Sermon 10/04/20: Tiny Healings (Kingdomtide IV)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/04/20. 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 – Do You Wanna Be Well (Lyric Video/Live In Columbia, TN/2012)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHV1WoAkOXs

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 Booth Brothers – Let the Healing Begin [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X8vok_mD9M

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: Tiny Healings
Text: John 20:21-23, Mark 2:6-12, Matthew 11:28-30
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Audio Sermon at Wesley UMC

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SERMON NOTES

 John 20:21 … As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Mark 2:1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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HYMN Joy Gardner – Healer In The House (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcq-R1bolpo

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!

TRANSCRIPT

We’ve been standing in this grocery store aisle for several weeks now, talking about the fact that God uses ordinary people. God uses people like you and I to do God’s work.

And we’re very accustomed to the idea that God will work when we are in this building. We’re very accustomed to the idea that God will work through the organization of the church, the committees of the church, the mission teams that go out to do God’s work from the church. But in this season of the pandemic, it’s almost as if we need to remember even more powerfully– we need to not forget that God does not need a building to do God’s work. God does not need a committee to do God’s work.

If God has you, God can do what God wants to do every place you find yourself. So we’ve been talking about how God can flow through us in many little tiny ways and I’ve encouraged you to let God working through you to be a habit. So that you can be aware of the moment that God gives you to do some good thing that, just like a spark, God will blow upon it until it burns with a very bright light.

God can work through you and, in fact, there’s a real question if that’s not actually how God prefers to work because the church is on this corner. The food pantry is on that corner. But the reality is each one of us are on every corner and in every place spread throughout this entire town. It’s possible that God would prefer to work through you.

So here’s the reality. This is the picture early on that Sunday morning when the governor of Illinois said because of the pandemic it’s not safe for the churches to gather that Sunday morning where the bishop of our United Methodist Church said the last thing that we want to do is to be away that one person might give this virus to another for everyone’s safety. The church was not open and Christians had to be Christians somewhere else than in the church building. Now, of course, we’ll be back and here we are. I’m always astonished. I talk with other pastors on Facebook and there’s a great number of churches that are still not meeting face-to-face. I believe that the precautions that we take– because we take every possible precaution that we can. I believe that the precautions that we take make it safe for us to gather but there are those out there who have still not met together even outside since last spring.

Apparently, a pandemic can stop the church from working. Apparently, the pandemic can send church people home and keep them from gathering. Apparently, the government in its desire to keep people safe and the church government too, represented by the bishop, can close things down. But no pandemic, no government official can close a Christian down because God can still work through each one of us no matter where we are. The lights may be turned off, the building may be locked, but God is still at work through God’s people. One day the building will be back. It won’t be necessary to wear masks. We’ll be singing as loud as we can. All those things are in the future, but no pandemic could stop God from working through each of us even if it’s safer for us not to work together as a group. God can work through you.

Here’s the verse that lays the foundation for this, John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus said this to the 11 disciples. Jesus said this on Easter Sunday to those who met with the resurrected Christ. He didn’t say it to the institutional church because the institutional church hadn’t happened yet. Jesus did not say to the church, “I’m sending the church.” Jesus said, “I’m sending you, and I am sending you to do the same things that I did.” And the power of God we can assume this means will be flowing through you just as it flowed through me. Now I have a feeling they really had his attention when he said that.

But look at what he goes on to say. “And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” You see, when God works through you, it may be your feet that take you to a place, it may be your hands that do something with a wrench or a hammer, it may be your words that come into someone’s ear, but it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work. When you read the New Testament and all of Jesus’s actions and miracles, it is the Holy Spirit who does the work. Philippians chapter two said that Jesus left behind all of his godly attributes until what was left was empty, entirely human. It says, “He emptied himself and was born in the form of a servant in the likeness of man.” Jesus left behind in heaven all the god part of him, so that when he was on this earth, he was no more powerful than anyone of you are. But the Holy Spirit working through him was more powerful than anything we have seen since Jesus walked this earth. I am sending you, but receive the Holy Spirit. Know that it’s the Holy Spirit that is doing the work.

And then, verse 23, comes this incredibly odd statement, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” And I’ve said this for several weeks now: how many of us realize that the ministry that God calls us to do is to walk out in the world and when we come across a person, “Your sins are forgiven. Your sins are forgiven”? And I don’t know who it would be but it’s possible that we would come across someone and we might say, “Your sins are not forgiven.” But what we want is for sins to be forgiven. And Jesus Christ gave you and I that as a job, “I am sending you out to forgive people’s sins.” Or if they haven’t learned their lesson, I guess, maybe we’re being sent to not forgive them. But that’s not something that we deeply think about. We know we’re supposed to love our neighbor. We need to keep in mind that the most beautiful way that you can love your neighbor is to do whatever is necessary for God to forgive their sins. That’s a ministry given to us.

