Sermon 08/02/20: LAW #4: Choose this day whom you will serve (Pentecost IX)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 08/02/20. 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 Gaither Vocal Band – Where Could I Go [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjxMpitgep4

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 Gaither Vocal Band & TaRanda Greene – Jesus Hold My Hand (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nA639oCTm5E

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 #4: We must follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Text: Luke 6:45-49; Joshua 24:13-25
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

Luke 6:45-49
45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Joshua 24:13-25
13 I gave you a land on which you had not labored, and cities which you had not built, and you dwell therein; you eat the fruit of vineyards and oliveyards which you did not plant.’ 14 “Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 And if you be unwilling to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” 16 Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; 17 for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, and who did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; 18 and the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land; therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”
19 But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.”
21 And the people said to Joshua, “Nay; but we will serve the LORD.” 22 Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the LORD, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” 23 He said, “Then put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24 And the people said to Joshua, “The LORD our God we will serve, and his voice we will obey.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem. 

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HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Blessed Assurance (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-LRI-lLYyq4&list=PLrQ_9CjH0M3AQm_izrWBXmcFdVMf7KsdX

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!

Image by u_jup1hbno from Pixabay.

TRANSCRIPT

I told a joke last week that’s been on my mind a lot this week, so let me tell it again, even though you know the punchline.

A pastor said to an older member of the congregation, “Ma’am, at your advanced age, you should be thinking about the hereafter.” And the woman said, “Pastor, I think about the hereafter all the time. I go down in the basement. I go upstairs to the bedroom. I walk through my house. I walk into the kitchen. And I’m constantly thinking, “What am I here after? What am I here after?”

And it occurred to me this week, that’s a really good question. You know where you are. What are you here after?

Well, let me give you a clue. Let me give you a hint. This is what Jesus says is at the root. This is what Jesus says is at the foundation. Wherever you are, I would suggest to you that this is what you’re here after, what you’re seeking.

Jesus was asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? Which is the one that has the priority, that comes first, that comes before everything else?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the great and first commandment. So when you walk into the kitchen, the question is, “I’m here. How do I love God here? How do I love God here with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my mind?”

Now there’s some of us when we’re in certain places, we’re really good with the heart part. We understand our emotions, but you know what gets us into our trouble? We understand our emotions. We’re not using our minds. Have you ever been in a place where you knew what you were feeling, but not what you were thinking? With all your soul, with who you are, but if you’re not in touch with your feelings, are you really aware of who you are? And anybody will tell you the mind is a thing I like to use. I’m always thinking, but I’m not using everything that God gave me if I’m just using the thinking part. The feeling part’s important too. No matter where you are, if you will listen, you’ll feel something in your heart that God needs to be done. You’ll feel something in your soul that’s important. Your mind will notice something that needs fixing. If you take a minute to listen, God will show you the things that you can change, and you can have the courage to change them!

It would be wonderful if you could walk into the kitchen or the basement or the garage or whatever part of the house it is and feel this sense from God that everything is as it should be. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? May it happen all the time! Well, I think this is what we’re here after.

Jesus expands it; He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So if you’re in the kitchen with your neighbor, your neighbor’s important and so are you. And then Jesus says, All of the law and the prophets, every commandment, every request, fits somehow under the umbrella. But it all starts with this: “I am here, but what I’m here after is to love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength.

As Christian psychologist Henry Cloud says, “When loving God is our orientation principle in life, we’re always adjusting to what He requires from us.” And wherever you are, there is something that God requires from us.

Here’s how Jesus put it; this is Luke 6:45. “The good man, the good woman, the good person, out of the good treasure of his heart, produces good, and the evil man, the evil woman, the evil person, out of his evil treasure, produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart,” in other words, what’s in here and overflowing, overflows out of your mouth. Whatever’s inside your heart overflows out of your mouth. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

And then Jesus says this little phrase, which indicates the difficulty that many of us have. “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Now, if you’ve raised children, you’re very familiar with that. “Why do you call me, ‘Mom, Mom,” and not sit there and do what I tell you? Why do you call me, ‘Dad, Dad,’ and then ride your bicycle unsafely in the street?” And the answer is, “Well, I’m a kid; what did you expect?”

Nonetheless, it’s a good question. If I’m the Lord, then it would be wise for you to think about what I’m telling you to do. Here’s why, Jesus goes on to say. “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words–” and see, that’s the thing with kids. They hear the words. Jesus says, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words,” that’s good, but the second part’s even better, “and does them, I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock, and when a flood arose, when trouble happened … trouble is always going to happen. When a flood rose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it because it was well-built. It was well-built on a foundation, not of just coming to Christ, not of just hearing the words of Christ, but built on a foundation of doing what we’re told.

The next part. He who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell and the ruin of that house was great.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this, particularly when there’s a flood, the flood does not knock the house down. The flood makes the house unstable, and it collapses from its own weight. The stream is always going to come. But the practice of doing what Jesus asks us to do builds a firm foundation.

What am I here after? I want that firm foundation. I’m here not only to come to Jesus, not only to hear what Jesus wants, but I want to be a person who does what Jesus told me to do.

