Input sound file: Audio 10 14 2018.mp3
over in the Middle East, in one of the Arab countries a United States servicemen goes to an orphanage, picks up a baby and take some time to hug and hold the baby in the bass playing with his dog tags, why? In the aftermath of World War 2, they began to be very concerned as orphanages in Germany. There were a lot of orphans after the war. And these babies began the mysteriously die. They had food to eat. The blankets on the beds kept them warm. What was wrong? Ironically, what they discovered is that the babies need to be held. And they needed to be loved because if someone did not hold them they would fail to thrive. That’s what they called it. They would stop growing, they would wither, and they would die.
Human beings need love. We talked about it last week, our vision as the church is that we are a functional family of God, and what do families do, they love each other. Sometimes imperfectly and sometimes we’re imperfect too, but our goal is that we are a functional family of God where Jesus is Lord, and where people grow. And people grow because we are the people who love one another. This is what we spoke about last week, but it’s a foundation that we build upon. What comes next? Well, like my father said, “When children feel safe and loved, they begin to talk. And what you find out when they begin to talk.” I don’t know exactly when the age is but every parent, every grandchild knows your child becomes this fountain of questions, why is the sky blue? Why is it raining today? And it didn’t rain yesterday? Is it going to rain tomorrow? Why did my puppy die? Why do I have to eat broccoli? Why? Why? Why? What? When? Where? How? Once children feel safe and loved questions begin, why? Because once people feel safe and loved, curiosity develops. At the beginning, all we want is for Jesus to hug us because life is so hard. But when we feel caught up on the hook, then we want to talk. We want to because curiosity develops. Curiosity is a stage of spiritual growth because all of a sudden you become interested in things and we want to know more. And, of course, in the church, we want to learn and not just learn, but also practice, but we want to learn Jesus’s command. If you have one of those Bibles that has the words in red where Jesus said things, that’s a really great thing because you want to know what Jesus has to say. The answers we seek are there and if we listen to what Jesus tells us to do, we’re going to learn. We’re going to learn how to love God. We’re going to learn how to love one another. We’re going to learn how to love our neighbors. We’re also going to learn how to love ourselves; something that a lot of people have never learned how to do. But, we’re going to see a short video on the next slide and it’s going to explain one of the problems that we have with learning. So, technologically speaking, when I advance the slide, it should start. I sure hope so. If not, we’ll learn something. [silence] I’m learning a lot.
[Why does that work in church and not anywhere else? When my daughter comes to me and I say, “Hey, go clean your room,” she knows better. She’s not going to come back a couple hours later and say, “Hey Dad, I memorized what you said to me. You said go clean your room.” What am I going to say? “Oh, good job. That’s what I wanted.” No. And she’s not going to come to me and say, “Dad, I can say go clean your room in Greek. Listen” That’s not going to fly. [Inaudible] my friends and I, we’re going to gather together and every week we’re going to have a study and we’re going to figure out what it would look like if I cleaned my room. No, none of that’s going to fly. Just go and clean it. She knows that. So, why do we think that this type of thinking or this type of talk is going to work with Jesus? I mean Jesus was as black and white as you get. He even looked at people and he’d say, “Why do you call me Lord when you don’t do what I say?” He says that in Luke 6:46. “Why do you call me Lord and you don’t do what I ask you to do?” Why would you call someone your master and then not listen to him?” And he says in Matthew 7:21, he says, “Listen. Not everyone who says to me Lord Lord is going to enter the kingdom of heaven. It’s only the one who actually does the will of my father who lives in heaven.” [music]
Now, this is where it gets just a little bit personal because I will tell you I would rather learn about something than actually do it. I would rather learn to say go clean your room in Greek than actually do it. I would rather have a study to learn all the different ways you could clean your room than actually do it. But what God is looking for is that, when we ask the question, “Lord, how do I make this better?”, and God gives us an answer, God wants us to do it. Because faith is not just about learning, it’s about doing what we’ve learned. And there are some churches that have gotten so good at learning that they learn more and more and more and they do less and less and less. The purpose of learning is so that we [move?] right on to do it. So here’s how Jesus put it. Mark chapter 414, verses 14 to 20 explained a parable of Jesus called The Sower. It says in the parable, “The sower went out to sow and he threw seed on the road, and he threw seed anywhere the weeds were, and he threw seed where the ground was hard and and you know something, that’s not what smart farmers do. For the sower also threw the seed on the good ground, and it grew and multiplied 40, 60, 100 fold. The disciples said, “Jesus.” You see, they weren’t alert. They asked Jesus to explain the parable. So here’s what Jesus said, “The sowere sows the word.” The word of God. What Jesus said. That’s what the sower is sowing. And the sower is sowing it every way. And in verse 20, Jesus explains, those seeds that were sown upon the good soil that represents people who hear the word and accept it, that bear fruit 30 fold, and 60 fold and 100 fold. We accept the word into our hearts. When the seed is sewn on the road, on the hard ground, it just sits there on top. It doesn’t get inside. Because there is a hardness that keeps it from being able to grow. The sower sows the word. Jesus goes on to explain this in John chapter 8, he speaks of God, the father and he says, “He who sent me is true and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” Everything