Sermon 6/27/2021: The Persuasion 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/567981781

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cr1tnOV14fG

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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 Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us
Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us | Kaoma Chende (a capella)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_nffQ3HepA

(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 Something Beautiful
Gaither Vocal Band – Something Beautiful [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMQqSarDf8Y
or
David Phelps – Something Beautiful from Hymnal (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0jjZMlcUrM

(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 Persuasion of the Comforter
Text: John 16:7-15
Series: Series: The Gifts of the Comforter

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Audio at Kinmundy UMC … Audio at Wesley UMC

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SERMON NOTES

John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

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HYMN There’s Within My Heart A Melody
Bill & Gloria Gaither – He Keeps Me Singing [Live] ft. Jake Hess
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gT-f8sDBJI

(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 persuasion of the comforter: God wants to persuade us to live a life that is more joyful, that is filled with more love and peace, that exhibits kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. That’s the fruit of the spirit working in our life. God wants to persuade us to live a life that would give us greater joy and greater happiness.

On the other hand, sometimes, we get all excited when we think that we should persuade others to do just that. And when we jump into that persuasion, something beautiful doesn’t happen. Instead, there is brokenness and strife because we need to let God persuade people.

My father was a junior high math teacher. He loved giving people advice. I learned very early on not to ask him to help me with my math homework because the question of whether I got the answer right on a problem in algebra would lead to 30 to 45 minutes of exploration of all the history of mathematics … because my father loved information, and he loved sharing information, which is why he was a good teacher. And he would share his opinion with anyone.

Frequently, he literally asked me one question: “Son, would you like some constructive criticism?” Most of the time, I would not like it because I didn’t want to spend 45 minutes learning everything I could have done differently. But he would frequently ask that question and then just dive right into that constructive criticism, “Because if you leaned a half an inch to the left and if you turned a quarter inch toward the north, then everything would have been perfect.”

And I thought to myself, “That doesn’t work very well when I try to do that for others.”

But the unusual thing about my father’s constructive criticism is that I don’t remember my feelings getting hurt. I would get a little bored, but I don’t remember my feelings getting hurt.

I think I was something like nine years old when he asked me, “Dave, what do you want to do when you grow up?” And I said, “Dad, I’ve decided I want to be an astronaut.” My father looked sad. And he said, “Dave, I’m really sorry to tell you, but they don’t let people who wear glasses to be astronauts.”

And I said, “Okay, if they won’t do that, I’m going to be a jet fighter pilot.” And he said, “Dave, I’m sorry. They don’t let people who wear glasses be jet fighter pilots.” Now, when you think about that, all the things that a fighter pilot has to do with the jet, if my glasses fell off on the floor, I’d be in a world of hurt in a jet airplane. I can’t reach the floor in my car unless I bull over! When I drop something on the floor, I can’t reach down to get it. Maybe when I was younger I could.

So I said to my dad, “Well, if none of those will work, I guess I’ll just be an FBI agent.” And my dad said, “Son, they don’t let people who wear eyeglasses be FBI agents.” And I don’t know whether that’s true or not. Maybe it was true at that time, but I really didn’t like the idea that I couldn’t do anything I wanted to do. I was nine after all. I was almost a teenager.

But when I look back on it, what I remember is that even though my dad said, “You can’t do that,” he did not say, “You can’t do that because you’re a bad person.” He did not say, “You can’t do that because you’re stupid.” He did not say, “You can’t do that because you’re not good enough.” Oddly enough, when my dad gave me this avalanche of information, I never felt bad about myself. I was not ashamed.

And it’s interesting, when I read through the Bible, there are many places where Jesus says, “Do this,” and I know I don’t. But when Jesus tells me to do something, I’m not ashamed. I’m just aware of what I should do differently. And when Jesus tells me not to do something, I don’t feel like I’m a bad person. I just feel like Jesus has told me what I should do. It’s interesting how, when Jesus gives me constructive criticism, I receive the instruction but I’m not wounded in my heart.

Now, there are times I’ll wake up in the middle of the night feeling absolutely, totally awful about something I’ve done. Sometimes that’s the Holy Spirit. I understand as you get older, things you did that were harmful and hurtful that you regret, sometimes they can wake you up at night and they do. And I remind myself that I’m forgiven … but I still have to process the feelings. But I also volunteer to God that if I need to feel bad about what I did, I’m willing to do so. And as I pray for the person that I hurt and I try to make it right with God and I walk away from that without being wounded in my emotions.