The original four spiritual laws booklet put it very plainly. Who are you going to serve? Joshua 24, this comes from a very long passage. It’s on the back of your bulletin, but the people of Israel have come into the promised land. God has kept his promise to them. And Joshua calls them all together and gives them a warning. “You need to choose whom you will serve.” Maybe you’ll choose the old-fashioned gods, the ones your fathers served in the region beyond the river. Or maybe you’re going to just cave and serve the new local gods. The ones that the people around you worship. The gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But Joshua plainly says to them, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

And the people of Israel say, “That’s what we’re going to do too.” And Joshua warns them if you do not keep this promise, bad stuff will happen. And there is in the bible a concept called the Deuteronomic cycle.

Israel falls away. Drifts away from God to serve other priorities, other gods.
And bit by bit, piling up upon them, are the consequences of those poor decisions,
which cause them great suffering,
and of course, the minute that all hell is about to break loose,
all of a sudden, now they want to turn back to God
and the Lord hears their prayer and saves the day.
And they swear to themselves, “I will never again turn away from God
and sure enough, a few months later, a few years later, it all starts up again.

Most of the Old Testament has that story. So just as Joshua looked at them, I went to look at you and say this, we need to choose whom we’re going to serve.

Because what the Fourth Spiritual Laws booklet had said was, “You need to decide who’s on the throne. Who is going to be the king in your life? Because the best answer is Jesus Christ.”

But to be honest, for many of us, when we look into the mirror, the person that we see who we have put in charge of our life is the person we see in the mirror, and it doesn’t always go well.

Some of us are so co-dependent, some of us are so wanting to please other people, we put another person on the throne because we thinking, “Oh, if I make mom happy–” you’ve heard the phrase, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”? There’s some truth to that. If I put Mama on the throne, if I put my boss at work on the throne, if I put my child on the throne and try to spend my whole life trying to serve them and make them happy, that doesn’t always end well either.

Who’s on the throne? Who is the lord of our life? And it’s Jesus who does the best job of that. Jesus is Lord. What am I hereafter?

I am hereafter … to come into a room and say Jesus is Lord over this room, and sometimes that means, immediately that I’ll become aware of something I need to do. I need to do that because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord, it’s a good thing to say. And believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. The book of Romans says, “You will be saved.”

Now, if I say Jesus is Lord, that doesn’t mean that it’s true at every situation quite yet, but it’s the right place to start because life will bring you to your knees. There’s a lot of times that, of course, I’m looking at Facebook, because when I look through Facebook, I’m looking for people who need my prayers. And I continually will see on Facebook, the reality that people love the savior part. They love the part where they come to their knees and they cry out to the Lord, “Save me.” They love the part where they come to their knees and they cry out to the Lord, “Forgive me.” And they love the part where they fall to their knees and believe that they’re helpless, and they cry out to the Lord and they say, “Help me.”

Well, Pastor Dave, what could be wrong with that?

You know what I hear underneath that tone? Lord, since I’m helpless, I need you to do all the work because I am helpless, I am so thankful that I don’t even have to lift a finger because you will do all the work.

And you know something? Often times that’s true.

While my children were children, I had to tie their shoes, but I was so happy when they learned to tie their shoes. I was so happy when I didn’t need to buy them with diapers anymore, but I sometimes think that when we fall to our knees, we’re asking God to do things that God has asked us to do. Sometimes we fall to our knees because there’s work to be done. Some of you have gardens? What happens when you fall to your knees and pray that the weeds will disappear? What happens when you go into your room and your a child and everything’s a mess and you kneel down your bed and you say, “Lord, please come and clean up my room.”

The answer from God if we could hear it, is that God has given us the strength to obey God. Then we know what we’re supposed to do. And when it is beyond our strength, that’s when we need God to come here to help us. But doing the Lord’s will, sometimes, requires us to do something. Sometimes it requires us to do some work. It requires us to move from the third law, which says, “Lord, Jesus, only you can save me,” to the fourth law, which says, “Lord, Jesus, I’m ready to do what you ask me to do.” And from that, come so many blessings.

I don’t know if you noticed or not but this is the sign that you see when you drive, this way. Somebody asked me several months ago, “Are you ever going to put something different on that sign?” And my answer was, “Absolutely not.” Because that’s the great commandment. That’s what people need to know. Do you want JOY in your life? It works this way, Jesus first, and obey him, and while you obey him, he’s going to direct you to others. They need your love. And he’s going to direct you to yourself because you need to love yourself as well, but if Jesus is on the throne, you can expect that as Lord of your life, he will eventually ask you to do something. And that’s when we find out whether he’s actually the Lord.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, it’s so easy when we feel helpless to cry out and ask you to give us serenity. Because we’re imagining that all around us there is nothing that we can do and nothing that we can change. How definitely hard it is sometimes, Lord, for us to find the courage to do what we can, to pull the weeds in our garden, to come into a room and say, “Lord, Jesus, you are Lord over this room. What do I need to do?” What a wonderful thing, Lord, when the answer is, “Well done my good and faithful servant.” And so, Lord, as we go from place to place and room to room, looking for what we’re here after, may it be that we would find that everything is as you would wish it to be. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. 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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