Sermons August 08 2021: Follow The Light (Pentecost 10)

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/584346603

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crji36Vjl9H

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If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of The Centering Prayer:

Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you in flow as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

HYMN 98 To God Be The Glory
To God Be The Glory | Fountainview Academy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WmQmL77WkE

(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 349 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
TURN YOUR EYES UPON JESUS| THE LIVING STONES QUARTET
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTZtKoAwf0U

(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: Follow The Light
Text: Matthew 4:16-25
Series: A Church Centered on Jesus

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

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SERMON NOTES

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.

Colossians 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent.

Matthew 4:16 … the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb’edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. 23 And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decap’olis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

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HYMN 344 Lord You Have Come To The Lakeshore
Pescador De Hombres-You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IAZS3jtfwc

(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 the service of Jesus as Lord with the words of The Prayer of St 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

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!

PHOTO by Tama66 via Pixabay.

TRANSCRIPT

I have noticed every day now for all my 66 years that as the day goes on, it begins to get dark. And I don’t know if this experience has ever happened to you, where you’ve gone into a room, and for one reason or another, the light is not plugged in. What an amazing thing it is to plug in the light and for the light to come on.

Last week, we talked about the reality that Jesus Christ needed to be in the center. Jesus Christ needed to be preeminent. He is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent, that in everything he might come first, that in everything, he might be the highest priority. And the difference, when we make it so, is like plugging in a light in a dark room. Friends, this is our purpose to make Christ first in all things.

Legendary Green Bay Packers’ coach Vince Lombardi had a saying that became so characteristic of him that to say it is to remind people of him. It’s run to daylight. And what he meant by that was that the running back needed to look down the field and look for where there was open space and run to daylight through that open space.

Here’s where that saying came from. In the college where Lombardi coached, there was a running back who every time in practice, when he would run to the left, he would get tackled. Well, when he would run to the right, more often than not, he would find his way through the defense in practice to score. Lombardi pull him aside one day and said, “Why is this?”

And the running back pointing to the trees over to the left and said, “Coach, it’s dark over there and I can’t see my way to run past all the other players. But over on this side, you see that big white garage? Against the light, I can see where the obstacles are and I can run past them.” Friends, when we try to run into the darkness, we’re not going to be able to see where to put our feet. But if we run to daylight, we’ll see the way past any obstacle.

Let me tell you a true story. In 1978, I was a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I had a job as a youth pastor at the Buechel Methodist Church on Hikes Lane in suburban Louisville. We were a congregation of about 325 people on a Sunday morning. And down the street from us was a church that was doing pretty well. Their name was Southeast Christian. They had about 500 people attending their church. And nine years later. I signed up to go to a small group conference. And, lo and behold, it was Louisville, Kentucky, and it was at the Southeast Christian Church on Hikes Lane. And I said to myself, I know where that is. So I drove to Louisville, and I drove by the Methodist Church that had all those memories. And I drove down the road to where Southeast Christian was located in 1978. And there was nothing there, nobody there.

So I took a closer look at the address, and it was the wrong address. The church had actually relocated in 1987 to another address on Highlands. So I went four blocks in the other direction past the Methodist Church, pulled into a gigantic facility, giant parking lot. As I remember, a ball field in back, plus a soccer field. I came inside the church. There was a gym. There was a running track. There was a fancy exercise room. And I thought to myself, “This is very strange.” Come to find out, they had outgrown the previous church and then moved down the street because they needed a bigger facility. And their average attendance was now 6,000 people on a Sunday morning.

And I said to myself, “What happened?” I wanted to find out what happened, what the difference is.

Well, their Wednesday night service was there while I was there for the workshop. And I came early to the Wednesday night service, and I walked across that balcony, there were about a half dozen people sitting up there, scattered far apart. And I walked up to each one, and I told my story, “I’m a minister from Illinois, used to work down the street. And there were so many changes here at this church.” And I said to them, “I’m really curious to learn why this happened.” And I said, “Could you tell me why you chose to come to this church?”

And every single one of them said, “I come here because I feel close to Jesus Christ, because I’m here,” every single one. I want to tell you, I was furious. What I wanted them to tell me was having a gym made all the difference. I wanted them to tell me that it was the great programs with youth and children, and it was the gourmet coffee they served in the lobby, and that the music was awesome … because that was everything, back here in Illinois, we were telling people that this made the difference. How dare they tell me that the reason they came here was to be closer to Jesus Christ? That’s what we tell people in the church that I pastor … so how could that be the difference?

