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


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

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

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

      

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

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

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

We Would Like You To Know —

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 26, 2024, We Follow the Faithful Witnesses, Pentecost 2 Memorial Day

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

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

HYMN America The Beautiful
Gaither Vocal Band – America the Beautiful [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3SPjk1ktRQ

Note: we are singing patriotic hymns this morning because of Memorial Day; embedded in these words are prayers to God. Please sing them as prayers.

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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

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

HYMN Let There Be Peace On Earth
Wintley Phipps – Let There Be Peace on Earth
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hld_uwhyk4

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 Follow the Faithful Witnesses
Text: Hebrews 11:1-6, 13-16, 32-40; 12:1-2
Series: The Final Four

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

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SERMON NOTES

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the men of old received divine approval. 3 By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous, God bearing witness by accepting his gifts; he died, but through his faith he is still speaking. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

13 These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets– 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated– 38 of whom the world was not worthy–wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

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.

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HYMN My Country, ‘Tis of Thee
Mike Allen, Allison Durham Speer, Kim Hopper, Dean Hopper – My Country ‘Tis of Thee [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTnOWvx-4q4
or
Home Free – My Country ‘Tis of Thee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pKmQiClghs

BENEDICTION

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

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

May 19, 2024, Cooperate With The Comforter, Pentecost Sunday

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

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

HYMN 420 Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Breathe On Me Breath of God (The Hastings College Choir)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8avdudzdpQ

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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 393 Spirit of the Living God
Spirit of the Living God (with lyrics) – (Rosemary Siemens)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyZsVxUz7aA

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: Pentecost: Cooperate With The Comforter
Text: John 14:11-12, 15-17, 23-26. John 15:25-27. John 16:7-8, 12-15.
Series: Instructions for Walking in Newness of Life

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

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SERMON NOTES

John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. … 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. … 23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

John 15:25 It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.‘ 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment … 12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

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HYMN 382 Have Thine Own Way Lord
Have Thine Own Way – Gospel Music Hymn Sing at Lee University
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8W4ChAKlpo

BENEDICTION

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 is Pentecost Sunday; consequently, I’d like to talk with you about how we can Cooperate with the Comforter. Now, there’s a Greek word. It’s called Paraclete. We’re going to talk more about it in a bit. King James Version translates it as “Comforter.” That’s my personal favorite. The RSV uses the word “Counselor,” but it also means helper. It means a variety of other things. And so consequently, you and I, in doing God’s will, can cooperate with God, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, to do God’s will.

As the church sign says out here in front, “Thy kingdom come.” That’s what we want, and it will happen as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Thy will be done. That will happen as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. And it will happen right here and it will happen right now – because we want God’s will to be done right now. But today, I just simply want to emphasize that God’s will is done with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Now I’d like to change the subject to something that is really weird and I don’t know much about. So let me let you have a look at your new car. Kind of wild and crazy and racy and fast, right? This is actually a 2015 model. It’s called the Firefly, and it is Google’s invention of a self-driving car. Now, since then, there have been other versions of it. They all look a little racier. This looks like an ugly version of the VW Bug as I remember it from my childhood.

But that is a self-driving car. Google spun off the company. It’s called Waymo, and they currently operate commercial robot axis, where, on your phone, you call for a taxi in Phoenix, Arizona, or San Francisco. They want to set this up in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas. You call, and a robotaxi comes by, and you get in it. And guess what? There is no driver. Now, that’s the idea.

Here’s what it looks like on the inside. You’re looking at Secretary of State John Kerry, who is six foot four inches tall. He fits in there pretty good. But when you look around, where’s the steering wheel? Where are the brakes? I think it’s got a radio, but it’s controlled by computers, linked up with GPS, linked up with cameras that are constantly monitoring everything around it. And you know something? It might be a nice place to read a book on a cool day, but I don’t know that I want this car taking me somewhere. Of the other pictures, I thought about showing it to you. It actually has a version with Domino’s Pizza on the side … where your pizza will be brought to your house by a robot.

The self-driving cars have had some real problems. They don’t always recognize people. They don’t always recognize pedestrians in a crosswalk, especially if the pedestrians are inebriated. In other words, if everybody else behaved, a robot car probably would run just fine, but the world is full of all kinds of difficulties. So if I understand it right, all self-driving cars up till recently required a driver to sit there in case the robot had a problem. And not only that, if I understand it, the person’s supposed to sit there with their hands on the wheel because when the robot has a problem and doesn’t know what to do, all kinds of alarms will flash. And all of a sudden, you’re driving. Better not be dozing off!

But there you are. You’re in a car, it’s moving down the road, and you have no control whatsoever. And you see, that’s my big problem with it. I don’t know that I’m willing to surrender control.

Back to the sermon. We’ve been talking about this verse for some time because it illustrates beautifully your life and my life now, because as we go through our day, as we encounter people on a path, in a park, at the grocery store, here in church, God is riding along with us and controlling circumstances so that God’s will is done on earth the way it is in heaven. Every person you meet, everything that happens to you in some way or another is an opportunity for God to bless you or to bless people. And today, I want to emphasize that what you will see … is God working … right in front of you. You’ll notice God doing things in the lives of people right in front of you and that God is going to prepare those opportunities for wonderful things to happen because God can work through you and me.

John 14:12, Jesus says to the disciples the night he was betrayed, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works, the miracles that I do.” And then Jesus says this, “And greater works than these will he do because I go to the Father.” And the reason that you and I are privileged to do greater miracles than Jesus did is because all of the miracles of Jesus were done by the Holy Spirit working through Him. And now the Holy Spirit can work through you and me, which is why Jesus could say this. Well, on Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descends. This is 50 days after Easter. And all of a sudden, the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us. That’s the literal meaning of that word paraclete, that Greek word that is translated comforter, counselor, advocate, advisor, helper, and partner, the paraclete, the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us to provide in that moment whatever is needed. Sometimes, it’s advice. Sometimes, it’s strength. But it’s God who is coming alongside of us and working with us.

And we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as we go through this life. John 14:15, Jesus explained, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” That’s how we do God’s will. We keep the commands that Jesus says. Verse 16, “And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another comforter, counselor, Paraclete, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” And you see on the screen there, I have the little symbol for internet, for Wi-Fi, because it occurs to me that what is happening here is that the Holy Spirit is connected to us. And the Holy Spirit connects us to God the Father, to Jesus the Lord. As Jesus said, “You know Him, for He dwells with you.” They’ve seen the Holy Spirit act through Jesus for years and the Holy Spirit will now be with you just as the Holy Spirit was alongside of Jesus.

So Jesus goes on to say this. “If a man loves me, he will keep my word and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” There’s now a partnership. Next to Jesus’ side, you should see the letters CPU. If you’re familiar with computers, you know inside the computer, there is a chip that is doing all the work, the central processing unit. And this little logo here that says Jesus Inside, it normally says Intel Inside.
But you see, rather than a computer chip inside you and me, Jesus is inside of us and is the one coordinating and controlling everything. And the Wi-Fi symbol reminds us that we are connected to Jesus in this way. In other words, we will make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words. And the word which you hear is not mine, but the Father who sent me.

So in the next two chapters, Jesus mentions four things that the Holy Spirit does when the Holy Spirit comes alongside of you and me. So I want to just briefly mention them to remind us so that when they happen, you can realize that God is working in your life.

John 14:25, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you, but the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things.” Now, how does the Holy Spirit teach us about God? How does the Holy Spirit teach us about what to do? How does the Holy Spirit teach us the difference between right and wrong? It’s very specific and very clear: “The Holy Spirit will bring to your remembrance all that I,” Jesus said, “all that I have said to you.” The way the Holy Spirit teaches us is to remind us of everything Jesus said and everything Jesus did. The Holy Spirit shines a light on the Bible. All of a sudden, we can now understand what Jesus meant. Certainly, the most important question for us with regard to what we need to do, what maybe we ought to say, and a decision that we should make is, what did Jesus say about this? And the Holy Spirit is there to help us with that. That’s number one.

The second thing the Holy Spirit does … John 15:25, “It is to fulfill the Word that is written in their law. They hated me without a cause.” Jesus is talking about persecution that people are doing to him and about how there will be persecution that comes to us. There will be difficulties and conflicts and fights. Verse 26, “But when the counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness to me. And you are also witnesses because you’ve been with me from the beginning.”

Now you and I are interacting with people. And, Lord, we want to say the right thing. Lord, we want to do the right thing. And Jesus says to us in these words, it’s the Holy Spirit who’s going to say the right thing. You’re along for the ride. And of course, you’ll have things to say. But what you need to do is let the Holy Spirit influence that person. You need to let the Holy Spirit be the witness. It does not all depend upon you. But let the Holy Spirit interact with people. Because again, just like the Holy Spirit connects us with God, the Holy Spirit connects us with people. The Paraclete comes alongside to do the heavy lifting, to do the work of witness.

#3: And this week, I got into a fight with somebody – I’ll tell you that with some humility – about this verse. (And I’m talking about somebody on Facebook who you’ve never met. I don’t want you to think I’m fighting with any of you.) John 16:7, Jesus says this, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It’s to your advantage that I go away. For if I do not go away, the counselor will not come to you. But if I go,” and Jesus ascended into heaven, “I will send him to you. And when he comes,” now please notice this, verse eight, very carefully, please notice this, “And when the Holy Spirit comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

There’s a lot of wrong that is going on in our world. There’s a lot of evil around us in what people do to each other and what people try to persuade other people to do. And one of the saddest things is that when Christians start a war with other people, the church gets smaller. Here’s what this verse says very plainly as far as I’m concerned. If I meet you in the grocery store, it’s not my job to tell you that the colors you’re wearing do not match. And that it embarrasses God that you have such poor taste in fashion. If I meet you at the South Central baseball game and you weren’t in church last Sunday, it is not my job to say to you, “Why weren’t you there in church on Sunday?”

You’d be astonished at how often whenever I meet somebody out in the community I’m like, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you.” And the first thing they say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. I haven’t been going to church.”

And I almost feel bad when that happens. It is not my job to convince you that you are bad when God can do it so much better than I ever could and in exactly the right way to help you to decide to change your life.

I raised three boys, my youngest son, who was in third grade, and my oldest son, was a senior in high school. The youngest boy would sneak into his room and steal his candy. And there would be this huge yelling. And the boy who was 6’5″ would go chasing after the third grader, walloping on him, yelling at him, and then come and yell at me and say, “You should punish him.” And all I could say to my oldest son was, “You already have. And now, I don’t have a chance to teach him what not to do.”

Friends, the Holy Spirit is very capable of convincing people that they’re doing the wrong thing. The Holy Spirit is very capable of teaching people out there what’s wrong with them. And inside their hearts, to be honest, they know. The problem is when you and I think it’s our job to tell people they’re bad, they stop listening when we talk about how Jesus is good … because Jesus said that we were to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and love our neighbor as ourself. He did not come along with a third command, one, which said– he did not say that what we need to do is go out there and make people feel bad because they’re not good enough.

And sadly, that does not work. The church needs to talk about God’s love and let the Holy Spirit convince people that they’re wrong. Now, you know what that means. I can tell you what it means for me: Lord, smite him. Lord, I sure am looking forward for when you straighten that person out because they’re wrong. I’m honest that just– I want to tell them they’re wrong because if they were only more like me, they would be more like God … See the problem? Then I see the problem with me telling them that they’re wrong. The Holy Spirit is very able to convince the world about sin and righteousness and judgment. But all too often, we are too quick to get in there, and rather than cooperate with what God is doing, we try to take the place of God. Not a wise idea! It’s not our job to criticize and condemn others; we can let God do it.

The fourth thing the Holy Spirit does when the Holy Spirit comes alongside: “I have yet many things to say to you,” Jesus says, “but you cannot bear them now.” You and I learn as we go along. We can’t know everything in advance. But Jesus says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.” A hundred years after Jesus rose from the dead, the Holy Spirit guides them further into all the truth. And 500 years later, guides them further into more truth. And 1,000 years later, guides them further into more truth.

And we can trust the Holy Spirit’s guidance. “For he will not speak,” Jesus said, “on his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak. And he will declare to you the things that are to come.

One of the things that parents are concerned about today is what is now called screen time. How much screen time should our children have? And I’m sorry to tell you, Jesus never said anything about screen time. But if you seek God’s will, the Holy Spirit will guide you into the truth about things that are not yet literally spoken of in the Bible. He will not speak on his own authority, Jesus said, but whatever he hears, he will speak and he will declare to you the things that are to come. This is like having God accessible to you by telephone. So you can say, “Lord, how much screen time is good for my children? And when should I tell them to put their devices down?” And the reason we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into the future, Jesus goes on to say, is He will glorify me. This is one way to know it’s the Holy Spirit. The center of what the Holy Spirit does … draws our attention to Jesus and how wonderful he is. And it will glorify Jesus “when the Holy Spirit takes what is mine,” Jesus says, “and declares it to you. All that the Father has is mine. Therefore, I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” So the Holy Spirit will not only remind us of what Jesus said in the past, the Holy Spirit will also teach us and remind us of what Jesus is saying today. And listening to Jesus is always the key.

Many, many years ago, I had the experience of driver education. Some of you took a class just like I did. And you sat next to the assistant football coach who was a very grumpy, oversized man who would get in that car where he did not have his hands on the steering wheel, and he would let somebody like me drive. And the only thing he had on his side of the car was a brake. And I still remember to this day, when it was my turn to drive. I signaled that I was going to pull out into the road. I very slowly, looking everywhere, pulled out into the road. And I drove ahead about 20 feet and all of a sudden, I realized that I, a 6’5″ teenager, did not adjust my mirrors from when the 5’2″ girl was driving before me. So I signaled a right turn to pull off on the side of the road. And over on the side over here, I hear, yelling … “What are you doing?” And I carefully and slowly moved over onto the side of the road, and all of a sudden, he hit the brake and we slid on gravel about one foot. Kind of hard to slide when you’re going 20 miles an hour. And I said, “I’m supposed to adjust my mirrors.” And he was not happy with that, but he could not argue because he had told us we needed to do that. But that led to three months of teasing.

But it helped me learn how to drive because I was driving with someone. Now I learned very early not to learn how to drive from my father because he was 10 times as bad as Mr. Matusik. I don’t know how you learned how to drive. You may have been on a tractor when you were eight years old, and you turned out just fine.

But you see, the Holy Spirit is riding with us. We’re driving. But the Holy Spirit has come alongside to help us to learn how to do what we’re doing, how to be Christian people in this world. The Holy Spirit has come alongside of us.

And I thought to myself, “I need to get really artistic about that.” So here’s my little work of art here. Do you see this cross and a flame on the screen? The idea behind the flame is the Holy Spirit needs to be a part of our life. It is the heart of what it means to be United Methodist. And it starts at Pentecost because the Holy Spirit connects us with Jesus inside of us so that we can understand, we can learn, we can grow.

And occasionally, Jesus will say, “Would you like me to take the wheel? Would you like me to take the wheel?” Because sometimes you and I need to let Jesus take control. We’re just not up to it. We’re not as smart as we need to be or as strong as we need to be. We’re not as good as we need to be. And this is when we find out: are we willing to surrender control? Are we willing to live a life where God has control?

And I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but I have these black shirts. And on them, they have the word Disciple Walk, which is a word I invented a number of years ago, which basically is the idea that when we’re disciples, we walk along with Jesus and let Jesus guide us. And sometimes, we let Jesus take the wheel because we’re in a situation where we need God’s help.

