet God. He knew it would be a long trip to where God lived, so he packed his backpack with Twinkies and root beer and started off on his journey searching for God. When he had gone about three blocks from his home, he saw an old man sitting alone in a park on a bench just staring at some pigeons. The old man had white hair and a big white beard. And the little boy thought, “You know, that’s what I’ve always thought God would look at. This must be God.” The little boy sat down next to him and opened his backpack and he was about to take a drink from his root beer when it seemed to him that the old man looked hungry. So he offered him a Twinkie. The old man gratefully accepted it and smiled at the boy. His smile was so beautiful that the boy wanted to see it again. So the boy offered him a root beer. Again, he was graced with a beautiful smile. The boy was delighted. They sat there all afternoon, eating and smiling, eating and smiling, but never saying a word until all the Twinkies were gone and all the root beer was gone.
And it grew dark. And the little boy realized how tired he was and he got up to leave. But before he had gone more than a few steps, he turned around, ran back to the old man and gave him a hug. He was rewarded with the biggest smile ever. When the boy opened the door to his own house a short time later, his mother was surprised by the look of joy on his face. She asked him, “What did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I had lunch with God.” And before his mother could respond, he added, “You know what? He’s got the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.” Meanwhile, the old man, also radiant with joy, returned to his home. His wife had died. He was living with his only son. His son was actually quite worried about how depression was having its way with his father’s emotions. But his son was stunned by the look of peace on his father’s face. And he asked, “Papa, what did you do today that made you so happy?” He replied, “I ate lunch today in the park with God.” And before his son could say anything, he added, “You know, he’s much younger than I expected.”

The Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t want to dwell only in Mary’s body; the Lord Jesus Christ wants to be born. And as you heard in John 14, the Lord Jesus Christ wants to dwell with us. And so, ideally, in an ideal and perfect world, the Lord Jesus Christ in you will recognize the Lord Jesus Christ in someone else. In a perfect world, you will be the God bearer who brings Jesus with you into every kind of human situation. And when the Lord Jesus Christ gets there, he’s going to begin to change people’s lives. He’s going to begin to heal those who are ill. He’s going to begin to mend what is broken. The Lord Jesus Christ is going to dwell within you and go with you into every place and do what a savior does. And that’s an important meaning of Christmas. The love that God has for you is not just for you, but it is also through you … for God to love everyone.

You see, this is incarnation. God with us. God goes with us. When someone wants to obey Jesus, the Father will love them. And Jesus says, “We will come to them and make our home with them.” So it won’t just be Mary that’s carrying the infant body of Jesus, but it will be all of God’s people who are carrying the loving, saving presence of Jesus everywhere we go.

And you never know what can happen. If you go out looking for God, you may find Him wherever you go, maybe even on a park bench. Let me remind you of words that you prayed just a moment ago. Remember the Prayer of Humble Access that we prayed just before taking Holy Communion? That Jesus would dwell within you. That’s what you prayed. You took the bread, you took the cup, and it’s a symbol of Jesus being within you. Some churches say it’s not a symbol, it is literally Jesus in you. You are, in a sense, refueling. Because the meaning of Christmas is that God goes with us wherever we go.

The hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem, ends with a prayer that I wish you would take it literally. I wish you would think about how it could change your life and the lives of people all around you. It’s a prayer:

“O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in.”
And here’s the meaning of Christmas:
Be born in us today.
“We hear the Christmas angels,
the great glad tidings tell.
O come to us. Abide with us,
our Lord. Emmanuel.”

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we pray that you would be born in us this Christmas season. For many of your people, you were born in us years before, but we need to renew this faith. We need to add fuel to the fire that may have died down, so that the warmth that you bring into a cold world might bless the people that we encounter. Lord, I pray that you, living within us, might be perceived by people around us. Perhaps perceived by a smile on our face that is beautiful and speaks of a beautiful truth of God’s love. Perhaps simply by the warmth of God’s love shining through us. Perhaps sometimes, Lord, we pray that you would be known by the kindness of Twinkies and root beer and coffee and all the other ways that we show kindness to people. Lord, I pray that you will live in us today, and live through us, so that others might know not only the joy and the meaning of Christmas, but the joy and the truth of what it is like to be loved by God and to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

November 27, 2022 Jesus Is Coming – People Get Ready (Advent 1)

Image by Arun Kuchibhotla via Unsplash

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/775374762

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3XO0JVUpdv

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP: Psalm 122, page 845; Song of Praise and Prayer for Jerusalem. A Song of Ascents. Of David.

1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2 Our feet were standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built as a city and is bound firmly together. 4 To which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to give thanks to the name of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel.
5 Thrones for judgment were set there, the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
7 Peace be within your walls and security within your towers.”
8 For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.

HYMN Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Red Mountain Music
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRAFQCOkjgE

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help.
I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.
Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.
Help me to serve you 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.

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 People Get Ready
People Get Ready – Golden Gospel Singers – Lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC6G3KqBdL8

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: Title: Jesus Is Coming – People Get Ready
Text: Romans 13:10-14, Matthew 24:36-51
Series: People Get Ready

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

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

Romans 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed; 12 the night is far gone, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man.
38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one is taken and one is left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one is taken and one is left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

43 But know this, that if the householder had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready; for the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect. 45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, 51 and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN O Come, O Come Emmanuel, 211
Chris Tomlin – O Come, O Come Emmanuel (Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH7asSGxAxA
or
O Come, Emmanuel – Epic Version! by Simon Khorolskiy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHd2zQQsHUw

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

“Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel …” Advent is the yearning for Jesus Christ to come. Now, we understand that Jesus Christ already came, but until the world is better, until the world is perfect, there will still be within God’s people a yearning for Jesus to come to change our world.

There’s a beautiful song about this. It’s called People Get Ready. The first verse goes like this:

“People, get ready. There’s a train coming.
You don’t need no baggage. You just get on board.
All you need is faith to hear the diesel’s humming.
You don’t need no ticket. You just thank the Lord.”

See, part of this yearning is the yearning for Jesus to come to right the wrongs of the world, and Thanksgiving points us to that understanding of Christmas, to the greatest gift of all, that Jesus Christ has come to be with us. What we are waiting for is Emmanuel, and in some ways, Jesus is with us today, but we yearn for him to be more present. We yearn for him to be more powerful. We yearn for the world to change according to good, as Jesus defines it because you see, friends, Jesus is coming. Are you ready? Jesus is coming.

We need to get ready, and I’d like to ask you to keep in mind this getting ready applies to four Christmases. The first Christmas, we understand that happened in the year zero. It was so significant that they literally measure the years of history before and after the coming of Jesus because the coming of Jesus changed the world for the good better than any other event in history.

I was born in 1955, and, along with my family, I celebrated the meaning of Christmas as best I could, as best I knew, but in 1972, as a 17-year-old junior in high school, I gave my life to Christ, and I felt that Christ was God with me. I felt, as people say – it’s a symbol, but this is how they describe it – that Jesus came into my heart, and I noticed, as it went from February around to December, all of a sudden, Christmas had a deeper meaning than ever before. Because, just as Jesus Christ had come to me, now in December I was celebrating how Jesus Christ came to all of us. If Jesus as Christ lives in your hearts, Christmas will be more than a cultural celebration.

The third Christmas, of course – I already mentioned this – is a cultural focus on Christmas. The cultural focus on Christmas is not that different than the other man-made holidays. It’s not that different than the man-made holiday of Thanksgiving. A reason for families to get together, that’s a good thing. A reason for a feast, that’s a good thing.

People in Kim’s family got together on Thanksgiving Day. Fifteen people came to her parent’s house for Thanksgiving dinner. Now, if you got Thanksgiving dinner ready, you know that it’s a lot of work to get ready for Thanksgiving. Well, friends, it’s the same for Christmas. You need to get ready. That turkey doesn’t show up by accident. That cranberry sauce doesn’t drop from heaven like an answer to prayer. Somebody has to do the work. And you and I, even when it’s a cultural Christmas, nothing happens unless we get ready.

Christmas lights begin to show up on houses. Somebody goes and gets a tree and drags it up out of the basement or in from the tree lot, puts it in the living room, and starts to put decorations on it. None of that happens unless people invest the time and energy and work to get ready. What a tragedy it is if we let the culture tell us that getting ready is all about getting the tinsel just right. What a tragedy it is if we let the culture tell us that getting ready for Christmas is just about getting the right presents under the tree and getting them all wrapped up just right. Now, there’s nothing wrong with those things. It’s just that there needs to be more.

Once upon a time, two little boys went to visit their grandma’s house, and they got to exploring in the back lot behind the house. The weeds had grown up really high, and out back behind the garage, they found an old car up on blocks, and they were really excited. They came running into Grandma, and they said, “Grandma, Grandma, there’s a car behind the garage.”

“Yes, that was your grandpa’s car. When he died, we put it up on the blocks.”

“Oh, Grandma, Grandma, can we have the car?”

“Yes. When you’re old enough, I’ll be happy to give you the car, but there’s a problem with it.” And she took them out to the car, walked them through the weeds, lifted up the hood, and they saw what the problem was. Under the hood, there was no engine. She said, “It’s a nice car, but you’re going to have to get an engine if you want it to work.”

Friends, Christmas is a nice thing, but if you want it to do what Jesus intended it to do, you have to make sure the engine is installed. And the engine of Christmas is Christ coming into our world to begin to change the world. And that’s the engine that you and I need in our lives as well because something else Advent is to remind us of is that Jesus Christ is coming again to make those changes in our world. And the second coming will be the last Christmas because he’s going to stay and be the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and everything that the people in the Bible thought he was going to be in the first coming. And, friends, we need to get ready. We need to get ready. We need to get ready.

Catholic bishop Robert Barron had these words about Advent this week: Advent matters because Jesus Christ is a savior, not just a teacher. Jesus Christ is a savior, not just a social worker or a counselor that encourages you and I to be kind to each other. If Jesus was only a teacher, then you can read him anytime you want like any other teacher. But if Jesus is a savior, that means that you have to feel the need for Him, that yearning for Emmanuel to come to you and help. If someone is trapped, if someone is held captive, if someone is in quicksand, they don’t need a teacher. They need a savior. And so the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel,” is all about that helpless yearning, that desire for a savior. Our culture in a million ways tells us, “You’re fine. You’re great. Everything’s perfect. Everything’s good. Just loosen up and relax and be kind to each other.” Our culture in a million ways tries to encourage us to think positively, but all of that is a lie, and we know it deep down. Advent is a time when we get deeply in touch with our need for a savior.

So what do we need to do to get ready for Christmas? Christ is entering this world, and every year when December comes around, we’re reminded again of Him coming into the world. What do we need to do to get ready for his arrival and for revival? Here’s what Paul says in Romans: “Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. Besides this, you know what hour it is, how it is full-time now for you to wake from sleep for salvation.” And Paul is speaking here of that last Christmas, that second coming, for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone. The day is at hand … In other words, the savior is coming. People, get ready.

Paul describes what it means to get ready in Romans 13:10-14: Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of Light. Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ. That will help you to get ready for Christmas. And make no provision for the flesh to gratify its desires. The savior is coming. We need to get ready.

Jesus has these words about getting ready: “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and giving in marriage and doing everything else that people do, until the day when Noah entered the ark and they did not know until the flood came and swept them all away. So will be the coming of the Son of Man.” The savior is coming. We need to get ready.

And so Jesus says, Matthew 24:36-51, “Watch therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” It could be today, it could be tomorrow. Verse 44, “Therefore you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Who then is the faithful and wise servant whom his master has sent over his household to give them their food at the proper time? Who is the person in charge, in charge of caring for the family? Blessed is that servant whom his Master, what he comes, will find so doing, because that person has gotten ready to do the will of God.

But that’s not the goal for everybody. But if a wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed.’ And he does not do the work of God, but instead begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with the drunken. The Master of that servant will come on a day when he does not suspect him, surprise! And at an hour that he does not know, surprise! And will punish him and put him with the hypocrites. There men will weep and gnash their teeth.”

And so the common theme throughout the New Testament is this: you don’t know how much time we have left. So get ready. The savior is coming.

Our own Bishop, Bishop Beard made a point in his Advent meditation this week. The season of Advent is a reminder that Jesus Christ alone, our solid rock, provides us hope in times of darkness. Jesus is not only our rock of stability, but he is the light that overcomes any and every dark storm that we face. We not only withstand the storms, but we triumph over the storms. On Christ, the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Friends, Bishop Beard goes on to say this, “If we are not built on the proper foundation, which is Jesus Christ, we will find ourselves in peril when the storms come. There is no storm avoidance. Storms come to every Christian … Storms come to every person. Storms are a fact of life. Our best defense against the storms is a rock-solid foundation.

Now, if you will allow the engine to be installed in the car; if you will allow the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your life; if you will allow that engine to run and empower you to do what God wants, to be the kind of person God wants you to be … The interesting thing is, the power of the Lord Jesus Christ begins to repair your life, starting with the foundation, and working his way through your life to completely redeem and renew you as a person. That’s the potential of Christmas. When we let Jesus Christ come into our lives. Don’t miss it. Don’t be distracted. Let Jesus be born in you.

We sing a hymn called O Little Town of Bethlehem, and sometimes we don’t even hear the words that we’re singing, but one of the verses in that beautiful hymn is actually a prayer. Please read it with me in your hearts as I read it out loud.

“O Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, the great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord, Emmanuel.”

The question to ask yourself is this:
Is Jesus Christ your foundation in this advent season? Are you ready?

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, I know the storms come. The storms have come upon many of us from time to time, but it’s the foundation that enables our house to stand. It’s the foundation that enables our lives to work. It’s the foundation that supports everything that we are doing, that God is doing in our life. Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ, for being our foundation in this life. And, Lord, where there are problems in the foundation, where there are cracks in the structure, where there is weakness, I pray that you would repair us and mend all that is broken from the foundation up. Help us, Lord, to turn our hearts toward you. To not only mouth the words that Jesus is the reason for the season, but to help us in our hearts, to truly understand the potential for not only our lives, but for every human life, were we to be able to live out the presence of Jesus as Emmanuel, God with us, here and now, today. Lord, we ask that you change our viewpoint and our understanding so that we can understand what you can do if we get ready for you to come at Christmas. 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.

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

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

November 20, 2022 We Are People Who Do Not Quench The Spirit (Pentecost 24)

Image by Kevin Key, “Wildflowers in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park” via Flickr

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/772913708

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3XYeGVUZvf

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

HYMN 404 Every Time I Feel The Spirit
Ernie Haase, Babbie Mason – Every Time I Feel the Spirit [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kXw5Z9O38A

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − (Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of Xavier University)

Loving Creator,
We asked for strength, and you gave us difficulties to make us strong.
We asked for wisdom, and you gave us problems to solve.
We asked for prosperity, and you gave us purpose and brains to use.
We asked for courage, and you gave us fears to overcome.
We asked for patience, and you gave us situations where we were forced to wait.
We asked for love, and you gave us troubled people to help.
We asked for justice, and you called us to be just and to lead with integrity.
Lord, we may feel that we have received nothing that we asked for or wanted. And yet, we received everything that we needed. For this, we give thanks. Amen.

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

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

HYMN 641 Fill My Cup Lord
Jessy Dixon – Fill My Cup, Lord [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwvqX4nm2sE

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are People Who Do Not Quench The Spirit
Text: I Thessalonians 5:1-25
Series: We Are …

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

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

I Thessalonians 5:1 But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When people say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5 For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But, since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 12 But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all.

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.

John 7:37-38 “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'”

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN 347 Spirit Song
Spirit Song Maranatha Singers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC7RDZP7tFw

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

We are a learning church. There are many things that we are learning about what the church is meant to be. There are many things we are learning from the scripture about what God wants us to do. But one thing that needs to be stressed is that we never stop learning.

