Sermon 07/19/20: LAW #2: We Have a Problem, And The Problem Is Sin. (Pentecost VII)

Photo: Contact lens found on the bathroom floor when I arrived.

WORSHIP AT HOME for 07/19/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of the Centering Prayer: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN Sow Mercy – Gaither vocal band (Lyrics)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoTtf5MzTOI

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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

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

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

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

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

MESSAGE: LAW #2: We Have A Problem, And The Problem Is Sin.
Text: Galatians 6:7-10, 1 John 1:5-10, Matthew 19:35-40
Series: Four Spiritual Laws (after Sheltering in Place)
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES


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

1 John 1:5-10
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Matthew 19:35 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.”

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HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – I’m Forgiven (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdnku7rwzd4

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may
Not so much seek to be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life
Amen

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

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

Photo: “Contact lens found on the bathroom floor when I arrived” from TripAdvisor.

TRANSCRIPT

And the second rule is the rule for today: Law #2: we have a problem and the problem is sin.

Now, there’s a whole lot of people who will tell you that the problem is something else. Most of these people will tell you that the problem is this person or that person or it’s the person who agrees with them or it’s the person who they don’t like. And not only that, if you begin to talk to people about right and wrong for very long, they will say to you, “What you are doing is wrong but there’s nothing wrong with what I am doing.” And instantly, we change the subject from me to whether something is right or wrong.
And there’s a whole lot of yammering all around the world about what I do is not wrong. How do we define right from wrong when it’s always been so difficult? And so I just want to suggest that right from wrong is this, if it’s less than what God wants, if it’s less than what Jesus would do, then it fits into that umbrella of the problem of sin. If God’s not happy, ain’t nobody happy. And of course, just as we began the service today with a prayer, “Today I’m far less than the person I want to be or can be”, that’s where the whole world is. We have a problem and the problem is that life is not what God would wish it to be. You know why? Because God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.

And so let’s talk about this; there’s a theologian by the name of Scot McKnight and he said, “Everybody needs to take what Jesus said and make from that their own creed and their own statement of what they believe that Jesus wants them to do.” And in the spring before I came here, I was reading that book and I said to myself, “Okay, what’s my Jesus creed?”

And I like to invite you under your breath if you’d like to join me in saying the all part.

I asked Jesus, “What do You want from me?” and here is the answer I received.

“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. And you are to love your neighbor as yourself and you are to love one another as I have loved you. By this shall all people know that you are my disciples.” By loving like Jesus, we become disciples, become known as disciples, and become disciple-makers that fulfill the Great Commission.

That’s how I defined what Jesus wants from me.

Back in 1970, a long time ago, I was 15, I switched from glasses to hard contact lenses and I was a happy teenager!

But numerous times, I would find myself on my knees, not praying but humbly searching for my lost contact lens. I don’t know if you can see it but it’s up there in the corner of the picture. In Mountain View, California, somebody checked into a motel and they saw this contact lens on the floor left behind by the last person there.

It’s very hard to see these looking down on them. How many of you have had to look for lost contact lenses, either for yourself or for children? The way you do it is you get down on your knees, you get down on your floor, and you do a little bit of praying but you look across the floor at the level of the floor and instantly you see two things.

The first thing you see is every speck of dirt on the floor and you think to yourself, “How long has it been since I swept this floor?” Every grain of sand, every tiny particle.

But if God blesses you, off in the distance you’ll see this little shining gleam that will be the thing that you’re looking for, your lost contact lens.

You see, looking down from above on our own behavior or the behavior of other people, it’s awfully difficult sometimes for us to see. But if you humble yourself and you get down and you look across your life, you will see protruding up from the floor all kinds of things that you had not noticed before. And once you see them, you can begin to take care of them. They’re all little things but until you see them you can’t do anything about them.

The other trick, especially in the dark, is to take a flashlight, lay it on the ground, and when you shine a light across the floor, it reveals everything that you’re looking for. So let’s imagine this scripture is like a light: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” And if you get down on your knees and you look across your life with this as the light, it’ll show up every kind of inconsistency where your life is not like this. John Wesley’s third rule has that in mind when he says, basically, my interpretation of it, take advantage of every opportunity you have to grow in faith and spiritually and be close to God.

But the light doesn’t only show that. Verse 39, the minute God has our attention because we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, God says, “Okay. Now look sideways. A second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” And you look across the ground in the light of this command from God and all of a sudden you notice things are not right with you and your neighbor.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus really says this (Matthew 5:23-24): You’re sitting there in worship at the temple and you realize there’s something that’s not right with how your neighbor feels about you. Jesus says you need to get up and leave worship right then and there and go take care of your neighbor right now. I’m sure glad we don’t take that literally or there would never be anyone making all the way through a church service! Because I might think I behave perfectly toward all my neighbors, but that’s not what Jesus said. Jesus said, “If your neighbor has anything against you,–” Well, you know those dumb, sick, stupid, crazy, ordinary people out there, some of them do have things against me. But there I am trying to blame it on them instead of just trying to make the world around me the way Jesus would want it to be. And by the way, this should bother us.

