Sermon 11/15/20: “If My People” Prayer (Kingdomtide X)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 11/15/20. 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 Honoring Men and Women who serve, Veterans and First Responders
Bill & Gloria Gaither – A Few Good Men [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ygfbt_4pgM

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 Let Freedom Ring (Lyric Video/Live At Carnegie Hall, New York, NY/2002)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuVEPi4hjHY

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: “If My People” Prayer
Text: 2 Chronicles 7:9-16, Luke 6:27-28, 35-42.
Series: The Prayer Recipes
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

2 Chronicles 7:9 And on the eighth day they held a solemn assembly; for they had kept the dedication of the altar seven days and the feast seven days. 10 On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their homes, joyful and glad of heart for the goodness that the LORD had shown to David and to Solomon and to Israel his people. 11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that my name may be there for ever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Luke 6:27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. … 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. 37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” 39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. 41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

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HYMN Terry Blackwood, Sue Dodge, Ernie Haase, The Talley Trio – This Land Is Your Land [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzpH3ZrLSEM

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 Pete Linforth from Pixabay.

TRANSCRIPT

Oh, Jesus, I pray that you will bless these words and that in the midst of these words, what you need people and want people to hear will enter into their hearts and grow. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

It’s been a wild year and a challenging and difficult year. And in the past week or so, this promise from the Old Testament, which normally pastors preach on the Fourth of July, has been on my mind. And certainly, it is a powerful prayer.

For such a prayer that calls upon God to fulfill this promise that God makes, I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and heal their land.

A lot of us will pray in different ways and with different words out of a deep heartfelt desire that our land be healed. There’s been a lot of hurt from COVID, from other things. And I think it’s time for healing. I think we need to pray this prayer.

How do we do that? Well, let me change the subject briefly because I think it will give us a way. You’ve heard me mention the name of Stanford University Medical School professor psychiatrist Dr. David Burns multiple times since I’ve been here. Dr. Burns has written a book on just about everything. But from his book on relationships, we find the words I’m about to quote to you.

Dr. Burns set up a very large statistical scientific study. Brought together multiple thousands of people because he wanted to identify in great detail what made a difference in marriage relationships. And he programmed the study to test all kinds of things, every possible variation of what a husband could do or a wife could do that would cause all kinds of trouble.

And when he got all the results, as frequently happens in science, he was very disappointed because all the things he tested for except for two turned out not to matter much at all. Here are the two that really mattered. The findings just seem too simple. By the way, this test cost thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars.

The only thing that really seemed to matter is this: do you blame your partner for the problems in your relationship? If so, you may be in for a rough tough time. However, if you’re willing to examine your own role in the problem, and if you feel that it’s your job to make your partner happy … shake your head for just a minute because how in the world can we make anyone happy?

But if that’s your desire, if that’s your goal, if you want that other person to be happy, the prognosis for a rewarding, successful relationship is extremely positive both now and in the future. These appear to be the real keys to success in any relationship.

And I would suggest that they are the real keys in our healing our land. Dr Burns went on to say that individuals who complained and blamed others for the problems in their relationships never seemed to get better. They just kept arguing and fighting with other people no matter what therapy techniques he tried. People who blamed their partners or people in general for the problems in their relationships were angry, frustrated, unhappy, and intensely dissatisfied with their relationships. In addition, this mindset accurately predicted what would happen in the future.

So what that means is that when you express your anger, and you express your frustration, and you express your unhappiness, you will remain dissatisfied forever. Those behaviors, contrary to what most people believe, don’t make anyone happy.
In contrast, people who were willing to assume complete personal responsibility for solving the problems in their relationship and who felt a strong commitment to making their partners happy, not only reported the most satisfying and loving relationships at the time of initial testing but their positive feelings seemed to increase over time. This is within our power.

Here’s the Old Testament prophecy and promise for prayer: Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.” The context for this scripture is the dedication of the temple. Verse 13, when I shut up the heavens. So that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people…

Let that sink in for just a moment. A quick comment on that. We want to believe that God is in control, and a statement like this comes out of it. But we know that God does not spread germs from person to person. We know that people do that. So I think the meaning of this is not so much that God causes disease and pestilence that God allows consequences to come when people are unwise. But when that happens, here is the promise.

If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven. And will forgive them their sins, and heal their land.

Let me tell you how this scripture is normally preached. The way it’s normally preached is the pastor looks out over the audience over the congregation and says, “If my people, who are called by my name–” There’s no question who that is, right? “–will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and call other people to turn from their wicked ways. Blame other people for all the problems that we’re dealing with. Get angry and attack other people because those other people are unholy and they’re the cause of all our problems.

By the way, if you heard talk like that before, there’s a lot of it. But if you look at it closely, that’s not what it says. What it literally says– and I believe, whenever possible, let’s take what the Bible says literally. What it literally says is if God’s people turn… you and I cannot condemn other people and get them to change, but hopefully we can change.
If my people, who are called by my name, humble themselves instead of treating other people arrogantly. If my people will pray and seek my face… Not call for other people to pray. If my people will turn from their wicked ways, whatever those are, that will be enough to turn everything around. Because if we turn to God, humble ourselves, and want to be different people, that’s a prayer that God promises to answer: I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land.