We are the people who do not quench the Spirit. And that’s something that we are learning again today. You see, when you grew up, you were taught: this is how you behave in church. This is how you sit. This is what you do. And all too often, what you mostly learn is what not to do. But you see, the main thing you should learn in church is not to quench the Spirit.

Let me change the subject slightly. I’ve never seen this movie. If I’m not mistaken, it’s actually been in several movies. There’s a place in the movie where the bad guy is starting to lose the battle. And the good guys are starting to feel better because they feel like they’re winning. And all of a sudden, the bad guy cries these words out, “Release the Kraken.” And all hell breaks loose. Something bad is going to happen. I found a clip from the movie on YouTube yesterday and I watched it. And this big sea monster comes up from the bottom of the ocean and destroys the ship of the good guys.

Well, friends, sometimes we may feel like someone has released the Kraken. Sometimes we may feel like the world is going to hell in a handbasket and it’s getting worse and it’s speeding up. But we are the people through whom God desires to release the Holy Spirit. And I would want to say to you that the Holy Spirit is more powerful than any sea monster! What’s important, though, is for us not to get in the way of the Holy Spirit.

John Wesley was seriously criticized for being what they called, in that day, an enthusiast. Because one of the things that they truly hated in the church in John Wesley’s day was anything that sounded or seemed like enthusiasm. Because church was supposed to be serious. And church was supposed to be intellectual. And church was never, ever, ever supposed to be emotional. And John Wesley suggested to people that their hearts be warmed. And that they feel something when they’re in the presence of God. So they criticized him for being enthusiastic.

Let me tell you a joke. I need to warn you that it’s a joke at the beginning! Once upon a time, at a United Methodist church in a small town just like this one, a man rode his horse down the street to the church, tied up his horse to the stair rail, and came inside. He was dressed very oddly and in an unusual manner, like a man who lived a couple of hundred years ago. And he shook hands with the pastor. He said, “Pastor, I think I’m lost. But when I saw the church sign and I saw that it said Methodist, I knew I was home. My name is Peter Cartwright.” And the pastor said, “Mr. Cartwright, we’re glad to have you in our worship today. Please have a seat.” Then the pastor went over to the usher and said to the usher, “This guy scares me. He’s got that mean look on his face. He doesn’t look like he belongs here. I have no idea what he’s going to do. I’m worried he’s going to disturb the service.” And he said to the usher, who was a very big man, he said, “I want you to keep a close eye on him.” And sure enough, as the service started, Mr. Cartwright just seemed to get into it. He just kind of got excited. It was like he was muttering under his breath. And the pastor grew more and more concerned. As the sermon started, there came a place where Cartwright was overwhelmed with his emotion. And he stood up, and he shot his hands up in the air, and he shouted out, “Praise the Lord!”

The usher stepped up behind him, grabbed him by the collar, and said, “Sir, we don’t allow that here!”

But that used to be much more common. In fact, what they said of the early Methodists — and Peter Cartwright, by the way, was caught in a time warp because he was an early Methodist preacher right here in Illinois, very famous. They used to call us shouting Methodists because we’d get so excited in the worship service, people would just shout.

Now, I don’t know whether it’s good for me to be glad that you people don’t shout or whether I should be sad that nothing excites you to the point to where you lose control. One of the proudest moments in the 42 years that I have been a preacher in Illinois was when, in one service, the chairman of the board of the church looked up at me and interrupted the sermon with a question. He shouted out, he said, “Dave, why is that?” And I thought to myself, “At last, he cares more about the answer than behaving in church,” because the one thing that we do not want to do is to quench the spirit. We do not want to pour water on the fire that God has lit within us. We do not want to prevent people from feeling emotions. And let me tell you why.

This is a true story. In 1984, I was the associate pastor for the First United Methodist Church of Decatur. And a church expert, Paul Dietterich, came down from Chicago. He was the leader of the Center for Parish Development. And he gave a workshop to our leaders about how they could get along with each other and how the better they got along with each other, the more the church could accomplish. And of course, I thought that was really nice, pretty obvious but really nice.

And I came up to him during the break, and I said, “I’m the person who’s in charge of evangelism, who’s in charge of the church growing.” And I said to him, “Is there any of all your research that you’ve done that would help me in my job?”

And he said, ”Well, a number of years ago, the Board of Evangelism of the United Methodist Church contracted with us to identify the essential characteristics of a growing church.’‘ Now, the thing you should know about me is I was 27 then and one of the most arrogant young men you would ever meet … because the minute he said that, I smiled and I thought to myself, ”Well, I know what all those characteristics are because I’ve read this stack of books and I know what’s essential.”

And he said, ‘‘Well, let me tell you about the study. What we did is we went through and we found a growing church of every type in the United States. Multiple growing churches. We found churches that were surrounded by cornfields like Wesley is, churches in small towns like Kinmundy is, and churches in county seat towns, like Salem is. Giant big city churches, smaller city churches, churches in the rich neighborhoods, churches in the poor neighborhoods, every possible kind of church that was growing. And we went and we studied them and we made lists of characteristics because it was our job to identify the essential characteristics of a growing church. So what was happening in these growing churches would help us find the essential characteristics.”

And I said to myself, ”Yup, I’ve read the books. Yup.”

And he looked at me and said, ”Well, let me tell you the rest of the study. We put together a sample, an identical sample of churches that were shrinking and declining or stuck on a plateau, again, of every single type. And we went to these churches and we made lists of their characteristics. And any time we found a characteristic in a declining church that was also found in a growing church, we knew it wasn’t essential. So we took it off the list.”

And I smiled at him patronizingly, because again, I had read all the books, and I knew already all the essential characteristics. Some authors said there were 12, and for some authors there were 20, and maybe for some there were as many as 50.

And he looked at me and he said, ”You know, by the time we were done, we found there was only one essential characteristic never found in any declining church. Never. Always found, without exception, in every church that was growing.”

And I was dumbfounded because apparently all the books I had read were wrong. And he looked at me because he knew me. He knew who I was. He knew how arrogant I was. He looked at me and he smiled and he said, ”Would you like to know what it is?” And all I could say was, ”Yes, sir. Yes, sir.”

And I’ll never forget the words that he said to me in 1984, ”The laity are excited about what is happening in their church.

Now, it’s wonderful if the pastor is excited, but nothing happens till the laity get excited. By the way that’s all of you, and church people feel all kinds of emotions, but it’s excitement that makes a difference.

And it’s good to be excited about plans that you have, things that you’re going to do someday, but what makes a difference is things that are already happening.

And the final thing, it’s not the pastor’s church, it’s not the bishop’s church, it’s our church. But in the growing churches, the laity felt that it was their church and they had a say and they were listened to.

In other words, if you become an enthusiast, the church will grow.

Now, 10, 11 years later, I went to Pawnee, Illinois, and I said to myself, “You know, I tried all those things in all those books for over 10 years now, and none of them really worked. I want to try something different.” And I remembered this conversation and I decided when I came into the new church, the only thing I would do is pour gasoline on the excitement of the laity. In other words, whatever excited them, I was all for it. And I’ll never forget the biggest argument they were having in their church was whether they would have this big giant fried chicken dinner. And they split into two sides that were for it and against it. And at the very first board meeting, they looked at me and they said, “Pastor, tell us what to do. Tell us whether to have the fried chicken dinner or not.”

And I said, “Friends, I’ve been to seminary, and I never went to a class that talked about whether churches should have fried chicken dinners or not. But you know something? If you feel we should have one, I’m all for it. And if you feel we should not have one, I’m all for it.” And they were astonished – a pastor that didn’t give them orders! So they fussed, cussed and discussed, and decided to have the fried chicken dinner.

In the first six months, church attendance went up 18%. Because all I did was … instead of telling people they were wrong, I said to them, “If that excites you, maybe God wants you to do it.” Over the next number of years, even after I left, the church doubled in size. Because to be an enthusiast works. Now I could go on and on and tell you why it works, but let me just put a pin in there and just say, if we’re excited, amazing and beautiful things happen.

The dictionary definition of enthusiasm: A feeling of energetic interest in a particular subject or activity, and an eagerness to be involved in it. It’s another word for excitement. But what you may not know is that word enthusiasm comes from two Greek words, en theós. Because the idea is that a person who is enthusiastic is in, immersed, surrounded by God. That God has filled them, and they can’t help but be enthusiastic.

Last week, when we were talking about how to be thankful, I suggested that no matter how dark the place is, that you look for some light shining in the darkness. Because, I said, when you find that light, shining, that will be God working, and you can give thanks for what God is doing. And it will get stronger.

Today I want to say to you that the place of excitement is where the Holy Spirit is working in the church. Look for it just like you look for light in the darkness. And all of a sudden you’ll find the reason for us to be excited. You will find the reason for us to be enthusiastic … because God is working among us. But sometimes we’re so focused on other things that we don’t notice.

Book of 1 Thessalonians, the church in Thessalonica was very worried. They were worried about the Second Coming. They were worried about the world coming to an end. They understood the prophecies about this, and they were deeply concerned. And Paul wrote to encourage them. The beginning of the fifth chapter starts with these words, “But as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need to have anything written to you for you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people say there is peace and security, then sudden destruction will come upon them as travail,” in other words, “as labor comes upon a woman with child, and there will be no escape.” They were dreading a time when the devil would say, “Release the Kraken.”

And Paul wanted to encourage them with these words, “While you are waiting for the Second Coming of Christ, while you are waiting for catastrophic events on the world scene, while you are waiting, do this.” And this is what we talked about last week. “Don’t be afraid. Rejoice. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” And as we talked about last week, “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Find that thing for which you can be thankful and pray for it to grow. And Paul then just flat out says, “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” And I want to suggest it’s the will of God for us.

So what’s next? Here are the very next words. Paul says, “Do not quench the Spirit.” The Spirit lights a fire inside of you. Do not put the fire out!

Verse 20, “Do not despise prophesying.” That’s when you say to yourself, “I feel that God is telling me to do something. God is telling me to say something.” Don’t despise that! Let yourself say, “I think God wants us to do this because God is leading all of us.” And I know it might seem ridiculous, but sometimes God is leading you to have a big fried chicken dinner. But in that other church, they just couldn’t believe that God cared about those things. Let God speak to you; let God speak through you.

And when you heard what you think is from God, look at verse 21, test it. Look for what the scriptures say, look for what wisdom says. (You’ve been praying for wisdom now in our call to worship.) And once you’ve tested it, if it turns out to be good, hold on to it. But if it turns out not to be good, abstain or let go or walk away from it. This is what we need to do while we are waiting. Because while we are waiting, we want to let the Holy Spirit grow and flow.

So, friends, quench not the Spirit, because here’s the truth; we do not possess the power of God. The power of God possesses us. We need to understand and realize who is supposed to be in charge here. I want you to understand it’s not the pastor who’s supposed to be in charge. It’s not the bishop who’s supposed to be in charge. It’s not even you. But the Holy Spirit leads us on. And we need to let the Holy Spirit be in charge and guide us.

Because all too often, this is what a church is. All the living water is bottled up inside the walls of the church like water building up behind a dam. And that water never gets out into the world where it can do some good. If you look at this picture of a dam and look past it, you will see that all around the outside of where all that water is held back, it’s desert.

But here’s the strange thing about desert. if it rains even a little bit, the desert will just explode into flowers. In the driest desert, the seeds are waiting for water because they know there’s a limited time for them to grow. It doesn’t take much water for the desert to bloom. But the problem with church is often that the water is all bottled up. The problem is that what the Holy Spirit wants to do is all bottled up and we need to be able to release it.

John 7:37, Jesus stood up in the middle of a service in the temple. Now, keep in mind, Jesus was not a priest in the temple. Jesus never conducted worship in the temple. He never led worship in the temple as a priest, but they had these great, ornate worship services. And in John 7, it says that Jesus stood up in the middle of this worship service. And scholars say it was at the high point of the service. There was a moment of silence. And in that high moment of silence when God was supposed to speak to people, all of a sudden Jesus, stood up and shouted out these words, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” The very next verse talks about Pentecost. It says that this is what he meant was going to happen when the Holy Spirit was given in Pentecost.

You see, friends, out of you and me, out of our hearts, living water is supposed to flow out into the world, all around us.

And it doesn’t take much of God working through God’s people for that whole world to change. If we’ll allow ourselves to be enthusiastic, if we’ll allow ourselves to be in God, en theos, if we’ll allow ourselves, every now and then, to maybe get a little emotional, we will find that out of our hearts, the Holy Spirit will flow.

Because you see, and we’ve talked about this throughout Pentecost, the last 24 Sundays, you’re on a path from when you get up till you fall asleep. And the people you meet on that path, God is going to reach out to them through you because that’s how God wants to work. And ironically, God reaches out to them through many tiny, small, humble things that you do … Many kind, gentle, caring things that you say … if you will allow yourself to be a channel for the Holy Spirit. So as you go through your day, release the Holy Spirit. There are things that God wants to do. Let God do them through you. Go with the flow and you’ll see miracles happening.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to understand that it does not depend upon one of us, nor does it depend upon all of us. But, Lord, the truth is that we need to release the Holy Spirit. And so, in many tiny, small, and gentle ways, Lord, I thank you that you are wanting to bless all the people around us by answering their prayers, but help us, Lord, to be people who let go and let the Holy Spirit flow. And let God’s will be done as we go through our day. And from that, Lord, may it so will be that your will would be done and that the whole world around us would begin to change as people bloom and turn toward you. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

November 13, 2022 We Are People Who Give Thanks In Everything (Pentecost 23)

Graphic by The Reader’s Digest

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/769228250

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3X6cFVu9NL

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

HYMN 694 Come Ye Thankful People Come
Come, Ye Thankful People, Come by TheNCrew
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsIKn_CC55Y

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − (Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of Xavier University)

Loving Creator,
We asked for strength, and you gave us difficulties to make us strong.
We asked for wisdom, and you gave us problems to solve.
We asked for prosperity, and you gave us purpose and brains to use.
We asked for courage, and you gave us fears to overcome.
We asked for patience, and you gave us situations where we were forced to wait.
We asked for love, and you gave us troubled people to help.
We asked for justice, and you called us to be just and to lead with integrity.
Lord, we may feel that we have received nothing that we asked for or wanted. And yet, we received everything that we needed. For this, we give thanks. Amen.

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

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

HYMN 131 We Gather Together
THE HYMNS ENSEMBLE – We Gather Together… “Lockdown Session”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmR1JszAM1E

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are People Who Give Thanks (In Everything)
Text: I Thessalonians 5:1-25, Romans 8:28
Series: We Are …

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audio … Sermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Sermon Audio


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

I 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.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Gratitude as an Antidote to Aggression By Erin Holaday Ziegler
https://psychology.as.uky.edu/gratitude-antidote-aggression

————————————————————————————————————-

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

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

This has been an interesting week. On Friday afternoon, I drove up to Bloomington, because I was teaching Module 1 of the Certified Lay Minister Training. This is something in the United Methodist Church to where a layperson, just like you, can receive training to help a church that needs a pastor. It’s designed for little churches like Alma or Wesley or Pleasant Grove, so that if there is a shortage of pastors, and there is, people can get what they need to be able to serve in those places.

And so the sermon was recorded on Wednesday afternoon, and then I was distracted for two days. And as I was on my way home last night, I was praying and saying, “Lord, what is it that you want your people to learn from the sermon today?” Because we are a learning church, and one of the things we’re learning is how to give thanks, not just when we like what’s happening but in everything. So I’m praying, I’m saying, “Lord, what is it that the people need to hear? What is it that the people need to learn?” And I kept hearing these two words over and over again in my mind, “Aggressively thankful.”