Look at this stack of books. This is sort of the way my dad was, “Here’s all the information that you did about what you did wrong. Now, after you read these thousand pages, get back to me and we’ll discuss it.” (As a joke, maybe you’ve noticed these books are all in Chinese!) So you read those thousand pages of Chinese and get back to me. Here’s all you did wrong. Here’s all the information you need to help make it better. But I find that if I’m dealing with information, I can receive it without feeling bad about myself. And Lord knows, if there’s a better way to make my breakfast, if there’s a quicker way to fix the car, if there’s a smarter place to shop for dill pickles, I want to know that information. It does help me, but information does not cause me to feel ashamed.

There is a problem, however, with too much information. Most of the time, we don’t need all the information in the world that exists, and in fact, most of the time we know far too much about the wrong way. What we actually need to know is not the thousand things we did wrong and the thousand things we need to do right. What we need is for someone to tell us what is the next step in the right direction. What is the next step to a better life? Because if you continue to make the wrong steps, you’re never going to get closer to a better life, however you would wish to define that. What is the next step?

And when I would listen to my father, he would eventually get around to the next step. When I read through the Bible, it seems to me that Jesus points out to me the next step. And because it’s about information rather than about what a bad person I am, I am not ashamed and nothing I feel prevents me from taking that next step.

Here’s what Jesus has to say about it, because this is one of the things that the Holy Spirit does for us. Nevertheless, Jesus says in John chapter 16, verse 7, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It’s to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. I’m going to be in Heaven, but I want you to have an advisor, a helper, one who comes alongside here on this earth. And that will be the Holy Spirit. And it’s to your advantage for me to send him to you.

And when he comes, he will convince the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement.” All too often we get all excited and we think it’s our job to convince the world, but it really isn’t. The Holy Spirit does that work. Now, sometimes we help, but the Holy Spirit is the one sent from God to convince the world of what they’re doing wrong. Concerning sin, Jesus says, Because they do not believe in me. The Holy Spirit is sent to this world to convince people that they are sinners, to convince people that they should believe in Jesus. And sometimes we help.

Verse 10, concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you will see me no more. The Holy Spirit is the one that God sent into this world to tell people what’s righteous and what’s not righteous, to tell people what needs to change, to tell people where they are going wrong. And sometimes we help, but it’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

Concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to point out the works of the devil. Sometimes we help, but all too often our judging others does more harm than good because we need to let the Holy Spirit work.

Not only that. Take a look at verse 12. If Jesus told us everything before he left, he says very plainly, we would not be able to bear it. “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” There’s just too much. More than you can handle. But verse 13, “When the spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” He will tell you what you need to know today, and then tomorrow he’ll tell you what you need to know tomorrow. And next week, he’ll tell you what you need to know next week. And you will not be overwhelmed by that stack of a thousand books, because the Holy Spirit will tell you each day what’s important. Each day, what you need to hear … The Holy Spirit will reveal at the proper time everything Jesus wants you to know. So when you are in that moment of confusion, of doubt, of difficulty, if you just sit still and open your hearts to prayer, the Holy Spirit very likely will tell you what the next step is.

I don’t know if you have a GPS. I do. Most of us have one in our phone whether we use it or not. I finally broke down and bought one when I got lost in Chicago traffic one day over a decade ago. I was looking for a Target store and I could not find it. The reason I could not find it is I was trying to drive in Chicago traffic with one hand on the wheel and the other holding up the printed out directions from Yahoo Maps. And you see, I had all the directions, but my eyes couldn’t get to the next step, and I missed the right turn and I got lost. Then I got even more lost. Then I got even more lost. So when I finally got to Target, I just went up there and I bought a GPS. [laughter] I have never regretted it. Back then they were pretty expensive, but it was worth every penny because that was the last time I ever got lost.

Consider how a GPS works. It doesn’t tell you everything. It helps you to focus on the next step. And that’s how the Holy Spirit persuades us to do God’s will. For as Jesus says, he, the Holy Spirit, will not speak on his own authority. Whatever he hears, he will speak and he will declare to you the things that are to come. Jesus in multiple different ways has said, “Everything I tell you, the Father told me to tell you.” Now the Holy Spirit is going to tell us, but it’s the same sequence. Everything the Father tells me, I’m going to tell the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is going to tell you. And sometimes the Holy Spirit will tell you that you should say something and tell someone else. The same process: We hear from God The Father. We hear from God The Son, through God The Holy Spirit, all the things that we need to do, all the things that are to come.

