Sermon at Kinmundy United Methodist Church on [date]
Title: Sanctifying Grace Matthew 4:17-22, 7:13-14, 16:24-26, 28:18-20; John
Sermon Series: Distinctive Wesleyan Emphases
Audio link – Right click, open in new tab to play: [Kinmundy]
Right click, open in new tab to view slides as a PDF: [Slides]
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?
It’s been a while since you’ve seen a picture of my granddaughters. So it was just time. But God is working in our lives to bring new life, to help us to grow. God is working in our lives through stages of grace. And we’ve been talking about that the last three weeks. And today, we’re up to sanctifying grace. Prevenient grace is God beginning to do the change. That’s a little bit like a mother who is expecting a baby. God wants to bring something to life that’s inside of you. And just like expecting a baby, sometimes there’s hard days in that time of prevenient grace. But finally, the big day comes, the day of justifying grace, the day of transformation. And, all of a sudden, there is a wonderful change. But also, just like giving birth, it’s not always easy, but it’s joyful. But then, comes the reality, as I talked about in the children’s sermon. Babies need to grow up. And the thing that God begins through us, needs also to grow and consolidate and become steady and [inaudible]. And that’s quite difficult. That is the work of sanctifying grace in our life. So that we can grow up, just like a baby grows up, to become all that God wants us to be. And I said to myself, “What would be a good illustration I could use for growing up?” And I decided to go to this one. That’s my friend. Every morning it talks to me. It doesn’t always tell me what I want to hear. But I read in a book, “The more often people weight themselves, the more weight they lose.” And so I bought a scale because not every scale works for me. But this one, literally, uploads whatever I weigh to the internet. So I can tell you, back in June 28, 2017, not too long after I bought it, that’s how much I weighed. Prevenient grace sometimes works in us by motivating us through dissatisfaction with how things are. And unhappiness with how things are helps the change that God wants to do in our lives come forward. Might be a general dissatisfaction with my health. Might me something specific, like my weight. A doctor would tell you that my weight controls my health. So that’s a specific issue for me. So there’s prevenient grace. It’s my friend, even if it tells me what I don’t like. Justifying grace, we are having this revival that’s going on in our district this month in four different places. It’ll be in [inaudible] in a couple of weeks. Justifying grace is an opportunity for us to go to the altar to make a life-changing commitment to open ourselves up to God and to say, “Lord, do your will in my life.” To have change happen because we open the doors and we make a commitment, for example, to go on a diet. And all of a sudden God answers that prayer and the dissatisfaction resolves and we feel very happy because it’s a brand-new day. Justifying grace happens often like that. But sometimes justifying grace is not an answer to prayer. Sometimes, again, it’s an event that happens.
A year after last year’s highest weight I found myself entering this hospital in Austin, Texas. It’s kind of funny. It’s called Saint David. David went to Saint David. I’d been sick that spring and boy, I was sick the day I went to the hospital. And I was there and I decided my life needed to change. I’d decided that before but I was a little more serious because of how it was happening. Before we went on– oh, by the way, June 16th, the day I entered the hospital, my wedding anniversary. The day before, Father’s Day. Friends, it’s not supposed to happen that way. But sometimes our life changes on a day that we wouldn’t pick for ourselves. But before we went on vacation to Texas, the weight was 331. I had this imagination that in the hospital I lost a whole lot of weight. But it turns out when I looked at the figures, thank God for a scale that uploads everything to the internet. I was surprised to find I really didn’t lose that much weight in the hospital. But I got really serious after we got out of the hospital and by the tenth day of July that was the lowest weight that I’ve had in the last 20 to 30 years of my life. My life has changed.
Now we move on into sanctifying grace, which is how do you make that last? How do you consolidate that change? How do you make it permanent? And I’m sorry I can’t tell you that I weigh 305 pounds [laughter]. Because guess what? It tends to come back. And I’m sure not back up at that 348. But you know something? I’m almost back up to where I was when I went into the hospital. But sanctifying grace, staying on a diet, consolidating these changes– it’s a matter of following through day by day and following through day by day is not always that easy.