And as I went to bed last night, I prayed and I said, “Lord, I have no clue what that means.” Around 4:30 this morning, I started having a very complicated dream about how life can be like a soap opera. And in my very complicated dream, two people, a man and a woman, were trying to find out and solve some very serious problems, because evil people had done harm. And they were trying to discover who the bad person was, who the villain was in the story, trying to discover what they had done. And just as they were about to make a breakthrough, some other person that the bad guy harmed came in with a gun and shot someone that they were trying to talk to. So literally, revenge interfered constantly with them trying to find the truth and make things better.

And I thought to myself, “Well, revenge is certainly aggressive.” And I Googled it and this picture came up. There’s a TV series that premiered in 2011 that I’ve never seen. Maybe you saw it. I never saw it. It won a number of awards, but it was called Revenge. And in the word for revenge, you see there that letter G, it’s not actually G, it’s a symbol for infinity, because revenge goes on and on and on. And the person who is expressing their anger, who is expressing their betrayal, who has been hurt, the hurt never heals if they direct their energy toward revenge. And I’m a little sleepy right now, because I’ll guarantee you, every ten minutes I woke up and I said to myself, “I sure hope I remember this.” And then I fell back into the dream and somebody else got shot. I hope I don’t fall asleep before the sermons over, to be honest! And every time I woke up, I said, “Lord, I sure hope I remember this.” And I remember some of it, but when I got up and made my coffee, I Googled it, and aggressively thankful began to make sense. Because one of the things that psychologists have found is that if you’re angry, if you have a desire for revenge, if you are aggressive and want to attack someone, what are the cures for that behavior? Not a cure that makes it go away, but a cure that makes you stop hurting is to be thankful. For you to pursue and be aggressive about being thankful.

And all of a sudden, some of the things that I talked about on Wednesday made sense to me. Because, you see, if you want to be thankful, you need to appreciate the value of the truth. Philosopher Bertrand Russell made this comment a century ago, “If you wish to become a philosopher,” by that he means a wise person, “the first thing to realize is that most people go through life with a whole world of beliefs that have no sort of rational justification.” In other words, what they believe is not so much about what’s true, but what they believe is about what will make them comfortable. Russell goes on to say, “That one man’s world of beliefs is apt to be incompatible with another man’s so that they cannot both be right. But when they have a choice between the truth and being comfortable, they choose to stay with the beliefs that they have that help them to avoid uncomfortable truth.” Here’s how Russell put it. People’s opinions are mainly designed to make them feel comfortable.

And I saw that picture of this woman drinking coffee with her feet up, maybe watching TV, and I thought to myself, “That looks really comfortable.” I know why people would go there because sometimes what we feel and what is happening and what is true makes us extremely uncomfortable.

But truth is a beautiful thing. Here’s a man, I imagine kneeling on the shore praying and he sure looks like he’s thankful. And I find myself imagining, “What is it he’s thankful for?” And of course, my imagination goes right to the idea that he’s a survivor of a shipwreck. But it also occurs to me, being a romantic person, maybe he’s thankful because he just asked a pretty girl to marry him and she said yes.

Maybe he’s thankful for another reason. I remember some 30 years ago opening a magazine and they had a section, a humorous section on the world’s shortest short stories. And one of those was the world’s shortest romance novel.

“Marry me,” he said.
“No,” she said.
And they both lived happily ever after.
[laughter]

Because truth is rare. So that’s delightful to discover it. It’s delightful to know it. But sometimes, the truth is not what we expect. Sometimes, the truth is not what we want. Sometimes, the truth is not something we understand. And we look at other people, and we assume that we understand them and their motives and why they do what they do. But, to be honest, we just don’t know. But if our main goal is comfort, we never get past the assumption about other people or about ourselves. We never get past whatever it is that makes us feel comfortable. And sadly, in our society, it’s more and more true that people will hide in what’s comfortable and won’t allow anything about their mind to change.

David Foster Wallace once said, “The truth will set you free, but not until it’s finished with you.” And friends, we need to let the truth work on us. Because when you shine a light into the darkness, you know what you see? The truth. When you let grace into your life, what it reveals is the truth about God. And I want to suggest we need the truth.

So I want to encourage you, when you’re in a dark place, to look for the light. Because when you look for the light, you’re actually looking for the truth that’s available there, hidden in the darkness. Because here is the truth; the darker it is, the faintest possible light, all of a sudden, becomes visible.

They talk about light pollution. The light that comes from street lamps and cities. You know something? You can’t see the stars, but the darker the night, the brighter the stars. And if you’re in a dark room and you’re trying to figure out the way out, you’ll find the door by looking for the light. Because in that dark place, when you see the light, when you find the truth, you will find the way out of a dark place. And then, because you’re guided by the truth, you can be thankful. And I think that’s what it means to be aggressively thankful. We aggressively look for the truth, and the truth shows us how to be thankful.

And so, 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says these words, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” That’s the King James Version, but means the same thing, pray constantly. And then this verse, verse 18, which is quite a riddle when you think about it: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Because when you’re in a dark place, you need to look for a reason to be thankful. And when you find that reason to be thankful, it will bring light into the darkness.

Later on, in 1 Thessalonians 5 you find these words, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you holy.? We talked about sanctifying grace two weeks ago, the fact that God doesn’t leave you in the dark; God wants you to grow. God wants you to learn. God wants to help you up and out of whatever hole you might be in and bring you to a better place. Just like the 23rd Psalm, when you’re in that valley of the shadow of death, God wants to bring you toward green pastures and still waters, a place where God restores your soul, a place to where you say, I shall not want because I have everything I need.

And it’s God that does this within us. 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. He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. And the God of sanctifying grace is doing that in your life and my life, today and day after day.

And part of sanctifying grace is to help us to be aggressively thankful. Romans 8:28 puts it even more plainly, “We know, Paul writes, “that in everything, God works for good.” Now, please notice I did not say that everything was good. I did not say that in your thanks you should call evil good nor did I say that you should be thankful for evil. What I did say is, no matter how dark it is, there’s some light shining … Because in every darkness, there’s some place that God is working. And God is working to bring light into darkness. We know that in everything, God works for good with those who love him. So love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.

With those who are called according to his purpose. Understand, we all have a calling. We express it every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.” Your calling is to fulfill the will of God for your life. And each one of us has a slightly different calling. There are things in common, but every single one of us is individually and beautifully made. There’s something in every situation that God wants you to do that will lead to a better life or you could say a more sanctified life. Because that’s how God works in every situation. And so down in verse 37, it says “no, in all these things,” and all these problems of the present day and all these dark things that happen, in all these things, Paul writes, “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” And part of conquering the present trouble, whatever it is, I would suggest to you is to be aggressively thankful.

So I’ve decided later on this week … I’m going to wait until I’m in a good mood … I’m going to do an audit of my own life. I’m going to start with what I remember from my childhood and walk year by year through my life and aggressively seek to be thankful for things that have happened in my past. Because the psychology I read, the scripture I read, tells me that my healing for anything in the past is going to start when I can learn to be thankful. Because often, our evaluation, our understanding of what happened in the past is flawed. Our understanding is imperfect. And not only that. Sometimes we can’t be thankful for the past because we’re not done grieving yet. But there comes a point to where if I can find out in this tragedy that happened to me, that problem that beat me down, if there’s a place to where I can say, “Well, I’m thankful for this part of that…” I know that light will grow from that point where I’m thankful. Because if we are thankful that we are able to be aggressively thankful for the past, we’re going to find closure for the ways that the past holds us back by trying to keep us in the past. So I’m going to do that this week.

In addition to that, I’m going to look around. By the way, isn’t the snow pretty? Aren’t you glad it’s not like this in the picture? Aren’t you glad the snow isn’t like that? This is a mountain in Japan. Every year it snows like this. Every year, the snowplows dig out the roads. And there’s the 17, 18, 20, 24-foot-high banks of snow. That’s the present. Sometimes it can be hard for us to be thankful for the present.

But if you look around your life in the present, quite often God will shine a light that will help you to see how to get past a problem in the present. You go to a store, they’re out of chocolate icing. Well, God will show you another store. You have something that shouldn’t happen on the way home. Last night, my idiot light– and you know why they call them idiot lights? Because they’re there to help idiots. The idiot light on my car said that I had a low tire. And I thought to myself, if it gets lower, I’ll find a gas station. I never did actually look at it. But in the present, it wasn’t as bad a problem as the idiot light wanted to make it to be. We can look at the world around us to find a reason to be thankful. We can count our blessings.

And that will change how we perceive the present day. If a store doesn’t have something I want to buy, we can say to ourselves, “There must be another store that has it; I’m thankful that there’s more than one store.” You can look for reasons to be thankful. Now when you can’t find anything thankful, I’d like to recommend to you something I have always called the unofficial Minnesota state motto. And I thought about this snowbank anytime I think of Minnesota. The unofficial Minnesota state motto I would suggest is: no matter what’s wrong, you just say instead, could be worse. Could be worse. And I’ll guarantee you, brothers and sisters, it could be worse. We got three inches of snow, but it could be worse. But it’s not. Maybe we got enough snow and that we could handle it. Maybe whatever it is that’s causing us to feel upset, maybe we can handle it. Maybe being thankful will help us to be calm.

Now, you can ask yourself a question, “What am I going to do today? Where should I go today?” And sometimes people literally just don’t know. And being thankful can also help you open a door to a beautiful future. You can imagine what could happen the rest of today or the rest of this week or the rest of this month or the rest of my life. What could happen that would make me incredibly happy and thankful? And you can say to yourself, “Lord, that’s what I want.” By the way, if you’re wrong, and it would not make you happy, God will adjust reality so that you’ll learn from everything that you imagine. But it can be easy to be thankful for the future if you’ll allow yourself to have faith and hope and believe that your faith and hope can guide you in your prayers.

“Lord, it’s not this good yet, but this is what I want. Lord, life isn’t doing everything I’d like, but this is what I want.” And you can pray those prayers, and it’s like mapping them out, it’s almost like a heavenly GPS. Those prayers will help you map out what you need to do now and what you need to do next. And it will open a door to a beautiful future, a blessing. If you take time to imagine, to aggressively be thankful about what you imagine you would like to have happen in your future. I’m going to do that this week too. I predict I’m going to be very happy that day. Because when we pray for what we want to be thankful for, God begins to work in our life and in our world.

We pray this throughout the season of Pentecost. We pray this on Sunday morning as a part of worship. We ask God, “Lord, help me to stay on the right path.” Friends, I want to say to you, if you’re not certain you’re on the right path, if you’re not certain what to do, if you’re not certain about the next step, you can pause to find your truth and then find your thank you, what you’re thankful for. Because I will guarantee you … in almost every situation … your next step which will get you back on the path will keep you on the right path will be to go in the direction of where you’re thankful.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, sometimes we’re just lost and don’t know what to do next. Sometimes we’re in a dark place, and we’ve lost our way, and we don’t know which direction to go. Lord, help us in those moments to pull over to the side of the road for a minute of prayer, for a minute of thinking, for a minute to calm down, for a minute to ask ourselves and reorient ourselves to what is true. For a minute to say, “What do I want to happen?” After which I will be thankful. And then, Lord, before it happens, help us to be thankful because being thankful, aggressively thankful, will help keep us on the right path. Lord, we’re in a world where there’s so many reasons why people get upset and angry. There are so many reasons why people hurt and want to strike out in anger or revenge. Help us, Lord, to turn away from everything that hurts us and other people. And by taking a step toward being thankful, Lord, help us to get back on the right path for the best life that we can know here. And we ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

November 6, 2022 We Are A Three Grace Church: Prevenient Grace (Pentecost 22)

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/767687229

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3X1c1VumdH

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

HYMN 572 Pass It On
Hymn, Pass It On, UMH 572, Concord Wesley UMC (NH)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD0VJhL6j30

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − (Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of Xavier University)

Loving Creator,
We asked for strength, and you gave us difficulties to make us strong.
We asked for wisdom, and you gave us problems to solve.
We asked for prosperity, and you gave us purpose and brains to use.
We asked for courage, and you gave us fears to overcome.
We asked for patience, and you gave us situations where we were forced to wait.
We asked for love, and you gave us troubled people to help.
We asked for justice, and you called us to be just and to lead with integrity.
Lord, we may feel that we have received nothing that we asked for or wanted. And yet, we received everything that we needed. For this, we give thanks. Amen.

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

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

HYMN 585 This Little Light Of Mine
This Little Light Of Mine – Trietsch UMC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsoHVFa9xwU

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are A Three Grace Church: Prevenient Grace
John 3:7-21, Matthew 5:13-16
Series: We Are …

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


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

John 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.‘ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.“ 9 Nicode’mus said to him, “How can this be?“ 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.“

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

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN 536 Take The Name of Jesus With You
Take the Name of Jesus With You – Lyrics – by Charlie Williams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI4heEYGCas

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

We are a Three Grace Church. Now, what that means is that John Wesley had the idea that God works in our lives in different ways at different times and so grace appears in three different ways.

The first is that great moment of transformation: justifying grace.

The second is that ongoing process of growth and improvement where sanctifying grace changes us. We talked about this last week because God has a wonderful plan for your life and my life. God has a plan for you to grow up and for you to grow as a human being, but as you grow, the focus begins to change because not only are you growing, but you grow to help other people. You see, sanctifying grace helps us to become more and more like Jesus, and as we get closer and closer to what God wants us to be, we get closer and closer to being like Jesus. And you know, friends, if you’re going to be like Jesus, you’re going to come down from heaven into the earth, and you’re going to be there so that other people can also find the faith that you have.

It becomes a generational thing. 2 Timothy 2:2 talks about this … how there are generations of people who help people who help people come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you see, that’s prevenient grace. God has the desire to change our world for the better, sanctifying grace, but what God chooses to do is to change people for the better, starting with you but then spreading out from you. Because the question that grace brings to us is are we willing to help God with this work that Jesus came to this earth to do?

When I teach this as a class, I ask people to tell me how they found the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, and we talk. With some people, there is a moment that they can point to. With other people, it’s a certain time in their life, a season. And I ask them a question, “Who was a part of your life at that time, and what did they do that helped you to find faith?”

And I hear the most amazing stories. A particular Sunday school teacher, a youth pastor, a pastor in a particular sermon, or a next-door neighbor. For some people, it was parents or grandparents. But God sends people into our lives that help us to find faith. And you know the ironic thing? It’s like they come into our lives, they do what God wants them to do, and then, for a lot of folks, they disappear. You don’t see them again. The pastor who preached the sermon the day I gave my life to Christ in 1972 – I haven’t seen him since 1972.

But those people are God’s ministry to help you change your life, and they are prevenient grace. And as you follow Jesus, as you become more like Jesus, you will be offered the opportunity as well to cooperate with God in helping other people discover what you’ve discovered.

Now, when children are little, they do want to help. Maybe you only let them wash the silverware, but the whole thing about being big is you want to help. And as you grow closer to Christ, you’re more able to do what helps. I said to you a couple of weeks ago that I had three goals.

First of all, I wanted to go to heaven. That’s justifying grace.
Number two, I want to be like Jesus. That’s sanctifying grace.
But prevenient grace is this: Third, I want all of you to come with me and all of the people that you love and on out through our community.

I want people to find that grace that we’ve experienced. This is God’s will. You’re familiar with John 3:16, right? God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Look at verse 17. For God sent his Son into the world, prevenient grace, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned. He who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. Now, what this verse indicates is there are basically two kinds of people in two very different situations.

And it goes on to say this. And this is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and people love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. The minute the light of Jesus Christ appears in the darkness of this world, it’s like a city set on a hill. You can see it from a great distance, the light shining.