And the pastor, Bob– the music started, and it was okay. And the pastor, Bob Russell, stood up. He was the one who’d been the pastor during all this time. And he was very mild-mannered. He was very soft-spoken. His sermon wasn’t very good. He did not tell a joke. He did not tell an amazing story. It was the least showbiz sermon I have ever heard in my life.

He just patiently laid out what the scripture that we were looking at that night had to say. And I said to myself, “I’m a better preacher than he is.” Now, I’m being humble here but honest to God, that’s what I was thinking. And then he finally said the thing that helped bring it all home again in this very calm, quiet, practical voice. He said, “People ask us why things have happened in this church the way they have.” And he says, “There’s one thing, and that’s we understand that the main thing is keeping the main thing … the main thing. And the main thing is always Jesus Christ.” So apparently, that’s what you do. And they kept on doing that. In nine years, 500 to 6,000.

What happens 20 years later? Southeast Christian is now the seventh-largest church in the United States. 23,000, 24,000 people come to worship every Sunday morning at this location. Their current goal is to create new campuses and increase their daily attendance to 70,000 and beyond in 24 locations, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper in 2016.
How does such a thing happen? Maybe there’s something to this main thing.

Matthew 4:16, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region in the shadow of death, light has dawned.” Friends, I want to tell you, I want to see the light dawn in Kinmundy. I want to see the light dawn in our church. I want to see the light dawn in my life, because light dawns in the darkness when Jesus Christ becomes preeminent.

There are three things that go together for light to dawn. From that time, Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” “Repent” is a part of that because there’s a change toward what God wants when the light dawns.

And here’s the second thing that happens. The very next verse. “And as he, Jesus, walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And immediately, they left their nets and followed him.” Do you know why they immediately left their nets and followed him? After he called them, he kept going because he had things to do. And they realized, “If I just sit here, I’m going to fall behind.”

And going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, in the boat with Zebedee, their father, mending the nets. And he called to them. And immediately, they left the boat and their father, and they followed him.

Friends, it’s not good enough for Peter and Andrew and James and John to say, “Jesus, I’m ready to follow you. I’ll see you back here every Sunday morning at 9 o’clock” — if they were going to follow him, they needed to get up right then because he was going forward. And you see, that’s the secret. When there’s repentance and when people get up to follow, light is going to dawn. What happens when light dawns?

“And he went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people.” I would like to see this light dawn here in Kinmundy. I want people to find healing and wholeness. I want people to be able to solve their problems. I want families to fall deeper in love. I want marriages to be restored. I want the light to shine in darkness. How do we make that happen? We need to allow our lives to change: that is, to repent, and then we need to get up and follow.

So how is it that a church goes from 500 to 6000 to 23,000 attenders? How does that happen? Well, here’s one of Bob Russell’s favorite sayings:

“When you see a turtle on top of a fence post,
you know it didn’t get there by itself.”

For all of the years that he was the pastor of this church that just kept growing … because the light was shining … because people were repenting and they were following … and God was working through them, Bob Russell kept saying, “Friends, what you see happening here is something that only God can do.” It’s not something we did. But because we were willing to repent, because we were willing to follow, because we were willing to allow God to work through us, because of God, this church happened. But we need to remember that it’s just like a turtle on a fence post because this is something that God does.”

And it’s just astonishing. One of Bob Russell’s other secrets, they sang, “To God be the glory, great things he has done,” as the first hymn in their service, literally for years, Sunday after Sunday after Sunday because Bob Russell wanted them to understand that if something happened, God did it.

I would like to tell you that it’s possible that Kinmundy United Methodist Church could become the sixth-largest church in the United States and beat those people. It’s possible. It’s possible that we could become the seventh-largest church in Marion County. It’s possible. It’s possible that a miracle America will happen, and God will pick up our church and put us on the same fencepost just like a turtle. It’s possible.

But I think the greater thing for us to keep in mind is this, the question is not about what God can do. God can do whatever God wishes to do. The question is whether we will fall short. The question is whether we will wind up hindering God by holding back on our following Jesus because we could hinder God if we refuse to repent. We can hinder God if we don’t realize that there’s a difference between where we are and where God wants us to be. We can hinder God if we’re unwilling to close that distance by following. We can hinder God because God has chosen to work through God’s people. But it’s always something God has done.

Lord Jesus, today I, David Kueker, am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I repent. I want this to be different. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. And I get up and I run to daylight because if the light of Jesus Christ is in front of me, I can see my way through every obstacle to God’s will being done. I have a purpose and following Jesus is that purpose.

Lord Jesus, I ask that you would be more and more the center of my life and that you would draw me toward you. Lord, I ask that you would be more and more the center of our lives and that you would draw us toward you … so that we could see you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more nearly, day by day. 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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