For those of you who recognize that this is Mama Antonio or Mama Antonelli– I keep saying it wrong. That’s the Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It’s about 4,000 calories a slice [laughter]. It’s worth every single one of those calories. We have met the enemy and he is us. Following through is not hard. God is wanting to make a change in us. How do we follow through so that what God wants to do is permanent and we don’t have to keep going back into the hospital because we go over the same thing again and again and again now before we go forward I want to say to you the children that talked during the sermon become pastors [laughter]. So I want you to enjoy every single second of this child growing up in our midst. I am so happy that she is not shy. You can pray for her mother. I’m sure her mother is not happy at the moment but I am very happy. But moving right along.
How do we learn how to follow through? Here’s the smartest thing I think I could say to you about a change that God wanted to make. If you want to follow through on something God wants you to do, why don’t you consider following Jesus as a way to make it permanent? Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach saying, ‘Get ready for a change.'” That’s what repent means. Get ready to change. For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. God is ready to help you in this moment of change. God is there. God knows the way. We might not know the way. But God knows the way. And when we repent, we decide to get back on track with what God is trying to do in our life. So I want to encourage you to anchor your transformation in repentance. Because the way to follow through on what God wants you to do is to repent from all the things that would take you in another direction.
In addition to that, you can anchor your transformation in following Jesus. We pray the Centering Prayer and you know it says, “Guide me to all that is good. Cleanse me from all that is not.” You can trust Jesus Christ to guide you to all that is good. And to cleanse you from all that is not. Following Jesus will help make the change that God wants to do in your life permanent. Matthew 4:19, “Jesus said to them– ” this was Peter and Andrew, later was James and John, later was Matthew, then it’s you and me. Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you–“
Fishers of men.
That’s right. But also, “I will make you to become what I want you to be. I will help you to fulfill God’s will for your life.” Follow Jesus. And you anchor your transformation in following Jesus by including him in your daily devotions. Every single day I look at my wedding ring and I say to myself, “I’m very thankful that I’m married to Kim.” But every day in my devotions I say, “Lord Jesus, I’m very thankful that you are the Lord and Savior of my life.” If you have devotions, that’s your primary purpose. Every day this is who I belong to. You can anchor your transformation in your daily devotion by reminding yourself that Jesus is the One that you’re following.
The next step is to anchor your transformation in fellowship. There are people who want to stop drinking, want to stop using drugs. Counselors say that they need to pay attention to playgrounds and playmates. Because the people you hang around with, you’ll be tempted to do what they do. If you go to places where people are doing what you shouldn’t be doing, you’re going to be tempted to do that. You need, in order to anchor your transformation, you need to join up with other people. You may not recognize what you’re looking at. This is the back of a computer circuit board. You see each one of those little black dots? That is a connection, an electronic connection to some kind of chip. And power flows back-and-forth along these little pathways from one plays to another so that each chip does what it’s supposed to do. Friends, if you want to lose ground, and lose your change, try to do it all by yourself. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us that we need other people. We are not meant to live the Christian life alone. That’s why it’s literally a commandment. John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” That means you have to get together. Not only that, Jesus says, “You don’t just love them in the way you think love means. You need to love at other people the way even as I have loved you,” Jesus said, “that you also love one another. This is how – Verse 35 – people will recognize that you’re a disciple. If you link up and have love for each other. That connection between you and other people, who are your new playground, and your new playmates, they will help the thing that God is wanting to do with you to last.
The next connection you want to make is with God’s word. You want to anchor your transformation in Scripture. The Bible talks about everything that affects our lives. In John, Chapter 8, you’ll find these words, “As he spoke thus, many believed in him. And then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘Once you’re a believer, what comes next? This comes next. If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples. And you will know the truth. And the truth will make you free.'” The Bible talks about what God is trying to do in your life. If you want to make it permanent, if you want to grow up in the way that God wants you to grow, you’ll find the truth in Scripture to guide you. “Well, Pastor, I opened up the Scripture and I didn’t find any truth in it this morning.” Well, who told you to stop before you found the truth? If you haven’t found the truth, you probably haven’t read enough. Or maybe you’re reading the wrong part of it. I always recommend to start with the words of Jesus and go out from there. And sooner or later there will be a verse that will light up like a blinking skylight.