And the minute the light begins to shine in the darkness, people begin to move in one direction or the other. Verse 20, for everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light. Why? Lest his deeds should be exposed, but he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. Now, that’s true, but it’s also true the closer a person comes to the light, the more we become aware of his or her vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and problems. The closer you get to me, the more you’re aware of me as a person, and the more you will be aware of my weaknesses and problems. But you know something? God’s grace makes me willing for you to see me as I am.

Neil Cole, who is an evangelist, once expressed it this way: “The light of Jesus Christ shines in the world. And instantly, there are two kinds of people. The first kind of people are moths. Because they come to the light. They’re attracted to the light.” And when you go out into the world, when you are out and about today and tomorrow, and at a ball game, or in the grocery store, someplace else, if you’re like a light that’s shining, people will come up to you. The Holy Spirit will provide them. People will come up to you and want to talk to you. That’s how you know that God has something for you to do. Somebody comes up to you and wants to interact with you. How do you be a minister to them?

Well, God has sent them to you because they have something to say. Here’s what we do in response: we listen. Because everything is personal. And they have come up to you, and of course, as they get closer to the light, it’s more visible to you what the problems are, what the needs are. They’re going to tell you what those are.

And you may have the opportunity to say what I have called for years, “The Magic Words.” Whatever sort of struggle that person is dealing with, whether it’s grief, or illness, or someone in their family, the magic words are these: “I go to a Church that prays for people who have the same kind of problem that you’re struggling with. Would you mind if I prayed for you?”

So you’re asking permission. But the other thing is, the next time you see this person, they’re going to come up to you, and you’re going to say, “Has God answered our prayer?” Because if God hasn’t answered the prayer, then let’s keep on praying. You see, the conversation changes to be a conversation about how God is answering our prayers. So that’s the way it is with moths. And God will work through your conversation because conversations change lives.

Now, the other kind of people, remember, the light shines, and they go running for the darkness. I don’t mean this in a mean way, but that’s a little bit like cockroaches. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of the light, they’re afraid of these conversations. They’re afraid. Now, the last thing you want to do with a cockroach is to get them into a corner and to force them to talk to you about Jesus! They’re scared to death. But you can be kind to people who are not quite ready. By praying for them as you see them running away from you, you can pray for them that God will help them change their hearts and not be afraid.

Because you see, friends, you are a light. In the sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” Next time you’re driving through the country late at night … and it’s getting harder and harder to drive through the country where there isn’t light … when you know you can see in the distance the light on somebody’s farm, you can see that light for miles. And you know where you see a light shining, there are people. If you’re in trouble, you’ll find help.

Jesus says to you and me, “You are a light.” And so verse 15, “People do not light a lamp and hide it under a bushel basket, but they put the light on a stand and it gives light to all the house.” And here come the words of prevenient grace to you and me. We need to let our light so shine before people so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Shine your light all over Kinmundy. Shine your light wherever there is darkness.

Because you see, where you bring the light, where you shine the light, the darkness goes back. And with regard to following Jesus, let me remind you of something you may not have realized. When you are a light and you shine your light in the darkness– we talk about following Jesus, which is us going where he wants to go. Do you remember what he said in Matthew 28? He said, “I am with you always.”

So when you walk into a place and it’s dark, the light of Jesus Christ follows you.
There’s an old joke. It’s a dad joke. Why did some oldtimers refuse to fly in an airplane? Jesus said, “Low, I am with you always.” Now, I don’t know if you have friends in low places like that country song says. But you see, here’s the truth: If you go low, the light goes with you. Wherever you go, the king of kings goes. And whenever you’re someplace that’s a little dark and a little disagreeable, and you might be tempted to be afraid, remember that wherever you go, the king goes. And wherever the king goes, the king does his work to change people’s hearts. So friends, you are the light. Don’t be afraid to be the light in dark places, because wherever you go, the king goes.

Now, when you get home, I’d like to ask you to do me a favor. I’d like to ask you to go to the closet and get yourself a light bulb. And I want to ask you to hold that light bulb in your hand and think about this: A light bulb does not fulfill its purpose until it is in the socket and connected to power because the purpose of a light bulb is to light up. Friends, the light bulb you hold in your hand is perfect. There’s really nothing wrong with it. It’s perfect, but it’s not what God needs it to be until the light is shining. You are wonderful people, but when God’s light is shining through you because you’re connected to that power — this is what we talk about in the season of Pentecost, being connected to God’s power. When the light is shining through you, you are doing what God created you to do. Friends, be like a light bulb, but be like one that’s connected to the power so that God can work through you to change people’s lives.

One more thing about John Wesley, John Wesley created a movement of laypeople, people just like you, who were connected to power, and they lit up. And they went out to do God’s work like I hope you and I will. And other people called them Wesley’s preachers, but he continually said, They’re not pastors. They’re not clergy. They’re not preachers. They’re people just like you, but God is using them.

But do you know the instructions that John Wesley gave to those people? He said this: “You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work.” The reason that he said this is there’s a tendency when a person gets involved in religion to get busy with all kinds of activities and busyness that don’t lead to anyone getting saved. So John Wesley needs to set the priority:

You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those in darkness who need you most. It is not your business to preach so many times and to take care of this or that society or to conduct committee meetings or to paint the church basement. It’s not your business to do all of that as much as this, but to save as many souls as you can and bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.

Now, you may not be ready to do that yet, but this is where God is drawing us to be people who are willing to cooperate with God’s work, to be willing to be like Jesus because this is what Jesus did. He didn’t chair committees. He didn’t paint the church basement. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with that! But Jesus spent his time in helping people come closer to Christ. And if we’re going to be like Jesus, that is going to be a part of our life.

That’s what it means for prevenient grace to work through you to help other people. That’s the answer to the question; who do you want to bring with you? I don’t know if they’re a moth, and they’re coming up to you and asking you questions about God. I don’t know if they are like a cockroach that’s running away from God. But through your prayers, God’s prevenient grace can help them come closer.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, as Christians, we’re so thankful for a good beginning — that’s justifying grace. Lord, we’re thankful that you’re helping us to grow, and that you’re helping us to grow up and to be better people, and that’s sanctifying grace. But Lord, help us to look onward to what comes next … that it’s possible for us to be enough like Jesus, that you could use us in our own very simple ways to be a light in someone else’s darkness, to be a means of prevenient grace by which someone else begins to wake up and realize that they want Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. And Lord Jesus, I pray that for each one of us and for all of us as a church, that you would begin to use your people to bring all the people toward you. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

October 30, 2022: We Are A Three Grace Church: Sanctifying Grace (Pentecost 21)

Aaron Burden via Unsplash + Wikimedia Bacon

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/765313142

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c36U38VutyA

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

HYMN Holy Holy Holy
Holy Holy Holy (Silo Sessions) // Sounds Like Reign
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDcis8A_8lU

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you 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.

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 Take Time to be Holy
The Collingsworth Family – “Take Time to be Holy” A cappella
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6l9-CDuoag

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are A Three Grace Church: Sanctifying Grace
Luke 6:40-49, Mark 7:18-19, Luke 6:5, Matthew 22:36-40
Series: We Are …

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

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

Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 

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

Mark 7:18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Luke 6:5 And he said to them, “The Son of man is lord of the sabbath.”

Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Lord, I Want To Be A Christian 
Lord, I Want to Be a Christian by the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (Michigan) Virtual Choir with James Biery, director and organist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M212opRGkEw

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

John Wesley spoke of God’s grace operating in our lives because we’re on a journey through life. Last week, we talked about justifying grace, which is that love and kindness of God that helps us to make a new beginning, to be born again, as Jesus said. Justifying grace changes everything. All of a sudden, it’s like a new baby is here.

But then you ask the question, what’s next? Well, if you raised a baby, you understand what’s next:
They learn to crawl, they learn to walk, they learn to talk, and then they never stop talking.
They learn to ask questions.
They learn what they’re supposed to do with their life, their life’s work.
They find someone and fall in love.
After the new birth, we then move on to sanctifying grace, which is the grace that helps us to move on from being born.

There are a lot of things that come after a baby is born, but that’s where it all starts, as John 1:12 said: But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. But what’s next for the child of God? And the answer is that God has a wonderful plan for your life. It’s simply this, for you to grow and for you to grow up, for you to learn and grow and develop wisdom and go on to perfection.

That’s the way John Wesley put it. You were not meant to grow up bent or twisted or wrong. God’s wonderful plan for your life is to help you to grow in a way that is pleasing to God.
And the religious name for that perfection, for that desired will of God, is holiness. God has a desire for us to be holy. But the word that is translated holy also means wholeness. God has a desire for you to become more and more whole as your life continues. And that same word is translated as healing. Whatever’s broken, God wants to mend. Whatever illness or sorrow is presence, God wants it to be healed. Going on to perfection is like that phrase from the 23rd Psalm the green pastures still waters, the restoration of our soul. God has a wonderful plan for your life, and that’s that you go on toward holiness and go on toward perfection.

And this is what it looks like. You’ve seen this. We pray it. What sanctifying grace looks like is this. You’re praying: Guide me to all that is good, and God guides you. Cleanse me from all that is not, and God cleanses you. Teach me your ways, we ask and form in me your nature. And God does that in sanctifying grace. And as our desire turns from what we need to what we can do for God. Our prayer also becomes in sanctifying grace: Help me to serve you as I am gifted. This is what sanctifying grace looks like. Every day we learn. Every day we grow.

Earlier this week, I ran across this beautiful quote which really helped me during a time when I was really emotionally struggling. It’s actually an affirmation. And the author Robin Norwood said, when you’re upset, when you’re sad, say this over and over again. And she said, you can’t have two thoughts at the same time in your mind. (I don’t think that’s right, because I find I can worry about more than one thing at a time!) But she said if you’ll say this, it’ll move out of your mind things that are hurtful. And here’s the affirmation she recommended: My life is divinely guided, and I grow in peace, security, and serenity every day, every hour.

I don’t know that I could find a better word for sanctifying grace than those first five words: My life, your life, is divinely guided. Your life is divinely guided.

Unfortunately, we human beings frequently get this wrong. So let me define what going on to perfection is not. In the previous slide down, in the bottom corner, was the word anxiety. Because sometimes when God guides us, God points out things that shouldn’t be, and sometimes we feel some anxiety from that. But overall, we feel God’s love to bring us out of darkness and toward light. But sometimes human beings have the wrong idea.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a kingdom that was famous for the accuracy of their archers. Their reputation for the accuracy of their archers was so great that the reputation alone protected them from invaders. But one night, one time, a soldier decided that he would come to that kingdom and learn about archery, learn about how to do it so that he could be a better servant for his king in the army of the nation where he was from.
And as he came closer to the country with the famous archers, he began to notice as he walked through the forest … on this tree over here, a bullseye. In the center of the bullseye, two arrows. On this tree over to the left, there would be a bull’s eye, and in the center of that bull’s eye, two arrows. Obviously, these were warnings. And he kept walking forward and he came around a corner. And he saw a soldier painting a bull’s eye on a tree with an arrow already in it. And as he watched, that soldier took another arrow and shot it right next to the other one from two feet away
.

Sometimes, people claim to be perfect. Sometimes people claim that perfection is what already is. That is not true. In the counseling realm, we call that denial. But you see, sanctification does not allow dishonesty. Sanctification does not allow deception or denial, because God in sanctification reveals to us where we are not perfect. Now, we can fool other people, but sanctifying grace reveals where we are not yet perfect. Now, if you want to go on to perfection, you need to know that, because it will tell you, I need to go this way, or I need to go that way. But if your desire is to hide what is imperfect, to live in dishonesty, to pretend to be something that you’re not, sanctifying grace will continually bring you up to look honestly at who you are.

Now, with regard to this, I need to talk to you about something that is called cultural holiness. In November, we have an anniversary coming up. In 1938, on November ninth and tenth was a night in German history that’s referred to as Kristallnacht. Translation of that word is the night of broken glass. All of a sudden, without warning, the Nazi government of Germany stirred up his citizens to riot. And for two days, they destroyed Jewish businesses. They threw rocks through the windows, and you see a picture of that on the screen. That’s why they call it the night of broken glass.

That’s not all they did. They burned down synagogues, places of worship for Jewish people. They burned down Jewish homes. They began to arrest Jewish men. And in these two days, over 30,000 Jewish males were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. And this was the first time that Nazi officials made massive arrests of Jewish people specifically because they were Jews, without any further cause for arrest. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the Nazi regime ordered the Jewish community to pay an atonement tax for the damage that had been done to their homes and buildings of over a billion reichsmarks. And this is the beginning of what is called the Holocaust.

But it is possibly the most horrific example to us of cultural holiness. Because when the Nazi government says, “It’s a sin to be Jewish,” when the Nazi government says, “It’s righteous and holy for you to do anything you want to Jewish people just because they’re Jewish …” the culture defines right and wrong in a way that’s unholy.

And I’m sorry, brothers and sisters, but this tendency is still with us. Politicians are still pointing out people that you’re supposed to hate because that’s the right thing to do. Politicians are still pointing out people … that it’s okay to harm them, to throw rocks in windows, to burn down their churches. And that kind of persecution has gone on throughout history … usually out of sight, usually hidden, but it’s gone on throughout history because the culture will say that something’s holy when it’s not. The culture will say that something is righteous when it’s not. And the culture says different things all around the world.

If you go over to Ireland, the culture says it’s okay to have some whiskey. But during Prohibition, back earlier in the century, the Methodists said, “No, no, no.” I think there’s a song, “Lips that touch liquor will never touch mine!” If you go back a little further in history in the Methodist church, you know what was the most horribly sinful thing that you could do? It would be playing cards because the religious culture would identify something as unholy and other people would see it as not unholy.

There’s a really cute cartoon of a man arriving at the heavenly gates, and St. Peter is looking at him and saying, “Oh, bless me, no, that’s not a sin. You must have felt awful.” Well, you see, that’s the problem. You can’t let the culture tell you what’s wrong because all too often, the culture and what it condemns and what it attacks and what it tells you to hate, the culture is not speaking of what God wants you to know.

And you’ll also find cultural holiness in the Bible. But here’s the solution. It’s very, very simple. Jesus says, Luke 646, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” Because if you want to know what holy is, don’t ask a politician, don’t ask a king, ask your Savior. “Why do you call me Lord, Lord?,” Jesus says, “And not do what I tell you?”

And then he goes on to say, verse 47, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them.” You see, there’s two parts there. First, you have to hear his words, then you have to do them. And Jesus makes a promise, “I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation of the house upon rock. And when a flood arose and the stream broke against that house and could not shake it … why? Because it had been well-built.” If you let Jesus tell you how to live your life, you will build a life that is well-built. Sanctifying Grace builds a life that is well-built.

Verse 49, “But he who hears and does not do them, is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.” Now, why would anybody do that? If you go into the desert in Israel and you look for a nice flat place to build a house, nice flat place, sandy soil that will support the weight of a building — by the way, you know where you find that? In a dry stream bed. Friends, if the creek is dry and you build a house in the middle of the creek, I guarantee you there will come a time when the stream will not be dry. But see, that’s the risk that you take. If you build a house on the sand without a foundation, Jesus says, “Against which the stream broke and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
If you want the results of your efforts to endure, listen to the lessons of Sanctifying Grace and build your life on the foundation of what Jesus tells us to do.

So let’s understand about cultural holiness in the Bible. You can open up the Old Testament. You will find in many, many places the Jewish dietary laws. They are there in the Bible, Jewish people are not to eat this. They are not to eat that. They are not to eat this. They are not to eat that. Most famous thing, of course, is bacon.

But something most other people don’t understand, there’s a Jewish law that says you shall not boil a calf in its mother’s milk. And because of that, Jewish people who follow the dietary laws of the Old Testament have never had a cheeseburger because you’re not supposed to combine those foods because it’s disrespectful to mother and child. Jewish households have two different sets of dishes. They have two different sets of cookware.