And this particular picture, I think, is such a beautiful example of that, how in the operating room, Jesus is there to guide the surgeon in the work of healing.

Friends, sometimes you and I need the presence of Jesus to guide us in what we do. And the presence of Jesus is there because the Holy Spirit connects us with Jesus. And because we’re connected by the Holy Spirit, we see so many things. The picture on the screen now shows what a self-driving car sees, a bicycle crossing the road, a pedestrian on the left. And the blue lines on the screen, that’s where the car is going to go. And there’s little blue boxes around the parked cars. Jesus goes with us and is going to help us to see what we need to see.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, thank You so much that when we go out of our houses in the morning, everywhere we go, you go with us. You promised that You would never leave us or forsake us. And indeed, Lord, You’re connected to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Lord, help us to see what you see. Guide us to do what you would do. Help us to let go of what we should let go of. Help us to grab a hold of what we should hold strongly. Help us to say, in every part of our lives, “Thy will be done.” And help us to see the Holy Spirit helping us and guiding us. Because, Lord, certainly, we do need that guidance. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

May 12, 2024, Resurrection Instructions for Mother’s Day, Eastertide 6

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

CALL TO WORSHIP
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.

HYMN 206 I Want To Walk As A Child Of The Light
I Want to Walk as a Child – Trish and Ed
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QISk0oYYpuk

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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 Faith of Our Mothers, Living Still
Faith of Our Mothers – Bush Hill Presbyterian Church
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0V4MBqj1IE

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: Resurrection Instructions for Mother’s Day
Philippians 3:9-10, 2 Timothy 1:1-7, 2:1-2, Ephesians 6:1-4
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

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

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

Philippians 3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as did my fathers, when I remember you constantly in my prayers. 4 As I remember your tears, I long night and day to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo’is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you. 6 Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

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

HYMN 445 Happy the Home When God Is There
Happy the home when God is there – Mike Burns
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ERrXbitgLg&t=17s

BENEDICTION

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’re talking about how God wants us to live after Easter because Romans 6 says we have the privilege of leading a new life. We have the privilege of walking in newness of life. Well, what is it God wants us to do? And I think Mother’s Day is a good day to talk about a higher level of love that the world desperately needs, and that’s how to encourage others to also do God’s will, because you see, mothering is a superpower.

Up in the top corner there is a photo of my mother and I 20 years ago. I look a little younger, but she looked the same for decades. But about six years after this, when she moved back to Texas to live in assisted living in Dallas, one day while I was visiting, we were pouring iced tea into glasses at my brother’s house, and I asked my mom because I was pouring, “Would you like some iced tea?”

And she said, “No.” And I said, “How come?” And she said, “Well, I was reading an article the other day that said that if you drink while you eat, whatever you drink dilutes your digestive juices, and it makes it harder to digest your food.” So she said, “I’ve decided not to drink anything when I eat.”

And I want to tell you, it was astonishing. All throughout that meal, I did not take a single drink of my iced tea, and in fact, I’ll be honest with you, it was years before I began to drink while I was eating a meal because mothers are just that powerful. I could not go against my raising. Just this offhand comment she made, all of a sudden, it became a rule that I just had to live that way.

And you see, friends, mothers have influence. Fathers do too. Friends do. Teachers do. Pastors do. But influence is a superpower, and we need to use it for good because the world needs the good that it can do.

As you know, we’ve been talking about this verse, how God wants to work through you, how you are created and formed and shaped by God to do good things, how God’s love flows into you and then flows out from you to your neighbor because you see, your neighbors– one definition, your neighbors are people over whom you have some influence.

And you see, neighbors are a gift from God. It is a reality. Unless you live way out in the country, you don’t really get to pick who your neighbors are. The priority is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and God’s love flows into us so that we can do God’s will, which is the second part of that, which is to love your neighbor as yourself. And God, as you go through your day, brings people in front of you, and they are your neighbors.

Now, some of them are neighbors you’ve chosen. Some of them are family members. But some of them are just the house that you walk by, when you go for a stroll and you see children’s toys in the yard and you think, “I need to pray for those children. I need to pray for that family.” Because you see, God chooses who your neighbors are. And God provides you with a way to love them because everyone you meet is brought in front of you so that they can receive your love.

Now, as any young child growing up knows, mothers are very loving but sometimes they also have a temper. But if you’ve ever had to be straightened out by a mother because you deserved it, you’ve also learned that that’s also a form of love. Sometimes the neighbors we meet are people whose lives are not together. And if nothing else, we can pray for God to mend what’s broken in their lives. Nonetheless, God will bring people in front of you as you go through your day … for you to pray for them and sometimes, sometimes to use your influence to help them live a better life.

I would also like to tell you that mothers are teachers. When I was in fifth grade and I did not understand it, she said, “Dave, it’s time for you to learn how to iron a dress shirt.” So here I am, a fifth grader. I’m standing at the ironing board. One of my dad’s white dress shirts is on the ironing board and my mother patiently shows me how to iron a dress shirt. And she stands there and she watches me until I can do it perfectly. You see, that’s what coaches do. I’m going to do it and you watch me. Now, do what I do. And then we do it, and we watch, and we learn. And then finally, I can do it. And the mother watches and says, “You missed a spot,” because I did.

I asked her, I said, “Mom, this is the weirdest thing. Why do I need, at the age that I am as a fifth grader, to learn how to iron a dress shirt?” And she said, “Dave, it’s just very, very simple. If I don’t teach you this, you’ll marry the first girl who will iron your shirts for you.” [laughter] True story. That’s exactly what she said. It caused me to wonder about my dad, but she taught me how to iron.

And my brother and I learned how to cook and we made supper on weekdays. She went to work and my father thought it would be a kind thing if she would come home and not need to cook. And so my brother and I, starting at sixth grade, seventh grade, we began to cook supper every weeknight. Now, I’m not really sure that was a kind thing to do. She never complained about the concoctions we made And in addition to that, we were not such good sons that we cleaned up the kitchen.

But mothers are also teachers. They form us. They teach us good manners because otherwise, little boys would grow up to be heathen, and I probably would be one of the worst. Mothers are a special kind of love. Now, again, sometimes it’s grandmothers, and sometimes it’s a teacher at school that provides this kindness. Sometimes it’s a Sunday school teacher. But we would not be the people we are today if someone had not mothered us.

There are two kinds of families in this world. On the left side of the screen are biological families. You don’t get to choose who your parents are. You don’t get to choose who your brothers and sisters are. But as you grow up, you get to form what is called a chosen family. And this idea is very popular because, as you become a grown-up, you’re going to choose friends, and they will be like a chosen family. And you’re going to sometimes have a family at work. That’s the secret of NCIS; Jethro is the dad, and nobody better mess with his kids! Two kinds of families.

And you see the same thing in the Bible where Paul says to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and now, I’m sure dwells in you.” What we learn as children comes toward us, and we absorb it from our biological family. And that is a wonderful thing sometimes. And sometimes it’s not quite as wonderful because we absorb lessons from our biological families that aren’t very good, or ways of behaving that aren’t very nice.

And I’ll be honest with you, I still remember the day I walked down the hallway turning light switches off and saying to myself, “You’d think we own stock in Illinois power.” And all of a sudden, I just stopped and I said, “Oh, Lord, I’ve become my father.” Because we absorb things from our biological family. And sometimes they’re wonderful and sometimes they’re not. But the great joy is this. You and I can choose a family that will help balance whatever it was about how we were raised.

And Timothy was also a chosen child. 2 Timothy 1:1 begins with these words, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” And then he says this, “To Timothy, my beloved child. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord. I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience as did my fathers, when I remember you, Timothy, constantly in my prayers. And as I remember your tears, I long night and day to see you that I may be filled with joy.” Paul felt God calling him to adopt Timothy and to care for him like a father. Then he says this, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Now, that’s two generations. There’s Paul and there’s Timothy. And then Paul says to Timothy, “And what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust the faithful people, faithful men, who will also be able to teach others.” And what you see here is a chosen family of four generations because this love that causes Paul to call Timothy his son, it goes on and on and on through the history of the church. A church is a chosen family. And the world needs that sort of family.

Why? Here’s the truth. This was on the wall in the YMCA in Quincy, Illinois. If you who are good don’t have time to teach children to do what is right, someone who is not good with lots of time will teach them to do what is wrong. Mothering is needed in this world. Somebody has to look across the park bench and say to a kid, “Come over here. Your shirt’s not buttoned right.” Somebody needs to care if a child doesn’t get enough to eat. Somebody needs to step up and be the chosen, caring person who chooses to care for someone who might not be their flesh and blood, but who needs someone to love them. And the person who does that will do that because they know that God put us here to love people. That’s why we’re here. God put us here to love people.

One of the most powerful examples of loving people – I told you this story a few weeks ago – the church in Korea that I find so inspiring, they organized their 700,000 members into 50,000 small groups. And they say to each group, “Find someone to love. Find someone who needs your love and reach out and love that person.” And so they select someone who’s not a Christian, one of their neighbors. And they pray about it. Lord, is this the person? And then they pray for that person. They love that person. They do things to take care of them and serve them. They bring meals, sweep out the person’s store, whatever it takes to show them that they really care for them. And of course, the person says, “Why are you doing this? Why are you treating me so well?” And our people answered, “Jesus told us that we’re supposed to do good all people. And we want you to know that we care, that we love you, and so does Jesus.”

And the pastor of this church says after three or four months of such love, the hardest soul softens up and surrenders to Jesus Christ because they feel the love of Jesus flowing toward them and then it fills them where they are empty. And then you know what happens? They sit down with the group and pick the person to be loved next.

Now, you don’t have to pick the person, if you want. You can let God bring people in front of you and there will be someone you’ll be drawn to. There will be this feeling of adoption: “I care for that person.”

But this is why we’re here. God puts us in this world to be a church. And the best definition of a church I’ve ever heard is this one: We are a functional family… A church is a family. Now, not all families are functional. Some families are dysfunctional. Some churches are like families that are dysfunctional. But ideally, a healthy church is a functional family of God. And a child or an adult who becomes a part of that functional family begins to repair anything broken that’s leftover from their childhood. They learn in this new family whatever they didn’t learn from their biological family, and it heals them where they’re broken and hurting.

A church is this. We are a functional family of God where Jesus is Lord and people grow. People grow up. And so you see, God is a chosen Father because people who don’t love God choose to love God. And a church is a chosen family because people who don’t have a church feel drawn to it because they hunger for that sort of family. A church is a chosen family, and what causes those family things to happen are the parental influence and the caring that today I want to call mothering.

And it’s my hope and prayer that each one of us will be a good influence in a way that is natural to us for the people around us because that sort of caring, that sort of mothering is needed here because people are loved into the family of God. Sermons are good. Worship is good. Potlucks are good. Advertising is good. The church sign out here, it’s good. But what draws people into the family of God is they feel the love of Jesus pulling them towards something they have always wanted. So when you have the opportunity to be kind to a neighbor, when you have the opportunity – should it happen – to feel that you need to adopt someone just like Paul adopted Timothy, let what’s in your heart flow out to people who need you.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, I thank You today for everyone who ever loved me. Starting with my mother and grandmothers, starting with good friends that they had who sort of became unofficial aunts and uncles, and Lord, all the people down through all the years, including all the church members that have loved me. I thank You for all that love that has made me whatever it is that is good today in me. Lord, help me and help us to choose wisely and to love others, 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 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

May 5, 2024, Priority 1 Learning to Love God, Eastertide 5

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

CALL TO WORSHIP
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.

HYMN Abide With Me
Abide With Me – Audrey Assad
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84YASWe3_2Q
or
Abide with Me – A cappella – Eclipse 6 – Official Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB-q8dO_svw

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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 Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus
Natalie Grant & Sandi Patty: Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QsvQVeVHTk

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: Priority #1: Learning to Love God
Text: Mark 12:28-34, 1 John 4:15-19, John 6:56-58
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

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

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

Mark 12:28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that he is one, and there is no other but he; 33 and to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any question.

1 John 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love. 19 We love, because he first loved us.

John 6:56 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.”

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

HYMN 348 Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling
Softly And Tenderly (Live At Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN / 2017)
Reba McIntire, Kelly Clarkson & Trisha Yearwood
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjeMu6qeV5c
or
Alan Jackson – Softly And Tenderly (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkRTfrLBii0

BENEDICTION

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

These words have been on the church sign since Easter. They reflect our desire as a church, that we’re a church that prays for God’s kingdom to come. And what that means is that what Jesus said is what the king says. So when we pray, “Thy will be done,” we’re referring to what Jesus asks us to do. And not someday, but we would like to do God’s will here and now. And in these days after Easter, we’ve been talking about how the power of the resurrection helps us to walk in such a way as to do God’s will.

Last week, we talked about the second most important priority, which is that we are to love one another. We are to love our neighbors and also love ourselves. But today, we move up to the first priority, which is that all of us are still learning how to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. And so we want to say, “Lord, how do we do that? Since that’s your will, how do we fulfill that task?”

So let’s look at Mark chapter 12. There are four places where Jesus speaks of this. This is a one from Mark. And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing, debating, arguing with one another, and seeing that he, Jesus, answered them well, asked him which commandment is the first of all. And just so that you would understand, this is a normal, typical way for Jewish rabbis to debate. They would set up situations where, in order to keep one of the Ten Commandments, you had to break one of the other commandments. And the idea was to figure out which one had the greater priority. So this is a typical question, and the scribe would probably have dozens of different answers ready to argue with anything that Jesus said.

And here’s how Jesus responds. The first is, “Here, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall–” this is not a suggestion. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” or you could say, “With all your body.” That’s the number one priority. That’s what God wants. That’s what God wants for you and for me and for us. But how does that come about?

And so I want to suggest that we go back again to this verse that we’ve been talking about in different ways all year. Ephesians 2:10, “For we, you and I, are his workmanship… God is fashioning a people who are obedient. He is making us into the people God wants us to be. We are created in Christ Jesus for good not just for good but for good works, for good things to happen. And then here’s the verse that speaks so much to me, whatever it is that God wants for me to do today, God has prepared beforehand for me to have those opportunities. And I need to focus on what God has prepared in my life today because if I get a good grade today, if I get a strike or a home run today, then tomorrow, I can try again … because God prepares beforehand for you and I to do God’s will. God has prepared things beforehand for us to walk in them. And in learning how to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, there are lessons waiting for you throughout the day today. Now, of course, the sermon is probably the longest one! It’s quite easy for you and I to miss a lesson because it might be a commercial on television. It might be someone you see standing in line at Walmart, and all of a sudden, there’s something in your heart that says, “I need to pray for them.” In all the different ways we listen to God, the lessons will come in different ways for each one of us, which … isn’t that wonderful? God is speaking to you right at the level of what you need to learn.

But because Christ Jesus goes on before us to get everything ready for us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, that means we’re people who will always be learning. We will never have learned everything there is to learn. We will be people who are always growing because we never will be fully mature. Every now and then, we’ll have that two-year-old level of understanding followed by a tantrum. It’s part of what it means to be human but also because this is God’s desire to change our hearts, to be people who love the Lord with all our hearts, soul, mind, and strength at different levels and in different ways. What’s consistent is that we will always be loving— we will always be loving. But as you go through your day today, what you’re supposed to do in terms of loving God, what you’re supposed to learn in terms of loving God, it will happen in front of you because you will have an opportunity to love God at different times during the day.

