WORSHIP AT HOME for 08/09/20. 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 – I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary (Live)
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.
Guy Penrod, The Nelons – The Ninety and Nine (Live)
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.
Selections from Acts 10 and 11
1 At Caesare’a there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms liberally to the people, and prayed constantly to God. 3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” 4 And he stared at him in terror, and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. 5 And now send men to Joppa, and bring one Simon who is called Peter …
10 And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has cleansed, you must not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
28 and he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”
44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles.
Acts 11:1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, 3 saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” 4 But Peter began and explained to them in order …
15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life.”
HYMN Steve Green – People Need The Lord (Live)
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
(If you wish, you can listen to this prayer being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!
|Last week we talked about the reality of the need, when you enter a room, to ask yourself, “What am I here after?” And the very best answer to that, I suggested, was that what we’re here after is to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength because when He is the principle that organizes our lives, when He is on the throne at the Lord He sorts everything out as it should be. And when He is in the right place in our hearts, we are always adjusting to what He requires from us. We’re always adjusting and that’s still true. |
Friends. I want to tell you of a problem. The problem has to do with the reality that God chose for the Christian religion to begin in the environment of Judaism. And when I say Judaism, or Jewish, today, I want you to understand I’m not talking about the way Jewish people are today. I’m talking about the way they were 2000 years ago. Because 2000 years ago, no matter how much Jesus would say, “All lives matter,” what they heard was, “Jewish lives matter.”
You know the parable – we just heard the song about it – the parable of the lost sheep, the lost lamb. You imagine yourself walking through the wilderness and you hear this cry and you come up and there’s a lamb trapped in a hole. You see, the first thing they would say is, “Are you a Jewish lamb?” Because if you weren’t a Jewish lamb, they’d say, “Good luck.” Now it’s pretty bold of me to say that, but it underlies the scriptures that I want to share with you this morning. Because no matter what Jesus said, they had a tendency to hear what they wanted to hear, what their background and their culture told them to hear. And please, again, keep in mind these are Jewish people from 2000 years ago, not Jewish people today.
To where there came a point to where God had to say to the first disciples, “Gentile lives matter.” Because the behavior of the disciples showed that the truth was very different than what God wanted. Let’s begin with John 3:16. “For God so loved” – what does it say? – “the world.” Now wait a minute. Wait a minute. The world is full of unholiness and sin and we’ve been told that God hates unholiness and sin and that God hates sinful people and as a result we should stay away from them. Friends, what does it say? “God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that” – please join me – “whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
Or, as we said a few weeks ago, God loves you. No matter who you are. And has a wonderful plan for your life. God so loved the whole wide world.
And so, at the end of the gospels, just before Jesus leaves, as he’s giving them their final instructions, he is very blunt and clear. And Jesus came and said to them “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. I’m the boss.” That’s why they say Jesus is Lord. So listen up. I’m going to tell you what you need to do.
What’s the next word? Go. Go therefore and make disciples of Jewish people. Now, wait a minute. It doesn’t say that, does it? Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Because you see, no matter how you’re prejudiced, gentile lives matter. And baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. And then, verse twenty, pass this command on to them. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. Every command that Jesus gave the disciples is to be taught to every new disciple. And then they’re to teach it to the other new disciples. Because you see, the Great Commission comes to every single one of us. And lo I am with you always to the end of the age.
|But, the big one is, go. In Mark, you see it this way. Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” I don’t know if you knew this or not, but Saint Francis had the habit of preaching the gospel to the trees and the grass and the birds. Because, you see, he took this literally. A little bit further down (this will be important later) seventeenth verse, one of the signs that accompany those who believe, belong to Jesus Christ, and there is an important reason why it’s in this context. It has to do with the instant replay that I’ll be telling you about. It says that one of these signs is that they will speak in new tongues just like the disciples did on the day on the day of Pentecost. I’ll explain that in just a minute. |
In Luke, Jesus says it this way, “Plus it is written that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in God’s name, his name, to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.” Why? You are witnesses of these things.
In Acts, it’s repeated in a similar way, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In other words, going out from Jerusalem, the disciples are to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to every – every nation through the whole earth.
So here’s the question. Is that what they did?
Here’s the problem. After the Holy Spirit fell upon them, all of a sudden, they had a church of 3000 members. Within a few months, that church of 3000 members had reached to where there were some 15,000 members. And they all went to the temple every day to worship and they all met in their homes every night. And the disciples gathered with the leadership in a place called Solomon’s Forge in the temple, and everyone respected that. Every one honored them. And they gave up the idea of going because taking care of what they had in the temple was to them, the highest priority. And of course, in the temple, everyone honored them, and maybe they got a little bit too excited about it.