Jesus says comes from the father and then Jesus obeys and shares it with people. A little bit later he says, “I do nothing on my own authority but speak.” And in other words, I don’t say anything that’s just my own opinion, but I speak first as the father taught me. I take the word from the father and I share it with all of you. He goes on to say, “I always do what is pleasing to him. And as Jesus spoke this way, verse 30, many believed in him. Because the word was being spread on the good ground. And it took root and got inside and began to grow. Jesus then says– Jesus then said to the Jews who would believe in him. “If you continue in my word, continue to hear, continue to practice, continue to grow. If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” There is a definition of what makes a disciple. A true definition of a disciple. And Jesus gives this promise verse 32. “And you will know the truth. The truth comes from God’s word. You will know the truth and that knowing the truth will set you free.” Exactly how does the truth set us free? John Chapter 15, just a few chapters later, Jesus says, “I am the true vine. And my father is the vine dresser. My father is the gardener that watches over the garden of all the people that he grow. Verse 2, every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away. And every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, that it may beare more fruit. What exactly is it that does the pruning? Verse 3, you are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. As the Bible comes into your heart it will begin to change you. It will begin to clean out what should not be there. It will begin to clear out the clutter that does not belong. Simply absorbing the word of God will set you free and will begin to clean out your life. Let me share a pet peeve with you just real briefly. Preachers that preach on this first they always want to say, “But you know the pruning hurts.” Now, we just had a little video about God saying, “Go clean up your room.” What would happen if you got your room and if it was already clean? That’s what pruning is. It takes away what you don’t need. It takes away what you don’t want. My favorite example is this: What if I woke up tomorrow morning and weigh what my doctor wanted me to weigh? Just imagine that. That’s pruning. It goes away. It doesn’t hurt a bit, brothers and sisters. I want it gone. Let’s say here’s the mechanism of pruning. If you read God’s word and let it come inside and grow inside of you, it will clear out what shouldn’t be. It will clean up where you need cleaning. If you left God’s word go to work in your heart and mind. In other words, if you let yourself learn, it will change your life.
Come back to John Chapter 8, next verse. “They answered Him,” they answered Jesus, “We are descendants of Abraham” We are Methodists. We are [inaudible] members of our church. They are just bragging here. “We are descendants of Abraham, and we have never been in bondage to anyone.” Which, by the way, is a lie. They were in bondage to Egypt, in bondage to all sorts of foreign empires, The Assyrians, The Greeks, and the Romans. That’s a lot. But none the less, they say it as if it was true. “How was it that You say, ‘You will be made free’? Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.'” If there’s something in your life that you need to get rid of, Jesus can help you be free. Verse 35: “The slave does not continue in the house forever; the son continues forever so.” Verse 36: “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Here’s their response. Or here’s what Jesus says next. He looks them in the eye and He says, “I know that you are descendants of Abraham. Yet you seek to kill me.” Why? Here’s Jesus’s explanation, “Because my word finds no place in you.” It just sits on the top. It can’t grow in you. It can’t live in you. It can’t take root in you. Because your hearts are hard and you won’t let it in. “My word finds no place in you.” May the word of God find a place in your life. because it will set you free in everything that oppresses you and imprisons you. We are the people who love one another. But, what’s that mean for love [is met?]? Curiosity begins to develop and all the sudden now, we are the people who learn together. And it all really starts when you get up and you sit at your chair, wherever your chair is. This chair has been sitting here for more than a year to remind us that each one of us should have a place each day where we sit down and we meet with God. Because if you meet with God every day, you will learn from that time you dedicate. Now, we’re not all sitting in the same chair, but we’re sitting together in the sense that we’re all taking time to do that. It starts when you take time to listen and to learn from God. It starts in your chair. And we’re all learning because of that. But, that’s not all; we learn during the sermon. Last night, the bishop preached a beautiful wonderful sermon; it was 48 minutes long. If you wanted to learn during this sermon, we’d make it 6 or 7 hours long, wouldn’t we? Maybe not. It’s so funny, we sit through a 90-minute made for television movie. We sit through a 60-minute drama. And as long as people are getting shot and killed, it holds our attention perfectly. But, if the sermon goes much longer than 20 minutes, oh my God. How will we survive? Well, see but here’s the answer; we all are at different levels of our wanting to learn. So, for some of us, 20 minutes is– that’s about all we can handle. And you know something? That’s just fine. But, for that reason, we have learning that happens after the sermon. Learning that happens in different places during the week, so that no matter how much curiosity you have, you will be able to get those hungers met in your church. After this service to worship, do you know what we do? We go in the room where there’s coffee and cookies and we get all kinds of hugs. There’s nothing that quite satisfies us like being hugged by our coffee or the cookies. There’s nothing that is satisfying like sitting with our friends and visiting. But, you know what happens after you have your cup of coffee? There’s actually Sunday school. And you’re able to stick around and learn just a little bit more. Now, here’s the wonderful about Sunday school. No homework. In fact, you