Sermon 7/04/2021: The Advocacy of the Comforter (Pentecost 05)

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, 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/570774040

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crifnQV171p

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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 Song
This Is My Song – Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnIN0Oq1xB4

(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:
Day by day, day by day, O, dear Lord, three things I pray:
to see thee more clearly,
love thee more dearly,
follow thee more nearly,
day by day. Amen.

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 He Touched Me
Gaither Vocal Band – He Touched Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m–ptwd_iI

(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 Advocacy of the Comforter
Text: 1 John 1:6-10, 2:1-11, 2 Chronicles 7:14-15
Series: The Gifts of the Comforter

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

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SERMON NOTES

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.

1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we may be sure that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He who says “I know him” but disobeys his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in him: 6 he who says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 7 Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new commandment, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But he who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

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HYMN Victory In Jesus
Victory In Jesus (Lyric Video/Live At The Cove Billy Graham Training Center, Asheville, NC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEmkUrsloaU

(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.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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

TRANSCRIPT

First things first: Forgiveness is important. So I would like to ask you to turn to the person next to you. If you’re sitting all by yourself, point to someone on the other side of the sanctuary. Turn to them, look them right in the eye, and say to them, “I forgive you.” You don’t need to tell anybody what you’re forgiving them for, but you see, they need to be forgiven.

There are multiple instances in the scripture where Jesus is asked to actually heal someone. And the very first words he says is, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness loosens the power to act so importantly that Jesus gave the ministry of giving forgiveness to us who followed him.

But it’s worthwhile for us to think just a little bit about what it means to practice forgiveness. This is a favorite scripture on Fourth of July weekend, comes from the Old Testament. If my people who are called by my name humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways— do you see the “if”? But don’t get confused. Sometimes when preachers preach this, they want to say in churches, “If those people out there humble themselves,” and we think, “They ought to be humble.” “If those people out there pray and seek God’s face,” and we think, “Yes, they ought to do that.” “And turn from their wicked ways.” “Oh, all of them ought to change.”

But if you look at it, friends, that’s not actually what it says. God says, “If my people.” You see, the whole nation changes, the whole world changes when we begin with ourselves. God is calling for us to be humble. God is calling for us to pray and seek God’s face. God is calling us to turn from our wicked ways. Although some of us, our wicked ways are extremely mild!

If you want the whole world around us to change. If you want for the blessings to come through, understand: it starts with us.

Here’s the promise. “Then I will hear from heaven. I will hear their prayers, and I will forgive their sins,” God says, “And I will heal their land.” Isn’t it true that our land needs some healing? Amen.

Now, this particular promise is given by God at the dedication of the temple. And so these words are said in verse 15, “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.” That was Solomon’s temple, but God is listening to the prayers made in Herod’s temple, the one in Jesus’s day. God is listening to the prayers that are made in this temple, in church buildings all across the world, but it all starts when we – we – humble ourselves, seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways. We begin the process of the world changing.

And here’s the joke. I just want to warn you, it is a joke. It’s a joke by comedian Emo Philips. When I was a kid, I used to pray every night for a new tricycle that I realized that the Lord doesn’t work that way. So I stole one and asked him to forgive me.

Let that sink in. Let that sink in for just a minute. And now let’s talk about what’s wrong with that.

See, first of all, God does work that way. God does answer prayers, but God doesn’t always answer prayers as quickly as we want God to answer them. Sometimes the answer is wait.

Sometimes the answer is work. If you have a child that has a room that’s a big mess, the way God answers your prayer that the room be cleaned up is for the child to actually do the work. If I think I need to do something, I’m not going to pray that God will do it for me. Sometimes I just have to do the work.

The third thing is we have a sin problem and we yield to the temptation of sin like an alcoholic races toward a drink. I’ve really been struggling with this lately, not because I’m racing toward a drink, but for some reason immediately after supper, every part of my body starts to scream, I want ice cream. And it’s a challenging, difficult thing to just squelch that and just say, no, no, no, no, until bedtime, at the very least. Now, I’m not saying I got up at midnight and had some ice cream, I’m just saying that it’s a struggle.

#4: We have a weakness when it comes to something that’s wrong or bad for us, and because we have that weakness, we try often to cover it up. Number four, we’re in denial of the fact that we have a sin problem. Mostly. But if you ask someone, if you tried to say to someone, I’ve noticed you have a drinking problem or something like that, they will come up with all kinds of reasons why you are wrong, because they think no one notices, which is kind of silly. And you probably have noticed my problem with ice cream. I take it with me everywhere. (Pats tummy!)

