Sermon 02/28/21: The Time Has Come; Are We Ready? (Lent II)

At this time, due to surging Coronavirus rates, many are not quite ready to return to face to face worship. If this includes you, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/517362799

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crntcFWvMt

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate 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 Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition: 

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O Glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.

HYMN Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know
Hymn Ask Ye What Great Thing I Know [October 4 2020]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NcQHq5GJa6M

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

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 Where He Leads Me, I Will Follow
Where He Leads Me by Lynda Randle
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bybGsnj0854

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

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: The Time Has Come; Are We Ready?
Mark 8:31-38 to 9:1
Series: The Journey Through Lent To The Cross

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” 34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? 37 For what can a man give in return for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

9:1 And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.”

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HYMN 593 Here I Am Lord
Here I am Lord with lyrics, performed by John Michael Talbot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcxOkht8w7c&list=PLU55hLJ2t61803AyRmecDabjTbCa9YHOr&index=2

(Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

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

Today is February 28th. It’s a very special day in the history of my life, but it’s also the second Sunday of Lent. Last week we talked about the beginning where Jesus came and stood in front of the people and began to preach. And this is what he began to say, began to say, continued to say throughout: “The time has come.” There’s no longer a need to wait. “The time has come,” he said. Jesus is here. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.”

Now, the good news is every word that Jesus ever said, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, everything that Jesus ever did. But this is the beginning of the good news, the first thing. The time has come, and Jesus invites us to be a part of the coming kingdom of God. Are you ready?

I was not ready, but it happened to me anyway.

In 1972, so many years ago when I was a junior in high school, the Jesus people came to Champaign, Illinois. And the youth leader of the church that I no longer attended, a University of Illinois law student, invited me to come to that worship service at the University YMCA on the campus of the University of Illinois. And we were in this room (in the picture). And there was something about the people who were there that I knew was real. And the entire time during the service, during the music, during the sermon, I was obsessed with the answer to this question, What do I have to do to change my life before I come to Christ? What do I have to give up? What do I need to start before I come to Christ?

This is a picture of the evangelist. His name is Bill Lowery … a 45-minute long sermon, I did not hear a word that he said until the very end where he said this, “If you want what these people have, if you want what you see, if you want a faith that changes your life, there is nothing you have to do beforehand, because all you need to do is accept the love and the grace and the forgiveness that Jesus Christ brings to you.”

And so on leap year day, the day after today, a day that only comes once in every four years, on leap year day, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. And that was my first conversion.

You may not be familiar with that. I think that there is more than one conversion, but this is definitely the first. It’s a time when God’s love flows toward us and completely changes our life. And I coasted for several months in a state of great bliss and happiness because, literally, my entire life changed overnight.

But I began to notice as February turned into March, and as March turned into April, the edges of my new life in Christ began to fray just a little bit. And the same preacher, Bill Lowery, the same people, came to Decatur, Illinois, and began to have a tent revival there. And I drove my car over there one night and I got preached to.

And I want to suggest to you that this night was my second conversion, and my life changed again … because the point of that sermon that night was that we are either going to be serious about this faith, or we are going to let it dissipate. That we were called to a deeper walk. Was I willing to follow Jesus even further than my first conversion? I realized that if I wanted these blessings of Jesus Christ to deepen in my life, I needed to get serious, and that was my choice.

Let’s look at the scripture. And He, Jesus, began to teach them that the son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, and the chief priest, and the scribes, and be killed. And after three days, rise again. This is after Peter has made his amazing confession. Jesus says, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter says, “You are the Christ.” And Jesus begins to explain that there’s going to be a cost to follow him. And Peter takes him aside and begins to rebuke him.
In the book of Matthew it says that Peter said to Jesus, “This whole suffering thing, all of this, this will never happen to you.” Why? Because in Peter’s mind, to be a follower of Jesus Christ meant that you were more important, that you would always be fortunate, and lucky, and whatever difficult things other people might experience, they would not be a part of your life.

But you see, Jesus said this plainly. And even though Peter said, “You are the Christ,” Peter thought it was essential for him to explain what it meant to be the Christ. And so there would be no mistake, Jesus issues this invitation. Turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan, for you are not on the side of God, but of man.

The life of Christ is not one to where everything always goes our way. And then he issues this invitation. He called to him the multitude. He wanted everyone to know, especially his disciples, and said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus issues an invitation for you to be like Jesus because if Jesus is going to take up his cross – and because of that cross, all of humanity will have the opportunity to receive forgiveness and grace – then you and I, you and I, will also have the opportunity to be like Jesus.

Let’s contrast these two because I want to suggest that you have a choice. At the first, the conversion where you are saved is one where Jesus Christ serves you. It’s one to where all the love of Christ comes toward you to save your life, to change your life, to fix problems that cause suffering. And when you’re saved, the power of God serves you.

But then there is the opportunity to take a deeper step and not be one who is served, but one who also serves. You see, we have a choice.