So last week and this week, I used this scientific research by Psychologist John Gottman to talk about what science says about loving people in a committed relationship. In other words, these are principles to have a healthy relationship between married people, but they also work between children and parents. And if they work between children and parents, as I said last week, they probably would work between us and our neighbors. And today, I want to say most definitely, they also apply to you and I having a healthy, loving relationship with God. So let me connect each of those seven principles with scripture and how we live our lives.

The first one is, if you’re going to be in a loving relationship, you need to build love maps. You need to understand what the person you love likes, their preferences. You need to understand their dislikes. And friends, if you and I are going to please God, if you and I are going to please our Lord, we need to understand what the Lord values. We need to understand what the Lord likes and dislikes. And all too often with human beings, we kneel and we pray and we say, “Lord, please talk to me.”

But what we’re really wishing for and hoping is that when God speaks, God will say, “Dave, I agree with you about everything.” When I was younger, I would lay in bed at night waiting to go to sleep. And I would pray. I would say, “Lord, please speak to me. I want to hear your voice,” because I did have a desire for the heavens to part and for God to speak to me in an audible voice. And I would pray that, and then I would immediately turn over and go to sleep because I was afraid of what God would tell me if God did speak to me. But you see, however, you want God to speak to you, you need to watch out for that human tendency to choose the news channel that tells you what you like to hear, to choose the pages on Facebook that tell you that you’re right in every prejudice that you might have. You want to be careful of that.

But the reality is if you open the Bible and think about what Jesus is saying to you … because some things require some interpretation. Some things require some thinking. If you open the Bible, you will be learning what God loves. You will be learning what God wants. You will be learning God’s likes and dislikes. And I would like to– and by the way, these are the small New Testaments we have. If you don’t have one, you are welcome to take one with you today because it’s a good thing for us to learn what God loves. And it’s extremely helpful.

Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of people who, without studying carefully, are certain that they know what God loves and God wants. And one of the ways that you can tell that that’s possible is when, as they explained, God loves everyone they love. God likes everything they like, and God dislikes everything they dislike. You kind of have to wonder where they got that. Because I know I’m not done growing. I’m not done learning. And every time I open the scripture, I learn something new that I need to do … that I’ve not been doing that well. If we learn what God wants, what God loves, it will help us.

The second principle is in your communication. In your communication, you would want to share fondness and admiration. Now, the reason that’s important is in our relationship with God, but also in our relationship with anyone, the relationship is made out of communication, how we live with and relate to and talk to one another. So consequently, Billy Graham has said that prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God. And if you want to be in a loving relationship with God, you are going to have those conversations, and by the way, if you don’t hear God in an audible voice, this is how God will speak to you, through the New Testament. But communication with God, communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life. If you’re not communicating with God, it’s probably unlikely that you’re learning much. It’s probably unlikely that you are loving much.

And the quality of the relationship you have with another person is from the communication that the two of you have. So consequently, start thinking about your prayers. There are a whole lot of people who bring God their prayers the way children sit on Santa’s lap at Christmas. “This is what I want. This is what I want. This is what I want.” And they don’t say much else. But to be honest, as we go through our day, we can communicate with God about everything.

I remember driving a church van full of nuns in Louisville, Kentucky, when I was a student at the Baptist Seminary. And I don’t know how many nuns you know, but one of the interesting things about nuns is, as they’re driving down the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, I will hear them behind me as we come up to a stoplight, they will be saying, “Come on, St. Patrick. Come on, St. Patrick. Come on, St. Patrick.” Now, do you know what that means? They’re praying for a green light. But you see, here’s the point. Me, I don’t pray for lights to change. Lord, whatever it is when I get there, that’s fine with me. But these nuns were continually praying, “Lord, let it be a green light. Let the taco not be too spicy. Let the iced tea be just the right amount of sweetness.” They had a conversation with God about everything. And there’s no reason why you and I can’t have the same thing.

You see, when we have these conversations with God, in order to know what to say, we are seeking God, we are trusting God, we are loving God, we are calling out for help for ourselves or someone else, and we’re also praising God. Now, I don’t know if you’re like me, a whole lot of times, my prayers are also like this, “Phew, that was close. Thank you, Lord.”

But when you think about praise, when you think about noticing what God has done to help us, when you think about praise, what is it but noticing the goodness of God and letting God know that you noticed? Thank you is a form of praise. How many times do we share our fondness and admiration for God through the day with prayers of thankfulness? So this strengthens the relationship with other people to say things that show fondness and admiration. But it also strengthens our relationship with God … because it doesn’t matter how much you admire God; God does more than you can even conceive as worthy of admiration. So when you tell God, “Thank you,” you’re letting God know what you noticed. But again, seriously, brothers and sisters, there’s even more to notice.

In your relationship between a parent and child, between a husband and wife, between you and a neighbor, there are times that there are bids for attention. And when a relationship is healthy, 86% of the time, people notice when someone’s asking for their attention. Now, what’s the biggest problem here? You and I know what it is. We get distracted.

But all throughout the day, because God has put before us lessons to help us to learn, to love, to notice, to give thanks, all throughout the day, God is bidding us for attention. And the principle that leads toward a healthier relationship is to turn towards the one you love rather than away. And so throughout the day, we can turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ and spend a large part of every day with him. And in fact, that’s what he wants.
Because what is it that Jesus asks of you and me? Follow me. And the first part of follow me is to pay attention to me. Because when Jesus says, “Follow me,” Jesus is saying, “We’re going to take a turn here, in this direction, and I don’t want you to get lost.” So throughout the day, Jesus is bidding us to pay attention to Him and to turn towards Him and follow Him. That will strengthen the loving relationship you have with God.

The next one, and this is a big one, maybe not so much for United Methodists as for others, is to assume positive intent. As you are engaged in your relationship with your child, as you are engaged in a relationship with a husband or wife, as you are engaged in a relationship with your neighbor, from time to time, it could be easy to think that your neighbor is out to get you. Why does someone drive 50 miles an hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone? It’s because they’re out to get me. Now, friends, this is normal. That person over there looks angry. I never did nothing to him. What’s he going to do next? We look with suspicion and fear in order to protect ourselves.

If you want to have a healthy relationship with someone, you want to first give them the benefit of the– well, the phrase is the benefit of the doubt, but maybe it should be the benefit of faith, which is I’m going to believe that you don’t mean me harm. And I guarantee that will help you become, especially if you were right and they do mean you harm, might as well start out believing in the best!

But you see, we have a problem in the church. And it goes all the way back years and years and years. There was a preacher in the early United States, Jonathan Edwards, who is very famous for a sermon that is called Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. So the picture on the screen that you are looking at is a father with great happiness and glee reading a book to a baby: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God for Babies. And if you look at the expression on the face of the baby, you could see the baby’s just a little bit afraid here. But, see, here’s the question: should we teach people to be afraid of God?

I want to tell you, there’s a whole– it’s not a minority. It might even be a majority. There’s a whole bunch of folks that think that until you’re afraid of God, you don’t really believe. But it’s ironic when an angel appears in the Old Testament, when Jesus appears, when God does something, frequently, the very first thing that Jesus ever says is, “Don’t be afraid.” Yet there’re people who assume that what we need to do is to make people be afraid of God because, “God is out to get you. God is watching every little thing.” And there’re some churches, and I know some people, I won’t say which denomination, but they kind of teach people, “If you trip, it’s because God’s punishing you for something you did.”If a person in front of you is driving 50 in a 55-mile-an-hour zone, people in that denomination are trained to believe, “I must have done something bad because God is out to get me.”

Now here’s what the Scripture says. Please let it sink in. 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love.” So the more you learn about how to love God, the less you will be afraid of God … I want to suggest. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear for fear has to do with punishment.” Isn’t it unfair for you to always blame God or to think that God wants to harm you? “For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” You see, we are overcoming this. And the way we’re overcoming it, look at verse 19, “We love because God set the example. We love because He first loved us.” So I say to all the people who want to teach people to be afraid of God, I say, “Let’s you and I sit down and listen to what Jesus says in this book, the Bible.”

One more scripture. Can’t help it. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” And there was a meme that was going around a lot just before Christmas. If God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, I don’t think He sent you or me. The more we understand about how God loves us, the more we will be talking about God’s love and the less we will be talking about how we should fear God. Because, you see, people go away from what they’re afraid of, and they go toward those who love them. And we want others to go toward God rather than away.

And that leads right into the next principle. The next principle is this one: Let your Lord influence you. Now, when you’re a parent and you have a child, you can’t always let the child make the decisions. But you want to let the child influence you. You want to hear from them. You want to understand them. And it’s the same way in the relationship with God. You and I want to let God influence us.

“Judge not,” Jesus said in Matthew 7:1, “that you may not be judged.” How can anything be more clear than that? And the explanation for why this is important, Jesus goes on to say — by the way, Jesus said this — “For with the judgment you pronounce, you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” And so we’re reminded of the parable of the tax collector and the sinner, how the tax collector is kneeling in the shadows, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” And the Pharisees praying out loud, “Lord, thank you for how wonderful I am because I do this and this and this and this. And thank you that I’m not like that tax collector.” Someone who prays like that just doesn’t understand. We do not do God’s will when we are unloving to others. And so Jesus says in Luke 6:46, “Let your Lord influence you,” although Jesus says it this way, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” Because what Jesus tells us to do in this book will tell us how to love God and to love each other, in great detail.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be conflict. There’s going to be conflict between what I think God wants me to do and what I want to do. That’s pretty hard to deal with. There’s going to be conflict between what I think God wants me to do and what you think God wants me to do. That’s not so hard for us to deal with, because we know the other person is just wrong, right? But whenever there’s conflict about what the right thing is, what we want to do is let our Lord Jesus Christ influence us. We we want to dialogue about the problems we’re having. And that means we want to dialogue first with Jesus because this is the priority: to learn how to love God first. And when we understand how to love God, then we can love our neighbor. Then we can love the person we’re married to. Then we can love our parent or child. But understanding what God wants needs to come first because if it doesn’t, then what we’re doing is forcing our opinion on others.

And then finally, because none of us ever get everything we want, we also have to practice self-soothing. We have to say, “Lord, instead of punishing that person who’s driving 50 in a 55 zone, please help them to learn the truth about how to drive.” We have to soothe ourselves. Calm down. It’s not that important. We’re not in that much of a hurry because, friends, we’re never going to always get our way.

And a lot of times, letting the Lord influence us means that you and I will be asked by God to change our minds. If you think you’re perfect, you don’t believe that. But if we know ourselves better, we know that God will want us to change our minds. But when we do, God begins to work to help our dreams come true. Because you see, in a loving relationship that is healthy, people help the other person that they love. They help the dreams that they share to come true. And friends, God and Jesus have dreams for you. Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans for welfare and not for evil. To give you a future and a hope.” John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, not punishment, not judgment, and have it abundantly.” Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” So you see, a loving relationship with God will help your dreams and wishes to come true. Oh, and they’ll also help what God wishes to come true. .

Finally, when you have a relationship with someone that’s loving, you will spend the time in ways that create shared meaning. You’ll use rituals, roles, goals, and symbols to create shared meaning. You will use a sermon to deepen the meaning of what it means to love God. You will use the singing of hymns to deepen the relationship and what it means to love God. And you will also do things like take holy communion because it deepens the relationship with God. And there’s a quote there on the screen from John 6, which is also in your bulletin, that literally says that taking communion deepens our relationship with God. And that’s why we do it. That’s why we come together here on Sunday mornings.

But friends, here’s the reality. As we learn to love our Lord, the best days are ahead of us. No matter what happens, as we learn to love our Lord, the best days are ahead of us. Whether it’s the best days of the Kinmundy United Methodist Church or the best days of the Wesley United Methodist Church, which you see on the screen across the cornfield. Right after Jesus said that God wants us to love our Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, the scribe says to Jesus, “You are right, teacher. You’ve truly said that he is one and there’s no other but he. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with the strength and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifice everything that’s happening in the temple.”

And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, thank You for walking with us through each day, from here to there. And as we go through the day, Lord, providing us with opportunities to learn what it means to love, to learn what it means to love our neighbor. Opportunities, Lord, to learn what it means to love You. And so may we be good disciples, good students, and may we grow every day in our ability not only to love our neighbor, but Lord Jesus, to love You with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

April 28, 2024, Priority #2: Be Neighborly, Eastertide 4

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

CALL TO WORSHIP
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.

HYMN 557 Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Blest Be The Tie That Binds; First United Methodist Houston, 1/15/2023
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xYTkrCp_O8

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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
JJ Heller – This Little Light of Mine (World Vision)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8ezdfuZgT4

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: Priority #2: Be Neighborly
Text: Matthew 22:35-40, Galatians 5:13-14, 1 John 4:7-11
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

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

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SERMON NOTES

Matthew 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 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.”

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.


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

HYMN 593 Here I Am, Lord
Here I Am Lord with Lyrics – John Michael Talbot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnO5B_G505w
or
HERE I AM, LORD – Collin Raye
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_v9JKi4Ajo

BENEDICTION

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

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?

There are two priorities that God gives you and I. Next week, we’ll talk about priority number one. But I thought we’d talk about the smaller thing, about priority number two, which is to be neighborly. This is something that small towns and rural areas really understood well. But in the last 20 years, in the last 50 years, people have largely forgotten how to be good neighbors. It’s very tragic.

This is the church sign out over here in front of the church. It says that our wish is for thy kingdom to come, thy will be done, and not someday, but right here and right now. But that then leads to the question, what is it that is God’s will? What is it? And this is where what Jesus said makes so much sense.

You have been seeing this picture and I’ve been explaining it for quite some time now. I just think it’s key. Ephesians 2 says that God is working in your life to help you to be the kind of person that God wants you to be. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus so that good things happen, for good works. And not only that, God will go on in front of you before your day begins to prepare everything that you’re supposed to do. In other words, when you ask the question, “Lord, what is it you want me to do today? What is God’s will?” The answer is as you go through your day, you will see opportunities materialize in front of you.

Today, I want to add to that that the opportunity that will materialize in front of you will be connected to a person who is your neighbor. Because what God wants us to do is to love our neighbors. So what exactly does God’s will look like? It looks like your neighbor. And here’s where Jesus brings that instruction to us. Matthew 22:39, the this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Verse 40, “There is no other commandment greater than these.” If you play spades, you know there’s such a thing as trump. This is the king of spades. No other commandment greater than these.

But what exactly does this look like? And what I want to suggest today is that your relationship with your neighbor is intended to be a committed relationship. A relationship that we are committed to. Now, I know if you’re married, you are committed to your spouse. I know if you have children, you are committed to your children. I know as a dedicated person who’s a part of this church family, you are committed to your church. But I don’t know how often we realize that the relationship that God desires us to have with our neighbor is one of commitment.

Another scripture about what a priority this is: “For you were called to freedom, brethren,” Paul writes in Galatians 5:13. “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love, be servants of one another, committed to one another.” Verse 14, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, one phrase. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So in the parable of the great Samaritan, Jesus tells a scribe, a lawyer, this truth. And the lawyer very quickly seeks to defend himself by saying, “And who is my neighbor?” You see, there’s a tendency in our society today to make sure that we’re only surrounded by people we like and people will even live in walled communities.

