Sermon 6/06/2021: The Gift of the Comforter (Pentecost 03)

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/559484208

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cr1h0aVhBPt

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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: 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

HYMN This Is My Father’s World, 144
This is My Father’s World ~ Amy Grant ~ lyric video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3-C4jp7BNw
or
This Is My Father’s World – Fernando Ortega (Lyric Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OorHNGB3q1c

(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 Us Break Bread Together, 618
Let Us Break Bread Together – Agnes Choo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egk-pX_1nHg
or
J.D. Sumner, The Stamps Quartet – Let Us Break Bread Together [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QoolEJe6a0

(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 Gift of the Comforter
Text: John 14:12-21 plus Matthew 22:35-40,  John 20:21-23
Series: The Gifts of the Comforter

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
(Audio may not be available till Sunday afternoon.)

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SERMON NOTES

John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; 14 if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Matthew 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” 

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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HYMN Open My Eyes, That I May See, 454
Open my eyes – Fountainview Academy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XSN7aVTAFU

(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: 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.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

The gifts of the Comforter: The Lord Jesus Christ in the Upper Room, in six different scriptures, described how after the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit would come into your life, into my life, and work through us to make a difference in the lives of people all around us. Since the Holy Spirit wants to do that and you– still today, just as he did it so many years before, I think it’s useful to remind ourselves of how the Holy Spirit works or at least what Jesus said in these particular scriptures.

And of course, everything is to fulfill this plan – what we call the great commandment is the blueprint for what God wants in the church, the pattern for what God wants in Christians. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Luke adds, with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment.

So you see on the screen there’s a big heart there because what God desires is that your love would flow toward Jesus, that your love would flow toward God. This is the first step in what some people call the JOY formula. It’s been on the sign out in front of the church for years, but it should be written also on our hearts.

The very first step for joy in your life is for Jesus to come first and for you to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And then God points our attention to the second half of the plan. Now that you’re loving Jesus, Jesus says, “I want you to turn that love around …” And, of course, he sends love to be at our heart as well. “… And let your love flow out to others.” The second is as Jesus said. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Now, that doesn’t mean that you love your neighbor and never love yourself. That doesn’t mean that you only take care of yourself and not love someone else. It means there should be a balance. And then come these strange words in verse 40. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.

So when you go outside the church into your neighborhood, when you go outside your front door into your neighborhood – although to be honest, the people you live with are also your neighbors – the love from Jesus Christ is supposed to flow back and forth between Jesus, others, and yourself. J-O-Y.

And you will find those people in your neighborhood because Jesus, through you, wants to come and be real in your neighborhood today. Here’s the mission. You’ve heard me say this before. It’s occupied my attention for over a year. What does Jesus want? Jesus wants us to repeat what Jesus did in the New Testament. Or as he puts it in John 20: Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. In the same way that Jesus did everything he did, now Jesus is sending us to do more of the same, to do more of the same.

Now you are welcome – if you want to argue with Jesus – because when you say, “Lord, we’re not good enough to do this. We’re not smart enough. We’re not as smart as You. We’re not holy enough. We’re not as holy as You. We are not loving enough. We’re not as loving as You.” You can argue anything you want about how little you are, how inadequate you are, but Jesus Christ says, “This is what I want you to do, to be Me in your neighborhoods, doing what I would do if I were there.”

Some churches have a sign over the door right by the exit, just to remind people: when you leave the doors of the church, you’re now entering the mission field. When you leave the door of your house, you’re now entering the mission field. In fact, since loving your family is part of your mission, when your feet hit the floor in the morning, you are entering the mission field. And what Jesus Christ wants from us, now that we have had these days of preparation after Easter Sunday and that the day of Pentecost is come, we are now ready to be missionaries in our world.

Now it may be that some of you would like to go be a missionary in China or in Africa. It may be that some of you may want to go be a missionary on the Mediterranean beaches where all the expensive resorts are. (I’m not sure where you think it would be fun to be a missionary!) But I would like to suggest you and I are adequate to be missionaries right here, right now with people we know. The best place to be a missionary is your own neighborhood, where people trust you, where people know you, where people like you. And you speak the language and you understand how people feel. There’s no adjustment to the culture. Jesus wants us to be the missionaries to our own neighborhood and our own neighbors.