But as the numbers of Christian people grew, persecution happened. Acts 8:1, “And on that day, a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem and they were all scattered throughout the region in Judea and Samaria …” So persecution actually brought the command of Jesus to become true. Except, you notice what it says there? Except the disciples. They still hid away in Jerusalem because that was their idea of where they were most needed.
|Friends, the disciples walked with Jesus for three years, but they struggle with the same problems we did. The church that they had seemed to be at them, to be the most important thing. The 99 healthy sheep seemed to them to be their highest priority. And not only that, all these other Christians who are scattered everywhere, take a look at what verse 19 in Acts 11 says. “Now, those who were scattered because of the persecution of the rose over the death of Stephen travelled as far as Phoenician, Cyprus and Antioch. And wherever they went, they spoke of Jesus Christ, but only to Jewish people.“ Only to Jewish people. |
So you see, the little lamb that’s trapped down in the ground. “Are you a Jewish lamb? Oh, you’re not a Jewish lamb — well, God bless you.” The person whose car is broken down by the side of the road. “Do you go to the Methodist church? You don’t? Oh, God bless you.” We still have the same tendency today.
Then it came to a point in time to where God just couldn’t stand it anymore. God could not wait for them to get it. So he created what I’d like to call an instant replay. Now, what I’m about to tell you actually covers two chapters in the Book of Acts.
|It’s very long, it’s very lengthy. We’d be here until the afternoon if we read the context of every one of these scriptures. So, I invite you to do this at home. But basically, here’s what happens. |
In Caesarea, there was a man named Cornelius. He was a centurion. He was what you would call a colonel or a general. Caesarea, and you’re looking at the pictures there of the ruins of the palace of Caesarea. Kim and I were there. This happens to be a picture that I took. It’s magnificent. It’s right on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s beautiful. And that’s where Pilate’s palace was. The Roman government– the seat of Roman government. And Pilate actually spend almost all of his time here. He would come to Jerusalem once or twice a year when the Jewish people would get irritable. But this is the seat, the capital city in a sense of the entire region of the Roman government. It’s an important place. And if you’re the centurion, you’re an important person.
And this centurion believed in God. This centurion prayed daily. This centurion did good deeds. And all of a sudden, one day he was praying and he was shocked because the voice of God appeared to him. And the voice of God said this, “I’ve heard your prayers. I want you to send to Joppa for a man named Simon. His other name is Peter. And he’s in the house of the tanner in Joppa. Go and tell him to come to you because he has something you need to hear.”
|Now Joppa – today they call it Jaffa – is some 35 miles straight south down the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s 42 miles northwest from Jerusalem and 35 miles from Caesarea. It takes about 12 hours, according to Google Maps, to walk that far. So this was no small thing. |
And so, servants of Cornelius begin to make their way to this tanner’s house in Jaffa. And when they’re about an hour away, all of a sudden, Peter gets hungry. And they’re making his lunch. And maybe it smelled so good he couldn’t deal with it, so he went up on the roof to pray. Now, in those days, flat roofs, no rain. They had their patio on the roof. So there he was up on the roof to pray, and he fell into a trance and he had a vision, you might call it a dream. But he was very aware of every aspect of it. And this is what the dream was like.
“And he became hungry and desired something to eat and while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw that Heaven opened and something descending like a great sheet laid down by four corners upon the earth. And in it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.” Animals and reptiles and birds of the air. The Jewish people weren’t allowed to eat them. Verse 13. “And then came a voice to him, “Rise, Peter. Kill and eat.” But Peter said, “No Lord. No, no! “for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. I’ve always been a good Jew, in other words. Verse 15. And the voice came to him again a second time. Please read this with me. What God has cleansed, you must not call common. Now, in case you didn’t get the point, it happened three times, and then the sheet was drawn up.
And all of a sudden there comes a knock at the door. Somebody pokes his head up through the hole to the roof and says, “Peter, there’s some people here to see you.” And the Holy Spirit says to Peter, “I’ve sent them. You go with them.” So they tell their story. So you see there’s a whole line of coincidences here to help Peter to get it. And he travels that 35 miles north to Caesarea along the coast, and then he meets Cornelius, and the two of them share their tales of the coincidences. Well, I was told to do this. Well, they did that, and I was told that they were coming, and they went back and forth and figured it all out.
|And finally, Peter says to all the people who were there, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate or to visit any one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” So Peter makes clear to them what the Jewish rules are, but he goes on to say, “So when I was sent for, I came without objection.” I asked then why you sent for me?” And Cornelius tells them about how he has a message that God wants them to hear. And Peter begins to talk about Jesus Christ. |
And while Peter was still saying these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. Now, what does that mean? That means all the people who were gathered around, who were gentile, experienced the day of Pentecost. It was an instant replay because you see the Twelve Apostles did not make the right call on the field. It was to correct their misunderstanding — that what they were supposed to do was stay in Jerusalem and take care of the church — when what pleased God was for them to go and preach the gospel to the world.
And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter, the other Jewish people who were witnesses, they were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the gentiles. What an astonishing event!