But frankly, I think a good definition of your neighbor is anybody who’s within 10 to 12 feet of you. Or maybe it’s better to say within sight. All of you are my neighbors. I am committed to you. God wants me to love you. And every day, I’ll figure out how to do that. Because see, again, every day, God’s going to prepare the opportunity for me to love you as my neighbor.

As John says in 1 John chapter 4, “Beloved, let us love one another.” Why? For love is of God and he who loves, she who loves, is born of God and knows God. Love awakens us spiritually. Not only that, look at verse eight. “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. And in this, the love of God was revealed, made manifest among us that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.” And we’ve also talked about John 20:21, which says, as the Father has sent me, even so, Jesus says, I am sending you. Jesus is sending us to love people.

Now, that still comes to the question, exactly how do we do this? And if being neighborly lately has fallen on hard times, it’s very likely that we have something we need to learn here about how to love our neighbor as ourself. John goes on to say, and this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins … God sent Jesus to love people through us. And we don’t want to stop what God wants to do. So verse 11, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

And this is where I think that the Prayer of St. Francis is so helpful. The call to worship where we began our worship today, where we prayed, “Lord, help me not to be so concerned with my being understood. But Lord, help me to understand” … because if I understand, I will know how to love. “Help me not to be so focused on somebody loving me, but to be able to love someone else.”

Now, here’s the reality. Science has studied this. There is a psychologist by the name of John Gottman. He started out at the University of Illinois, moved to the University of Washington. He spent his entire career studying how relationships remain healthy. And he’s identified specific things which are indicators of a healthy relationship and specific indicators of a problem in a relationship. And all the way back in 1992, he created what he called the love lab, where they had this one-bedroom apartment and they would wire married couples up. They’d put electrodes all over their heads and over their heart and they would measure them electronically as they interacted with each other, married couples.

And from this research, they were able to determine the characteristics of a relationship that got better and better and a relationship that did not. To the point where, after a brief conversation, Dr. Gottman and his associates could predict in this study in 1992 with a 93.6% accuracy, whether two years later, a couple would be together or whether they would separate.

So in other words, when it comes to loving your spouse, they’ve studied this. And loving your spouse, that’s about sort of like a level 10 in importance. And loving your neighbor is nowhere near as serious, perhaps, or as tragic if it goes wrong. But the same principles will help you love your neighbor. And it’s good for you to know these principles because you’re in a committed relationship with a spouse. You’re in a committed relationship with children. You’re in a committed relationship with parents. You’re in a committed relationship with church members and a committed relationship with God. It’s good for you to know what leads to a better relationship.

And Gottman created this image. He called it the Sound Relationship House, the seven most positive and beneficial characteristics of a committed relationship of love. So today, I want to apply them to the relationship of loving your neighbor.

Here’s the first one: Build love maps. And that’s defined as knowing little things about your neighbor’s life. Things they like and things they dislike. There are people who simply cannot deal with you saying, “Go St. Louis Cardinals!” There are people who simply cannot deal with your love for asparagus. And this is something that Gottman says, “We need to know the people around us.” And so, you’ll notice down on the bottom of the screen, I’ve invented a misspelt word to “know-tice” because we need to know by noticing in our neighbors what is valuable and meaningful and important to them. That’s the first thing, understand your neighbor because you know them, because you notice them.

Here’s number two. Your mother probably said something like this to you. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” But the flat reality is the more you can say something nice, the deeper and more meaningful your relationship will be with anyone, whether it’s a spouse or a child, but also with your neighbor. So notice and say something nice. Be kind in what you say. Or as Gottman calls it, “Share fondness and admiration.”

It’s astonishing how uncommon it is for a spouse to say to someone they’re married to, “You look really nice today.” It’s funny how we just kind of go right over that. But it’s very worthwhile for us to notice and say something when we see something that’s wonderful. All of your relationships will improve if you share fondness and admiration. And remember, God’s going to give you opportunities throughout the day to do that, to share fondness and information with people.

The next one is an important one. How do we respond to bids for our attention from a neighbor? One of the realities of today is that we are so distracted. We are totally focused on information that’s coming toward us from our telephone, coming toward us from our computers, coming toward us from the television set, that sometimes we don’t even have an awareness of what’s happening with the people we’re around.

I’ll be honest with you, my wife has a favorite nickname for me. She calls me GoogleMan. My curiosity is insatiable. We’ll be watching television and all of a sudden, I’ll see an actor on a TV show and I’ll think, “I’ve seen that person before. Who is that person?” Out comes the phone. And that doesn’t bother her so much, except when I try to explain to her everything I found. But I will also say she particularly dislikes it when she’s talking to me and then I have to Google something … because she would like to have my attention. People around you with whom you’re in a relationship would like to have your attention! So consequently, as you’re going through your day, there are people who will walk past you and something will tell you, “Lord, I need to pray for them.”

But there are also people who will walk right up to you and say something like, “How are you?” Or, “How’s that buying a retirement house thing going?” Or some other sort of thing. That person is asking you for your attention. And sadly, we are so distracted today that we often don’t even notice that somebody wants to interact with us. And so consequently, a very powerful help to strengthen a relationship is to turn toward rather than away. And in particular, if you’re under stress, if you’re having a difficult time, if somebody at your job is just bugging you, you want to turn toward the person you love rather than away because that will strengthen your relationship.

And by the way, this 94% accuracy has been confirmed in test after test, psychological test after test after test. One thing that they found in couples, the ones that stayed married, happily married, would turn towards each other in hard times 86% of the time. But the couples that didn’t make it averaged only a third of the time. So in other words, two-thirds of the time, when someone’s upset, they would turn away from the person they love rather than turning toward them for support. Turning towards is very powerful. When I have a problem, I need to turn toward the people that love me and let them in and let them help.

The next thing is to assume positive intent because one of the most destructive things you can have in a relationship is what’s called a harsh startup. Now, what that means is if you’re walking down the sidewalk and someone comes up to you smiling, you look at them and say, “I know you hate me.” In other words, you start a fight when a fight hasn’t even started yet. It’s very easy to lose your temper before there’s a reason to lose your temper. And in fact, sometimes– I think it’s fair to say this because this is probably true with neighbors, too. You can have a fight and then you make up but underneath the fight is still going on. So the minute you get provoked again, it’s like you instantly go from 1 to 10 on the anger scale. Now, why do people do that? Because they don’t feel safe. Because they perceive that other person as a threat. Because they perceive that other person as an enemy. If you had a big brother or sister who was mean, you know exactly how that is. It’s like you need to protect yourself.

But in a loving relationship, it’s very beneficial for you to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and assume that they mean you no harm. Now, every relationship has some negativity in it. Every relationship has some conflict. And it’s funny, they’ve also studied this. The healthiest relationships have one negative comment, one negative complaint for every five positive statements. Now, there’s a few conclusions you can draw from that. The first one is if you lose your temper, you’ve got to say five nice things for every mean thing you say in order to make up. That might really help you not to say them.

But the other thing is– and I always will remember the very first time this happened. I had a couple in premarital counseling. We were talking about relationships. And they looked at me and they said, “Well, you know, the two of us have never even had our first argument.” And I looked at them and I said, “Well, in therapy, we have a name for people like that.” And they were all like, “Tell us how wonderful we are.” And I said, “Yeah, we call them liars.” [laughter] Because here’s the reality. There is always something that will irritate us. But we don’t need to let it take over. There is always something that will bother us, but we don’t need to let it take over. So it’s good to be honest. If somebody’s standing on your toe and it hurts, it’s all right to say ouch. But if we assume positive intent, it is easier for positive feelings to grow.

And consequently, a main point for a relationship that is growing, is to realize there is always going to be conflict. But the insights to manage conflict are basically this. Allow your neighbor, the other person, to influence you. Accept that person’s desire to communicate.

The other day, I was walking aross the street at the end of the day. I was tired. I could not wait to get home. In my mind, I was totally focused on my La-Z-Boy recliner. And a young man, I won’t tell you who, came down the street and he said, “Pastor, pastor!” And I thought, “If I run, can I get to the door before he gets here?” But I knew the right thing to do. So I just stood there because this was my neighbor. And he came up to me and he said, “I shot a turkey this week.”

Now, I’ll be honest with you, friends, I have never gone hunting in my life. I do not have the patience to go hunting. Literally, I would go out with my deer rifle, and I’d be there in the woods, and I would look at my watch and say, “Where’s the deer? The deer is late.” I just am not made to do that.

But as he was telling me all about the turkey he shot, and the turkey his sister shot, which was a bigger turkey, but he wasn’t jealous because she had a bigger turkey than his. But the turkey he shot … and I thought to myself as I was looking at him, “Jesus loves him. And I need to love him, too.” And I told him how wonderful he was, and how wonderful his turkey was and how good it was that he wasn’t jealous of his sister. And I thought to myself, “Jesus loves him, and I can love him, too.” Now, about the third time he said the same thing, I went on inside the house because I had heard him.

But you see, we need to let our neighbors influence us. It’s okay if they don’t want to talk about the things that we’re interested in. We can show love to them. And if there is a problem, we can talk about it as long as we don’t lose our temper. And if we get upset, we can soothe ourselves. It’s all right. It’s okay. The La-Z-Boy chair will still be there. And it was. Let your neighbor influence you. That will grow a loving relationship with your neighbor.

And then this one – what kind of neighborhood do you live in? Do you live in a neighborhood where people’s dreams come true? I want to suggest to you that people’s dreams come true when we pray. But how can we pray if we don’t take time to know our neighbor and to know what would be their dream come true? If we have a sound relationship with our neighbor, we’ll rejoice when their dreams come true and we’ll pray for life to be a blessing and better. Everybody has hopes. And I want you to know when I discover something you hope for, I begin to pray for you that God would answer your prayers. I’m invested in helping my neighbor’s dreams come true.

And so consequently, because of these things, the time we share with a neighbor, even if it’s just a conversation on a sidewalk, that conversation creates shared meaning through the use of rituals, through the use of roles, maybe you’re kind of a parent figure to a young person, goals and symbols. And what we do here in worship with prayer and music and singing is full of rituals, roles, goals, and symbols. But it creates shared meaning with our neighbors. And that relationship deepens. And God can use that better relationship to help that neighbor to have an experience that Jesus Christ also loves them.

We live in a time where there are people who want to make the world a better place. And of course, you know what that often means: They want to make the world a better place by having their side win the political battle. They want to make the world a better place by making everybody else think just like them. They want to make the world a better place by arguing with people.

And there are people who think that the reason the world’s not a better place is because the church is not doing its job. And the really odd thing, they try to make the world a better place by manufacturing a better church. But friends, Jesus did not tell you and I to fix the church. If you want to make this world a better place, remember that Jesus said that the priority is that you and I love our neighbors. Now, I happen to be married to my closest neighbor. She’s about three feet away most of the day. But whether it’s three feet or 10 feet or 20 feet, God is going to bring the people that you are to love into the area right around you. And if you will learn to love your neighbor, their lives will be changed by the power and the grace of God flowing through YOU.

Please pray with me. Lord, it’s such a temptation to us to point out what’s wrong with the world. It’s such a temptation to us to give a list of what other people need to do to fix what’s wrong. Whether it’s a little handwritten list or a post on Facebook or whether we actually even hand out books to people that say, “This is how you’re messed up. This is how to fix it. Now you go become a better person and stay away from me until you are.” Lord, we’re not quite that bad, but we’re not quite as good as we should be. We’re not quite as loving as we should be. We’re not as much like Jesus as we should be.
Lord, help us to remember that what You asked us to do was to love the person right in front of us. And Lord, I ask You to help us not only to see the importance of that, but simply to be able to live our lives in that way, loving our neighbor day by day. We ask that in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Additional Resources

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

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

Posted in Attend Worship at Home 2023-2024 | 1 Comment

April 21, 2024, An Example: The Discipleship System of Yoido FGC Church, Eastertide 3

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

CALL TO WORSHIP
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.

HYMN 496 Sweet Hour of Prayer
Sweet Hour of Prayer – Selah (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBsYK5cJ9-w

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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 347 Spirit Song
The Spirit Song (John Wimber) – Makiki Christian Church
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAn_Be4HS9A

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: An Example: The Discipleship System of Yoido FGC Church
Text: Acts 2:41-47, Matthew 22:39, 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

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

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SERMON NOTES

Acts 2:41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Matthew 22:39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

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HYMN 526 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

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

There’s an old phrase that says, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And I hope today to share with you a few pictures and probably save quite a few thousand words. We’ve been talking about this concept now in different ways for over a year. We’ve talked about it very recently that, in these days following the resurrection, Jesus Christ wants to work through you. And the way that Jesus Christ wants to work through you is as you go through your daily life, this verse from Ephesians will be true because you are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works to do good things. And then note this, which God prepared beforehand. As you go through your day, all of a sudden, you’re going to see God prepared this beforehand. And you’ll have an opportunity to say something. You’ll have an opportunity to do something that will do God’s will. And the astonishing thing is because all of us are different, it will look different in every single person’s life. On the other hand, I think it’s possible that diversity could lead to some confusion. I wonder if it would be helpful to give you an example of what this would look like.

And I thought to myself, what a wonderful thing if the example could be from the world’s largest church which has the most powerful way of doing exactly this in a way that helps people come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. In the world’s largest church, which happens to be Yoido Full Gospel Central Church of Seoul, Korea. When I did my doctoral work, I studied the methods that they used. They have an engine of helping people find Jesus Christ that generates over 20,000 converts every single year. That’s how they got up to 700,000 members. The pastor continually spins off new churches. He’ll give one of his associate pastors $5 million and 5,000 members. He’ll do that all year long. And by the end of the year, they’re right back up to 700,000. Now, we’re talking about in the ’70s, in the ’80s, the heyday of this particular church.

But in this church, they focus on four things. They have worship every Sunday in a sanctuary that seats 12,000 people. There are lines to where you’ll have to wait in line for over an hour to get in. They’ll have video screens in every fellowship hall room in their church building where another 100,000 people can watch worship over the different services that happen on a day.

They will have prayer meetings. Every morning in Korea, churches have prayer meetings at 5:00 AM. And in addition, this church will have prayer meetings in a cycle at night from 10 o’clock every two hours until 5:00 AM. They don’t do this on Saturday so people can sleep before the service on Sunday. It’s astonishing, but the secret of this church is that the other two things they focus on are gathering people together in small groups they call cells. Three people, six people, twelve people. And these little groups of people act like spiritual families where people care for each other.

And the other thing that happens because of those cells is visitation. Now, visitation is an old-fashioned word, knocking on somebody’s door and visiting them. But it’s more appropriately described as the people who are in these little groups are connected, are in contact with their neighbors where they live. And these are the four things that they do.

They don’t do much else than that.

And here’s the secret. I’ve shared this with you before, but to me, it’s one of the most profound realities. The senior pastor of this church, Yonggi Cho, said back around 1990, he said, “You know, we don’t do evangelism in Korea the way you do it in the West. We have 50,000 cell groups…” Remember, 50,000 of these little groups in neighborhoods. “We have 50,000 cell groups, and each group has a goal. Each group will love two people to Christ-– only two, within the next year.” That’s their focus for an entire year. “They select someone who’s not a Christian, whom they can pray for, love, and serve.” And it will be different for each person’s needs. “They bring meals, help sweep out the person’s store, whatever it takes to show they really care for them. And when a person asks, ‘Why are you treating me so well?'” –because it’s not normal for people to be kind to you in this world today, “Our people answer, ‘Jesus told us that we’re supposed to do good to all people, and we want you to know that we love you, and so does Jesus.'”