And the Jewish leaders got into an argument with Jesus one day. Mark chapter seven, you can read the context. But here’s what Jesus says. He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from the outside through his mouth cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach and so passes on?” Thus he declared all foods clean.

This is something I’d like to ask you to let it sink in. It’s not that the Old Testament is wrong. It’s not that the Old Testament was wrong. It’s that Jesus Christ had the right and the authority to change God’s law to suit the truth that he wanted you and I to know. So enjoy your bacon. Jesus said that bacon cannot harm you spiritually. Enjoy a cheeseburger because Jesus wants you to pay attention to far more important things than eating bacon. You see, that’s the problem with cultural holiness. They pick out one thing like eating bacon. They pick out one thing like smoking a cigarette. They pick out one thing like drinking a beer. You remember that Irish whiskey we talked about? They pick out one thing like playing cards, and they lift it up above every other commandment and act as if it’s what you should pay attention to. Usually, when that happens, the person who says you shouldn’t play cards is doing a whole lot of other things but wants you to know that card playing is wrong because they don’t do that thing.

You see? It’s denial. It’s dishonesty. But the thing for us to understand is that Jesus can change the Jewish law. And in this case, he does. In another case, in Luke chapter six verse five, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus was called a lawbreaker. You know why he was called a lawbreaker? Because he didn’t keep the rules of the Jewish Sabbath that the Jewish people in their culture taught, and that sort of snuck into the Old Testament as law. And so when Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath day, they claimed that he was a sinner because he was kind and merciful to someone on the Sabbath day. But he pointed out to them, the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath. And again, whole sections of the Old Testament were set aside because Jesus is the one who lays down the law for you and I to follow.

35 verses later in the same chapter, Jesus says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, including each one of us, everyone, when he is fully taught, when we have gone on to that perfection, everyone who is fully taught will be like his teacher.” Friends, the point of sanctifying grace, the desire of God in sanctifying grace, the desire of God is that as you and I go on to perfection, we become more and more and more like Jesus. Consequently, when you read in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John of what Jesus said and what Jesus did, friends, that’s for you and me still today.

Here’s a picture of a synagogue that was burned on Kristallnacht. A Jewish scribe said to Jesus in Matthew chapter 22, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Out of all the law, out of all the rules, out of all the regulations, what’s the highest priority? Because whatever that is, it will draw a line that should not be crossed. It will create a boundary of holiness. If you’re inside the lines, that’s holiness. If you cross over that line, it’s no longer holiness.

And here’s what Jesus answered. And he said to him, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Friends, if your goal is to love God with all your heart and soul and mind, you will not be burning down synagogues. If that’s your goal, you will not be harming people, because loving God with all your heart and soul and mind is going to take you away from that sort of thing and draw you to the center where God is.

Not only that, a second is like it, Jesus went on to say: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” God is never going to tell you to burn down the church where your neighbor worships. God is never going to tell you to throw a rock through a store window where your neighbor earns his living. God is never going to tell you to harm your neighbor because this is the command that draws the line. And if you’re inside those boundaries, that’s where you’ll find holiness. But when you go past that line, that’s where you find sin. And then Jesus points this out: “On these two commandments, depend all the law, all the Old Testament, all the sayings of the prophets.” Everything God said, if you stay within those lines, you will be holy. And as you listen to the teaching of Sanctifying Grace, God will help you move on toward perfection.

So here’s the thing. Cultural holiness sometimes comes from the internet and the media. Sometimes, it’s newspapers and TV. They’re always trying to tell you what’s right and wrong. Sometimes, cultural holiness comes from churches and pastors who will tell you that, instead of loving your neighbor, you should hate your neighbor. Sometimes, cultural holiness comes from the church because sometimes the church gets it wrong. But the thing that I want to suggest that we want to remember is when we ask the question, “Who defines what is holy?”, I hope none of you say that it’s David Kueker (me). I hope none of you say that it’s our bishop, or some other bishop, or even a bishop that’s not a Methodist bishop. I hope that you understand that who defines what’s holy is Jesus Christ, and I hope you will let him speak to you.

Because sometimes, friends, we get all messed up about the bacon. Sometimes, it’s how we were raised. Let Jesus explain what’s holy. And it’s easy to hear Jesus because you can open up the New Testament, and read the words of Jesus, and let it sink in. And the Holy Spirit, through Sanctifying Grace, will deepen and help your understanding not just of what is holy in general, but how you and I should lead our life differently because we’re going on to perfection.

Now, in the history of the holiness movement, in the history of the Methodist church, sanctification was seen as an experience a little bit like salvation. A little bit like being born again, sanctification was seen as something that you should pursue. Not as a form of daily growth, but sanctification was something that you should come down to the front of the church and you should pray and pray and pray and pray until all of a sudden sanctification drops on you. It was perceived as something that you would experience because it was perceived that you were too much of a sinner to ever become a better person because you tried to be holy.

My former father-in-law married a young lady from a small town in Kansas, and his mother-in-law was quite a trial. She went to the Free Methodist Church, she made sure that everybody knew it. And my father-in-law married my former mother-in-law who, as a teenager, as a cheerleader, was forbidden by her mother to wear make-up because it was just wrong. (Friends, this was the movie, Footloose, come to life.) But at family gatherings, from time to time, the grandmother, the mother-in-law, would say, “I’m so thankful to God that I’m sanctified because, since the day the Holy Spirit fell on me and sanctified me, I have not committed a single sin.” Friends, you remember painting the bullseye on the tree [laughter]? And I can just imagine my former father-in-law, who was a particular target for her displeasure, just shaking his head as she would proclaim that because she had this experience, she was no longer a sinner.

And here’s the sad thing, if there’s no place for you to grow, if there’s nothing left for you to learn, if there’s no way for you to become better, what are you missing in this life? Because the only people who are done learning, the only people who are done growing, the only people who are done moving forward, are the people you will meet at the cemetery. Their names are carved on the tombstones. Their time here is over.

Friends, if you’re still here, you’re not done growing, you’re not done learning, and you’re not done coming closer to the ideal that Jesus Christ set. Nonetheless, it’s good for us to think about this understanding of a second blessing because I think it’s certainly true. It cannot be that it is all our work on our own to become better people. But in the same way, I don’t think we can pass the buck and the responsibility to God. Because Jesus tells you and me, “Do this and this and this,” and then gives us the chance to learn by doing. So, I want to suggest to you that our going on to perfection, our becoming a better person, is something that is a cooperative experience. We cooperate with God to become better people, to become holy.

So let me invite you to contemplate sanctifying grace working in your life and to understand that it’s time to grow up. And you can ask yourself at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day, anytime during the day that you want, you can ask yourself, “What did I learn from Jesus today?” You may not have an immediate, obvious answer. But if you ask that question, you’ll begin to realize that God was guiding the experiences of your life, that there were lessons in every conversation you’ve had that day. There are lessons in everything that you did that day, right or wrong, lessons about how to go on to perfection. What did you learn from Jesus today about loving God? What did you learn from Jesus today about loving your neighbor? What did you learn from Jesus today about loving yourself? Those are good things to learn and wonderful things to pray about.

Please pray with me. Lord, sometimes the day just goes by so fast, and sometimes we’re so busy that it never occurs to us to stop and look to you and ask the question, “Lord, what did you want me to know? What did you want me to do?” And, “Lord, when I look back over this day, what did you want me to learn?” Because, Lord, if we begin to ask those prayers, it will strengthen the work of sanctifying grace to solve our problems, to change our lives, and to make this life more and more like a heaven on earth. And so, Lord, we pray that through sanctifying grace, you would help us to learn, and help us to grow, and help us, Lord, to grow up. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

October 23, 2022: We Are A Three Grace Church – Justifying Grace (Pentecost 20)

Image by Amodiovalerio Verde via Flickr

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/763029459

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c360e2Vujlv

———————————————–

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

HYMN 163 Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know
“As Ye What Great Thing I Know” – April 3rd, 2016 – The Woodlands UMC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZYu1WLn_7Y

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you 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.

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 714 I Know Whom I Have Believed
Marshall Hall – I know whom I have believed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igC3fYB5AOU

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are A Three Grace Church: Justifying Grace
Romans 5:1-11, 8:15-16, 1 Timothy 2:1. 3-4
Series: We Are …

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

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

Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us. 6 While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man–though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

Romans 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God …

1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, … 3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Blessed Assurance
Alan Jackson – Blessed Assurance (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vfqYwfTqlE

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

We are a three grace church. And today, I’d like to talk to you about one of those three kinds of grace, which is called justifying grace.

Facebook is a wonderful thing. Every now and then, Facebook reminds you of something that you put on Facebook previously. And this picture came up this week. It comes from a sermon all the way back in 2011. What if the real question, it asks, is not whether you are going to heaven … but who are you willing to leave behind? And there’s the picture of the arch there rising above the cloud, the St. Louis arch. And the question, What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Now, this sermon was preached at Caseyville United Methodist Church. You could stand in the parking lot, and if you kind of crane your head, you can see that part of the arch. The church is nine miles from the Mississippi River.

And the purpose of this slide was to say to my people, are you willing to dare to pray not just for yourself to go to heaven but to pray for the whole city of millions of people? And a wonderful, beautiful, saintly person who lived in Caseyville at that time – she now lives in Canada – she replied in a comment. She said, “I really don’t want to leave anyone behind, but it’s up to God who enters, and I have no control.”

And I’ve been thinking about that all this week, and I want to challenge that belief. That is the basic belief in our culture. The basic belief is you and I will one day stand in front of God. We will come up to heaven. Saint Peter will meet us at the gate and look through the books to see if we are good enough to come inside.

Here’s the problem with that, friends. If going to heaven was a test, if going to heaven was about keeping all the rules perfectly, human beings flunked that test when Eve took a bite of the apple. It’s too late to be good enough or as Mark Twain put it even better, heaven is by sheer favor, the kindness, the grace of God, not merit, not because you earn it, not because you’re better than someone else, not because you’re good enough. If it were by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in because your dog lives a holier life, a kinder life, a better life, a sinless life compared to so many of us.

But that idea of meeting St Peter at the pearly gates is the standard belief in our culture. It sort of soaks in, and we find ourselves believing it without thinking much abut it. It’s a part of our culture so much so that there are lots of jokes about it. And I explained to my wonderful friend, who’s from Canada, I said what I remember from the sermon. And I thought it was this one. I said that I had three goals. and these are paraphrased from John Wesley.

I had three goals.
The first goal was this, I want to go to heaven.
The second goal was, I want to bring all of you with me.
And the third goal, I said, is I want to teach you so that we can bring everyone you love with us, too.

And so yesterday I became convicted. I started looking for these slides. I wanted to find where that picture came from and here’s the sermon that it came from. The question is asked, how big is your faith? In all the things of God, prayer comes first. How big is your faith? Is it big enough for you to believe that you were going to heaven, for you to pray that you would go to heaven?

And the next slide asked, What if the real question is not whether you were going to heaven? You see, there are a lot of churches that continually want you to focus on you, about whether you are going to heaven.

But what if the real question is not about you, but who are you willing to leave behind because they need your prayers? Is your faith big enough to pray for someone other than you? Are you praying for one? Or two? Are you bold enough to pray for a whole city? Are you praying? What would you attempt to do in your prayers if you knew that God could not fail?

On Facebook, I said to Gwen, it’s certainly possible for us to live in a way that drives people away from Christ. It’s certainly possible for us to live in a way that offends people to where they would not want to have anything to do with our church or with our God or with our faith. It’s possible for us to be so repugnant that we can drive people away.

But yet, if that’s true, it’s possible for us to live in such a way that it draws people in. It’s possible for us to live in such a way that draws people to Christ. It’s possible for us to live in such a way that people want to come with us in this life and be in heaven with us in that life.

And the theological word for this is called justifying grace. Justifying grace changes everything. This is a picture of my youngest son. He is holding his oldest daughter. She’s one or two days old. And Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” You must have this new beginning from God, this new start.

And Romans talks about it as justifying grace, this grace where God steps in, not because you’re good enough, not because you deserve it, but because God wants what is broken to be made whole. And it’s an experience that comes from God to us. And you can pray for it. You can ask for it in your prayers, and you can find that your life is completely changed.

In the little square on the screen there is a saying: On one day Paul was killing Christians, and the next day he was a Christian. One day Peter was a fisherman, and the next day he was someone who was fishing for men. If we can believe that God created the whole world in six days, it shouldn’t be hard for us to believe that God can change someone’s heart in one day. And this change of heart is a transformation. You can pray for it. You can ask for it. And I want to suggest that we should.

Here’s what Romans 5 says, “Therefore since we are justified,” made right, made whole. That’s what that word means, made holy. Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him, through Jesus Christ, we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand. Now, notice access right now. And we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And hope does not disappoint us because right here, right now, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, which has been given to us.

Your life can change in a day as God washes our sins away.

A couple of verses later, verse 8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since therefore we are now, now, now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more now, now, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received our reconciliation.

Justification by faith is something that can happen now. It’s a transformation. You can pray for it. You can ask for it.

Romans 815, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship” – to be a child of God. When we cry Abba, Father, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

You can ask for it. When you read John Wesley’s journal, this was something the early Methodists believed. The whole rest of England believed you wouldn’t have any idea until you stood before the gates of heaven. And John Wesley said, “No, you can know. You can know right now. You can know today. And what you should do is pray until you know.” And they would have prayer meetings. They would pray for hours with a person. And sometimes in a little bit, sometimes after hours of prayer, there would be a breakthrough. And they would have this sense that the Bible verse speaks of. They would have this sense within themselves that they were a child of God.

You can ask for it. And here’s why you can ask for it. First Timothy, chapter two, verse one. First of all, then, Paul says, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men,” not just for good people, not just for church people, not just for religious people. Pray for all of the people. And certainly, the worst of the people need our prayers more than anyone!

But the reason we can pray – look at verse three. This is good. This is good and is acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior. It is good to pray for people who are good people and it is good to pray for people who are far from God. It is good to pray for all the people. Why? Verse four: God desires all men to be saved.

God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So consequently, when you pray for yourself, when you pray for someone else, when you pray for someone you care about, when you pray for someone who has harmed you or hurt you, you are doing what is good. You are praying a prayer that God desires to answer with a great “yes”!

Let me remind you of what that prayer is like, because you hagve prayed it before. Do these words sound familiar? Lord Jesus, today, I am far less than the person I want to be. Isn’t that true? Or can be with your help? Isn’t that true? I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. It’s another way of saying, Lord, I ask today that you would come more deeply into my life.

Lord, I’m a sinner. I need forgiveness. I need your help.
Please be my shepherd; guide me in this life.
Please be my Savior, the one who brings forgiveness to me.
Please be my Lord, the one that I serve.
Amen.

This is a prayer for salvation to happen. Maybe you prayed it or something like it a long time ago, but it doesn’t hurt you a bit to pray it again because we are asking God to do what God wants to do, which is to make all things new.

And in fact, it occurred to me it’s a little bit like this. On a wedding day, a couple makes a commitment to each other and I’m thinking that God desires to make a commitment to you. And the question asked is something like this,

“Do you, our Heavenly Father, take this person to be your child, to live together in a holy state of grace? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, to love and to cherish and remain faithful to him as long as you both shall live?” And I think God answers yes to that question because I think that’s the sort of love that God has for us. You can be a child of God.

John Wesley believed this. On the 14th of October in 1735, he was on a ship traveling from England to Georgia to be a missionary. And while on that ship there was a terrible storm and all of the English he said, including himself, began screaming for their lives because, of course, this might be the day that they would stand before the gates of heaven. They didn’t know.

