Sermon 6/20/2021: The Witness of the Comforter (Pentecost 05)

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/565106901

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cr1YVYV1oL5

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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 Faith of Our Fathers
Faith of Our Fathers | Fountainview Academy | The Great Controversy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSHzrlGoelQ

(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 334 Sweet Sweet Spirit
Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Sweet, Sweet, Spirit [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i73PZJugjTk

(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 Witness of the Comforter
Text: John 15:11-27
Series: Series: The Gifts of the Comforter

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Kinmundy 9 am worship sermon audio.

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SERMON NOTES

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another. 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’ 26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

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 It Is Well With My Soul
Guy Penrod, David Phelps – It Is Well With My Soul (Live) [Official Video]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nJ6wQpLmuo

(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.

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

TRANSCRIPT

It was a wonderful blessing this past week to travel to Fairfield, Illinois, to the Ellen Moore United Methodist Church. I had the wonderful privilege of teaching about disciple-making to the District United Methodist Women of our Kaskaskia River District. And the specific topic was called Discipleship Pathways, or in other words, what is the step-by-step path which people follow to go from being a brand new Christian, a baby Christian, to grow up to become a fully adult Christian? Another way to put it might be Is there a recipe that we can find in Scripture to help people grow up in the best way to follow Jesus? And in a way, we’re talking about what the Holy Spirit does in that here in this series of sermons; we’ve talked about how the Great Commandment asks us to go out into our neighborhoods and love Jesus, to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And then Jesus says to us, “I want you to love the people in your neighborhood.” So this is the formula for joy: to love Jesus first, then others and yourself also.

One of the concerns that came up during the workshop was that several of the women there expressed how difficult it was for them to think of going to this public place. And I’m asking folks to imagine the other side of that picnic bench and witness or talk to another person, perhaps even a stranger, about their faith. We feel uncomfortable doing that.

One of the reasons we feel uncomfortable doing that is our imagination of what it means to be a witness is to sort of be some miniature version of a preacher. And we’re uncomfortable preaching little tiny sermons to people we don’t know well. And if you’ve ever tried it, it’s probably also true that it was not a very welcome experience.

But Jesus didn’t tell us to preach to our neighbors. Jesus told us to love our neighbors and let the Holy Spirit help us with that. Let’s think about what that means. Part of what we talked about on Thursday was Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Life as a way of helping people grow up spiritually. And so Rick and his wife Kay have been on my mind this week. Here is a quote from Joy Warren’s book, Choose Joy.

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” You see, you always have a choice and you can choose joy.

Kay Warren in this little quote points out that the entrance to Joy is to believe that God is in control of all the details of your life. And most of us, when we think about that, we think that that means that we’re little robots, little puppets that God is controlling in every single one of those details and for most people in our society, we just are unwilling to have that much of a limitation on our freedom. But you see, there’s a picture on the screen. And the picture on the screen is of a young child riding on the shoulders of his father. You see, the father is in control of all the details of where he’s going. But it’s not the kind of robot micromanagement that we would not wish. It’s that we’re going together. And God is giving us a ride. And we’re having a great time. God is in control. But that control more likely comes because we are riding on God’s shoulders because we’re young. Maybe we don’t quite know how to walk yet. But God helps us with everything that is beyond what we are able and ready to do.

You always have a choice. And you are able to choose Joy. That made me look for a quote from Rick Warren. And he said this. “If you are a follower of Jesus, joy should be a way of life. Why? You’ve been completely forgiven– no guilt, no shame, no remorse, no regrets. God has wiped them all out.” Sounds like a good reason for joy to me. Friends, choose joy. Choose to be forgiven. Choose to have your sins cleansed and wiped away. That sounds like a good reason for joy.