And then he said this, “After three or four months of such love, the hardest soul softens up and surrenders to Christ.” You see, this is their whole strategy. This is their entire idea. “Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourself, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Now, let’s you and I do the math, okay? Back up. We have 50,000 cell groups, and each group will love two people to Christ within the next year. Now, if someone is converted every three to four months, that’s more than two people. That’s three or four people. But the goal is two people every year. But two people every year, 50,000 cell groups, that would be 100,000 converts, right? They’re good, but they’re not that good. All they can do is convert 20,000 … but I think that’s good enough. But they all have that goal: 2 people. Some years, it doesn’t happen, but they all have that goal because what’s important is for them to love their neighbor as themselves.

Now, the key points here that people miss is they select someone who needs God’s love, and then they love them. That’s a key point.

We find a very similar thing in the book of Acts because simply this is what Jesus was telling the disciples to do. The minute the day of Pentecost came and the church erupted in Jerusalem, they began to do exactly the same things that are done in this church in Korea. So those who received his word were baptized and there were added that day, the day of Pentecost, about 3,000 souls. And you see these same four things. I like to call one pair, the right hand. On the right hand, you see the Mother Church, which is involved in organizing worship and prayer meetings. Oh, and administration like taking care of buildings and paying bills, which comes out in our day as the traditional church that we all are a part of. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the prayer services that were held every day in the Jewish temple.

But they also devoted themselves, and I like to call this the left hand. And I call it the left hand because you see, I’m so right-handed, I don’t do anything with my left hand except hold the fork to cut the meat. A lot of churches use the right hand, but don’t use the left hand. In the book of Acts, they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, but they also devoted themselves to fellowship in small groups that met in people’s homes. And in those small groups, they would break the bread. They would eat the evening meal together. But in addition to that, they would take communion, they would pray, and they would sing. And so you have this two-handed, ambidextrous sort of church in the book of Acts. You also have the same kind of church in the world’s largest church in Seoul, Korea.

A little further down in Acts chapter two, and day by day, attending the temple together, that’s the right hand, and breaking bread in their homes, that’s the left hand, where they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved, who came into the church by first being a part of the small group in the neighborhood where they live.

And you see, here’s the challenge. The population of Seoul Korea has risen and fallen. It’s interesting in 1990, around the time of these words, there were 10,518,000 people in Seoul, Korea. Seoul’s population this year is 10,500,000. The picture you’re looking at there is a picture of apartment buildings that were built in 1973 that are close to the church building where this church gathers to worship. And these represent the challenge because even though Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, “And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” it is not always easy for a church to love its neighborhood. You see, each one of these buildings is locked and strangers are not allowed into it. But neighbors can speak to neighbors.

And if you wonder, what does God think about all the people living in those buildings? In this particular complex, there’s 1, 584 apartments. What does God want? What is God’s will with regard to all the people living in those buildings who can only be reached by someone who is their neighbor? Well, 1 Timothy 2:3-4 makes it very plain. “This is good and it’s acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved, all people to know Jesus Christ, all people to come to the knowledge of the truth.” God wants to bring those people to Christ. But how can you get past the locked front door? And the answer is you can do it if you’re their neighbor.

The Korean term for the cell leader, the leader of this group of 3 or 6 or 12 people, is literally– and I’m going to mispronounce it here because I don’t really know how to say it: ku-yok jang. But what it literally means is the leader in one’s small geographical territory or area. You see, each one of these people is a missionary with a micro-mission field. Their focus is entirely on their neighbors. The people they know, near where they live, who they associate with at work, individual people who are their neighbors.

And what exactly does this neighbor do? In these 12-story, 16-story buildings, the cell leader will frequently ride up and down in the elevator waiting to meet someone whom she knows. By the way, most of them are women. Most of them are women. In the Yoido church, they’re ordained as deacons, but most of them are women. And they will look for another woman carrying groceries and offer to help with the groceries. And they’ll hold the groceries and they’ll get off on the other person’s floor and walk the groceries to their door. And of course, as they’re riding up the elevator, they’ll say, “Well, how are you? How are you doing?” And if the woman they’re helping says, “Well, it’s okay, but the toilet stopped up.” The woman who was a cell leader will say, “Well, my husband’s really good with toilets. Can he bring his tools over and help you?” So that night, they help this woman with her plumbing issues. And they also pick up trash and sweep and clean up. And basically, they look for opportunities to do kind things.

Why are you being so good to me? Well, the Lord Jesus Christ told me to love you and to show you that. This is what the small group leader does. Now, bible study does happen at the weekly meeting. Singing does happen. Prayer does happen. And refreshments always happen when they get together once a week. But the main thing they do is talk about how they can be kind to their neighbors.

Eventually, the neighbor comes to the weekly meeting; they become good friends. The group attends worship or prayer meetings as a group; they go together and sit together. Eventually, the neighbor attends worship surrounded by their friends. There is no need to focus in the church building on hospitality to strangers; their friends take care of them.

For example, gift-giving, ranging from gifts at special occasions like a child’s birthday to the personal delivery of a copy of the weekly church newspaper, is culturally valued. Yoido Church publishes a weekly church newspaper. In it are devotions, information about the church, little articles about how to live a better life, how to unstop a toilet, recipes, how to be a better parent, all those kinds of things that make a difference in people’s lives. They touch the hearts of people. And they offer a valid reason for members of the cell to visit a non-Christian. I heard it’s your daughter’s birthday. Here’s a copy of the church newspaper.

Oh, by the way, in America, we are so smart. Their church newspaper goes to 1.4 million households each week. The copies are printed, 1.4 million copies. And each one is delivered to the front door of someone in an act of caring. But in America, we’re so smart. We’re going to mail it to them. Not only will it cost us a lot of money in postage, but it’s very impersonal … and not very smart. Because opportunities to be kind allow people to ask questions like, “How are you doing? Do you need anything? How can I pray for you and your family?” Little things that mean a lot.

Now, last week, we talked about how, as the Father has sent me, even so, I sent you, and I showed you all these beautiful pictures of Jesus knocking on people’s doors (Revelation 3:20). And I don’t know how many people got it … If the Father sent him to knock on doors, he kind of wants you to knock on doors. Not on the other side of town, but people you know. Not in a bad neighborhood, but where you live right now. Not with complete strangers, but people who are becoming your friends. This makes a powerful difference in the lives of other people because what they do as a way of doing these good works is they are praying for individual people who have individual problems and what they do is offer God’s help and their help.

One of the cell leaders, Okja, and I’m sure I’m pronouncing that wrong too, this is a quote from a book. Okja found something else that helped in bringing people to the Savior. When I talked to these people, we had targeted to evangelize because see, remember, they chose people and they prayed for them and looked for ways to be kind. She said, “I discovered one thing. If a person ever told me of a need or a problem, it let me know that person was receptive. It never failed that I could then lead that person to faith in Jesus Christ.”

The ultimate aim of evangelistic visitation, this evangelistic contact with neighbors, is to find people with needs and problems and then lead them to the problem solver, Jesus Christ. A subdistrict leader, Leebu Pak, and I’m sure I said that wrong too, tells her cell leaders, the missionaries with a micro-mission field, “Look for problems. When you find someone with a problem, you are almost guaranteed that that person will come to Jesus.” And so by being kind to their neighbors, thousands of people come to Christ.

Mother Teresa said, “God did not call me to minister to the millions, but to minister to the one who is in front of me.” This is a picture of something that works and it works very, very well. And I have to wonder, can the engine that produces 20,000 converts per year in Korea, can it work here? Now, maybe in this church, there would not be 50,000 cell groups … I could wish … but could there be one? Could there be one group that focuses on praying for individual people and doing what they can to help them, people who are not complete strangers, but people with whom they have some kind of daily contact, with the goal of helping them come to Christ?

Now, when this little group gets together once a month, there will be singing, but singing is not the focus. There will be Bible study, but Bible study is not the focus. There will be refreshments. There will be refreshments, just like we’re going to have a birthday party cupcakes right after worship today. There will be refreshments, but the focus is not refreshments. The focus is for individual people who have names to come to Christ.

And I’ll be very honest with you, folks. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of United Methodist churches in our Illinois Great Rivers Conference. There are thousands and thousands of churches of all denominations all around us. Ever since I read these words some 20 to 25 years ago, I’ve been watching. And other than the ones I’ve started, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not aware of a single small group in any of these churches where the focus of the group is on people, individual specific people coming to Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder that churches are smaller than they used to be?

And I think we can learn from this. Because as Jesus said, as the Father sent me, even so I send you. And Jesus went from place to place, praying for individual people and helping individual people. And that drew huge crowds of people who needed that help. And there are people around us who need help, who feel very alone, who feel very misunderstood, who are struggling with great pain and difficulty, and they’re not aware of anybody who really cares.

We could be that person that cares, and God can use that.

Please pray with me. Pray with me. Lord Jesus, You said that as we go through our day, we would encounter opportunities to do good, to be kind. We would meet people who we probably already know in some way, who we probably already understand in some way. And You would work things out so that there would be an opportunity for us to say a kind word, do a good deed, or, Lord, if nothing else, pray. That person looks sad. I’ll pray for them. That person’s upset, I’ll pray for them. That person’s having a problem. And Lord, when You help them with their problem, they will learn to seek You every day. Lord, help us to be those kinds of neighbors who help their neighbors come to you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

April 14, 2024, Stacking Wood and Lighting Candles, Eastertide 2

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

CALL TO WORSHIP
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.

HYMN We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations – Harvest – Greenhills Christian Fellowship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwFzG9diulI

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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 Thy Word
Amy Grant – Thy Word (Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6LC8cu03Ig

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: Stacking Wood and Lighting Candles
Text: Mark 16:14-18, Matthew 28:16-20, 5:13-16
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life.

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

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

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.“ 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. Amen.

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

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.

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

HYMN Pass It On
PASS IT ON || LYRICS by Musikanna
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AkHc9dM2VlY

BENEDICTION

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

In the weeks following Easter, we’re talking about what Jesus wants us to do. We’re talking about how resurrection happens in our life, in our church, and what a camera would see, what people would see if we were doing what Jesus wants us to do. In other words, what are our instructions for walking in [inaudible] of life? And today, we’re going to be talking about stacking wood, and I’m sure that makes no sense at all, and lighting candles. Because you see, the purpose of God is eternal. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Now take a close look at verse 17: “For God sent the Son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” One meme that went around a lot at Christmas said that If God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, I doubt that He sent you to do it. The role of Christian people is not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through the gift of Jesus Christ. And after Easter, God is wanting to fulfill this purpose. God is wanting to redeem the world. God is wanting to make a resurrection happen in this poor, sick, sad, sinful, suffering world for things to change.

And the eternal purpose, God so loved the world, still continues, only as Jesus said on Easter Sunday night. Now, it’s not just that God sent the Son into the world. Jesus said to His followers, “As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.” You and I are people that help God fulfill this eternal purpose. And in order to know how we are to do that, there is a French word we need to keep in mind. It’s called Mise en Place. When someone asks you what the pastor talked about today, you can say, “Well, we studied French for a while.” Mise en Place is the thing that world-famous chefs do. You see, Mise en Place means everything in place and ready to cook.

Now, they don’t actually show this very well on all these cooking challenge shows to where they have five minutes to make something very difficult. But in the real world, chefs will get everything ready. The ingredients will be measured. Everything will be ready before they start to cook. My father taught me this as a very young child. He said, “Dave, before you make anything, get all the ingredients out and put them on the counter. Make sure you’ve got everything. And when you put this ingredient in or that ingredient in, then put the spice back on the shelf. And that way, you won’t put it in twice, but you’ll be mostly cleaned up by the time you’re done.” You see, Mise en Place happens, getting ready happens, before the TV cameras start rolling.

So between Easter and Pentecost, there are 49 days the disciples those days to get ready for the day of Pentecost. Charles Kingsley said, “Have your tools ready and God will find you work to do with them.” Mise en place is you getting your tools ready. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Friends, if the Christian life seems difficult, maybe it’s because you spend more time swinging the axe than you spend sharpening it. If you want to see God work, you need to do the mise en place. You need to get things ready. And what is that?

And we misunderstand Pentecost so deeply because on the day of Pentecost, 49 days after Easter, the Holy Spirit descends and 120 followers of Jesus are a part of a beautiful act of God where in a single day, 3,000 people are converted and are baptized. That’s right. The very first day of the church, there were 3,000 members. Not only that, if you read the text carefully, within a few weeks, certainly less than a couple of months, there were 15,000 Christians. And so you’ll hear preachers say every year, and they’ll do it again as Pentecost comes closer: What we need is for the Holy Spirit to fall. And that’s certainly true. But you need to understand what that means in context. Because if there’s going to be a flame over the heads of the disciples that ignites a great fire … but where do you get the wood?

So let me try to explain that today. In the Gospel of Mark, Mark gives the disciples instructions of what they are to do now. And it’s really interesting the way Mark explains what they need to do. If you look at Mark 16:15, look at the red print there. And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” As if the only thing the world needs now is sermons. Friends, I want to tell you that I like this verse because I like sermons. The more sermons, the better. The longer, the better. All day long, seven days long. Every waking minute, sermons, sermons, sermons, sermons, because I love sermons. Jeret loves to play the piano. Kim loves to make supper. Thank God for that. I love sermons.

And of course, the church saw that and said, “That’s what we need. We need sermons. We need to drag people into church and preach out until they change.” That’s the way Mark explains it. And so verse 19, “Then the Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went forth and they preached everywhere.” And everything happened just as it was supposed to.

But friends, here’s the problem with sermons. A sermon is like a wooden match. It can get a fire going, but there’s not a whole lot of wood in the sermon itself. Sermons get things going. They start a fire within us, but by themselves, they don’t burn long unless there’s fuel there to light.

So where does the wood come from that caused the day of Pentecost to go from 120 people to 3,000 converts to 15,000 converts? And you see, here’s the answer. The Gospel of Mark tells the disciples what they need to do after Jesus did what he needed to do for three years. What you’re looking at here is a bonfire. One of the favorite kinds of wood to make into a bonfire is wooden pallets, and you see them piled up there. Jesus built the fire. He stacked the wood. He got everything ready for three years so that all it took to start a fire was to light a match. Because you see, over those three years, everyone knew of him. Everyone talked about him. Everyone throughout all of Israel knew someone who’d been healed. Everyone knew someone who had seen him in person. Everyone knew someone who followed Jesus. Friends, this is mise en place. Jesus spent three years to get everything ready. And we don’t want to mistake that that is still important.

Helping people come to Christ involves this mise en place that’s getting ready. They need to know about him. They need to talk about him. They need to know people whose prayers have been answered. They need to know people who have met him. They need to know people who follow him. And then they’re ready. Sermons are just the last ingredient.

Now, interestingly enough, Matthew, whose goal is to write a book about Jesus teaching the disciples how to fish for people–every word in the book of Matthew is about teaching people how to fish for people as we look over the shoulders of the disciples as Jesus teaches them. Here’s what the book of Matthew says: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” In other words, there’s not anyone who is more authoritative to tell you how to do this than me. So here’s what I want you to do: Verse 19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And as they are going, they’re going to stack wood. They’re going to help people get ready to become Christian.

And here’s how that will happen if you look at verse 20. You’ll be teaching every person who listens to observe, to follow, to practice, to do all that I’ve commanded you. And lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.