But we like to pretend that we don’t have that problem or sometimes we do something that’s actually a little silly. We’re quickly willing to say to people, I have an addiction to ice cream without telling you the real things I struggle with because it’s easy to talk about ice cream.

Consequently, it’s hard for us to forgive. And it gets worse when we start trying to go backwards and outwards as a way to solve that sin problem.

Sometimes we blame other people for the weakness that we have. “I wouldn’t eat too much ice cream if you were just nicer to me,” somebody might say. We tend to blame other people for the problems we have. Now, maybe not you because you’re perfect, but don’t we know a whole lot of people, though, who do that.

And in addition to that, when– have you ever noticed that people who are just like you really get on your nerves? When somebody who’s just like us does something that hurts our feelings, we get even more upset and we condemn them.

And sometimes, we’ve been hurt so badly we don’t want to forgive people because we think that forgiving someone means allowing them to hurt us again. And one of the ways we do that, maybe not you, but some people, is we keep the hurt alive to remind us not to trust that person. We keep the hurt alive to remind us not to let down our guard. Now, they’ve forgotten all about the thing they did that hurt us, but we’re still suffering from it because we’ve decided to use it somehow as an early warning system, and so we resist forgiving people.

One of the little bits of advice they gave us is pastors in seminary, they said, “When you come into a church, people are going to come up to you and tell you about the horrible, horrible, horrible thing that person did to them.” And they said to us, “What you always want to do is ask how long ago that was? And that’s when you find out that the horrible, hurtful thing was two years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, and sometimes all the way back to childhood because we have a tendency not to be willing to let go of the hurt we feel.” And as a result, we still suffer from not being able to forgive.

Consequently, it’s not easy for us to forgive, but here’s what the scripture says. Now, this is not from the gospel of John. It’s the epistle of John, First John, where the apostle John writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Please turn to the person next to you and say, “If you say you have no sin, the truth is not in you.” Do it. Do it now. It’s really fun to see these married couples say that to each other (and laugh).

You see, every single one of us has some kind of weakness, some kind of problem that we struggle with, and I know that I certainly do, but here’s the beautiful truth in verse nine. “If we confess our sins,” and by the way, to confess your sins means you say to God, “Lord, you’re right about that and I’m wrong.” We stop defending the bad thing we do, and we just simply admit that it’s wrong. If we confess our sins, He, God, is faithful and just. God is not waiting for you to confess so that God can punish you. God is waiting for you to confess so God can forgive you. See the rest of the verse. “He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins.” That’s what we want. But look at the extra added thing that God does. “And cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God takes the thing that we’ve done and begins to repair all the broken places. Begins to clean up all the chaos and the mess. Unrighteousness: God begins to fix everything that’s not right. And friends, this is a form of healing.

But the main point that John wants to make is this, “If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” There is really no room for defensiveness on our part.

In the very next chapter, John has these words, “My little children, I’m writing this to you so that you may not sin.” So it’s possible for life to get better. “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He is the expiation …” That’s a big fancy word that means payment. It means remedy. It means medicine. It means what brings correction. He is the expiation for our sins. It is like a blank check. “And not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this, we may be sure that we know Him if we keep His commandments.” You see, what Jesus told us to do, if we do that, we’ll know that we are on the right track. And then John says this, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ but disobeys His commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, in him, truly, love for God is perfected.” You and I, friends, are not perfect yet. But as we strive to keep His word, God keeps His word and continues to work in us.

John goes on to say, “By this, we may be sure that we are in Him.” Verse 6, “He who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.”

This is why I suggest to you, as you read the Bible and you see what Jesus did, you pray and you say, “Lord, that’s the model. If You want me to do that, please help me.” On the other hand, kind of a summary of the commandments is this in verse 9, “He who says he is in the light and hates his brother is in the darkness still. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and in it, there is no cause for stumbling.”