What does this have to do with witness? Well, let me tell you. The opposite of choosing joy would be to choose unhappiness, to choose despair. And you know one way to do that? And that’s to believe that when you interact with your neighbors about the meaning of your faith is to choose to believe that everything depends on you. Friends, you are good … but you’re not that good. God is the one upon whom everything depends. We just help. We just become present and play our part. When you choose joy, you choose to go with God, to go along for the ride, and let God take the conversations that you have with other people under his control as God brings you along. Everything does not depend on you.

You see, God wants to work through you. But God also wants to work all around you. God works through multiple coincidences, all the various details of a person’s life. God works through the weather. God works through financial difficulties. God even works through the problems that a person has, troubles that they have with relatives and family and– well, you know all the kinds of troubles that people have. God works through everything that’s going on. And so God prepares the way for a person to realize that they need the help of Jesus Christ with their life.

God prepares the way. Now we do our own small part. And then God brings everything to the conclusion that God has planned. You and I work in the midst of everything that God is doing. It’s not dependent upon us because we work with God. Here’s the scripture for that, John chapter 15:11. These things Jesus says, “I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full.” Consider Jesus wants us to be joyful — perhaps that’s an important part of the witness that turns people toward Jesus Christ. In the very next verse, Jesus says, “This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” Perhaps people’s ability to see caring people being kind to other people, maybe that’s the witness that draws people to turn to Christ.

Greater love has no man than this than a man lay down his life for his friends, which Jesus did. And if we’re like Jesus, people will see us loving other people and people will see us being joyful. Perhaps that’s what we’re supposed to do when we witness.

Verse 14, Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.” You remember what we said about being joyful? Remember what we said about loving one another? “You are my friends,” Jesus says, “if you do what I command you.”

And not only that, Verse 15, no longer do I call you servants. And then He defines what it means to be a servant “for the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I have called you friends. For all that I’ve heard from my Father I have made known to you.” You see, Jesus keeps us in the loop. Jesus keeps us informed about what our role is, what we need to do.

And if you want to look at me as a pastor and say, “Pastor Dave, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.” I might remind you that if you’re a friend of God, if you are supposed to be doing something, you’d have been told. Until you hear something specific you’re supposed to do, why don’t you focus on being joyful? Why don’t you focus on being loving? Because Jesus said that you are his friend if you do what He commands you to do.

Verse 16, “You did not choose me, but I,” Jesus is speaking, “chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you.”

And therefore, when you pray for your neighbor, when you’re in a conversation with someone and you’re joyful and they’re not and you find out what’s wrong … you can pray for them. And Jesus promises those prayers will be answered.

You see, our witness is to do what Jesus commands, and what Jesus commands is for us to love people. And one way that we love people is by praying for them and asking God to help them. Perhaps that’s the witness that is needed from us. Verse 18, Jesus points out, if the world hates you, know that it is hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account because they do not know him, the Father, who sent me.

You see, you being a witness does not involve you being popular. Not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to like me. And because people didn’t like Jesus, but Jesus was still faithful, so we don’t want to chase that false idol of being the person who always says something that makes people like us. Not everyone is going to like us. That frees us to do what Jesus wants us to do, because our witness is not a popularity contest. It’s not getting people to like you. We’re asked instead to love one another.

But when the counselor comes, Jesus points out in the 26th verse, the comforter, as the King James calls it, the paraclete, which is the word in the Greek … But when the comforter comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father — Note these words, friends. He will bear witness to me. The job of being the witness is a job that belongs to the Holy Spirit.

In verse 27: You also are witnesses because you’ve been with me from the beginning. You’ve been with me for a long time. You know what I want. You know what I’ve commanded you to do. But it’s the Holy Spirit who is going to be the witness. The Holy Spirit needs us to be present, but the reality is the Holy Spirit doesn’t need us to do what needs to be done. We need to let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting. We’re extra hands. We’re there to help. But it’s the Holy Spirit that helps people turn toward Christ.

So, therefore, it doesn’t depend on you. You don’t have to force something to happen. All you have to do is be present and follow the leading of the Spirit while the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting.

