Sermon 5/30/2021: Remembering Wisdom (Memorial Day)

At this time, due to Coronavirus concerns, 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/556690791

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crhU34VhFGn

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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 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
America the Beautiful – United States Navy Band
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSqVkuTegxY

(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
Let There Be Peace On Earth (lyrics) – Sang by Vince Gill; Written by Jill Jackson Miller (1913-1995)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_DxNpW1kHQ

(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: Remembering Wisdom
Text: Ephesians 5:15-17, James 1:5-8, Proverbs 11:14, 24:5-6
Series: Building Bridges from Easter to Pentecost

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

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SERMON NOTES

Ephesians 5:15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, 8 unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

Proverbs 11:14 Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 24:5 A wise man is mightier than a strong man, and a man of knowledge than he who has strength; 6 for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.

So you see, that’s why we ask the question: In light of my past experience, in light of my current circumstances, in light of my future hopes and dreams— regardless of where that leads— if I was wise, what would I do? – from Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions by Andy Stanley

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HYMN America
My Country, ‘Tis of Thee (Lee Greenwood with Lyrics, Contemporary)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4oNMcDvEtM

(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

(UNEDITED) Remembering Wisdom: where does wisdom come from?

I volunteer at the library on Wednesday afternoon and different people come in. It’s always a joy to be at the library. The library is full of books. And if you ever thought about it, the library is full of wisdom in all of those books. We also need to remember all of those books come from people because other people are a great source of wisdom.

And a woman came in and we were having a conversation and she knew I was a pastor. And she said, “Pastor, I just wanted to ask you a question. When we get to heaven, will people in heaven, when they see us, know who we are?”

And I just felt great because she asked a person who was wise for that answer. And unfortunately, I gave her my typical answer, which was very long, citing multiple scriptures. But I also said to her that I’d be quoting one of them this morning for the Memorial Day weekend. She’s not here, but you’re going to hear it in just a moment.

About – I don’t know – two or three weeks ago, something happened to me that happens to me quite commonly. I’m someone who wakes up in the middle of the night and for some reason, I remember, maybe it’s because I was dreaming it, but I’m remembering some injustice or wrong done to me. And my brain starts going on one of those hamster wheels where it just goes around and around and around. Sometimes I imagine that I’m in some sort of courtroom and I’m destroying the fool who dares oppose me with one brilliant argument after another. This goes on for hours. Maybe this happens to you. Maybe I’m not arguing. Maybe I’m grieving and full of regrets. There’s always something.

But I’m quite astonished to learn the following morning that no matter how brilliant I was in the middle of the night, I can’t remember a word of it.

So one of the things I’ve learned is that when my thoughts want to take me away on something that is not useful is to pick up a book. And so I’ll reach for my phone and I’ll turn in the phone to Kindle and I’ll find something to read. And about three weeks ago, I ran across this book that I had bought while it was on sale. And it’s called Ask It. It’s written by Pastor Andy Stanley. And it was a short book.

And that night, it was extremely useful to me. He basically said there’s a question and, if you ask it, it will straighten out your life. It will solve all kinds of problems. Things that have been a great struggle will all of a sudden evaporate and become easy. And being quite a clever man, you have to read a third of the book before he tells you what the question is! But I’ll start right out front and let you know. Here’s the question.

If I was a wise man, what would a wise man do right now?

And I said to myself, a wise man would go back to sleep. And son of a gun, I turned off the phone and turned over and went right back to sleep. And on the next morning, I said to myself, “That’s got to be a sermon coming up soon.”

So here’s the question that solves all the problems, that will revolutionize how you make decisions. If I was wise, what would I do? Ephesians Chapter 5:15, these three verses are the basis for the book that I’m telling you about. Look carefully, Paul writes, then, how you walk not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of the time because the days are evil. The days have problems. There are things that hurt us. So watch where you put your feet. Verse 17, therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

And as you can see in the picture, there is a young woman, I assumed. Her toenails are painted, carefully watching where she places her feet as she walks across the sharp rocks. Now, if you were a wise person, what would you do? I suspect you’re quite like me when you look at that picture. “Girl, where are your shoes? You don’t have to hurt. You don’t have to pick which sharp rock you’re going to stand on if you just remember to wear your shoes. See how wisdom cuts through all kinds of nonsense?