This is from my wedding day. At a wedding, it’s a beautiful party, and everybody takes care of the bride and groom. But as you’re on your way out into real life, something happens in that the love you have for each other becomes a situation to where it’s not that you’re served, but it’s that you’re here to serve. And as you serve each other, the relationship of love that you have deepens.

Now, friends, I won’t say that we had our first fight later on that night.

One of the principles I understand in premarital counseling, I still remember the couple that looked at me and said, “We want to get married. We’ve never had a fight.” And I looked at them and I said, “Well, in the ministry, we have a name for people like you.” And I said, “We call you liars [laughter] because no matter how much you love someone, it’s going to test you. It’s going to challenge you.” You’ll need to rise to the occasion. You’ll need to be a better person for that love and that relationship to deepen. That’s the way God made relationships.

So no matter how much God has taken care of us, sooner or later comes the question, “Is my relationship with God one to where I only receive or am I also willing to serve?

And here’s an illustration of that. The next time you’re at Busch Stadium for a Cardinals game, and you’re standing at the concession stand, and you see someone in front of you wearing that shirt with the name Molina across the back, there’s two things you can be sure for sure. The first one is this is not Gerri Molina because it’s the wrong team!

But the second thing, if the person in line is buying a hotdog, you can bet it’s not the catcher Yadier Molina because he’s not in the concession stand. He’s down on the field.

Are you on the team? Or are you a fan? Because you see … When you go to the ballpark, if it’s all about serving you and your needs, here’s a soda pop. Here’s a hotdog. Then you’re a fan … because I guarantee you, when you look down on the field, the players do not have decorations on their faces. The players are not enjoying a hot dog because they are there to work. They are there to serve. They are there to do their best.

And you see Lent begins (like a first conversion), and we are a fan of everything that Jesus does for us. And thank God for that love and grace!

But there comes a point in time to where dressing up is not the heart of the matter because Jesus gives us the invitation to be on the team, not just to watch but to be on the team. And in an ideal, perfect world, the stands would be empty if they were a church because everybody would be playing instead of just watching.

At my first conversion, the question was, “What do I need to do before God can release all this goodness toward me?” But after that conversion, eventually, the question begins to develop into something else. It’s a part of Lent. It’s a part of growth. What do I now have to do after I come to Christ?

You have a beautiful little baby over here. She can’t do the dishes yet, right? When people grow up, they need to learn how to help. And as we grow up as Christian people, sooner or later, we are going to be asked to help because Jesus Christ will invite us to follow him, not just to receive all the good things but to become a servant working in the new kingdom of God.

And that’s a whole different world. I don’t know how long it’s been since you played on a team, but the fans show up on game day. But the people who are seriously working to win, they show up for practice, they learn to work with each other. That’s what it means to be part of a team.

But you know something else? They have actually studied the differences between the first string and the second string and the third string. The third-string players come to practice and they hold a basketball. But when practice is over, they put the basketball down and don’t touch it until the next time they’re at practice. And what studies have shown is that that’s why they’re on third string. The major difference between the different levels of quality of play directly relates to the number of hours that young people actually hold the basketball. (In fact, the first-string players frequently will actually sleep with it!)

But the first-string player will, after practice is over, stay and shoot baskets for hours. Thousands of hours. Now, there is such a thing as natural talent. But when natural talent is equal, it’s the amount of time a person invests that determines their skills. And with regard to our faith, it’s the amount of time that we practice our faith that determines the strength and the power of our faith.

Isaiah the prophet is in the temple. He’s the only one there and he’s praying. He’s putting in those extra hours. Suddenly, he sees a vision of angels and God, and he hears God’s voice saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

Now the riddle is this, why would God ask this question when he already knows the answer? Because Isaiah is the only one there to hear this, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?”

God knows that he’s talking to Isaiah, but Isaiah has the privilege of making a choice, making a commitment, and giving his answer.

Brothers and sisters, as we go through Lent, as we go through the scriptures, as we go forward in our faith at different times in your life, you may hear God’s voice in one way or another asking you if you’re ready to step up.

The years I played basketball, I made the team every year because I was the tallest kid in my high school. I remember the coach looking down the line of players. and I was at the farthest and as far away from the coach as I could get. But I could tell when he looked down the line, he was wondering who should go into the game. In different ways, you’ll be asked and I hope your answer will be this, “Put me in, coach. I’m ready to play.”

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, thank you for the joy of our first conversion. We are forgiven. We are uplifted. We are encouraged. We are filled with love and joy and peace and our lives change. But, Lord, in every relationship, including the relationship with you, there comes a time where there’s a need for us to step up … because it’s not all about us. It’s not all about our happiness and our pleasure. Sooner or later, Lord, in this relationship that we have with you, we will hear your voice, “Who shall I send?” And, Lord, it’s my hope that we will feel ready in our hearts to say, “Lord, send me.” We ask this in Jesus’s name. 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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