But you know what goes unnoticed so often? We pay more attention to the other people in our lives than we pay to ourselves. Sometimes the person that you are cruel to more than any other person in the world is the person you see in the mirror. You need to love them too because God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life. And so you need to love yourself as well, not be selfish. But for God’s sake, let there be a balance. But if you humble your self and look across the floor with light, the light will show you many, many little adjustments that each one of us needs to make, different for each one of us. But all of a sudden, because the light is shining on them, you could see.

Here’s another verse that brings things to light. From the first chapter of John, three significant points. First, if we say we have no sin, and there are people who do, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us because the truth will tell you where you are less than perfect.

And then comes this beautiful promise at verse nine, if you admit that God is right, then you are wrong. That’s what it means to confess your sins. Instead of arguing with God that God is wrong and that you’re right, if you confess what is not right as a sin, you can trust God. Because God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. You can trust God that God will be faithful and that God will be fair and just and will respond to the prayer confession by doing two things. God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Now, sometimes, there’s some bit of work for us to do; but the promise of this verse is that when it comes to our life being less than perfect, God is willing to do the heavy lifting. God is willing to take what’s not right and clean it, and renew it, and make it right. The theological word for that is justification. Justification by faith.

But then, John comes full circle around to verse 10 and makes this other principle: If we say we have not sinned, we’re calling God a liar. Now, where would anyone get the idea that they have not sinned? You would not get it if you opened up the bible – His word – and read it because, as Jesus says in John, chapter 8, it’s by reading of the words of Jesus that we become aware of sin in our life. In John, chapter 15, Jesus literally said to his disciples, “You are pruned. You are made clean by my word.” The words of Jesus Christ are actually like pruning shears to clean us up. So if you’re someone who would say, “I have not sinned,” then you’ve not felt the pruning shears of the words of Jesus going to work on your conscience. When we humble ourselves and look along with the light, we begin to see things that God is willing to make right in our lives.

Friends, some of our problems are just plain obvious. Not only that, a lot of them reflect this principle that, if what you really want is to be loved, you will not feel loved at the bottom of a carton of ice cream, no matter how good the ice cream is. You will not feel loved at the bottom of the second carton, the third carton, the fourth carton. I know this from personal experience! There’s not enough ice cream in the world to cleanse you from all unrighteousness, yet we do these things that are just simply, obviously wrong.

But most of what’s going on in our lives is a little more subtle than this. There is this reality of what Paul described in Galatians – Stephen Covey calls it the “law of the farm” – the plain reality, do not be deceived, God is not mocked. The world is created in such a way that, whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

Sometimes, the connection between what’s happening right now and the wrongness of it is not quite obvious. You have to ask yourself, “What did I sow that is resulting in this problem?”

Not only that, here’s where our memory plays us false. “What did I do a month ago? Three months ago? Six months ago? … that lead to this happening right now. You have to connect the dots.

But the truth is very simply this: if you don’t like what you’re reaping you can change what you’re sowing. Now keep in mind, whatever seeds you sow it takes a while for the consequences to happen. If you make a change today you’ve got to have faith and hang on. Everybody who tends a garden, everybody who farms 40 acres or more, you put the seed in the ground and you just hope that this time, like every other time in the rest of history and life on this earth, that it will come up. You live by faith that it will come up.

In addition to that, Jesus pointed out when you connect the dots, you may not know this – it may not be seed that you have sown. Jesus told a parable about a man that came onto his neighbor’s land and sowed weeds among the wheat.

Sometimes what’s coming up in your life isn’t due to things that you’ve done … but what other people have done to you. And we need to heal those wounds and hurts that come from the past. And sometimes we need to stop people from sowing harm into our life. But we understand that when we connect the dots.

You see – here’s the problem with thinking that you’re perfect. If you think that you’re perfect, then there’s nothing you can do to make your life better. Because you said it – you’re perfect. But knowing that you are a sinner, knowing that there’s more that you can do, knowing that God will show you the way, knowing that God will show you that little thing that you can change that’s like a leverage point. And it can change your whole life.


If you know that you’re a sinner you know that you have the power to make your own changes so that life can be better. Sometimes the change you need to make is to forgive someone. Sometimes you need to pay attention to what you’re sowing. But I’ll be honest with you, I think you all would agree with me if you see a weed there is no point walking past it. Pull it. Pull it. And you can pray because, as I said, God does the heavy lifting. You can pray for God to bring change into your life. These tiny little things that you see when you humble yourselves they’ll be like dominos and one will fall after another. If you are able to acknowledge that sin is the problem then you are able to pray and enlist God’s help in solving your problem. You are able to change your ways and solve your problems.

Law number two is simply this, we have a problem and the problem is sin. But through prayers of confession, asking for forgiveness and cleansing– it’s like that “reset” button on your computer. You just press “reset” and it restarts, starts up according to God’s will and we can go onward from there.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us not to be deceived into thinking that we’re perfect. Help us not to be so proud that we are unable to see the truth. Because, Lord, in the midst of that truth … like little levers as we change what’s not for the best in our life … you cause good things to grow in our life. And so, Lord, we confess our sins. We ask for forgiveness. We pray for cleansing. And by faith, we know we will live in a new and resurrected world. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources
Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka 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.
 

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