Well, Pastor Dave, someone might say, if I were a wise person – well, I don’t know that I am a wise person. The scripture is really helpful to us. James says if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all men generously and without reproaching And it, wisdom, will be given to him. If you’re not sure what wisdom is, ask God to show you. More often than not, God will point you to his Son, Jesus, and will tell you that if you do what Jesus did, that will be wise. And we are blessed to have the Bible. In fact, it’s something that you can read at night when you can’t sleep. And the truth and wisdom in it will be of great value.

Where else can we go for wisdom? Well, here’s the truth, you will find a lot of wisdom in your past. For some of you, the picture of the man on the screen is a complete stranger. But nonetheless, the point is still true. Good judgment comes from experience. And experience, well, it comes from poor judgment. Every mistake that you can make, you have probably made before. And I guarantee you science will invent new ways to make mistakes. But they’re just new versions of the same old, same old, same old. If we paid attention to the lessons of the past, we would grow wise and make fewer mistakes.

I have always had a resolution that has helped me. And that resolution is this, if I can never make the same mistake twice, soon, I will be perfect. But isn’t it true, the things that trouble us the most, they are the mistakes that we make over and over and over. So your past can help you to become a wise person.

And not only that, in the present, you can connect the past with the present. Because here’s the reality, W. Edwards Deming said this, “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” Now, what that means, whether it’s the United States government system or the public school system or the system which is your physical health, every bad thing that’s happening comes about because of how the system is put together. What that means is every result has a cause. And if you think about it, you can trace it back.

On the screen, I have a picture of the label of something that is called a monster energy drink. Not being one who believes in drinking, energy drinks, at least, I’ve never had one. But I’m quite sure if I did, there would be all kinds of ruminating thoughts and I’d be like this young lady in the picture. I want to go to sleep, but I can’t. Why can’t I go to sleep? Well, monster energy drinks have a lot of caffeine in them. And it’s going to get in the way of you going to sleep because (if I were right), the chemical half-life of caffeine is something like 12 hours. So if you drink coffee at 7:00 o’clock in the morning, half the caffeine is still working on you at seven o’clock at night. If you drink coffee at 7:00 o’clock at night, it’s going to work on you all night long.

Now, friends, you are not in charge of tornadoes, you’re not in charge of car accidents. There are some causes which you have no control over. But if you’re wise, you will see how things fit together. And you’ll notice the causes that you have some control over. There’s a tornado coming. Friends, going out into the front yard and yelling at the tornado is not wise. But you can take shelter. You cannot jump in front of a car and stop a motor vehicle accident. But you can put on your seatbelt and it will help keep you safe. Connect the dots in the present … if I was wise, what would I do?

Because the scripture says very plainly, whatever you sow, you’re going to reap. There’s something in what’s going wrong, where you have some little bit of influence to change that result. And in the moment, you can make a decision to do something different, to think differently, to feel differently, and you’ll begin to notice reality will change. Really understanding what’s happening in the present can teach you a lot of wisdom.

The other source of wisdom comes from the future. And you and I are not able to go into the future. But the future reminds us of what we’ve already learned, which is that good judgment comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgment. But it takes a wise person to learn from his mistakes. But what’s even wiser is to learn from the mistakes of other people.

So if you look around yourself, especially the people who irritate you because they make all kinds of mistakes, are you able to learn from their mistakes? Because if you do, that will be a great source of wisdom to help you in your future. Now, you should learn from your own mistakes. But I guarantee you there are some mistakes you have made yet. By the time you live to be 100, you will probably have made most of them. But there are probably some mistakes even now you have not yet made. But other people have made them. And I want to encourage you to allow other people’s experience to teach you wisdom.