If you want to help people get ready to follow Jesus, all you have to do is learn how to obey everything Jesus has asked you to do. Because when people see that, they will understand what it means to follow Jesus. This is stacking the wood. Because you see, friends, there is a recipe. The steps you take are every single word that Jesus told the disciples to do in the book of Matthew. And when you do what he asked you to do, other people will see it in your life and come to Christ.

Now, let me give you an example from my personal life. Friends, this is Davidoff Cool Water – my cologne. I normally don’t wear this very often because there are some people who are bothered by fragrance. But just to make a point, that’s a lot. That’s plenty. Six squirts. And all of a sudden, everybody knows I’m in the room. Now, I told you that to tell you this.
And I have Kim’s permission to tell you this. When I smell a certain way, she knows it’s date night. When she can sense that certain fragrance wafting through the house, she knows it’s time for happiness and joy because she knows that I only put it on when I want her to know that I love her very much. We’re going out to eat. Or I brought her flowers. And sometimes I overdo it.

Now, the reason I did that is so you could get the sense of this verse and what it means. Jesus says at the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its taste, if there’s no fragrance to the fragrance, how shall its saltness be restored? It’s no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by other people.” You see, when you live your life as if Jesus Christ was living in you, there will be the taste of Jesus Christ in all that you do. Like salt. And people will recognize it. Now, the reason why I use the fragrance is you’ll know I’m here from about 12 feet away.

(I already know it. One person shouts.) She already knows it. Same way.

When you live your life as Jesus Christ asked you to do, it’s like adding salt to a dish that’s already delicious. I looked for a picture of– chefs put their hands in this bowl of salt and they just sprinkle like this across the dish. And it’s so graceful and beautiful. Jesus Christ wants you to have a taste of Him. And people can tell if you’re the real thing or not.

And then Jesus says these words, which I think are also about stacking wood. Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 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. Let your light–“ let the light of Jesus Christ shine through you. “Let your light so shine before people that they may see your good works,” the good that you do, “and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” As you light a candle and leave it in the darkness, all over your neighborhood, people will now be able to see which way to go. They’ll not stumble or fall. And when we live these words of practicing everything that Jesus asks of us, it becomes visible that the Jesus we speak of is real. And the gospel we share is true.

And you have an opportunity as you go through your day– because as you go through your day, God will give you the opportunity to do a good thing. Now, some of you might encounter someone like the Good Samaritan where you literally can save someone’s life. But these good works can also be little, tiny expressions of kindness that show what Jesus Christ is like because they see Him living in us. And friends, if you do the little things, God will coordinate all those little things into big things. But for you, you will have the opportunity, as you go through your day, to do little acts of kindness that will be like Jesus Christ being there. Now, I could talk more about those, but the problem is, if you have 100 people in a room, what God does through them is 100 different things because it’s an expression of who you are. And people sense the fragrance of Jesus. They know that Jesus is there.

So Jesus stacked wood for three years, and that made all the difference. But I want to bring you back to something I shared a few weeks ago, too, called the diffusion of innovations, which is about how an idea spreads through a culture. There’s a new way of doing things, and life is better, and an idea spreads through a culture. But what most of us don’t know is there’s great resistance to change.

And so missionaries and others go over to Africa and they come to a village and they say, “The reason that your babies are dying is– the water that you take from the creek is polluted. This is a solar water purifier. If you pour the creek water into there and let it evaporate and then only let your babies drink the water that comes out this other side, they won’t die.” And then they come back in six months, and they find out that the people in the village are not using the solar water purifier, they find out that the babies are still dying, and they ask the mothers, “Why aren’t you purifying the water for your children?” And the mothers say, “Well, it just doesn’t taste right. We like the way the creek water tastes better.” Now, friends, that may seem ridiculous to you, but that happens all across the world.

And when you consider how Jesus Christ can change someone’s life for the better, you can see it happening in our world. The diffusion of innovations which is sociological science says that 84% of a given people group cannot hear good news that is preached, that is announced in a lecture, that is announced in a book, that is taught in a class, all the ways the church has always tried to share the gospel. It says that 84% of people can only hear the gospel when they hear the good news from a trusted friend or neighbor. In other words, this person is a living example of it, and you can ask questions, and someone you trust can explain it to you.

Now when I went and studied for my doctoral degree– now, of course, you can say, you can call me Dr. Dave if you want. But I proposed this method as a method to convert the world, that what we need to do is reach the 84% of the people that cannot be reached in any other way by letting people they know and trust preach the sermons. Only it’s not actually sermons, you just be kind and have conversations. So conversations between friends about Jesus, about how Jesus loves you, about how God wants to help you, little acts of kindness. They draw people closer to Jesus. And isn’t it amazing? Now Jesus can reach out to all of the people through many, many, many people in small ways in a way that really works.

And what’s happening on the day of Pentecost is that afterall these conversations that Jesus had had with people, they were ready. And so there is what they call an S-curve of adoption to where 84% of the population instantly converted because they were ready. It’s a hallmark of this form of evangelism to work through ordinary people just like you, as you be the best Christian you can be. It works.

Now, “Pastor Dave, that really sounds technical and difficult. What exactly is it that you want me to do?” A wonderful evangelist by the name of Neil Cole explained it this way. And I’m sorry if this grosses you out, but it’s true. If you live in the South – and I lived in Louisville for four years – when you walk into a room in the kind of apartments seminary students lived in, when you turn on the light, all of a sudden, the cockroaches scurry for the darkness. Have you ever noticed that? Not in your house, of course, but in other people’s houses.

Now, here’s the problem. If you try to stop that cockroach and hang onto it and hold it in your hand and try to explain the gospel to it, it is too scared to listen to you. All you can do if you see people going away from you because you’re a Christian is to pray for them, and please do that. “But,” Neil Cole said, “people who are ready are like moths. When you shine a light in the darkness, they come up because they like the light.” So all you need to do is go out there in the world and go about your day and talk to everybody you get a chance to talk to, and you be kind to everybody you get a chance to be kind with, and you notice the people who come up to you. And you have a conversation with them. And maybe the fact that they came up to you causes you to keep praying for them. Because if you respond to the people that God sends to come up to you, you will find that the conversations that you have with them have the potential to change their minds. So don’t worry about everything and don’t worry about everyone. Have the conversations with the people that God brings to you.

Here are some statistics: 96% of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if they’re invited, more than 9 out of 10. These statistics come from 2005. They are likely to come to church if they’re asked by someone with who they have a relationship, as a trusted neighbor or a peer.

A friend of mine put a statistic on Facebook last night that said that this number has shrunk from 96% to 40% because there’s a lot of hostility in the world today. The end result of the hostility in the world today is many people don’t have very many trusted friends and neighbors. But 40% of Kinmundy is still 280 people. There are 280 people who would be interested in following Jesus Christ, even if it’s just 40%, if they had the right conversations with the right person.

And, in fact, this book that Thom Rainer wrote in 2005, he states very plainly, “Most of the unchurched people would rather talk to a layperson than a minister about religious matters.” Now, why is that? When you ask the minister a question, you get a 20-minute sermon before you even get to ask the second question. You see, God can use you in conversations with your neighbors more effectively than God can use me with sermons.

Not only that, and here’s some research from our own Church. This statistic comes from 2012. The average United Methodist Church member invites only one person to worship every 38 years. Now, if you’ve invited someone to come to church with you sooner than 38 years ago, you are amazing. And in addition to that, one thing I want to say to you really quickly, as Patsy talked about how the numbers are getting fewer and fewer, it’s really not just inviting someone to church. It’s showing someone that you care and that Jesus cares, and everything else flows from that. This is your ministry.

Because you see, the way Jesus wants Easter to work is this way. Jesus came into the world and loved the world and helped people and had conversations with them. Now he is sending you to do just that.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to understand that it’s not just a matter of inviting people to church. It’s not just a matter of convincing people to be just like us. But Lord, as we practice our faith, we give people the experience of actually meeting and knowing a genuine Christian. And Lord, as we practice our faith and follow you in simple, gentle ways, those simple, gentle ways like leaven in a loaf of bread, grow and expand in the lives of every person we talk to. And so, Lord, help us to know that you have chosen to work through pastors, and you have chosen to work through preachers and through churches and through denominations. But Lord, what you’ve mostly chosen to do is to work through all of your people in many little ways so that the whole world may be saved through you because you love the whole world. And so, Lord, we pray that you will work through us and use us so that God’s will may be done here on earth just as it is in heaven. 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 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

April 7, 2024, Day 1 – What’s Next: Peace, Sent, Receive, Forgive, Eastertide 1

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

CALL TO WORSHIP
The 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.

HYMN – Right-click, open in new tab to play …
451 Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou My Vision | Celtic Worship ft. Steph Macleod
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiukM6WHQEQ
OR
Be Thou My Vision by 4Him -Lyrics (Celtic Version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIMhshpf0Y4

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 in flow as I am gifted.
Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood.
I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

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 – Right-click, open in new tab to play …
382 Have Thine Own Way, Lord –
Have Thine Own Way – Gospel Music Hymn Sing at Lee University
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8W4ChAKlpo
or
Have Thine Own Way Lord by Johnny Cash
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-J8C2BYnxE

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: Day 1 – What’s Next: Peace, Sent, Receive, Forgive.
Text: John 20:19-23, Ephesians 2:10,
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

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

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SERMON NOTES

John 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 John 2:3 And by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says “I know Him” but disobeys His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in Him: 6 he who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.

Romans 8:28  We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.

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HYMN – Right-click, open in new tab to play …
378 Amazing Grace
Alan Jackson – Amazing Grace (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogxLNlgKM8c
OR
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) – Chris Tomlin Worship Video w/lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R1c20IXPYk&list=PLcHqC9YNzSaAaAu19bKe9ERIjUfUSVf31&index=5

BENEDICTION

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, I reminded all of you that one of the benefits of Easter is that we could walk in newness of life, according to Romans chapter 6. That resurrection wasn’t just something that Jesus experienced, but we also had the opportunity to experience new life and the power of new life. And so today, I want to talk briefly about the instructions that Jesus has for us to live that new life. What exactly is it that God expects and wants from us in this season of resurrection?

Last week, we talked about the reality that whether it’s your lazy boy recliner or it’s the tomb on Easter Sunday, that’s a place of rest. That’s a comfort zone. But now, it’s no different than before. Jesus asks us to rise up out of our comfortable place and to follow him, just as he always asked the disciples to follow him and still ask for us to follow him today. The church is not a resting place. Our faith is not meant to be a place for us to retreat, but we rise up with new life to follow Jesus on into that life.

And so now it’s possible that you’re like me. I’m one of those men who think you don’t need to read the instruction manual. There are wonderful, brilliant people. The very first thing they want to do is read the instructions. And so is there an instruction manual for this walking in newness of life? And the answer is, of course, there is. When you open the Bible, you will find instructions for living. You will find instructions for living in the book of Genesis. You will find them in the book of Psalms. You will find them in the words of the prophet Isaiah. But you will find the very best instructions in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, where you can read the instructions from Jesus.

In 1 John 2:3, John reminds us, “And by this, we may be sure that we know Him if we keep His commandments.” If we follow His instructions. Verse 4, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ but disobeys His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this, we may be sure that we are in Him.” And this is verse 6, “He who says he abides in Him, in Jesus, ought to walk, ought to follow– ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” Consequently, I encourage you to open the Bible sometime throughout the day, read a chapter in the Gospels. In the month of April, I recommend it to be one from the Gospel of Mark. It’s the shortest one. It’s very plain-spoken and clear. And when you find an instruction, when you find something that Jesus says that seems to be, “Do this,” make a mark in the margin or highlight it. Because it’s possible that later that day, later that week, or maybe months from now, you’ll be in a situation where what Jesus said, all of a sudden, will remind you what Jesus wants at this moment in time. It’s good to follow the instructions, but it’s good to know them.

And ironically, on Easter Sunday evening, day one, the first day after the resurrection, Jesus gives them four instructions. John chapter 20:19, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews.” You see, all of the disciples were uncertain. What if they were next? So they were very afraid. And on that day, when they were afraid, Jesus came and stood among them. And He said to them, “Peace be with you. Be at peace. Be calm. Don’t be afraid.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and then showed him His side. And the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. You see, Jesus took that moment of fear and anxiety and changed it by his presence.

And then He gave them four instructions. Once again, He says, “Peace be with you.” Then number two, this most profound saying, let it sink in: “As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.” As the Father has sent me. Throughout Jesus’ life, the Father directed Him to go here and to go there, to say this and to say that, to stop and spend time with people. And now, God is going to give you the same assistance and work through you in the same way. As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.

Verse number three, and when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. You will need the Holy Spirit to do what God wants you to do.” And then this most peculiar statement, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” A few weeks ago, we talked about the man who was paralyzed and Jesus looked at him and said, “Your sins are forgiven.” That was the first part of his healing. Sometimes the first part of our healing is to be forgiven. Ironically, I think this instruction is the one that we most often ignore. Not on purpose. It just doesn’t occur to us.

And to me, these connect up with Ephesians 2:10, which is a beautiful, beautiful passage about how God walks with you, where Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship…” God is working on us. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works – to do good things which, now notice this, God prepared for you beforehand to walk in. Here’s the most interesting thing about this verse. As you go through your day, you will encounter opportunities which God has prepared beforehand. God has prepared them beforehand, in advance, so that you can do God’s will. Jesus goes along ahead of you to get everything ready. And here’s the thing I think that’s interesting. A brick building like this church is built one brick at a time. You may not consider yourself able to do great things for God, but you can do little things for God one at a time and trust God for these little things to all coordinate together to do something amazing and big.

So as you go through your day, I want to suggest that you will notice what God wants you to do happening right in front of you. You will notice what you are to do happening right in front of you. In the picture, it might be this man who looks dejected. It might be that young couple that is walking in front of you. When you look into the distance, it looks like a man is standing there holding a bouquet of flowers. What could that be?

In addition to that, the people that God puts in front of you might be strangers, like the man the Good Samaritan helped. But God is even more likely to use you to minister to people that you already know because they have troubles too. God goes in front of you, and you will find your opportunities to do good along the way because they will be put there on purpose. All we have to do is notice. All we have to do, since we’re supposed to love our neighbor, is to notice our neighbor, and we’ll have the sense of what God wants because you do not walk alone in this life.

So here comes the instruction. As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you. If you look at the New Testament and ask yourself, “What did Jesus do?” What you will find most amazingly is Jesus goes from one conversation to another. As he’s walking from this place to that place, he has one conversation after another with different people. And through those conversations, he changes lives. Friends, I want to tell you, conversations change lives.

The sociological science that is known as the diffusion of innovations, widely understood as being true throughout the world in every culture, every corporation, every business, every country, every church, every community. 16% of people are interested in things changing and getting better but to be honest, 84% of people love the comfort zone. They love the way we’ve always done it before. Why does the radio keep playing all this strange new music? And they’ve started to figure out if they want to make money, they play the music from when you were a teenager. It’s true. But here’s what that science of sociology says. The 84% of the people in the world, if you want their lives to change, if you want Jesus Christ to influence them, if you want them to come to Christ and follow Christ and find in Christ what you found in Christ, these 84%: They only change because of conversations with people they trust. In other words, with their neighbors, one of which is you. You have more influence over someone living down the street than the president of the United States. You have more influence over your neighbor than the actors who won the Academy Awards. You have more influence over people who know you than any celebrity, any famous person anywhere. You have more influence over your neighbors probably than a preacher. And this is why Jesus chose to work through you, because your conversations can change lives. And as you go through your day, you will find that God prepares you to be involved in conversations. And through those conversations, Jesus will help you. You will notice what you are to do right in front of you, that person who is right in front of you.