I need to be honest with you. Knowing I was going to talk with this, God has been reminding me, Jesus has been reminding me, the Holy Spirit has been reminding me of every person in my life who’s ever harmed me, who’s ever hurt me. And with that reminder, rising up in me quite often are the feelings of hurt and resentment that tell me that I have not completely let go of that pain. There’s still hurt and resentment in me. I still have not yet forgiven people entirely as I should. The image that strikes me with great power is that have Jesus on the cross looking down on the people who nailed him on the cross, looking down on the Jewish politicians that conspired to put him on the cross, and saying these words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

You see, friends, that’s the way God would like us to be able to walk. Now we’re not there yet. Sometimes we’re still full of anger and resentment and hurt, but Jesus gives us a picture of what we could possibly be like. Now we’re back to the Gospel of John, which is the anchor of all of these sermons we’ve been preaching, “As the Father has sent me,” Jesus says to the disciples on Easter Sunday, “even so, I send you.” In the exact same way, I send you. I send you to do what I did. I send you to say what I said. I send you to be like me in a world that needs that so much.

And there’s a couple of things you need if you take that as your goal. “Receive the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit flows from Jesus to us, and through us, and it’s by the power of the Holy Spirit acting on other people that God makes these changes. You and I cooperate with the Holy Spirit, but friends, it’s not dependent upon us.

And then after you receive the Holy Spirit comes this gentle reminder. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now I’m very hopeful that when you think of the sin of someone who has hurt you and harmed you, that you don’t find yourself saying, almost as a prayer, “You can burn in hell for what you did to me. Retain your sin!” I hope that’s not how you feel. But you’ll notice the scripture there. Jesus said this. We need to take it seriously. If we say to someone, “May your sins stick,” that scripture implies that it could just stick.

Wouldn’t it be so much better to look at the other part of the verse, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven”? And I’ve talked with you about this several times over the last few months because here’s the reality: As I go through my week, when I am standing in the line at the grocery store and looking at the people in front of me, it never occurs to me to say, “May your sins be forgiven.” If I was at a ballgame, sitting in the stands, it would never occur to me to say, “Lord, these people are broken and imperfect just like me. Please forgive their sins.” In fact, to be honest, I might not even think very much of forgiving someone sin unless they have sinned against me. And of course, that means the forgiveness I give to people, it’s all about me. And not everyone has harmed me. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if because you were in the line at the grocery store that day, someone’s sins were forgiven? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you were at the ballpark that day and a married couple made a change in their lives because they somehow gained the power to forgive each other for how they hurt each other because you said a prayer? Not for somebody you even knew, but somebody who you knew God loved and wanted to help.

I’m astonished at how unusual it feels to me to say to in my mind, to a complete stranger, “Your sins are forgiven. God loves you.” Or to pray that God would forgive their sins. But that’s what Jesus said. That’s what Jesus did.

Maybe that’s what I should do, because, you see, God is in the business of forgiveness. God sent Jesus here so that we all could be forgiven, not just people who go to the same church we do. Not just people who feel the same way we do. Not just people who have the same beliefs that we do, not just people just like us. But God sent Jesus here so that we all could be forgiven.

So here’s the question that comes to you and me. Would you like to be in the family of God? I hope you would say yes.

Would you like then to be in the family business, which is the business of forgiveness? I hope you would say yes.

Would you like to be like Jesus? I hope you would say yes, but if it’s true, when you’re on the cross, you will look down on people who don’t deserve forgiveness and say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Because they don’t know what they do.

The metaphor for this whole series of sermons has been the idea that you’re sitting on one end of a park bench and some stranger comes up and sits on the other end … and that the Holy Spirit is going to help them through you. And as you go to and fro today to family gatherings, perhaps to go to celebrations, perhaps you’ll be in that line at the grocery store, since God gave us this privilege of forgiving people, let’s go find someone to forgive. Let’s go forgive some people and watch God change their lives.

And by the way, along the way, don’t forget to ask for your own forgiveness. When you find in your heart a resentment, when you find in your heart that you look to someone and you feel this anger, quite often it’s because that person or someone like that did something to harm and hurt you. And the names of people have been going through my mind. And the older you get, the longer the list. And I’ve been realizing that I need to root out any reluctance I find in myself to forgive others. And that resentment, I think, is a sign that I’m not quite ready to be like Jesus, but if I can ask for forgiveness for myself, then I can ask the same for another person.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, there are two things all human beings have in common.
One thing we have in common is the reality that you died for us so that we might be forgiven.
The second thing, Lord, we all have in common is that every single one of us needs that forgiveness.
Lord, you’ve given to us the privilege to pray that others would be forgiven. And in fact, Lord, you’ve said you sent us to do just that. Help us, Lord, to remember the power of forgiveness, to change people’s lives, and may that forgiveness flow through our prayers into the lives of other people around us. We ask that in Jesus’ 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.

(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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