don’t even have to think about Sunday school before you get there. You can just come and be ready to learn. And we have an adult Sunday school class here. And we have one class for all the boys and girls. And there’s an opportunity for you to learn every Sunday at very low expenditure of effort. All you have to do is refill your coffee cup and hang around just a little bit longer, and you’ll learn, and you’ll grow. Unfortunately, I won’t be there I’ll be preaching this sermon at the Wesley Church. But just so that there’s time to learn with the pastor, we meet every Wednesday. You know what goes up and down. Some weeks there were as few as six but now there’s usually around 14 people, they come out on Wednesday night. And on Wednesday night, we have decided that what’s not needed is a lecture from the pastor but that we’re going to have a conversation and ask questions and answer them. And so on Monday now, I’m putting the questions on the church Facebook page, that we’re going to discuss on Wednesday. And you know something, you don’t have to think about your feelings about those questions before Wednesday. But if you want to, they’re there. We’re talking about, right now, the first chapter in the gospel of John, it’s taken us two weeks, might take us three weeks, who knows. We might talk about it for a month. We’ll talk about it as long as people want to. And not only that, on Wednesday night you can ask the pastor questions. You can say, “pastor, why did Jesus say that?” You can say, “pastor, why did Jesus turn the water into wine?” You can say, “pastor, where did I leave my car keys?” Because you see I get to say, “I don’t know the answer to that,” but I can say, “I’ll look into it.” It’s so much fun to play a game that I call Stump the Pastor. Although nobody on Wednesday night plays it. It’s always fun to get hit with a question that I’m not expecting.
On Sunday morning, you realize it’s the only in the United States of America where somebody stands up and talks, and you don’t get to raise your hand and ask a question. You know why no one gets to ask a question? Because we might be here for six hours. The coffee is waiting. So if you have a question today, I want you to know, we’ll try to answer it on Wednesday. And if you have a question that is just burning a hole in your heart because it’s something that you’re hurting. Wednesday night people care and they will give their best answer to your question and they will pray for you and I will too. That’s Wednesday night. We start at 7 o’clock. The desire is to be over by 8 o’clock and sometimes between 8:00 and 8:30, we actually do finish. But it’s a good thing.
If you need more learning than Sunday school, we have that. Now guess what, if you need more learning than this, on Tuesday we have a group that is really serious about their learning. They’ll meet for 30 minutes, like Sunday school, to an hour. They don’t meet like an hour to 90 minutes like we do on Wednesday night. It’s usually two hours. Sometimes they get to talking and Kim’s not home till three, three and a half hours later. Because it’s just that interesting. How many people are in one of Kim’s classes? Is it fun?
Okay. If you’re curious about it, ask one of them. But, this particular study, it combines all of the things we’ve talked about before plus a textbook. And not only that, you have to go back to your chair five days a week and to do the homework. You know why? If you try to do your homework on Monday, it’ll break you. Five days a week. You’re back to studying and thinking and you’re learning. And God’s word is taking root in your life. You’re going to grow and be fruitful because God’s word is growing inside of you. Now, this study happens to be called the lady’s study or the women’s study. I would love to have a study for men. I would love to have a study for men and you can explain baseball to me. And we can talk about the bible. But, there hasn’t been that kind of curiosity, but if there are men who want to do something similar, let me know. We’ll get together. Because the greatest problem that any church has, I’ll be honest with you, is a lack of curiosity. If there is a lack of curiosity, what it means is that people are still back in that stage to where what they need most from Jesus is a hug. You haven’t been hugged enough or loved enough. But if there’s curiosity, you’re going to begin to ask questions. And we want to make sure that the opportunity is there in the church for there to be places for questions to be asked and discussed and answered. Because, as curiosity develops, it’ll lead to conversations that will deepen relationships that will literally change everything about how people think. It will change people’s lives.
These three little Arab boys in a military war zone. I’m not sure if it’s Iraq or Afghanistan, but their lives are changing because of the love and the caring that’s coming from this soldier. First, they had to get over their fear. I don’t know if I want to sit next to somebody with a loaded machine. But as they began to be saved, they began to talk and their whole idea of the United States of America is changing because they’re learning. And we need the same thing. Because while we are people who love one another, the natural way of things is that when you begin to thrive spiritually, curiosity develops and you become people who want to learn. And I’ll be honest with you, the very best way for us to learn is for us to learn together. Let’s pray.
Lord Jesus, they call you teacher. But you came to us to share God’s words into our lives so that it could grow because it’s something living like a seed. And so Lord, I pray for our church, for all the churches, that you would stir up a holy curiosity and help people to know that where their hearts are hurting, where their minds are frustrated, that you have answers that meet our deepest needs. Help us, Lord, to turn to you so that we might learn together. We ask that in Jesus’s name. Amen.
And that’s true because of this: who are we? We are the people who are standing on the
The photo …
This post is based on the sermon “___” from the sermon series “___”
*date*, at Kinmundy United Methodist Church.
Slides and audio for this message can be downloaded from http://www.disciplewalk.com/K_Sermons_June_2018.html
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.