But Wesley reported that the Moravians, this German pietist group that was having worship during the storm the waves crashed over the side, they just kept on singing their hymns. Wesley came and said to them, “Why weren’t you scared?” And the answer was, “Our people are not afraid to die.” Wesley said, “Well, aren’t your women and children afraid to die?” And the answer was, “No, our women and children are not afraid to die.” And Wesley said, “How can this be?” Because he’d seen a demonstration right there.

And the man from Germany looked at him and said, “Do you know that Jesus Christ has died to save you from your sins?” See, he made it personal. Do you know that? And Wesley’s response was very theological, like the professor from Oxford that he was. He said, “I know that he has died for the sins of the whole world.” And the Moravian looked him right in the eye and he said, “But do you know?” This is where the idea that our faith becomes personal comes from.

There’s a line from the Godfather movie, you know, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business. And you see, the default in this world is it’s not personal, it’s religion. But the fact is that everything is personal and John Wesley had to admit he had a wonderful idea of what God was like, but it was not personal. And he began to pursue this ideal. He looked through the Scripture and he saw case after case after case where people’s lives were changed in a moment, that that was what was normal. And he began to pursue the opportunity to say, “I know he died for my sins.”

And he prayed for that for two years and eight months and a few more days, until finally, on May 24, 1738, his prayer to God was answered. He wrote these words in his journal, “In the evening, I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle, to the Romans.” What they did in those days, just like we watch television today, is they gathered together in small groups and somebody would read out of a book and they would discuss it. So there John Wesley is in this house on Aldersgate Street, and he writes at about a quarter before nine. While he, the reader, was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ

He writes, “I felt my heart strangely warmed.” You see, his faith had become personal. “I felt,” he wrote, “That I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation.

And remember that witness of the Spirit? “An assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” John Wesley felt something. It had become personal. It had become real to him. He had prayed with people over those two years and eight months for them to have this experience. And finally, his own prayers for himself had come true.

Friends, we do not have to wait till we get to heaven to find out if we were good enough. The Scripture says that you can have that knowledge that you are a child of God, right here, right now. You can ask for it, you can pray for it, and you can yearn, as John Wesley did for God, to answer that prayer.

Sometimes, like John Wesley, you can identify a date when God answered that prayer.

Sometimes again, because, you know, a little baby doesn’t remember the details of the day they were born. But they realize today they are alive, that God has brought them life.

But you don’t have to wait. You can ask for God to change your life. You can ask for it.

Please pray with me, “Lord Jesus, some of us have asked for this transformation, and we do know that it did happen. Some of us simply know that we are alive now and we are so grateful. But it could be, Lord, that some of us don’t exactly know. Some of us are going by that default. We are living in the hope that what we do will be good enough. Instead of experiencing the joy right now, of knowing that you are ready to make a commitment to us, to care for us as a loving father, to care for us as a child of God. Lord, I pray for all of us and each of us that we could begin to pray for this experience of becoming a child of God to be real to each of us, and to all of us. But Lord, on out around us, to people all around us, because certainly, Lord, we all need forgiveness, we all need help. And we thank you so much that you are willing to answer this prayer of faith. We ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

October 9, 2022: We Are A Learning Church (Pentecost 18)

Image by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/758342593

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c36j0rVtUo3

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

HYMN Wonderful Words Of Life
Allison Durham Speer, Wesley Pritchard, Sue Dodge, Larry Ford – Wonderful Words of Life
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q499q89HOpM

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you 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.

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

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are A Learning Church
Proverbs 8:1-9, 33-36, Hebrews 12:5-11, Matthew 11:28-30
Sermon Series: “We Are”

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

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

Proverbs 8:1 Does not wisdom call, does not understanding raise her voice? 2 On the heights beside the way, in the paths she takes her stand; 3 beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud: 4 “To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the sons of men. 5 O simple ones, learn prudence; O foolish men, pay attention. 6 Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right; 7 for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. 8 All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. 9 They are all straight to him who understands and right to those who find knowledge.

33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. 34 Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. 35 For he who finds me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD; 36 but he who misses me injures himself; all who hate me love death.”

Hebrews 12:5 And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? –“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by him. 6 For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN 156 I Love To Tell The Story
I Love To Tell The Story (Live At Studio C, Gaither Studios, Alexandria, IN/202)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4Bjnn4_yRA

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

Last week we talked about how we are a connectional church. And that’s a very particular Methodist sort of phrase and I tried to explain it, because it means that we’re all connected to each other. And because we’re all connected to each other, we are also a learning church. Because to be alive means that you’re learning and I want you to stay alive.

And what that means is, as the picture says, never stop learning. Never stop learning.

This little quote that’s in the picture really gives me a great deal of comfort. W. Edwards Deming said that every system, every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets. Now, what does that mean? It means that results are not random.

If you look at ancient Greek philosophers, they said everything is random. Everything is chaos. There is no rhyme or reason to the universe. But the Christian religion says that God created the world. In fact, literally in Proverbs, it says that the very first thing that God created was wisdom. And then God used wisdom to create everything else. So what that means is, underneath the lives that we are living, there is wisdom. Now, that doesn’t mean that you and I understand it. I never made it through organic chemistry, for example. You and I may not understand everything about the universe but the universe is based on wisdom.

And what that means is every system is perfectly designed. Consequences are not chaos. God does not roll the dice and go, “Oh, she’s going to have cancer.” God does not roll the dice and say, “Oh, you’re going to hit a deer on the way home and break your leg.” God does not roll the dice. What happens, happens for reasons, perhaps reasons that we do not understand.

Now, every system is perfectly designed. I didn’t say that every system was perfect. I didn’t say that every result was good. What I said was God has not picked you out to harm you or hurt you. But what’s happening in your life is a result of reasons that you very likely don’t understand. And what that says to me is that if I change the way I live, the results I’m experiencing will change.

In 2003, I took my dad’s blood sugar monitor out. He passed away earlier and I tested my blood sugar and it was in the 300s. And I said to myself, well, obviously I’ve had too many sweets so I very carefully did not eat anything sweet or with carbohydrates in it. And I tested it the next morning and it was higher. It was time to go to the doctor. I talked to a couple of members of my church who were diabetic and they looked at me and they smiled and they said, “Welcome to the club.”

God did not choose for me to have that disease. But 40 years of drinking sugary soda pop had its way with me. And in particular, you see all the DNA that comes because my dad was a diabetic, all the DNA that comes, the reasons are likely there. But if I change what I do, if I change what I eat, if I listen to my doctor, if I do the right thing, I can change the results I’m getting because every system is perfectly designed and what causes something can be changed, and you can get different results.

That’s one reason why, throughout the COVID Pandemic, we prayed this prayer that’s on the screen, the Serenity Prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I could not change my DNA. The courage to change the things I can: I could turn down thirds. I haven’t quite learned how to turn down seconds yet, but I could learn! And here’s the most important thing to learn; the wisdom to know the difference.

In every emergency room, on every battlefield, medical treatment begins with triage. And it’s this prayer, and action. Is this person injured in a way to where if we provide medical treatment, we can help them? Is this person so horribly wounded; there’s nothing we can do to save them? If this person is not need help right now, then we’ll let them wait while we take care of this other person who desperately needs help in this moment. This is the triage that emergency rooms do. But we do the same sort of triage when we pray this prayer. Lord, is this something I can do something about? And God will show you, out of 100 different things, maybe one or two that you can do, and you can trust that it will make a difference. But for all the other things, you may just have to have serenity and trust that God will help you through it. But what’s happening to us is not random.

Now, some of you have done this. I have never been brave enough to do this. And thank God I live in parts of Illinois where it doesn’t get cold enough for this to be a problem. But whether you saw it in the Christmas Movie or whether you saw it on the playground, supposedly, if it gets cold enough, and you touch your wet tongue to a metal pole that’s cold enough, supposedly your tongue will freeze right to that pole, and you won’t be able to get away. Friends, don’t do this at home. Once is enough to learn not to do that. Man goes to the country doctor. “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” What does the country doctor say? “Don’t do that.”

But you see, here’s the problem. There are some people who never learn. Well, it’s been 60,000 miles since the last oil change. But I’m really kind of busy this week. There are some people that never learn. And I’ll be honest with you … if you refuse to learn from your mistakes, you’re going to have a very hard life. So … tongues frozen to metal poles? don’t do that. There are lots of things that we learn not to do.

But see, here’s the truth. If you only make a mistake once– if you only make a mistake once, you will live an almost perfect life. But if you look around you at the people who are really struggling, you know what you’ll quite often see? And I don’t really mean to be critical, I just mean to be honest. What you’ll quite often see is a person who makes the same mistake over and over and over and over again. And each time, they say, “This time, there will be a different result.”

That’s not the way the world was created.

This is one of the reasons why we pray this prayer as our call to worship – it’s really a “Call to Learn.” It is a call for us to learn from our created reality.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. Help me to know what’s possible. Help me to know what’s possible when I pray. Help me to see my world as you see it … because then we’ll see everything in the truth. Because what underlies a whole lot of human mistakes is the fact that people don’t see the truth when they look at the world. And in fact, to be honest, this has been more and more true in the last ten years. People prefer to believe something that’s not true because that’s what they’d like to be true. And every time they bump into that reality, it hurts them. But there are people who will hang on to what’s not true rather than learn from the pains that happen to them.

The next half of it though – you know this one, “Lord, I know this to be true, I just don’t do it,” “Lord, I know what I should do. I just always do the opposite.” Paul said, “Wretched man that I am, for I do what I don’t want to do. And the things that I know I should do, I don’t do.” That’s what it means to be human sometimes.

So learning is the second one here: Lord, help me to learn how to obey. I want to do the right thing, but help my disobedience. Help me when I go astray. Help me not to be confused. Help me to focus. Lord, help me not to be lost, guide me. Lord, help me not to be overwhelmed by the cares of the world; prune me. Because you see, these prayers are about us learning from reality. Because here’s the deal: when you understand the reality that you’re in, you are going to be able to stay on the path that leads to the best life possible. Now, that doesn’t mean that a deer won’t run out in front of your car, but it does mean you’ll pay attention when you go down the road at night.

Lord, help me to stay on the path. Why? There is a wise path for us every day, to go through the day. And God will guide you, if you listen to God. God will provide for you. God will protect you. But the main way that providence and protection happens is God saying: “Here’s the best path to take.” Now, I would argue with you that the best path, if you want to learn what it is, you will find the truth in the Bible, which is an encouragement to read some of it every day. But you will also find the truth requires you to pay attention. Now, I’ll be honest with you. I’ve never tried to put mascara on in my life. Also, I have developed a tremor, so I’m pretty sure I would do a very poor job of putting on mascara! Thank God I’m a man, I don’t have to wear makeup! Thank you, Lord.

But you see, here’s the reality. You, and I’m speaking to you, ladies, you may be so good that you can put mascara on without looking, but I know I’m not. I wore contacts for about 30 years. I never learned how to put my contacts in without looking in the mirror. I had to look in the mirror, I had to see what I was doing! And here’s the way the path works: The Bible tells you what to do, but you need to pay attention to what you’re doing so you can do it well. You need both to help you to learn and understand the truth. And by the way, the way you learn is by making a mistake studying what happened and learning to do something different. That requires the mirror, that requires you to look at yourself and think about what God wanted.

So wisdom calls to us. The Book of Proverbs has multiple places where wisdom is portrayed as a woman who’s out on the street corner saying ”Hey, stupid people, listen to me and stop being stupid!’ Here’s an example from chapter eight ‘‘To you all men, I call— by the way, I think wisdom calls to women, but for some reason, men are the ones who are seen as stupid! “Oh, man, I call. And my prize to the sons of men, oh simple ones, learn prudence, oh foolish men, pay attention.” And it goes on for 28 verses in that way.

And at the end of the chapter, you see these words: ”Hear instruction and be wise. Do not neglect it. Happy is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors, for he who finds me, who finds wisdom, finds life and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who misses me, he who does not heed the teachings of wisdom injures himself.’‘ And then comes this phrase, which is so true, ”All who hate me love death.”

Wisdom cries out, God is ready to teach us if we are ready to learn. Now, here’s my favorite verse about learning. It’s the one I turn to when I have had a really bad day and I have multiple stories that I could tell you and make the sermon very, very long. I remember a night in 1973 where I literally leaned against a lamppost in the dark and prayed, prayed for God to help me. I have never felt so helpless or hopeless. And I quoted these verses to myself to remind me:

Hebrews 12:5, “And have you forgotten the exhortation which addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage when you are punished by Him.”

Pastor Dave, what do you mean, punished by God? The Book of James says very clearly that God does not need to punish you. You make so many mistakes that the consequences of those mistakes – all God needs to do to tell you that’s not the right way to live is to let consequences happen, consequences that you set into motion. Nonetheless, the author of the book of Hebrews finds comfort in believing that the hard times in his life come from God the Father. That’s his way of looking at it. But I don’t want any of you thinking that God is punishing you unless you are a perfect person. God does not need to do anything for you to have difficulty. Here’s the reason why the author of Hebrews finds comfort in this, “For the Lord disciplines him whom He loves and chastises every son whom He receives.”

Please think back to when you were a little child. Go clean your room, or else. Oh, that’s so terrible. But you still need to learn how to clean your room. Finish your vegetables. Or you can’t have dessert. Well, you need your vegetables more than you need dessert. God sometimes shows love for us by asking us to do something that’s difficult in the moment. Why? Verse 7, “It is for discipline that you have to endure.” And He goes on to talk about how we have earthly parents. And they teach us lessons. They discipline us for a time, etc, etc.

And then, in verse 10, He says, “For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but He disciplines us for good so that we may share His holiness.” Now, you can look up the word holiness in the dictionary. You can ask yourself what holiness means. But I want to tell you that another translation of the word that’s translated holiness is wholeness. God disciplines us for our good, that we may share his wholeness. Another translation of the same word is health or healing. Life is going as it should.

But here’s the point that’s always helped me in the most difficult times in my life. For the moment, all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant. But later, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Because you see, that peaceful fruit has to grow. And the word righteousness, again, it’s just like that word, holiness. It means wholeness. It means health. It means everything is happening as it should. Later, it yields the peaceful fruit of everything happening in our lives as it should to those who have been trained by it. And every form of training is somewhat difficult in the moment. Think about the wind sprints the coach used to have you run when you were an athlete. Every form of training can be difficult in the moment, but you’re doing it so that life will be better later. Never stop learning.

And in fact, if you and I follow Jesus, do you remember this promise? We’ve looked at it several Sundays over the past few months. Jesus invites you to come to him in times of trouble -when you’re heavy laden, when you’re worked so hard – because he will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, Jesus says, and – see the words – learn from me. For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Never stop learning.

The best way I know to be blessed, to be happy in this life, for everything to go the way it should, for us to be healthy and well, is to number one, listen to Jesus. And that’s where you open your Bible and let Jesus speak to you, and then do what he says. Oh, by the way, that’s the hard part. But that’s where you learn from trying to do what Jesus says.

Now, some problems cannot be solved now. Sometimes the only thing you can do is just wait until the storm is over and clean up. There are a whole lot of people that have been dealing with hurricanes the last few weeks. They couldn’t stop the hurricane. They couldn’t turn the hurricane. They just had to deal with it. And sometimes we have to deal with it as well. But we can take shelter and pray for serenity when there are things that we cannot change. We can have courage when it’s time to clean up and do the things that we can. And hopefully, you know the difference.

We need to learn and questions guide what we learn. I highly recommend these questions to anybody who has a problem.

The first question I like to recommend is this. What’s good about it? Typically, there’s some things that are good in every difficulty. Find the good things and help them get stronger.

My favorite question. What can I learn from this?