Jesus sends us, and Jesus sends us to do that in the grocery aisles and hardware stores, and as you walk up and down the street for a little bit of exercise in the open air. I’ve suggested that you make this a habit and, in a tiny way, do this as a habit. Let the anchor which is, “I’m going for a walk,” or, “I see someone,” let that be a thing that would stimulate you to a habit of prayer, that would stimulate you to be aware of their attitudes and your attitudes, that would stimulate you to be grateful. Tiny gratitudes. And when people are hurting or need some little bit of help, tiny mercies. Because when you do those acts of kindness, when you pray for their emotional state, their attitudes, you will draw people to you. You’ll have a little flock of people that you’ll pray for because God will continually bring the same people around you to receive your prayers and your ministry.

And from those prayers there will be tiny healings. And maybe some big healings also. This is what you’re here after, this is who you’re here after. When you are within 10 feet of a person, you pray “Lord, I ask you to help them. Lord, I ask you to forgive them. Lord, I give you thanks for everything you’re already doing in that person’s life.”

Even if they’re a stranger because, as we talked about last week, God will tend to bring the same people around. You’ll just pray for them once, but it’ll turn out that this man works with your brother in law, or he’s distantly related to your next-door neighbor. But that God will bring the same person back. And you will have the chance to continue to change their lives through tiny prayers.

But let’s talk about this question of healing. There was a case in Mark chapter 2, where a whole lot of religious people surrounded Jesus because they wanted to see Jesus do a miracle. Jesus was inside of a house. Back then they made houses with thatched roof, with roofs that were made out of sticks. And Jesus was inside the house, and all these religious people were all gathered around him. They were sitting in the doorway. They were standing around outside looking through the doors and hey, guess what, these people all wanted to see a miracle.

And a sick man comes up and he can’t get in the room where Jesus is. Why? It’s crowded with people who want to watch. So you know what they do? They go up on the roof and move the sticks away. Now, if you hear the sound of a power saw, we don’t want anybody cutting through our roof! But back in those days it wasn’t that hard to fix the roof. But they lowered this paralyzed man down in front of Jesus. And from that we are going to receive a lesson on healing. Now this is very early in the ministry of Jesus. It’s something he wanted people to understand.

So in verse 5, Jesus says when he saw their faith– whose faith? The faith of the people who were willing to lower the man through the roof. You see, it doesn’t have to be the sick person’s faith. The faith be in the people around them. It can be your faith when you’re praying for that man in the grocery store aisle. Your faith can activate the power of God. When Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.”

What an odd thing to say. It’s almost as if your sins being forgiven is what causes healing to happen. And, of course, immediately, in the crowd, there were people who said “stop, stop Jesus! This isn’t how you heal people. This isn’t how you help people. Let us explain to you what is proper!” They can’t do it, but they’re going to tell Jesus how he has to do it! Do you have anybody that you know, your neighbor, or relative who’s like that? They want to tell you how to do it even if they don’t know themselves. “Why does this fellow talk like that? He can’t forgive sins. He’s blaspheming. Only God could forgive sins.”

And of course, Jesus, from their facial expressions, and also because the Holy Spirit is telling him. Jesus knows what they’re thinking. He knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and so he addresses that. He says to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to this paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or say, “The healing has happened. It’s time for you to get up, take your mat and walk”? But I want you to know Jesus said and Jesus wants us to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Jesus was given the authority by the Father to forgive sins when he encountered them as he went to and fro upon the earth. So he said to the man, “I tell you. Get up, take your mat and go home.” And he did and everyone was amazed. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” But I think the point that Jesus wants us to understand is this kind of amazing thing – a miracle! – begins with forgiveness. Forgiveness releases the power of God.

And so fast forward to Easter Sunday, as the Father has sent me to give forgiveness, I’m sending you. And on down through history till today, God is still sending us to ask for forgiveness for people. And on that rare case that something is so evil that it cannot be forgiven pronounced death, the power of God is released, I want to suggest, through forgiveness. So when we say those tiny prayers that result in healing, let’s keep forgiveness in mind, and let’s go just a little bit beyond that. There is a thing called the placebo. I’ve mentioned it before. You may have read about it. When they test a medicine to see if a medicine works, they give a new medicine to 100 people. And what they discovered– you see, some people get the medicine and some people get a placebo, which is like a water pill, a sugar pill. What they’ve discovered is on average, 30% of people, no matter what the illness, get better from nothing but their faith that this pill will work. 30%!