Here’s some more scripture about that, John 14:12, “Truly, truly. I say to you, ‘He who believes in Me will also do the works that I do.'” Now you and I are less powerful than Jesus, but this is what Jesus said. Not only that, He said, “And greater works than these will he did because I go to the Father.” Jesus is ascending up to heaven and now we get to carry on and do the work.

Verse 13, “Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Verse 14, Jesus repeats Himself, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

I remember the day when I sent my son off to college and I handed him a credit card, and I said, “You decide what to use this for and I’ll pay it. Use it wisely.” Friends, this is like God giving us a credit card that is without limits. “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” No limits. What a temptation it is to start by asking for a brand new Cadillac for ourselves. What a temptation it is for us to start by asking for a brand new home, with a hot tub, probably. What a temptation it is to ask God for all those pounds to disappear, and to provide us with a designer wardrobe. What a temptation it is to love ourselves. But to be very honest, the purpose of this credit card is for us to know that God wants us to love others, and God will provide what is needed for others to be loved.

Now, it says in verse 14, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” We’re all familiar with the prayers we prayed that were not answered in the way that we wished. We all have prayed a prayer like that. I still don’t have that Cadillac [laughter] in my driveway. We all have prayed a prayer where the answer wasn’t what we wanted. But yet, this is the principle; God is encouraging us to be daring in our prayers because God is ready to answer them. And sometimes, the answer is no, to our great regret. But many times, the answer is yes.

And here’s the thing that I’d like to ask you to consider. What good might happen if we had the courage to do little things? You remember what the Serenity Prayer says? What good might happen if you and I had the courage to pray for God to work in the lives of those two people who just can’t seem to get along, for God to bring healing where there’s illness and disability, for God to help children who are struggling … maybe just with homework? Because – why should we limit our prayers to big things? Why? Why shouldn’t we pray for God to bless people in every way that occurs to us? How much good would happen in this world if we turned our faith loose and prayed and hope and we said to God, “You do what’s needed here. I don’t even know everything that is needed here. But, Lord, I know that you know,” and we turned God loose to answer prayers?

Because Jesus, I think, wants us to have this faith. What could happen if the people of God took the courage to pray and set God loose to work in this world? I think we’d see miracles on the mission field, that is, our neighborhood. Verse 15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments …” Where will you find those commandments? They’re in Jesus’ words and in the Gospels in the Bible. “And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another counselor.” King James uses the word comforter, which is the word I prefer. Other translations use the word helper, intercessor, advocate. But what the Greek word, which literally is paraclete, that’s the Greek word, what the Greek word means is someone who comes alongside and provides whatever you need in the moment. Sometimes you just need the comfort of knowing you’re not alone. Sometimes you need an extra pair of hands to hand you a tool. Sometimes you need someone to bring a tool that you don’t have or to bring energy if you’re tired.

The counselor, the comforter, the paraclete is God coming alongside of you to help you live, to help you do God’s will, to help you take care of yourself (because you’re supposed to love yourself), to help you love others because you’re also called to do that. God comes to help with this missionary task. To be with you forever, even the spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him for he dwells with you, this one who comes alongside and will be in you.

Verse 18, “I will not leave you desolate. I will come to you.” Jesus comes to us in the presence of the Holy Spirit. “Yet a little while,” Jesus says, “and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. In that day, you will know that I am in my father and you in me and I and you. He who has my commandments and keeps them, he is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love him and manifest or reveal myself to him.”

So there you are on that park bench sitting next to your neighbor. “Lord, what do you want me to do?” we ask. The Lord Jesus will reveal that through the Holy Spirit who is within you.

So let’s think this through. Who is Jesus? He certainly is the savior of the world. He certainly is our savior. But he is also Lord, and he has a task to be done. And all of the Sundays after Easter, I told you he was getting the disciples ready. And I said he’s getting us ready, too. And we talked about what’s next.