Another question: Where is God at work in this problem? Because Romans 8:28 says that God is working in every aspect of your life to bring good out of it. God is working for good. Now, that doesn’t mean that everything’s good. It means that God is working for good. If you ask yourself the question, where is God at work? Maybe you’ll see what God is doing and that will remind you that God has not left you alone. That hope is still real.

Finally, this last one. When you just feel overwhelmed sometimes this last one really sets us free: What’s funny about this? The next time you are in a knockdown, drag-out argument with your spouse or with a two-year-old or the police officer who pulled you over, ask yourself the question, What’s funny about this? In fact, I think, if it was your spouse you were arguing with, it might just astonish them if you looked in the eye and said, “What’s funny about this?” Because the funny thing is, if you find something funny, it’ll change how you feel. It’s astonishing how you’re having this terrible, awful day and you look on the internet and you look for jokes and you start reading jokes, you can’t stop laughing when you find something that’s funny. And all of a sudden, your emotions just totally change. You can change how you feel. What’s funny about this?

The picture on the screen is a landscape covered with snow. Where is the warmth in this picture? See, here’s the astonishing thing about a question: if you ask your mind a question, your mind will give you an answer. You know where the warmth is in this picture? Maybe that’s the park bench where a man asked a woman to marry him. Maybe that’s a park bench where a mother sat with her two-year-old in the spring. If you ask your mind a question, your mind can give you answers. Now, by the way, sometimes your mind will give you the wrong answer. But questions help us to find answers.

There’s power in connection.

There’s power when we connect with God. Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

There’s power when we connect with other people. When you have a choice, choose to be closer. Turn toward whom you love. Turn toward God. Turn toward people and stay connected. And once you’re connected, begin to communicate. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but if you take the hardest crossword puzzle you can find, one that you could never finish on your own, but you sit down in a group of four or five other people and do it with other people, the answers will come quickly from one person and another and another and another because friends, problems are meant for us to work on them together.

John Wesley called this Christian Conferencing. When people connected with each other, he wanted them to talk to each other, and a question would be asked, and people would listen to each other’s answers, and they would learn together. Early Methodists went to a class meeting every single week, and the question was, How is it with your soul? Or another version of that would be, What is God doing in your life that you’ve learned this past week?

Those questions connected people together and gave them answers.

John Wesley called people together when it was time to make a decision, and he would phrase the decision as a question.
And then different people would give their answers.
And together, they would choose the best answer.
And then they wrote it down and published it. That’s how they made decisions. We Methodists still make decisions the same way today, but what makes it work is we learn by talking with each other. And we need more of that.

From time to time, we just need to take one minute and talk to God. From time to time, we need to take just one minute and talk to each other. And you will learn from the answers that come in that conversation. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us not to turn away from other people when we have a problem. Help us not to hide and hope that the problem will go away. Help us, Lord, to connect with you and ask you what to do. Help us, Lord, to connect to other people. And help us to be willing to be humble enough to say, “What should I do?” Lord, help us to learn from you and from each other. And we ask this in Jesus’s name. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

October 2, 2022: We Are A Connectional Church (Pentecost 17)

Images from ChurchArt

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/756209449

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c36n0tVt6gZ

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

Amen

HYMN Hymn of Promise
Hymn of Promise — by Soli Deo Gloria Choir; Michael Fuchs, director
First Lutheran Church – Duluth, MN
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrpSwFniCpQ

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you 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.

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 One Bread, One Body
One Bread One Body with Lyrics by John Michael Talbot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z01zrrOFkNE

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are A Connectional Church
Hebrews 12:1-2, Romans 6:4-9, John 6:47-58
Sermon Series: “We Are”

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

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

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed from sin. 8 But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. 9 For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.”

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Blest Be The Tie That Bind. Four-part singing led by Bill Gaither
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUUE9agdb_A

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

Since the beginning of Pentecost last June, we have been talking about how the Holy Spirit comes to us, how Jesus is with us, and how, as we go through our day, the Holy Spirit and Jesus will guide us in everything that happens. And not only that, God prepares our day in advance for us to meet certain people – because we can do something to help. God prepares in advance for us to deal with certain situations, because we, with the help of Jesus and the abilities of the Holy Spirit, we can help. We can make a difference.

During this month of October, I want to shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the unique things about the United Methodist Church, our church, our history, our tradition. And one of those, for today, is that we understand that we are a connectional church, and we do things out of being connected to each other and connected to God.

Because here’s the reality, brothers and sisters, you and I are connected! When I was in seminary many years ago, one of the professors talked about the younger generation. He said, “This is the most connected generation ever. You watch. They get off the airplanes at the airport. The very first thing they do, they whip out their phones because they immediately want to be connected with the other people in their life.”

In fact, people want to be connected so much, if you look around in restaurants, you can see four people sitting at a table, and they’re all on their phones because they want to be connected! I want you to understand that I am no different than that. I want to be connected too. I have a curiosity. Anytime somebody brings up a topic, I have to immediately go look on the internet and research it. I almost cannot help doing it. I have to do that even to the point to where my wife has given me a new name: I have a superpower; I am known as Google Man!

But being connected, I also want to tell you, has saved my life. This is a Fitbit. It’s connected by Bluetooth to my phone. And last June, I downloaded the monthly report and noticed that my pulse rate was over 130 beats a minute for over 40 straight days. I called my doctor, and my doctor said, you need to get to a cardiologist. The cardiologist said, “We need to put you in ICU immediately.” And another cardiologist said, “We’re going to do surgery and fix this.” And they did. But you know something? It was because I was connected. I have to tell you, I’m not terribly happy about this, but that same doctor sent me a present that arrived last Friday. I’m supposed to wear a heart monitor for 30 days. The only time of day I’m not wearing it is in the shower. And then I have to put electrodes back on myself. I think I’m going to feel like Frankenstein before the 30 days are over! But we are connected, even now, in ways to save our lives.

And that makes it particularly difficult, as you know if you live up in this part of Kinmundy near the church, because you see a little red light in the picture? That means there’s no internet. Every picture you’re looking at, I had to get on my cell phone and then somehow get it transferred to the computer. It was so frustrating. It is so frustrating not to be able to email people. For the past few days, we have not been connected. Our AT&T landline phones are actually over the internet. So if you live in this little area without internet, you’ve also had no telephone. Friends, I miss it so much. I’m really hopeful that later on today, I’ll have my Internet back, and then I can be Google Man. But right now, I just have to do the best I can. But it just reminds me how important it is to be connected.

Do you see the difference between the two pictures? In one, the power cord is connected. In the other one, the power cord is not connected. I’d like to invite you to go home today and gather in front of the television set and get ready to watch a movie or a football game, get the popcorn out, get all ready, and then unplug the TV and see how much you enjoy watching the blank screen.

And here’s the sermon that goes with that. Friends, if you and I are not connected to the power of God, if you and I are not connected to the Lord Jesus Christ, if you and I are not connected to the Holy Spirit, sharing what God wants us to know with us, church is like watching a television that’s turned off, hoping that something will happen.

And if somebody tells you that church is boring, if somebody tells you that church is meaningless, if somebody tells you that church and God are no help whatsoever, you can be certain of one thing. And I don’t mean this as a criticism; I mean it as understanding why someone would feel like that. If you’re not plugged into God’s power, that’s what it’s like. Friends, what an amazing difference it is when we become connected. So how do we do that?

Well, first of all, as I mentioned in the prayer a few minutes ago, I realized that God makes a connection with us. Jesus came to us at Christmas. One of the names for Jesus is Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” And I want to suggest to you that that is God connected to us. So God is seeking to connect to us. Jesus connected with our world at Christmas.

Now, there are three ways — there are more than three, but there are three specific ways I want to suggest to you that we are connected. Here’s the first one. We are connected to God through baptism.

The picture you’re looking at is a soldier. I’m assuming this is in Iraq, some desert war area, but the chaplain is baptizing soldiers who want to be baptized, and if you look closely, you see he’s being baptized in a bucket from a bulldozer. Romans 6:4. Here’s what the scripture says is the result of baptism. We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united — I want to suggest you could use the word connected. For if we have been connected with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. So … no matter how old the person is, no matter how much water is used, no matter where the baptism takes place, in a tractor bucket, in a church building, what does God say happens? You and I are connected with the death of Jesus Christ in a way that lets us live a new life. Now, what does that mean? If you have never been baptized, you might want to consider it and come and talk to me.

In the United Methodist Church, you have the privilege of being baptized by immersion, if you wish. You have the privilege of me making the sign of the cross in water on your forehead in the worship service. You have the opportunity to choose how you wish to be baptized because we don’t believe it’s the amount of the water. We believe it is the promise of God’s word that says what happens when someone is baptized. Now, something else that’s uniquely United Methodist. We believe that if you already have been baptized, whether that was in a Lutheran church like I was when I grew up, when that was in a Baptist church, when that was in any other church, if you were baptized already, we believe that God was there. If you were baptized already, we believe that the promise of God is still true.

Consequently, one thing about United Methodists, we don’t think you have to redo baptism — because it took the first time, because God keeps his promise made in his word, but here’s the problem we have: just like plugging that TV in, sometimes you have to wake it up and turn it on for it to work. If you’ve already been baptized, you may need to wake up that connection so that the power of God can help you to live a new life. Baptism connects you, once, for all time.

The other way God connects with us is through Holy Communion. If you look at John, chapter six, Jesus says some very specific things about Holy Communion. And he actually shocks the Jewish people when he mentions this because they don’t understand about how on the night he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body.” And they said, “How in the world are we supposed to consume the body of this man, Jesus?” Jesus says, John 6:53, so Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” In other words, you’re not connected. Verse 54, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” You see, newness of life begins now. And I will raise him up at the last day.

And the Jewish people are going, “What!” But it all makes sense later.

Jesus goes on to say, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood” – notice these words – “abides in me, and I in him.” Or you could say, “is connected to me, and I to him or her.” Taking Holy Communion strengthens the connection you have with God.

We take communion once a month. But if you came to me and said, “Pastor Dave, I need to take communion more often than that because I’m kind of messing up,” – you meet with me, and we’ll take communion every week. You come by the church office every day we’ll have communion, you and I — because the Scripture says that communion connects us with Jesus and helps us to abide in him. Communion strengthens the connection. Now, with regard to both of these two, I think the scripture very plainly makes these statements.

The third way we’re connected is a little bit different, but I still think it’s important. And that’s this verse from Hebrews. Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses …” Let that sink in for just a minute. The author of Hebrews here is talking about the people of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11, talking about the heroes of the Bible who, with great faith, lived their life. And the author of Hebrew says very plainly all of those people who have been gone before are in heaven watching you. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which cling so closely and let us run with perseverance … And you could run if you want, but basically, you’re following Jesus. Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

Friends, I want to suggest you and I are connected with everybody who’s gone before. I don’t know why people think in heaven it’s nothing but singing and going to harp lessons. It’s quite clear. This scripture says that on whatever they have up there for cable TV, there is a Kinmundy channel! And your grandma is still watching you, shaking her head and saying, “I can’t believe he’s doing it again,” or, “Doesn’t she know she’s supposed to stir that while it’s on the stove?” Now, you just think for a minute. Do you think if you were in heaven you would not be interested in the lives of your children? Do you think if you were in heaven you would not be interested in the lives of your grandchildren? Do you think if you were in heaven you would not care about the people you spent your life with? I want to suggest to you that this scripture suggests something else.

Quentin Butts lost his sister Laverne this week. Other people have passed away. One of the saddest realities is over the eight years I’ve been your pastor, I have seen quite a number of wonderful, wonderful people go to heaven. But I want to suggest to you, in the deepest of honesty, you are still connected to them — you are still connected to them — because when you come down this aisle, when you take a piece of that bread for Holy Communion, guess what? It not only connects you to Jesus. It connects you to everybody else who is connected to Jesus. When you come down that aisle and you take that cup and you drink what Jesus said was his blood, guess what? You become connected with everybody who’s ever drunk that cup. You are blood brothers. You are blood sisters. You are one great family of God that continues.

So friends, we here today are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses. And I’ll be honest with you, I can look to certain places in this sanctuary because — God bless you. You are so rigid and such creatures of habit. I know where the people sat who are not here, but they are watching us from heaven. And I remember them. I cannot look over here to the pews to my left and not remember Gerri Molina. She sat there. But we are surrounded, we are connected, we are watched over by so great a cloud of witnesses. I think that’s the truth.

But you know something? We have to take care of the connection. Here is the problem that we have with what people think is normal for church. What people think is normal for church is I go to church to get connected to Jesus. But even though that person is connected to the power of God, they don’t think about the reality that they’re disconnected from other people because the way it’s not supposed to be is church where all of your needs are met. And it doesn’t occur to you that what God wants to do is to meet the needs of all of God’s people. And the way God chooses to do that is by connecting us to each other. You see, when God works through us, it connects us to other people. And you hear back from them, “Thank you. Wow.” You hear them asking for help, sometimes out loud, sometimes you can just tell they’ve not had a good day.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks in the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others.” When we realize we’re connected to God, God reminds us of the people we’re connected to. Who are you connected to? Because the love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay; love isn’t love till you give it away. The presence of God, the power of Jesus Christ, the guidance of the Holy Spirit wasn’t put in your life to stay just within you. God is not the way God wants to be until we give God’s presence to others.

So, a little bit of a history lesson. I’d like to invite you to pray about how you could strengthen your connection not just to God, but to other people … because we are a connectional church. And that means we want to get connected and we want to stay connected.

Let me give you an example from the history of the Methodist Church. In 1742, John Wesley, by accident, stumbled on a way for people to be connected to each other. It actually was the idea of a sea captain who came to John Wesley and said, “Give me the names of 12 people, and I will go visit each one of them every single week to see how they are doing in the faith.” And John Wesley said, “That’s great.” So they started what they called Methodist Class meetings. And basically, the class leader was assigned up to 12 people. And that person would individually visit each one of those 12 people every single week to ask them one question, how is it with your soul?

Now, a more modern scholar has suggested that the question might better be said, how is your life in God? But I would like to just simply suggest that the very best way is to just say, “How are you?” Because you don’t only want to understand how things are with their soul. If they stub their toe, you want to find out about how their foot hurts. If you love God with all your mind, soul, heart, and strength, you are going to want to learn so you can pray for other people about what’s going on in their mind. What they think in their soul, the decisions they make. In their feelings, in their heart, as well as the illnesses they struggle with in the body.

Now, the class leader soon found it took a whole lot of time to go visit 12 people every single week. So guess what they started doing? They started meeting together once a week. And that was good because not only did the class leader connect with each one of them, they started connecting with each other. And if people had a problem, they started doing things to make things better. My husband is sick. My child is sick. And people would start bringing meals to the house. Men would come out and weed your garden. They took care of each other. They were connected to each other because the purpose of the class meeting was to watch over one another in love.

And friends, back in those days, Methodists were the poorest of the poor, they needed a lot of that. But they found that they could take care of each other and rise above their problems. Because every single week, they’d be in the presence of people who cared enough to ask them, “How are you?” and listen.

Now, there’s been a lot of scientific study on this about how we need to be connected to other people. I’ve got a dozen amazing statistics, but let me just simply share one with you right now. If you join a group where people care for you, you will cut the odds that you will die in the next year in half. Being connected to other people will increase your life as well as your quality of life. Like God said to Adam in the garden, “You’re not meant to be alone,” and it’s the same truth for every single one of you.

You are not meant to be alone. You’re meant to be connected to other people. And you should have somebody each week ask you, “How are you?” where you know they really care. That’s what it means to be connected. Now, we gave that up back in 1872 in the United States, 1912 in England. We gave this up. Because to be a Methodist up till 1872 meant you participated in a group like that every single week. And they made a conscious, deliberate choice to move from that, to become a very ordinary church where people came together and sang hymns. Not that there’s anything wrong with singing hymns. A church where people got together and heard a sermon. Not that there’s anything wrong with hearing a sermon! But we are people whom God created to need to be connected to other people. And so I want to heartily recommend it to you.