And so remember, there are four instructions. The first one is Jesus wants to work through you. Here’s number two. When you are with that person, what you want to do, Jesus was the model here, the first thing that you say is some form of peace be with you. Psychologists will call that being a non-anxious presence. There are all kinds of people. Some will come up to you and they will make you anxious just because of how nervous and anxious they are. What a wonderful thing it is to be a person who calms people down because you’re calm. Being a non-anxious presence basically means to be like Jesus.

And part of being a non-anxious presence could be these four things. The first one is to assume positive intent. We cause ourselves a lot of anxiety if we assume that this person who’s coming toward us wants to harm us, wants to accuse us, wants to criticize us, wants to pick a fight with us. It just might be that they don’t want to do those bad things today. Assume positive intent. And into that assumption, project calm and peace and listen in a caring way. A lot of the people you run into during the day will be having a wonderful day. That’s great. Rejoice with them. But sometimes you’ll notice there’s a thunderstorm. It’s raining on their eclipse. Could happen – not having a good day. Into that difficulty, send calm and peace, and project your own positive intent. I mean you no harm. That’s what Jesus did when he came into the presence of the disciples. Peace be with you. And all of a sudden, they began to feel safe. You’ll notice what you’re to do right in front of you.

The next instruction, and when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In Luke, it says that they were to receive the understanding of the Word of God. Friends, we need to breathe in because we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit in these conversations. Now, I know you’re smart … but you’re not that smart, that the Holy Spirit can’t help you and guide you. You’ll notice what you are to do right in front of you. Sometimes you’re the one who listens, but sometimes you’re the one who tells your life, your stories. Sometimes God works through both.

Then finally, this one, if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. What a powerful thing it is to say as you listen to a person talk about their pain. What a powerful thing it is to pray, “Lord, forgive them. They know not what they do.” That’s what Jesus said from the cross, to pray for people to be forgiven.

Now, please don’t call me after 10 o’clock at night. But if you called me at 9:30 and said, “Oh, Pastor Dave, you won’t believe this, I met so-and-so and I prayed that God would forgive them.” Friends, I want to be honest with you. I would be thrilled because whoever they are, I know they need forgiveness. I know they need love. But I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know anyone who has told me that they’ve prayed for that. So-and-so has an illness like cancer. Well, I prayed for them. So-and-so lost their job. Well, I prayed for them. But in the whole reality of life, isn’t forgiveness even more important?

And not only that, sometimes, sometimes it’s possible … Sometimes it’s possible that you’ll be talking to someone who goes from one excuse to another about their bad behavior, about how even though they did this thing that is obviously wrong, the other person deserved it. Even though they did wrong, the other person deserved it because it’s all their fault. It couldn’t possibly be my fault. Every single one of us knows somebody who’s filled with one excuse after another for the bad things they do. And they tend to live lives that are full of suffering.
I think it’s rare, but it’s possible that you might pray, “Lord, hang in there with so-and-so until they learn their lesson because they need to know better.” Sometimes your prayer will be, “Lord, don’t forgive them just yet until their hearts have changed.” It could happen.

But those are our four instructions for walking in newness of life. Because you see, friends, as we go through this life, as Paul said in Romans 8, not everything is good. Not everything is good. But what Romans 28 says is that in everything, whether it’s good or not, in everything, no matter how bad it is, God works for good. In every difficult situation, you will find God working for good.

Now, please notice this next phrase. God works for good with those who love Him. Now, quite obviously, that’s God working for good with people who aren’t going through good things. But since today we’re talking about how God works through you, I’d like to ask you to let that phrase sink in as having a slightly extra meaning. In everything, God works for good with you to help them. God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. And you are called to the the purpose of working with him. And as you walk in newness of life, God has a desire to do many little kind and good things through you. And you can trust God to coordinate what you said today with something that someone will say tomorrow, with something that they will read next week, and that everything will work together for good in their life because that’s what we’re here for.

Thy kingdom come. That’s what we’re here for.
Thy will be done, not someday or somewhere, but right here and right now.

Because as the Franciscans said, “You may be the only Bible that some people read.” May they find out about Jesus Christ from you. You may be the only Jesus that some people meet. May people see Jesus in you. Because in these days after the resurrection, God wants to show the Lord Jesus Christ to people who need Him desperately. And He’s chosen to do that through ordinary people like me and you.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, thank you that we can walk in newness of life. Thank you that we can see our lives be changed for the better, that we can see prayers be answered and miracles happen in our lives. But what kind of people would we be if we only cared about prayers being answered for us? If we were only concerned about healing and help for the problems that we have? Help us, Lord, to walk in newness of life and understand that just as the Father sent you, now, Lord, you are willing to send us and not only that, prepare the way for us so that as we go through our day, we can pray for the people who we encounter. And through conversations we have with them, Lord, You can work miracles in their life of love and joy and peace. And so, Lord, we pray for just that, for your kingdom to come, and your will to be done, here and now. 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 2023-2024 | Leave a comment

March 31, 2024, We Are All Invited To Walk In Newness Of Life, Easter Sunday

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

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

HYMN Christ the Lord is Risen Today [April 4 2021, Easter]
Faith United Methodist Church-Rockville, MD
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAofjxKUpmY

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Almighty God, through Jesus Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may, by the renewing of your Spirit arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through Jesus Christ our 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 HYMN 310 He Lives
He Lives! – Greater Vision Gospel Quartet
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpJfT4_COzY

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are All Invited To Walk In Newness Of Life
Text: Romans 6:1-5, Mark 16:5-8, Matthew 28:5-8
Series: What We All Have In Common.

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

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SERMON NOTES

Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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.

Mark 16:5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side,
dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb; for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and they said nothing to any one, for they were afraid.

Matthew 28:5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. Lo, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

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

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

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

All throughout Lent, we have been talking about what we all have in common. And on Easter Sunday, there’s also something that we all have in common: We are all invited, invited. We are all invited to walk in newness of life.

In the cartoon on the screen, the man is shaking the pastor’s hand on Easter Sunday and he says, “You’re in a rut, Reverend. Every time I come here, you’re preaching on the resurrection.” This will be the 44th Easter Sunday that I stood before people as a pastor to preach. And I do have to wonder, am I in a rut? Because we do talk about the same things every Easter.

We try to get different viewpoints, but it is the same point. The picture of the man driving the car is from around 1920 in Iowa. But there was a preacher in our conference from Louisiana. His first name is Perry. I cannot remember his full name. But some 30 years ago, he preached on what it was like to grow up in Louisiana on the Mississippi Delta. And the Mississippi Delta, friends, it’s just mud. It’s mud that the Mississippi River has dropped. And outside the town he grew up in, he said, which was 22 miles from the bridge across the river, there was actually, he said, a road sign that said, “Choose a good rut. You’ll be in it for the next 22 miles.”

Friends, we need to choose a good rut when it comes to Easter Sunday because we’re going to be in it for 22 years, 30 years, 44 years, we’re going to be following the same path. So I want to ask you this question. Am I in a rut? And the answer is not yet.

This afternoon, though, every pastor will be in a rut. The pastor, full of faith, will lay down on the couch and begin to hum: Take my hand, precious Lord. Lead me on … and then they’ll fall asleep. Behold the comfort zone, the place where pastors on Easter Sunday afternoon rest in peace, awaiting the resurrection.

There’s a little quote on the screen. I saw it yesterday. I thought, “Boy, this is so true for Easter Sunday afternoon.”

Those who say, “Go big or go home.” Those who say, “You want to have your cake and eat it too.” Those who say, “You made your bed, now lie in it,” clearly underestimate how badly I want to simply go home, devour my cake, and lay down in the bed that I made.

The comfort zone is a resting place. And something we understand about the comfort zone is it’s a place where nothing much happens. You see, off to the side, that’s where the magic happens. Off to the side, that’s where the miracles happen. And every time they draw these circles, they draw the wrong size. Actual studies of scientific change, sociological studies based on science, based on how cultures change, businesses change, governments change, countries change … There is a place where the magic happens and the change begins to happen. But the comfort zone is actually much larger than how we would like to draw it. We imagine that the forces for change are powerful and impossible to resist … but our imagination is wrong.

The place where miracles and change happens has 16% of the resources. Did you know that? If you line up 100 church members and you say, “Who would like to vote for something new and different, and who would vote for things to stay the way they’ve always been?” What the sociology says is change will lose that vote, because 84% of people will vote for the comfort zone to continue. For nothing to change.

Friends, one thing we all have in common is gravity. And I feel that gravity pulling me toward my lazy boy recliner very powerfully this morning. To be honest, at age 69, I feel it pulling me every morning toward my lazy boy recliner. And perhaps you have the same pull. The comfort zone is a reality. But miracles and magic don’t happen in the comfort zone. Nonetheless, the comfort zone is something that we all have in common.

But on Easter Sunday, Jesus says, “I no longer want to rest in peace. I no longer want to lay down. I want to get up and move forward.” And Jesus, as He has always done, and still on Easter Sunday, still on Easter Sunday, looks at all of us and says, Follow me. It’s time for you to get up. It’s time for you to go forward.”

And what I want to suggest and have for 44 years is Easter is not just something that happens to Jesus, it’s something that also happens to us. Well, Pastor Dave, where is that in the Bible? Well, it’s in Romans chapter six. “What shall we say then?” Paul writes. “Are we to continue in sin? Are we to rest? Are we to continue in sin so that God’s grace, God’s forgiveness may abound?” And Paul writes, “By no means, how can we who died to sin still live in it?” Well, Pastor Dave, how exactly did I die to sin?

Here’s what Paul says, verse three. “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death.” The old Negro spiritual goes, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” And Romans 6 says, “Yes, you were.” Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree? Romans 6 says, “Yes, you were.” Were you there when they laid Him in the grave? Romans 6 says, “Yes, you were.” We were there on Friday. We were there on Saturday. Somehow in baptism, there is a connection made between us and the death of Jesus Christ.

Because Paul goes on to say, “So that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too,” notice the word, “might.” You see, you are invited. It is possible so that we too might walk in newness of life. 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.

Last year, I reminded you of the most beautiful sermon I think ever preached on Easter … about how on Friday, bad things happen, and we feel so defeated. On Saturday, in the aftermath, we wait as if life is destroyed. But the preacher reminds us, “Sunday’s coming!” It’s possible that we, too, might walk in newness of life, just like Jesus.

And that’s different than the way a lot of people are thinking about Easter because for many people and many churches, Easter is just a day on the calendar. It’s a day for families to get together. It’s a day of joyful celebration. But in the midst of that celebration, people rarely talk about coming back to life. Because not everybody has gone through the resurrection. For many people, it’s not yet happened. And when the resurrection is not seen as a very real possibility for life, our life to be different, what’s left to us is Fluffy Bunny Day. Now, I’ll be honest with you, I like Fluffy Bunny Day. And I like chocolate bunnies. And I like sitting in my comfort zone with that bowl of candy eggs that slowly begins to disappear. I love Fluffy Bunny Day.

But the real meaning of Easter is an even greater comfort for me. Because you see, by faith, if we see the world as God sees it, if we see the possibilities that God gives us, if we see by faith, we can see that we could certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. But we need to give ourselves time.

On the screen, you see a picture of a caterpillar looking into a mirror and seeing a butterfly. You need to give yourself time, particularly if your Easter is more like the first Easter. The first Easter was marked by great tragedy as Jesus was murdered on the cross, and all hope was lost. Friends, if you are coping with a horrible crisis of death, if it’s Friday, in other words, it’s going to be hard for you to see what’s possible. Not only that, people will look at you, and they will say, “You need to be realistic. This medicine may not work. This plan that you have for life to get better may not work. You need to be realistic.” But friends, here’s the problem with being realistic. You have no place to go. You don’t want to get stuck on Friday.

Not only that, you don’t want to get stuck on Saturday because, in the aftermath of grief, it takes time to adjust. It takes a long time to feel well and hopeful again. Don’t be realistic. Be hopeful and see things the way God sees them. Why? Because Sunday is coming.

On the very first Easter, the women are on the way to the tomb. As far as they know, Jesus is still dead. They get to the tomb. And there’s a man in white. And he says, “Why are you looking for Jesus here? He’s not here. He’s risen. Go tell the other disciples.”

And you know what it says at the end of Mark? It says, “They were filled with fear and ran away and told no one,” because they were still stuck on Saturday. You see, they still believed that Easter had not happened. They were stuck.

And you look at the book of Matthew, and it says, “On the way they were filled with joy and excitement,” because you see, on the way out of and away from the tomb, they realized that these words were true. And they began to see with eyes of faith. They began to see with eyes of hope. And as Jesus appeared to them, they saw that their hope was true. You see, Easter doesn’t happen for everyone at the same time. Resurrection happens in different ways. We’ve been talking about that.

At the beginning of Lent, we talked about how Jesus Christ would reach down into your darkness with grace, that he wasn’t willing simply to care for you while you felt so miserable. He wanted to lift you out of that dark place. And we talked about how justifying grace makes a change in our life. Everything before that is prevenient grace, God helping to get us ready. And then there’s a moment when we light up because God’s power becomes present. And then after that moment, sanctifying grace begins to help us to put our lives back together to get better to, as John Wesley said, go on to perfection. The goal, as Paul says in Philippians 3:10, is that you and I might know Him and not only know Jesus Christ but know and experience the power of His resurrection. When resurrection happens in a person’s life, we see their life begin to change. Not only that, when resurrection happens in a church, we see changes, too.

I’ve told you about the Center for Parish Development Church Growth Principle, a sociological study back actually in the early ’70s, if not the late ’60s, where they put a sample together of United Methodist churches in every type of setting and situation, inner-city churches, wealthy suburban churches, little town churches, county seat town churches like Salem, churches surrounded by cornfields like Wesley. And they made a list. For every church that was growing, they made a list of characteristics. And then they put together a matching sample of exactly those same kinds of United Methodist churches, where the churches were not growing, where they were shrinking, where they were on a plateau of no change … let’s say it politely, where they were dying.

What they found out as a result of the study was that there was only one characteristic that made a difference. They found this in every growing church, without exception, and they never found it in any shrinking church or plateaued church without exception. And the one characteristic was this, and I want to suggest to you it’s a characteristic of resurrection:

The laity, that’s you,
are excited
about what is happening
in their church.

Now it’s a good thing for the pastor to be excited. I’m excited. But where we actually see new life begin is when you get excited. And imagine these women as they’re going from the tomb – oh my gosh – they were excited. Friends, excitement is like gasoline that makes the car go. And when God works a work of resurrection in our hearts, we begin to get excited. Consequently, I want to encourage you to be excited. The word enthusiasm begins with two Greek words put together, en theos. Enthusiasm literally means you’re in God, filled with, surrounded by. When resurrection happens, we begin to experience this. So let yourself feel excitement. I’m not so sure that you should jump off a hill like the kid in the picture, but who knows? All kinds of things happen when we get excited.

This other slide is one of my favorites. I’ve shown it to you many times over the past 10 years. Howard Thurman said this. Shrinking churches worry about what other people need. But I want to suggest to you that when resurrection happens, ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is not churches that cater to them. What the world does not need is more people-pleasers trying to make everybody happy. What the world needs, as Howard Thurman says, “is people who’ve come alive.” Because when they see us come alive, they begin to want what we have.