This is God’s word for you to think about today. Anchor your transformation in Scripture and Scripture will show you the truth. Not only that, most of the things that God is doing in our life leads to us not just taking information in, but we’re supposed to actually practice them. We’re meant to serve other people. You see, God wants you to become like the big sister that is doing God’s will, and it probably has something to do with loving that baby sister. God wants you not just to learn, but to serve and so you take this transformation, and you say, “Lord, who does this help? Where is this leading me, not just to receive, but to give?” And the way you give, Jesus said, is your cross, the way you give to others. Said Jesus told his disciples, Matthew 16:24, “If any man would come after me–” this is a part of following, “let him deny himself–” it’s not just all about you, “and take up your cross–” the way you help other people. Jesus through his cross helped us all. “And follow me–” as you’re serving. You can help grow by anchoring the transformation in service. The thing that God wants you to do. There’s something you’re supposed to do with it. You just can’t sit in the pew and expect someone else to do it. It’s for you. The next way to anchor your transformation in service is to have a mentor and to be a mentor. None of us are smart enough to do this all by ourselves. But we tend to need someone who’s ahead of us to help us with the next step. That’s the mentor, who is Gods’ way of guiding us into all that is good. Now, the transformation that’s involved here involves the sharing of information. There is someone who knows more about what God wants you to do than you do. But not only that, it’s following through and doing the thing you’re supposed to do. There’s someone who knows more about how to do it than you do. We need that person in our lives. One of the things people don’t always realize is the power of the library card in your wallet. Because authors can be mentors. What I have done in terms of trying to lose weight– two people, Dr. Krista Varady who is a Ph.D. nutritionist on the faculty of the University of Illinois, Chicago circle. Dr. Jason Fung who is a nephrologist, a kidney specialist in Toronto, Canada, who’s written these other two books. Everything I’m trying to do, I’m basing on scientific information I’m getting from them. A book can be your mentor. And a real-life person can be your mentor. For multiple thousands of dollars, I could go to Toronto and see Dr. Jason Fung. I think I should learn more about his book before I spend that money. But it’s up to you. But authors can be mentors. Somebody somewhere has gone through what you’re going through. Somebody somewhere has done what God wants you to do, and you can learn from them. And I’ll guarantee you, that book is probably in the library, or your library can get it, or you can buy it. Anchor your transformation by taking in information and learning how to follow it and put it into effect. Have a mentor and be a mentor. You see the t-shirt on that beautiful little granddaughter there? You see that t-shirt? It says, “Princess in training.” Friends, we are all princesses and princes in training. We’re all growing up to be more than we are. We are all people who are becoming what God wants to be. We are all people who are becoming what we really, deep inside ourselves, want to be. And sanctifying grace helps us go along. Because in all of these different ways, through friends, playmates, and playgrounds, through the scripture, through learning by doing and serving and helping others, by having a mentor, through all of these ways, God is helping us to fulfill this last verse of the Great Commission. We are to be teaching others to observe all that Jesus commanded us. Because that’s how we will grow to be all that Jesus wants us to be. Growing older is mandatory. Would you agree with me that growing up is optional? There’s a whole lot of folks that aren’t grown-ups all day, or even one day a week. But growing up is good, and in sanctifying grace God helps us to grow and to [inaudible]. Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we are so glad that we are alive. But we want to grow up. We want to be all that we can be. We want to be more than what we are now, while at the same time, Lord, being grateful for how far you’ve brought us. We pray that you’ll help us to walk forward into the next part of [inaudible] with you. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. Let’s stand and sing. [music] Take time to be holy
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 Raod, 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.