There are likely 7 to 12 people you see each week, and you look at them and you can say, “How are you?” Maybe you should consider that those are your people. Maybe you should pray for them. And before you pray, ask, “How are you?” And let that guide your prayers because church, as Wesley had it as an idea, church, I think, as Jesus understood it, because this is what he did with his disciples, is a network of people who care for each other.
And I think it would do us a great benefit for us to plug that back in to the source of power that is God.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, I am so thankful that you’re in my life to empower me and help me, but please help me to understand. Please help everybody around me to understand that your power comes into me so that it can flow through me to bless all the people I’m connected to. And, Lord, I may pray a prayer. I may pray for everybody. And I know you hear those prayers, Lord, but help me to notice my neighbor. Help me to notice the people around me. Help me to be drawn to pray for them so that you’re will may be done on earth just as it is in heaven. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

Sermon September 25, 2022: Jesus In Prayer (Pentecost 16)

Yoke by Jean via Flickr; grapes via Pixabay

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/753408727

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3QZ0lVOKkb

———————————————–

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

CALL TO WORSHIP:

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

Amen

HYMN Amazing Grace
IL DIVO – Amazing Grace (Live Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYMLMj-SibU

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you 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.

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 Because He Lives
Guy Penrod – Because He Lives (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB3un06HUSY

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: Yoked With Jesus In Prayer
Matthew 11:28-30, John 20:21-23
Series: Praying With Jesus

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

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

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 20:21 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.”

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Alan Jackson – What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znWu2HCJ92c

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

Today, I’d like to talk about the concept – might not be something you’ve really thought of before – that we have a partnership with Jesus Christ in the ministry of prayer. And the scripture has an interesting word for this. It calls us to be yoked with Jesus Christ.

Let me remind you of something that you’ve probably done. It’s a question about imagining the potential for our life. Sometimes the form of it is this. People will be sitting together visiting, maybe around the supper table, and they’ll say, “What would you do if you won the lottery and all of a sudden you had $100 million?” And people like to imagine what life would be like if that came true. Another version of the same question, “What if you found a magic lamp and you rub the magic lamp and you could wish for anything, including more wishes, and it all would come true?” And there can be a joy as we imagine how good life could be.

And you know what I’ve been impressed with is – I thought over the last six months – it would be wonderful to win the lottery. It would be wonderful to have a magic lamp. But to be honest, you know what’s even better? What’s even better is to believe that we can pray and God can answer our prayers … because here’s the thing. I’m not a financial adviser. I might not know what to do with $100 million, but I know God knows what to do with any prayer that I would pray. If any prayer I could pray could come true in 12 different ways, I know God, who is smarter than me, would know the best way to answer that prayer. It might be nice to have a lamp that you could rub, but a lamp can’t think. A lamp can’t tell you what to ask for, what to wish for. But the Lord God guiding us by the Holy Spirit can help us to wish for what is the very best. To be honest, prayer is better than a magic lamp because we have God’s help.

So let’s imagine it this way. Maybe you would like to imagine this later today. What would life be like if all your prayers were answered? Now, you notice I didn’t say what was on the screen because that’s something else that I think would dawn on you. What about all the prayers that we don’t pray? What about all the requests that we never make? What about all the prayers that we don’t ask? And you see. Here’s the thing. God is wise. God is good. God is smart. And you and I, we can get help so that we know what to ask so that we know how to pray.

And that’s part of this idea of being yoked with Jesus in prayer because as you go through your day, Jesus will bring before you all kinds of reasons to pray. And I think that’s the solution to so many of the problems that we deal with.

We just said these words, “Lord, I believe.” And just like the man in the scripture, we are crying out, “Lord, help me to believe more. Help me with my unbelief. Help me where I am lacking in belief. Help me, Lord, to see what’s possible in my world if things were according to your will.” In other words, say that when we say, “Lord, help me to see my world as you see it.” You see, we see people from a negative point of view because we see them quite often from our perspective. And from our perspective, there are people– every single one of us knows someone who is dumb, sick, stupid, dishonest, evil, mean, selfish, you name it. We all see that. But if we could see the world as God sees it, if we could see potential as God sees it. If we could see people as God could help them to become, we’d be able to pray for that good to happen! Because God not only sees our sins and failures, God also sees the good that could happen. And if you and I become aware of that potential goodness, we can pray in partnership with Jesus that God would begin to change the lives of people all around us, that God could begin to change situations and problems all around us from little ones to big ones.

And then the next thing, Lord, I obey. I guarantee you the biggest problem in my life is the person I see in the mirror when I shave. That guy causes most of the trouble that I go through. That guy I see in the mirror says stupid things, talks too much, sometimes, gets all stirred up for no reason, and makes a lot of mistakes. And when we say, “Lord, I obey. Help me with my disobedience,” what we’re saying is, “Lord, help me to be the person I want to be. Help me to be the person I can be with your help.” And what are the steps toward being that better person? I know what mine are. I’m not sure what yours are. I need to be more focused. I need to see my world clearly. I need to be guided because sometimes I want something that’s not good for me. That third serving of lasagna, maybe I don’t need that. We’ll not talk about chocolate.

And that little phrase. “Prune me,” means “Lord, you may need to take away from me something that I don’t need.” You’ve heard me say this before of that scripture about how the Lord Jesus will prune you. That’s like waking up the next morning with 100 fewer pounds around your waist … you are not going to miss those extra pounds! And it’s okay for us to say, “Lord, stuff I don’t want, things I don’t need, bad habits I want to get rid of, Lord, just take them away.” That would work for me. “Lord, where I’m disobedient, where I am doing wrong things, help it not to happen.”

That’s a prayer we all can pray because you see, we are on a path and we just prayed this, “Help me, Lord, to stay on the path, to not wander away from it. Thank you, Lord, for providing a path, for providing guidance,” because when you think of the 23rd Psalm, the sheep are always on a path. They may not realize it, but they are always on a path that is planned by the shepherd. And it is a fact, I believe, that God will customize your day. When you look at Ephesians chapter two, and we’ve talked about this, God makes opportunities for good to happen and arranges for them beforehand so that as you go through your day, you have all these opportunities for good to happen. Because as Jesus said in John 2021, Easter Sunday evening, to the disciples and to us, “As the Father has sent him,” Jesus says, even so, Jesus is sending us. What that means is, as you and I go from morning to evening, there are opportunities for us to do God’s will, not as if it depended entirely on us.
But you and I are working with Jesus for the best to happen as we go through our day.

And what that has to do with this partnership of prayer is that everything that happens to you today, everything that happens to you tomorrow, and everything that happened to you yesterday, is an opportunity for you to pray. It might be to pray for you. It might be to pray for someone you encountered. It might be to pray that a problem that you saw in someone else’s life or that you see in your own could be solved. But you see, everything that happens to us can become a prayer request for life to be different.

And in order to help us to know how to pray, we humbly ask for wisdom. We humbly ask for knowledge in every human situation. There is no benefit for us to be ignorant and to not understand our own lives.

And of course, what we’re praying for is this, “Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine.” This comes from John chapter 15, where Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” We are connected to God. And just like a living thing, the life comes up through the roots, comes out through the vine, and the life comes to you and I in the branches and we are fruitful like these beautiful grapes because of what flows into us from God. And this is what we want. This is the partnership with Jesus that we desire … because I want to suggest to you you and I are in ministry with Jesus Christ.

Now, I’m a minister. And you know it’s a job. And as a result, I have responsibilities for all kinds of things. But I’m talking about not minister like a job but the ministry that Jesus Christ is ready to do in your life, through your life, not only to benefit yourself but to benefit other people. You are in ministry in a different way with Jesus Christ.

And I think it’s a little bit like this. This is the invitation, I think, that Jesus gives us to be a partner with him. From Matthew 11, “Come to me,” Jesus says, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” By the end of the day, maybe not Sunday, maybe some other day, you may feel like those donkeys in the photo that are on that road with an 8-foot, 10-foot high stack of stuff piled on their backs. Do you ever feel like that? You get to the end of the day and you just wonder, “How in the world could I ever get everything done?” We just quite often feel overwhelmed. (Now, if you don’t feel overwhelmed, I guarantee you you can turn on the television, you can open up Facebook, you can read a magazine, and they will tell you everything you’re not doing good enough … because you see, the message of the world around us is you need to do more.) And so we keep taking on to ourselves what other people want us to do until, again, we’re just like those donkeys. We can hardly pay attention to anything because we got to watch our feet because one misstep and the whole thing will come crashing down. But Jesus says to you and me, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Brothers and sisters, sometimes we just have to breathe deep and let go of all the things that are piled on us.

And Jesus goes on to say, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Now, there are two ways to understand a yoke. An ox wears a yoke because it distributes the burden across their shoulders so that they can pull their load without it hurting them. If we do things the way Jesus wants us to do them, it will balance the load, and we can pull our load. We can do what we need to do.

The second thing is, in the Bible, the concept of yoke was understood by rabbis as take upon you the way of life that I’m teaching you. And you see Jesus through the words in red in the New Testament, through everything that Jesus said and taught – Jesus is teaching us a way of life that will allow us to pull our load without wearing us out or harming us. “Take my yoke upon you …” – When Jesus says that, what Jesus says is do things my way and see if it isn’t better. Let me influence how you live your life and see if it isn’t better. Take my way of doing things and learn from me, because, Jesus would say, “I’m not like the other people that pile more and more expectations upon you.” And by the way, I know the guy I see in the mirror is the one who piles most of it on me. Jesus says, “I’m not like that.”

Jesus says these words instead, “I am gentle and humble or lowly in heart. And if you pull my load, if you do my work, if you do things my way, you will find rest for your souls.” So you can look over your life, and ask: what is it that’s wearing me out? What is it that’s pulling my life out of balance? What is it that’s harming me? It’s not something Jesus wants you to do. You’ve heard the old joke, a person goes to the country doctor and says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” What does the doctor say? “Don’t do it!” Or maybe a better way is to understand why it hurts and why you should probably find something different to do.

You will find rest for your souls. Serving Jesus should not be something that causes us constant and neverending anxiety, but it should instead give us a deep and inner peace because we can keep calm and follow Jesus.

Now, you remember Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, I send you.” Remember that? If Jesus sends you and I as the Father sent him, then you’re going to be doing the same sort of things Jesus did. If you do the same sort of things Jesus did, then when you read the New Testament, you will see a pattern of doing God’s will that fits with our life today, too. And you know what Jesus did more than anything else? God would put someone in his path and he would have a conversation with them that would entirely change their world.

The picture on the screen is the woman at the well. He had no idea that she would be coming to the well that day. She had no idea she would meet Jesus that day. But they sat down and they had a conversation. So much of what God did through Jesus was him having a conversation with people. So, friends, please let it dawn on you that when God works through you, a lot of times it will simply be a conversation you’ll have with someone and God will work through that. God will, in the moment, give you the words to say. God will, in the moment, help another person simply by being with you. And while there are some people who are hard to talk to, this is not very hard work.

For Jesus says, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.” Now, if you feel overwhelmed, you’re carrying more yokes than the yoke that Jesus wants. But think about what Jesus wants, and you can sort through those extra yokes.

I love the idea of time management. One of the principles that has helped me most with time management is this, that scientists have actually studied this. Do you know that 80% of the good that happens in your life generally comes from 20% of what you do? If you’re in sales, 80% of the sales you make will come from 20% of your customers. Now, what does that mean? 80% of the good in your life will come from 20% of what you do. And what that means is that four out of five things that you do really aren’t worth doing. So if you’re too busy, you know what you’re too busy doing? Things that don’t give a great benefit. And if they don’t give a great benefit, maybe you just need to get them done.

The example I like to use is the plumber who comes out and works on your house. That’s good. But when that plumber comes home at night and is tired and gets the bill ready, because they don’t get paid unless they send you a bill, right? The bill does not have to be on parchment. The bill does not have to have pretty artistic little drawings of butterflies in the margins. It’s just a bill. And so, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, with regard to things that are not truly important, “Get ‘er done,” and move on to something else.

Because here’s what Jesus says to you and I when we are doing God’s will, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” And if our experience is not this way, we need to make some kind of adjustment, because some of what we are doing is not God’s will. For example, here’s an example of your burden not being easy. If you load too much on the wagon, it’s going to tip you up to where you can’t do anything. Be careful what burden you put on yourself.

And not only that, your yoke is– Remember, you’re choosing the wise way to be. Here’s an example of not understanding what’s important. These little girls found these kitties and brought them home. Now, if you can see the picture, you know those aren’t kitties. That white stripe down the back says those are baby skunks. And I don’t know if baby skunks can do, what grown-up skunks can do, but I guarantee you they are not going to make good pets. It’s easy for us to forget what the main thing is because the main thing is for us to do what Jesus wants, not what everybody wants.

And as you go through your day, if you’ll humble yourselves and listen to Him, he will draw your attention to what really matters. Because when He said this to you, He was not kidding. His will for your life, his yoke for your life, is easy. It is something you can do. And the burden He wishes you would help Him pull is to live your life for him. And so you can keep calm and pray on, because what I want to suggest to you is that every now and then, say something that blesses somebody. Every now and then, do something that blesses somebody. Maybe we give them a plate of cookies that cheers them up. Maybe we loan them a tool or our lawnmower.

But I think the main things that we do for people that help them most is to pray for them. And that releases the power of God to act in ways that are beyond our ability, to help people with their greatest problems. So I want to suggest to you that everything that happens in your day is a sign of something that could be a reason for you to pray. And so consequently, as we go through the day, we listen to Jesus, we pay attention to the people we encounter, we pay attention to the problems we observe, what isn’t as good as it should be, and then we follow through.

And quite often the way we follow through is to pray. Sometimes we’ll need to do something else, but I think, most of the time, it’s to pray. The picture you’re looking at is the picture of the church sign out here. The day of Pentecost came back at the beginning of June, which is when we and the church realize that the Holy Spirit is with us and we need to listen to Holy Spirit. So that phrase has been on the sign, but it’s a phrase for us:

What is the Holy Spirit telling you today? Inquire inside.

In other words, we have an answer for you inside the church here. But that’s a question we need to ask ourselves as we go through our day. Holy Spirit, what are you trying to tell me? Jesus, what are you trying to show me? And whatever it is, if it’s something that we can do, then the Holy Spirit is like a Swiss army knife. The thing we see that we need to do comes with the Holy Spirit providing us with the tools to get it done.

But we need to listen and then follow through. And I want to suggest to you that when we do, you will find that the yoke of Jesus Christ is easy and his burden is light. We are called to care for the people we meet. We are called to compassion.

I’d like to invite you to read this poem with me by reading the dark print. I’ll read all of it, but please join me on the dark print, because the point of this idea that Christ is in partnership with us is Christ is in heaven. We are now the body of Christ on earth, and Jesus works through us in many little ways that are not a burden, that are not hard, that are not difficult. But Jesus wants to work through us. Please hear the call to compassion, because

Christ has no body but yours, no hands no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes. You are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

I Corinthians 12:7 says “That to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit.” In other words, there is a way the Holy Spirit shows up for the common good as we go through our day.

Please pray with me: Lord Jesus, we get stirred up and anxious about many things and sometimes we miss the reality of what you can do in our life when you answer prayer, what you can do that would benefit us when you answer prayer, what you can do to benefit other people when you answer prayer, what you can do to change the world to be a better world when you answer prayer. Lord, help us to understand the deep significance and meaning of us being people who ask all the prayers that need to be prayed. Help us, Lord, to see that as our ministry. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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