Jesus says the same sort of thing in Luke 6:27, but to you who are listening I say, “Love your enemies.” Is anyone listening? What’s it like today for us to love our enemies? What’s it like for us today to do as Jesus said, “Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.” Yes, we have been mistreated. But those are the people that Jesus says we need to love.

If you do that, then Jesus says your reward will be great. You know why? And you will be children of the most high. How is it that you recognize God in the children of God? Here are the words that immediately follow: because God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Friends, I’ll tell you the truth. I do not always feel like being kind to the ungrateful, and wicked.

Jesus says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” How do you recognize God? God is merciful. And if God’s people become merciful, amazing things will happen.

Take a look at verse 40. The student is not above the teacher. But everyone who is fully trained, fully mature, fully grown-up will be like their teacher, will be like Jesus Christ. Because what did Jesus Christ do? Did he practice this principle?

Our problems as a nation are really not that complex, I would like to suggest to you today. The primary problem we have is this. Who is going to be like Jesus? You know what? An angry, upset person is going to say, “You go first.”

Who’s going to be like Jesus? And who’s going to go first?

You probably can’t read that tiny print on the screen there, Jesus is dying on the cross and in incredible suffering, yet he says: Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.

Let that sink in for just a moment. Father, these people are stupid. They don’t know what they’re doing. Forgive them anyway! … because that’s what Jesus is like. Forgive them, Father. They don’t know what they do. Now, it doesn’t matter what side of the dispute, if any of us are wrong. Jesus Christ died for the people on the other side. Jesus Christ loves the people on the other side, and he loves us too.

But will we be able to rise to the challenge to be like Jesus and to go first, to humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways of blaming and harming other people? Because if we do, God will hear from heaven and forgive our sins. By the way, did you notice that? We need forgiveness for that kind of bad behavior and then God will move on to forgive the sins of the nation and heal the land.

If we turn, if we become like Jesus, here’s what Dr. Burns said:
Will we blame others for the problems we face?
Will we examine our own role in the problems?
Will we assume complete personal responsibility for solving the problems?


Friends, when there is a problem, we don’t want to wait for other people to fix it. We want to take responsibility. And then finally, we make a strong commitment to the happiness of others.

There’s a phrase from Steven Covey’s book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, where he advises that what we need in relationships is win-win. I want to be okay, and I want you to be okay. I want to win, but I don’t want you to lose. And I’m not going to let you make me lose.

And Steven Covey has this little line. He says that there is only thing you can do when someone else tries to make you lose, because they think this is a battle. This position you take is a win-win or no deal. And what that means is I won’t agree to anything that harms you. Because, if people believe that this is your commitment, they’ll begin to trust you. And hopefully, they too will have a change of heart.
You see, all these things, the resentments, the things that make us angry, they’re a little bit like autumn leaves. We need to let them fall from the tree. We don’t want to hang onto them anymore, we need to let them go. I want you to know, I don’t know anything about Milton Wagner, whose tombstone we are looking at. I don’t know anything about Jimmy Monteith, except that he won the Medal of Honor.

But when they were called to do something difficult for their nation, they stepped forward. And they gave their lives. It would horrify me to think that Jimmy Monteith, the Medal of Honor winner, died so that I could be free to blame everyone around me for every problem there is in this country. He did not die for me to use the freedom that he paid for with his life so disrespectfully.
Nor did Jesus Christ die for me, for me to use my freedom as a person who is forgiven to treat other people so disrespectfully. But please remember the promise. God says, “If my people — if we are God’s people, we will humble ourselves and seek God’s face. If we will turn from our wicked ways… whatever they might be… He will hear from Heaven, and heal our land.”

Please pray with me:
Lord Jesus, some of us are almost perfect. But most of us are pretty stubborn when we get riled. Most of us are pretty arrogant; when somebody tries to push us around, we push back, and maybe even do a little bit of kicking. Lord Jesus, we’re not always sheeple. Sometimes we’re sheep that bite. Sometimes we’re not as wonderful as we’d like to think we are. But Lord, if your people fall to their knees and ask you to heal their land …
It’s not a great distance physically, Lord, to fall to our knees. But sometimes, for our hearts that are stubborn and contrary, and just love a good fight, Lord, sometimes it’s a very great distance in our hearts. To humble ourselves, and pray, and wish, and hope, that other people will be happy. People who we may not feel any kindness towards, but yet, like Jesus, we choose to be kind. Like God, we choose to be merciful. Lord, help us to pray this prayer with each sincerity so that you would hear from Heaven, and heal our land. And 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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1 Response to Sermon 11/15/20: “If My People” Prayer (Kingdomtide X)

  1. Gerri says:

    The sermon yesterday was wonderful and inspiring! Being unable to hear it yesterday was a blessing in disguise as I was able to share the service with Leslie today and we were both blessed. good job, Pastor Dave!

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