But now the day of Pentecost has come. We’re actually right there. And I can tell you, you know what’s next? We are now entering the mission field. Jesus is now going to work through us because that’s his choice. Jesus is now going to work through the people of the church because that has always been the plan. Jesus said to them, “Peace be with you. As the father has sent me, even so, I send you.” So when you go out these doors into the mission field in just a few moments … Please know that you are being sent and that Jesus wants to work and live through you to change this world.

Who is your other? Well, when Jesus shared the great commandment, the lawyer taunted him. The lawyer argued with him. The lawyer said, Who is my neighbor? And Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan – meaning that your neighbor is really anybody you come into contact with.

I like to say it a little different in this age of cell phones. Your neighbor is anybody you have a conversation with this week.

Your neighbor may be in Africa. I have a friend who is a retired pastor from Illinois who now lives in Uganda. I communicate with him on Facebook. He’s quite a distance from me. But he’s my neighbor.

Part of my neighborhood is in Austin, Texas, where my grandchildren play.

But by and large, for most of us and me, my neighborhood is right here. My neighborhood is right where I live. And so I would like to suggest to you that your neighbors, by and large, consist of the people that you speak to on average every week. And you can start today and just make a list. Write down everyone you speak to, even if it’s just to say hello. And by the end of the week, you’ll have a list of who lives in your neighborhood.

Some of us are extroverted. It’s going to be a long list because there’s nothing we extroverts like more than bumping around in a crowd saying hello to five or six hundred people at once.

Some of us are introverted. There might be only three people on our list.

But I would suggest to you that your neighbor and your neighborhood is everybody you talk to. Some of them, like the Good Samaritan, you might meet as a stranger this week, someone you’ve never met before, someone you will never meet again. But when he came in contact with that neighbor, he did what Jesus wanted to be done.

And we can do the same thing. Why? The very next verse after Jesus says, “I want you to go do this work for me. I’m sending you.” Jesus breathes on them and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit” because it’s the Holy Spirit that will work through you.

And trust me, friends, you and I are still weak and sinful and arrogant and far from people who are special. But the Holy Spirit can make up the difference in all of us. We need to let the Holy Spirit do it now. Jesus chose 12 people to spend most of his time with. So maybe you could try to imagine this week, “Who are my 12?” And you’ll find yourself on something like the equivalent of this park bench. There will be someone else to talk to. There will be someone else to visit with. And when that conversation concludes, take some time, either right then or later that day to pray.

Why? Because Jesus said God would answer your prayers. Lord help them. Lord, heal them. Lord, make their lives more spiritual and beautiful. We’ll never know what never happened because we were too busy to say a prayer. But God was very ready to answer. Take some time to love your neighbor by praying for them.

Now, it may be God would want to ask you to do something else. Something in addition to a prayer. Well, that’s fine, too. But at its most basic, the greatest gift you can give someone is answered prayers.

So who are you? I want to suggest to you that just as Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem and change this whole world, we are now a part of that plan. We are asked to live and be born right where we are. Jesus never left the nation of Israel. We may never leave our neighborhood. But God can do amazing things right where we live because God’s love can flow to people through you and me.

So how do we bring more J-O-Y joy into our own lives? Well, love Jesus with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and then be aware that he wants you to share that love with others and also with yourself.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus. We look at you. And we pray. We say, “Lord, what do you want? What do you want me to do? Lord, what do you want? What do you want me to do?” And we’re continually asking, as if you had never answered this question before.

Help us, Lord, to understand that what you want us to do is to love and to pour our love out toward you, toward God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and strength. And as love overflows out of our heart, Lord, you want us to let it overflow toward our neighbors and toward ourselves. Lord, help us turn the desert green. Help us turn disaster into rejoicing. Lord, help us change our lives and the lives of people all around us by praying prayers of love for ourselves and others that your love would flow into our lives. And, Lord, we trust you to answer those prayers for what is best. 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.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

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