And here’s one very quick test to understand that it comes from God: what you hear will glorify Jesus. What you hear from the Holy Spirit will increase your faith and belief in Jesus Christ, for, as Jesus said, He will take what is mine and declare it to you. You will feel that connection. All that the Father has is mine. Therefore, I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Friends, you and I have guidance that does not make us feel ashamed but points us in the right direction. We need to understand that we are not the boss of anyone.

Now let me step back and say, “You may have an employee. You may have a child that you need to straighten out. Sometimes you have to act like a boss, but ultimately you are not the boss of everyone in the world.” Persuasion is not your job. And it’s certainly not your job to get more powerful and pushy and brutal if anyone around you won’t do what you think is right. Anyone who has a two-year-old knows that if you try to make them do anything, it will not work.

Actually, that’s not quite true. It’ll work when you scare them. It will work when they are afraid of you. But you’ve lost one of the most powerful things of helping a two-year-old when you make them afraid of you.

Apologetics is the Christian version of that. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that term. Apologetics is when you go to a class and you learn all these arguments and you go out with your really big, thick Bible and you look for someone to fight with. And of course, there are people out there in the world that want to fight with you. To be honest, all you have to do is say your opinion, and people will line up because they want to fight with you! Have you noticed that?

Apologetics is when you have this pile of arguments to literally intellectually beat the tar out of someone who dares oppose you. And people come out of apologetics training hunting for atheists so that they can – what would you call it? – not convict, not contradict, but to conquer them. Their dream is that, by yelling and quoting the Bible, they can make someone believe in Jesus against their will. Have you ever noticed that working? I don’t think it does.

Apologetics is not your job. It is not your job to debate with someone to force them to believe in Jesus because not only is it not God’s will, it doesn’t work. Yet we keep doing it. We share more than information. We share in such a way that people feel ashamed. They feel belittled. They feel ignored, they feel disrespected and they certainly never feel God’s love or your love for them.

Here is one of the saddest things I have to tell you about my life. Kim has seen this before. There’s a part of me that thinks that I should take this cartoon and cut it out and frame it and put it by the computer. It’s by a cartoonist by the name of XKCD who gives permission for his cartoons to be used. And the man is sitting there at the computer. And the wife says, “Are you coming to bed?” because it’s 10 o’clock, and then it’s 11 o’clock, and then it’s midnight, and then it’s 1:00 AM, and then it’s 2:00 AM, and then it’s 3:00 AM. And each time the wife calls out, the husband says, “I can’t. This is important.”

“What?” she asks, and the husband replies, “Someone is wrong on the internet.”

Now, maybe you’re chuckling because that’s you. Maybe you’re chuckling because that’s the person you’re married to. But there is a reality that sometimes we get into an argument, and we just can’t let go.

And your pastor is telling you this morning, “Friends, this is something I suffer from.” Kim will tell you the worst thing to do is interrupt me while I’m putting something on Facebook because it’s like I can’t stop till it’s done. But you know what the problem is there? It’s never done, or, at least, it’s never done until they admit that you’re right and they’re wrong, which they’re never going to do.

But you see … this is the incredible grace that comes with the power of the Holy Spirit. Being right is no longer your job. And making everyone else do what we think they should do is no longer our job because God has taken it upon himself through the power of the Holy Spirit to persuade people around us. And one of the ways that God does that is by sharing information in a way that does not hurt people’s feelings and does not violate their sense of self-respect.

So please keep this in mind this week and on into the future. Maybe it should be the next step. When you let go, something magical happens. You give God room to work because, certainly, whether it’s a teenager or an employee or your next-door neighbor or whoever it is who loves arguing with you because they love making you angry and you make them so happy, you would not believe it … if they can get you to lose your temper and act in a way that does not glorify Jesus Christ.

When you let go of being right or trying to make everybody else see it your way, something spiritually miraculous happens: You give God room to work.

So what’s your next step? What’s your new job? Let the Holy Spirit go to work all around you to change people’s lives and help this to be a better world, a better town, and a better church.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we say, “Thy will be done.” But unfortunately, Lord, every time we get into a conversation, we are so very tempted to insist that our will be done. And, Lord, sometimes that’s good. A lot of times we are mistaken about what’s needed. Either we’re making people feel bad, which wounds their hearts. Or, sometimes, Lord, we’ve skipped a step that your Holy Spirit working in their hearts would cause them not to skip, would cause them not to feel hurt and turn away but to receive the good advice that God has for all of us … if we will allow the Holy Spirit to work in all of our conversations and all of our relationships and with all of our neighbors. Lord, we ask you to help us to step out of the way and let you do what you do so well. So help us, Lord, to let you do just that. And we ask this 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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