Now, I’m not much of a gambler. But if there was a one out of three chance that Diet Dr Pepper could cure me, I’m going for it since Diet Dr Pepper is cheap! [laughter] If there is a one out of three chance that chocolate will prevent some kind of illness, I’m ready to load up on chocolate. But the placebo effect, which may underlie many miracles in your life going all the way back to Jesus’s life– the placebo effect relies upon three things to work.

The first one is what you believe, what the man in the grocery store aisle believes.
The second one is the belief of the authority, the doctor, the expert, you, the person praying for them. Do you believe that your prayers will work?
And the other thing that increases the other person’s faith is that there is a relationship between the person giving the medicine and the person receiving. So I want to encourage you to pray that way. Lord, help them to have faith! And to pray in such a way that a relationship can happen between you and the person you’re praying for, to where they believe in you, they believe in what you say, and they believe in God. That’s the placebo effect.

There is also what’s known as the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect is the idea that “if you drink Diet Dr. Pepper it will give you cancer.” Here’s the point. If you believe that strong enough, you can make it happen. Consequently, I have decided that nothing I like to eat causes any bad thing to ever happen to me … because I want to keep on eating it! But if you listen to other people, and we probably all know people like this, they read on Facebook, or they read on the Internet, that regular tea will kill you, but green tea will heal you. That you need to stay away from gasoline and only drive cars that run on diesel. And they want to give you this never-ending list of horrible things that will happen to you if you eat a piece of chocolate. Watch out for that, friends – because what you believe can come to have power over you. So believe that Jesus Christ is Lord over everything and surrender yourself to Him.

But sometimes our prayers are answered, not just because God is powerful and the Holy Spirit is at work, but because our faith has a power. So when you pray for someone, pray that God would increase their faith.

Not only that – you’ve heard me say this before too – there’s a psychiatrist, David Burns, he does brilliant work. But one of his famous sayings is that hope is the most powerful antidepressant. This is a difficult time, this pandemic that we’re going through, it wears all of us down. And it’s possible you may have been tempted to take some medication to keep you calm and less worried, and if that’s what you feel is the right thing to do, you should do that. But the point that Dr. Burns makes is that if you have hope that life will get better, it will help lift you up out of depression. Hope is the most powerful antidepressant.

So when you pray for someone, pray for their hope to grow because faith, that’s the placebo effect, hope, which lifts people out of despair, the Bible says that faith and hope and love, which is you praying for people, that’s what will last forever.

And in fact, we talk about the fruit of the spirit. You can always pray that someone would benefit from the fruit of the spirit. … Lord, please give this person love and joy and peace. Lord, please help this person to be kind, and patient, and gentle. Lord, please help this person to be good, to have self-control, and to be faithful. We can pray for the fruit of the Spirit to grow, and we can pray for emotional wounds to be healed.

It’s astonishing how easy it is for us to pray. For God to heal a broken bone. But it never occurs to us to ask God to heal a broken heart. How easy it is for us to pray for someone to be able to find a job! But how it never occurs to us that praying for someone to find better friends is not something we could do. Bert Lancaster, a minister who’s now in heaven, he once said that, “In every pew in every church there’s someone with a broken heart.”

And friends, you and I can pray that God would heal broken-hearted people as easily as we can pray that God would actually heal broken hearts through surgery, bypass surgery, stents, or some other procedure. But the emotional wounds that people so often carry through their life and lead them into great difficulty. A lot of times, they don’t seem like appropriate things that we should pray for. Let’s pray for people who have broken hearts.

When you’re standing in that aisle… I saw this quote this week. Emily Post, the famous lady for etiquette, proper manners. She once said that “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. And if you can be aware of what other people are feeling, that will help you to be aware of how you can pray so that God can work.

Here’s what I think. Just as the tide comes in, just as the tide flows out, I think the Holy Spirit flows like a tide within our life. I think if we make a commitment to not quench the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, like a tide, will cause us to flow towards certain people. And through our prayers, God can do miracles in their life. As we love God, and we love our neighbors through how we pray for our neighbors. And we’ll be able to see little tiny prayers become a mountain of little tiny healing that will flow like the tide throughout everyone we know in this life. Throughout every community in which we’re a part!

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus. Thank you for breathing upon us and telling us to receive the Holy Spirit. We do. Thank you for giving us this ministry of praying that others would be forgiven. Lord, help us to do that. Help us to be aware of their feelings, but Lord help us also to be aware of your feelings and how you are pushing us in gentle ways like the tide toward this person or this person or this person. To pray for what is broken, to be mended. To pray for whatever illness is present to be healed. To pray for their sins to be forgiven. To pray that they would find new life in their faith in you and in following you, just as we have. 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 Road, 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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