My father always had an opinion. I don’t know if your father’s like that or not — my father always had an opinion, and the older I get, the more I am amazed at how wise my father was, at least part of the time. But when I was a young man, perhaps like the young man in the picture there, my father and I argued a lot because even though he always had an opinion, I did not always agree with his opinion. And sometimes we would go around and around and around and frequently we would go around and around until my father lost his temper and had all that he could take. But I have to be honest with you, even if I did not agree with his opinion, the awareness of my father’s opinion would help me figure out my own. When my father communicated to me what he thought was right … suddenly, it became very clear to me what I thought was right. It wasn’t automatically in opposition to him, but he stimulated me to think. He stimulated me to make up my mind. My father here on Earth, by sharing his opinions with me, help me become a person with strong opinions.

You may still have an earthly father who gives you strong opinions, or maybe that role in your life comes from an uncle or a grandfather or could come from a spouse, could even come from a bossy child. But sometimes we figure out what we stand for when we deal with people who tell us what they stand for.

Now, if you don’t have anyone giving you opinions, I would like to invite you to let your heavenly Father step into that vacuum, because when you read the Bible, you encounter one opinion after another that comes to you from your heavenly Father. Perhaps you’re someone who would simply automatically agree with what God tells you. Perhaps you’re someone who wrestles and argues with God the way Jacob wrestled with the angels. But if you let the opinions of God, particularly the opinions that come to you through the scripture, into your heart, into your mind, wrestle with them and attempt to discern what is the truth, you will become a person, right or wrong, who is not wishy-washy, who is not confused.

And if enough evidence piles up, if you’re one of those people that disagrees with God, maybe you’ll come to the conclusion that God is God and you or not. We are blessed when fathers and others like them share their opinions with us. They help us to make up our minds.

And when the Holy Spirit is working to bear witness to Jesus Christ, I think sometimes that’s what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit stirs the person up. And at first, maybe they don’t seem to be taking God’s side. But we need to let the Holy Spirit work on them and give them time to learn from what God says in the Bible. To learn from their own mistakes, to learn the lessons from the prayers that we all are praying. God can help us when we no longer have earthly fathers who can do that for us.

Another reality if you’re acting in the role of a witness or a fatherly person, not everyone will like you. When they’re having a bad day, they’re not going to speak to you in the nicest way if they’re honest. And isn’t it worse if they lie to you and pretend to be something that they’re not? Not everyone will like you. But they may come to deeply appreciate you because in the hour when they are most alone, in the hour when they are most troubled and most frustrated, you are the person who took the time to sit with them and listen to them.

So even when people don’t like you, you can always be a witness. Just realize that you can always witness through kindness and love. Be gentle. Be patient because into that gentleness and the time you spend listening, the Holy Spirit will work all around you while you do your part to change a person’s heart simply by being present. You’re giving the Holy Spirit an opportunity to work in the heart of someone who’s very upset, very sad, very frustrated. Witness through your kindness and your love.

Finally, joy is the most effective witness. It draws people. People yearn to be happy. And people yearn to be around other people who are happy because your warmth warms them up. The coolness that you bring to a heated situation cools them down. Joy is the most effective witness. And that’s why Jesus said, “If you’re my friend, you’ll do what I say. You’ll love one another. And you’ll choose joy.” And the Holy Spirit will use the joy that Jesus Christ desires to bring into your life, to bring more people closer because they also want joy in their lives.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we thank you for fathers and everything that fathers do and beyond that, all the fathering that happens beyond our biological fathers, all of which adds up to a great help and support to us all. Lord, I pray that you would bear witness to people all around us through your Holy Spirit. And Lord, may we as well be a part of that. May we help shoulder the burden. May we by being present have this sense that a word that we said, a prayer that we prayed, brought comfort and help. Lord, we ask that you would bear witness to people along with us and through us for the glory of God the Father. 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.

(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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