Instantly, Peter got in trouble with the Jewish leaders back in Jerusalem. He wasn’t following the rules. They called him on the carpet. They demanded he explain himself. Now, the Apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. What a horrible thing. It’s our special little secret. Verse 2. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?” Or, to put it in a different way, “Why did you break our Jewish rule?”
|So Peter began to explain it to them. He went through all the different coincidences, and what God had said to him, and how each prediction, men are coming to get you. They want to take you here. How each of these predicted coincidences prove that God was acting. |
And finally, he said, “As I began to speak–” God didn’t even wait for the end of the sermon. “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, just as on us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'” Yes. “Then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Who was I that I could withstand God, that I could disagree and argue with God?”
|Now, keep in mind, this is happening in Jerusalem. These are the most Jewish of the Jewish people. They were trying to practice Christianity as Jewish people and keep all the Jewish rules. But notice what happens immediately when Peter mentions this. When they heard this they were silenced. Who can argue with the point God is making in this instant replay? How could we disagree with God? And they glorified God saying, “then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life.” |
And so the disciples began to speak about Jesus with people who weren’t Jewish. And because of that, centuries later, you and I are worshipping in this church because the early church got off to a bad start. They thought that the church that they had, the 90 and 9 on the hillside, were what they were supposed to take care of, when, in reality, they were sent to the one that was lost, the one that was not with the others. Jesus told them repeatedly, “I want you to go. Now, start here in Jerusalem, but I want you to go and begin to teach all the people in the world, gentiles too, what it means to follow Jesus Christ.” And when they went astray, God gave them an instant replay to show them what they were really supposed to do.
And friends, you know something? Sometimes we need the same thing. We need God to remind us of what we’re supposed to do. I took this picture on the first Sunday morning when the church had been closed down by government order to try to keep people safe. And starting way back in March right up to this day, those of us who are pastors and leaders in the church are asking the same question, “How do we be Christian in this world that is changing?” Now the form that question took back then was, “How do we be Christians without a church building? How do we be Christians without coming together every week for worship?” All the favorite tools that we use to do our work were in a moment taken away from us. We had to figure out, “Well, how do you practice the faith in a new way?”
Now I’ll be really humble with all of you, friends. Jesus never intended for the apostles to operate a temple in Jerusalem. He was starting something new with them way back when. So, the answer to that question, “How do we be Christians without our buildings? How do we be Christians in the midst of this pandemic?” is still the very same answer. You turn to the beginning in Matthew and you start reading. And when Jesus says, “Follow me,” then you do that. And when Jesus says, “I want you to do this,” then you do that. And then when you get all the way to the end and Jesus says, “Now it’s time for you to go,” then you do that.
|For centuries, the way the church in Kinmundy and Springfield and Chicago and New York and Paris, France, and Rome and Jerusalem operated was to sit there in the church building and say, “You all out there, you come to us.” Things haven’t changed a whole lot because the command of Jesus is still for us to go to them. |
“Well, Pastor, distancing says I’m not supposed to go near them.” That’s true.
“Distancing says I shouldn’t invite a whole bunch of my neighbors over to my house for a barbecue.” Well, that’s true.
But you see, what we need to remember is that when we go into a room or we go into a situation, just like today, what we do is we announce to the room, we announce to the coronavirus, we announce to Governor Pritzker, and anyone else who needs to hear it, “Jesus is Lord right here and right now.” And then you look your eyes up to heaven and you say, “Lord, if you want me to go, you’re going to need to show me how. Lord Jesus, if you want me to do something I’m gonna need your help. You’re going to need to show me how because I’m out of my depth and out of my comfort zone.”
So friends, let me remind you what the instant replay is. We’re still supposed to go. What a church is about is not the ninety and nine or the hundred and ninety-nine or whoever is here. It’s about who’s not here.
And I’ll be very honest with you. With the restrictions that are asked of us, I’m not exactly sure how we can even go. But here’s the thing I want to encourage you. If God opens a door, I encourage you to walk through it. If God provides you with an opportunity to talk to someone who does not believe in Jesus Christ, I encourage you to take advantage of that opportunity. And if God does not open a door, I encourage you to pray that God would open the door.
Because what Jesus said to the twelve apostles– he says to us. “You go out there. And if you go, I am going to give you some sheep to take care of. They are not sheep from my fold. But I have many sheep throughout the whole wide world. And I want you to go and find the ones you’re supposed to watch over and you watch over them.”
Oh, and then you can bring them back to church just like this guy’s bringing his sheep down the highway.
But no matter where you are, no matter where you go, no matter who you’re with, it’s still the same thing. We are always adjusting to what He requires from us. And I want you to know that I want to give you a 12-point plan for how to do this. I want to give you a recipe to follow. But I’ll be honest with you, brothers and sisters. I don’t have a clue. And that really bothers me because I’m the guy with all the books.
But there is one thing that I do know. If you make yourself available to God, God will use you to do God’s work in ways that I can’t even imagine and will probably amaze you as well. Just be willing to go.
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?
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.