What makes you come alive? Over the past 10 years, whenever you said to me, “Pastor Dave, I’m really excited. I would like to do this,” I hope you have found in me someone who would encourage you to do what makes you come alive. Because when resurrection happens, we become people who pray, “Thy kingdom come.” We become people who pray, Thy will be done, not someday, but right now. Thy will be done, not somewhere, but right here. And we are willing to be people who do God’s will.

Friends, on Easter Sunday, it’s time for us to consciously and deliberately decide to lead a new life. And together as the church to consciously and deliberately decide, that our church will lead a new life. Because you see, if Easter has happened, then anything is possible. Anything is possible. Anything is possible.

So what we all have in common on Easter Sunday is this. When resurrection happens, we hear the voice of Jesus Christ saying, “Follow me. It’s time to get up and live.” Earl Nightingale, many decades ago, said, “A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.” I like to think of the tomb on Easter Sunday that way. The stone was rolled aside. What kept Jesus bottled up in the tomb, that end was kicked out. And now it’s time to go. It’s time to go forward and see what God can do. Anything is possible!

Please pray with me. Lord, help us not to enjoy the comfort zone so much. Help us to understand that after we rest a while, it’s time, Lord, to wake up. It’s time, Lord, to get up. It’s time to get up off the couch and get back to doing Your will. It’s time to get up and look at the world and say, what does God want us to do? Lord, may we be people who live and work by faith in the power of your resurrection, believing that all things are possible when You are alive and living through us. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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

March 24, 2024, We Are All Asked To Make Jesus Our Priority, Lent 6 Palm Sunday

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

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

HYMN Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
Tell Me the Stories of Jesus
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf5uc0aA8Yg

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

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

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

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

HYMN Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Church Online) – Hillsong Worship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ka7bVQmbnk

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

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

MESSAGE: We Are All Asked To Make Jesus Our Priority
Text: Mark 14:1-11, John 12:1-8, 12-15
Series: What We All Have In Common.

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

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

Mark 14:1 It was now two days before the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth, and kill him; 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be a tumult of the people.” 3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 But there were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment thus wasted? 5 For this ointment might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor.” And they reproached her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you will, you can do good to them; but you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burying. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Luke 19:36 And as he rode along, they spread their garments on the road. 37 As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!“ 39 And some of the Pharisees in the multitude said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – 1 Cor 12:7

Matthew 4:19 “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 28:20 … and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

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

HYMN Where He Leads Me
Where he leads me – Willie Nelson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u95c_FM86ko

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

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

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

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

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

TRANSCRIPT

During the six weeks of Lent, we’ve been talking about what we all have in common because Jesus Christ is reaching out to us to pull us forward to do God’s will. Today, I want to talk about something that may not seem obvious, which is that we are all asked to make Jesus our priority. There are certain things that I want. There are certain things that you want, and they are important. But what Jesus wants, I want to say in the most gentle way possible, what Jesus wants is a higher priority.

Now, here’s what we talked about last week. Every single one of us has a special way that we serve because we are not all alike. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, it says that to each person— by the way, there are no exceptions. To each person is given a way … that the Holy Spirit shows up and works through them … for the good of everyone else. In 1 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul compares the church, that’s us, to a body. Some people are hands; they do hand things. Some people are feet; they take us from one place to another. Some people are the beating heart. Some people are the breathing lungs. And the pastor is usually the one with the mouth! Although some of you join me in that, every person in the church is a specialist because there’s something you are brilliant at, and there’s a whole lot of stuff that you’re not very good at at all. But if everybody does what they’re brilliant at, then everything gets done.

And if you don’t know what your spiritual gift is, if you don’t know what God wants to do through you, one of the most important jobs a pastor has, and I have a few more months to help you figure this out, is to help you to understand the special thing that you bring to the mix, to the whole. And I shared with you last week this tool to help understand it. S.H.A.P.E. – your spiritual gift will be found at the center of your heart, what you love, there’s something you will be drawn to do. Who you love, there’ll be a person who you want to help. I want to help with children. I want to help with teenagers. I want to help with people who are in the hospital. You’ll be drawn by what you love to a certain kind of person to minister to them or a certain kind of ability to use.

And whatever it is that God wants you to do, he will give you the ability. You may be drawn to singing, but if you can’t carry a tune in a bucket, it’s probably something else. You will have the ability. In addition to that, you’ll have the personality. God will give you the kind of personality, if it’s singing, to where you just love to sing. And not only that, over time, God will give you experience in the thing that you’re really good at so that it feels natural to you. To someone else, they’d be nervous, but to you, you’ve done that a lot, it’s not a problem.

But all of these things together, and you see, here’s the problem that sometimes happens with this. All of these things together sometimes lead people to a preference. Well, what I love to do is sing, so I love a church that sings. What I love to do is play the guitar, so I want to go to a church where everybody plays the guitar. I love baseball; I will only go to a church where everyone loves the St Louis Cardinals. And you see, here’s the problem. When our preferences shape how we treat other people, we can have a problem. Each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good, but it’s different for everybody. And we need everybody.

Now, there are two things that happen when people have many different kinds of preferences. The first one is there’s a lot that God wants to do – and with so many different people doing so many different things, everything gets done. It’s a little bit like that diagram on the screen where arrows are going off in every direction. But if you think about it, there’s just one direction. Jesus is at the center and everybody’s going out to do his will. Everybody’s going out to do what God wants. And when that happens, everybody’s doing different things.

Now, there might be two of you that sing and you like to sing together. There might be two of you who are really good in the kitchen, and you like to work in the kitchen together. You team up with people who love what you love, and that’s perfectly fine. But when we all do God’s will, we’re all headed off in different directions to do different things. Let’s all go do what God wants each of us to do.

And you see, here’s a common problem. When preferences develop, people begin to argue with each other about what should be the priority. And the priority changes from Jesus at the center. The priority begins to change to: “I think the priority should be singing, so let’s all go in that direction.” And over time, people who don’t like what you like start to take over, and the church becomes more and more people who think alike, act alike, and all love the same thing. And all the variety of what Jesus wants to do disappears.

When we all do God’s will, we will not all be doing the same thing. But if preferences, your preference, my preference – sometimes the worst person for this is the pastor because the pastor says, “You should be doing this.” (You’ve not heard me say that for 10 years. You’ve heard me say, “You should be doing what God wants you to do.”) But quite often, whoever it is who thinks they’re the boss at the church, tries to get everybody to do it their way. And when enough people team up, then you have, “This is the way we’ve always done it before. We’re going to do it this way and not allow anything else to happen in the church.”

Now, I don’t think our church is like that, but there are a whole lot of churches that are like that. And the key element in all of them is, “How do you get people in line to do it your way?” You criticize them until they either get with it or they leave. And that happens in an awful lot of churches.

Here is the scripture that speaks to that. Mark 14:3, “And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure gnard, very costly. And she broke the flask and she poured it over his head.” Now, one of the ways that people would save for retirement in those days is they’d buy something very expensive and hide it so no one could steal it. And that’s what this family had done. This was a flask of pure nard. The clay stopper in the top of the flask was glued to the opening. The only way you could get it open was to break it, a little bit like the old-fashioned piggy banks.

This was an amazing decision that this woman made. She could not take it back. Her life savings was given to Jesus. And she poured the ointment over his head. There’s a lot of Old Testament scriptures that display this – this is how they would anoint prophets, how they would anoint kings. It was more acceptable in their culture than ours. If you brought some conditioner with you to church, please don’t squirt it over my head! It doesn’t mean the same thing today that it did back then. But she gave that to Jesus.

And instantly, instantly, instantly, she was criticized.

When the disciples saw it, they were indignant. Now, friends, keep your awareness ready for indignation. When the disciples saw it, they were indignant saying, “Why this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for more than 300 denarii.” Now, a denarius is a day’s wage for a laborer. So this ointment might have been sold for the equivalent of a year’s salary and given to the poor. And they reproached her.

You see, it takes a lot of criticism to make everybody go in the same direction. It takes a lot of criticism to ensure that everybody understands that there’s a right way and a wrong way. And at this sort of church, if you want people to accept you, you’d better do things the right way, our way. Now, if you’ve ever served in the military, like my father went into the Navy, they taught him in basic training, there was a right way and a wrong way, and there was the Navy way. And what I want to say to you, friends, whenever we start talking about the right way and the wrong way, we need to refocus on the Jesus way — because the argument of what’s the right way takes us away from everybody doing what God wills to everybody doing what certain people want. And here’s what Jesus said about that. Leave her alone. Verse 6, but Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She’s done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you. And whenever you will, whenever you want to, you can do good to them. But you will not always have me.”

Let her do what she thinks is important. And the person among you who’s in charge of helping the poor, let’s help that person do what they feel is important. Leave her alone. Don’t criticize.

And then Jesus makes a promise that we’ve broken. And every time I talk on this scripture, I try to make up for it. Jesus says that what this woman did, what this principle is about, is so important, it’s so much a part of the gospel, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” And that’s a priority that Jesus has that, frankly, friends, we just dropped the ball, or I guess frankly, I need to say, we preachers have dropped the ball. This is so important that Jesus said it needs to be a part of the gospel. You see, it’s not a waste. It’s for Jesus. It’s for Jesus.

Now, if you want to understand where the criticism was coming from, the Gospel of John makes it pretty plain. John chapter 12, you find this: But Judas Iscariot— now you remember who he was. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, he who was to betray him, said – you see, it’s Judas that started this – verse 5, “Why was this ointment not sold for 300 denari and given to the poor?” And so Judas shames what the woman chose to do. Judas shames the woman for what she felt led by God to do and says, “You know, we should have done something else. We should have sold it. We could have given it to the poor.”

And then John reveals the reason behind Judas’ point of view. This, he said, verse 6, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief. And as he had the money box, he used to take what was put into it.

Unfortunately, at the center of a lot of criticism in the church is a a kind of selfishness. I want more money to buy a new organ. I want more money for this. I want more for that. I want this for this and that for that. And so we criticize anybody and slowly turn the church away from the church in all directions, to the church in Judas’s direction. And as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3, by the time you have different sides, each one is saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong,” you’re way down that road. Paul calls it “carnal.”

The spiritual gift of Judas was criticism. Now, it says that each person is given a way that God’s Spirit shows up. And it certainly is possible that someone here in our church might have the gift of criticism. Pastor Dave, that’s your fourth brownie. Put it back. It may be that someone has the gift of criticism, and maybe I need them. But unfortunately, when you look at churches, especially churches that disagree, it seems like everyone’s got the gift of criticism. It’s not a good thing.

And a couple of days later, it’s Palm Sunday. Jesus sends the disciples to get a young colt, so young, no one’s ever ridden on it. And he rides it down the road through the gate into the city of Jerusalem. And for people who understand the Old Testament, he’s saying very, very clearly, “I am the Messiah.” And the people get excited, and the children get excited. And they start waving those palm branches and they lay their cloaks down in the road because Jesus is here. And boy, are they happy.

But the spirit of Judas is alive and well, because look at the last verse there, verse 39. Verse 38, they are shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.” And they’re praising God. Verse 39, and some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Criticism was very much a part of Palm Sunday.

Because here’s the principle, friends, people will criticize and attempt to control what you give to Jesus. Some people will criticize anything you do, any way that you use your time, any way that you give your money, any way that you provide energy for God to do things, any committee you chair … people can be found who will criticize that and say, “What a waste.” And the thing you need to do is say, “It’s for Jesus.” I’m not doing it for myself. It’s for Jesus.

Now, one of the good reasons to talk about this at this time is, friends, we are in an election year. You and I will be swimming in a flood of criticism, one side against another, for almost the rest of this year. Please hang on to yourself and try not to join in because it doesn’t help anything!

But particularly with regard to criticism of spiritual things, people will question what you feel God wants you to do, and they will tell you that you’re wasting your time. Just remind yourself: what I do, it’s for Jesus.

So if we make Jesus the priority, what becomes important then is that the four gospels have a list of instructions for how we are to be the church. The very first instruction comes from Matthew 4:19, where Jesus looks at Peter and Andrew as they’re fishing by the shore and says, “Follow me.” That’s a command. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And immediately, they left their nets and followed him. That’s the first command. And one by one that concept goes through all of the four gospels, and he tells them everything they need to do to be the church, everything everything they need to do to be a disciple. We could take a list of all of these commands and turn them into a checklist. And friends, if we could do all of them, we’d have the most amazing church. The very last command that Jesus gives in the book of Matthew 28:20 reinforces this idea. The disciples who are gathered there, what are they supposed to do? You need to teach them. Everyone who becomes a disciple, from now on, you need to teach them to obey, to observe in a way that people can see everything I’ve commanded you.” Because following Jesus is not about me and my plans. It’s not about me and my preferences. It’s not about my goals and my ideas of what’s better than your idea. And it’s certainly not about me or anyone else looking at you and saying, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” It’s about what’s important to Jesus. And we lose track of Jesus in our busyness and focus on so many things. And so, we need to get back to the reality that God has a plan. And Jesus gave us the instructions. And our first adjustment, if we begin to follow Jesus, is this: For every day, for every task, for every opportunity that the church has, for every goal, for every relationship, God has a plan.

And we are wise when we adjust our behavior to God’s plan. We are wise when we adjust our feelings to God’s plan. And we are wise when we adjust our thinking to try to determine what does Jesus want rather than taking a vote on what we want. We are wise. Because you see, God has a plan for a church just like the plan on the screen for a building. We need to let the plumbers do the plumbing. We need to let the carpenters do the carpentering. We need to let the electricians do the electrical work. We need to let the people who God has specialized do their work so that everything is done well.

And how we know what we’re all supposed to do is the list of commands that Jesus gave to the disciples. That’s where you’ll find the plan. So here’s a prayer to help us when we’re tempted to criticize:

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

You see, friends, we were not put on earth to please other people, and I’m very sorry to tell you this, there are a whole lot of churches that have come to the decision that what they need to do to succeed as a church, to grow as a church, is to work really hard to please everybody. But as the little girl in Sunny School said, and she was more right than anyone in the world when she said, “Even Jesus couldn’t please everybody.” Because, you see, in the final analysis, it’s not between you and them. You’re not supposed to please them. It’s between you and your God. It was never between you and them anyway.

And so I hope these words of Jesus sink in, that wherever the gospel is preached, wherever the Bible is opened all over the whole world, that what happened that day when a woman had the courage to give something to Jesus, that we would choose to be like her. Because you know something? What the Scripture says, that you and I should give to Jesus, even if that means we go in all different directions to do God’s will, it’s never wasted. It’s never wasted because Jesus takes what we give and uses it to bring God’s will to pass. It’s not a waste; it’s for Jesus.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, it’s such a human temptation, this desire to fit in. It’s such a human temptation to be liked by other people, to receive their approval. It’s such a human temptation for us to be right and be on the right side, the winning side. But Lord, help us to understand this very different way that Jesus wants to work, to give each person some special thing to do. And then, because everybody’s different, and because everybody feels free to do what God wants them to do, because everybody is willing to be different, then everything that God wants to happen gets done. And so, Lord, help us as a church, and help us as people who desire to follow You, to discover what we love and use our abilities so that there is more of what we love in this world, so that everything that God wants to do through us, in all of its great variety, gets done. And we ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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