This is the verse that I was going to tell the young lady at the library. Here’s what heaven is like. Hebrews 12:1. (We assume it’s Paul who is the author of Hebrews.) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so a great cloud of witnesses…

This is the reverse of the idea that some people have that when you get to heaven, people won’t know who you are and you won’t know who they are, which is similar to the idea that when you get to heaven, you will find that people there don’t remember and don’t care about anything that has happened on Earth. What I want you to understand is that heaven is a great cloud of witnesses, just like people gathered here at Busch Stadium to watch a ballgame. But what you don’t understand is that, in heaven, that big a crowd has gathered to watch the Hailee Price show. And every time Hailee does something smart, they cheer and clap and are so happy. And every time Hayley strikes out, they just all go, “Aw!” … since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. Friends in heaven, people are watching the Kinmundy channel because they still care about you.

Now, have you ever been to a scary movie? By the way, why is it in scary movies, the pretty young girl always goes back into the haunted house and down into the basement where the maniac is? But if you notice in the scary movie, people in the theater will literally call out, “Don’t go there! Don’t do that!”

Friends, if you could only hear the voices in heaven, “Don’t go there.” You know why they say that? They made that mistake. They lived through those problems. But unfortunately, you cannot hear their voices, but this scripture says very plainly that the people in heaven are watching and shouting encouragement to all of us. So, therefore, let us also lay aside every weight and every sin which clings so closely and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. You see, you are surrounded by witnesses.

You are surrounded also by counselors. Proverbs 11:14 mentions another form of wisdom. It comes from what other people tell you, not only in heaven, but also in this life where there is no guidance. Proverbs says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls; but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

If 100 people stand around you and tell you what to do, they will not all agree. But as you listen, one by one by one, it may be number 98. You may have to listen to a lot of wrong answers. But the point of this scripture is if you get a lot of suggestions, one of those may be made of solid gold. In an abundance of counselors, there is safety.

The worst thing that could happen is for everyone you know to tell you everything alike about what to do. Proverbs 24:5-6, a wise man is mightier than a strong man and a man of knowledge than he who has strength for by wise guidance, you can wage your war. And in the abundance of counselors, there is victory. Let other people remind you of what’s wise in this life.

And if you want to go to the place where the greatest amount of wisdom is – other than the library – it would be to take a walk through here. (A cemetery.) And many of you will go for such a walk today. You’ll lay flowers at the graves of family members. That’s what we do on Memorial Day weekend.

But I’d like to remind you of a book that you probably heard about. You probably were required to read it in school. It is called the Spoon River Anthology. Edgar Lee Masters was a young man growing up in Petersburg, Illinois. I’ve been there. A young man growing up in Lewiston, Illinois, where I preach the sermon in the Methodist Church in Lewiston many, many years ago. And he became a lawyer in Chicago and decided he would write poetry.

And for some reason, I don’t quite understand what he came upon as his theme was this. He would write poetry about the people buried in the cemetery in his hometown. And in the poems he wrote, they would tell you the truth about what a mess their life was when they were alive here. He wasn’t completely stupid. He changed the names on some of the poems. But what he wrote about was so well known in town, every single person knew who he meant. Consequently, Edgar Lee Masters never returned to his hometown the rest of his life or certainly thought carefully about it because he was very, very unpopular!

But friends, people who live here (at the cemetery), they have no more problems. But if you listen to them, they’ll give you wisdom to guide you in this life, especially those who are heroes.
Let God and let the people around you help you to understand, by what they’ve done wrong, what would be wise for you to do right in this life.

Here’s a direct quote from the book. So you see, Pastor Andy Stanley writes,

that’s why we ask the question.
In the light of my past experience,
in the light of my current circumstances,
in the light of my hopeful future, my future hopes and dreams,
regardless of what those views may be, regardless of where that leads:
If I was wise, what would I do?

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, the Bible tells us in James that if we lack wisdom, we can ask for it. And so, Lord Jesus, we ask you for wisdom for this life. We ask you to help us to understand the lessons of our own past, especially, Lord, the lessons of our victories as well as our mistakes.
Lord, we ask you to help us to have wisdom today instead of going around and round in circles like a hamster on a wheel. Help us, Lord, to understand what’s happening to us right now and connect it to things that are a part of our life that are causing these problems. Lord, when we look into the future, help us to receive the wisdom that comes from the lives of other people. Help us to make it true that their dying was not in vain, but that we are learning from them how we can choose to live so that the future will be a bright and beautiful life that lies ahead of us. Lord, help us to think and be wise because certainly, in this life, Lord, we need to be wise. 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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