Sermons August 15 2021: Following Jesus With A Map … Walk This Way (Pentecost 11)

Photo by Priscilla du Preez via Unsplash, Map via Pixabay, plus CPM Booklet cover

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/587280464

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crj23sVjw2C

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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 600 Wonderful Words Of Life
Allison Durham Speer, Wesley Pritchard, Sue Dodge, Larry Ford – Wonderful Words of Life [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q499q89HOpM

(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 507 Through It All
Andrae Crouch – Through It All [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO5Qt2VQn4k
or
THROUGH IT ALL (Andraé Crouch – COVER)| THE LIVING STONES QUARTET
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vu_nYQQMp7Y

(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: Following Jesus With A Map … Walk This Way
Text: Psalm 1:1-3, John 8, Matthew 28:20
Series: A Church Centered on Jesus

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

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SERMON NOTES

Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not.
Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature.

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

John 8:31 Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to any one. How is it that you say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not continue in the house for ever; the son continues for ever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”

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HYMN 348 Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling
Softly and Tenderly | Reflections | Fountainview Academy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqPBk4mHdNs

(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!

TRANSCRIPT

We’ve been talking about following Jesus, but you can follow Jesus much more effectively and efficiently. You could follow Him more nearly and clearly … if you have the benefit of a map because a map will tell you which way to go. And what we need is that guidance to walk this way.

That’s the second part of the Centering Prayer. We are aware that Jesus asks us to follow Him, but we also are aware that we often follow a little behind. We’ve been distracted by something off to the side. There are a few of us who are ambitious and full of energy and we charge on ahead, past where Jesus is. The goal is to be with Him. And so sometimes we need a map to get back to where He is because we just, one way or another, slip behind.

This is a matter of learning. As the Centering Prayer says, Guide me to all that is good. Cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. We are learners. If you look the word disciple up in the dictionary, it will tell you that a disciple is a learner. But part of learning is to develop a map that will help you to get where you need to go.

This was a saying that was on Facebook this week. It’s really incredibly wise. Let me share it with you: We have not succeeded in answering all your questions. Indeed, we sometimes feel we have not completely answered any of them. The answers we have given only serve to raise a whole set of new questions. In some ways, we feel that you are as confused as ever, but we believe that you are confused on a much higher level and about more important things.

Benjamin Franklin actually is the first one I know to have said something like this, but I know it to be true in my life. The more confused I am, the greater my tendency to listen to others. But certainly the more certain I am that I am right, the more it’s true that I know that I can’t possibly be wrong, I’ve learned the hard way that the more I’m certain that I’m absolutely right, the more likely it’s true that I am completely wrong. Why is that? Because it’s so easy to miss something. It’s so easy to focus on one thing and forget about everything else. But that’s the wonderful thing about questions. If we keep asking questions, we keep learning.

One of the greatest things that can happen in a church is for people to ask questions. And I’ll be very serious with you. I would be so blessed if every week you contacted me with questions. Now it’s not the kind of questions like “stump the preacher” — “Pastor, where did I leave my car keys?” But to be very honest, if we’re all learning, we will ask questions and then we will learn more. Questions are good.

And let me tell you something else, answers are often overrated. There is an evangelistic missionary movement called Church Planting Movements or CPM. It began to take effect 21 years ago in the year 2000 in nations in the third world where Christianity was being persecuted, particularly in red China, Cambodia, Vietnam, dictatorships, and Islamic countries in Africa, and in the Middle East. CPM was extremely effective at converting literally hundreds of thousands of people to followers of Jesus Christ.

It is a lay-led movement. And they do some things that to most of us in the Western world make no sense. Somebody comes up to the missionary or one of the lay disciple-makers and says, “I want to understand why you Christians believe this. Would you please explain to me why you Christians do that?” And the missionaries have been very carefully trained not to provide answers. You know what happens when you provide an answer? People stop asking questions.

What they’re actually trained to do and when I first read about this, I was shocked because it is so different from my way of thinking, because supposedly the pastor is the answer man, when somebody who’s not a Christian asks you a question, the way you reply to them they are taught is to say something like, “I’m not exactly sure, but I know how we can find out.” And they will hand the person a New Testament, ask that person to turn to the first words that Jesus says in Matthew, and they’ll begin to read the New Testament in Matthew out loud together.

And they’ll get to the end of the first chapter. And the missionary will say, “Did we find the answer to the question?”

“Well, no.”

“Well, let’s read the next chapter.” And then they’ll read the next chapter, and then the next, and then the next. Sometimes they get all the way to the last verse in Revelation. “Did we find the answer to your question?” Here’s the astonishing thing. “Well, I didn’t find the answer to my question, but I found so many other answers to questions I didn’t know I was asking.” And what they train the missionaries to say is, “Well, let’s start all over again in Matthew 1 and see if we can find it this time.”

Because here’s the truth, when people are reading the scripture, God provides the answer they need to them because God is aware of every question for which they need an answer. So I want to suggest to you that answers from human beings, including me, can be unhelpful … because if you memorize every answer that I give you, you won’t know the scripture that supports that answer. You won’t know the nuances that are in God’s word.

And all too often the giant feuds and fights that are going back and forth in religion in our nation are because people are fighting about which human answer is correct instead of letting the Bible give them answers through absorbing the words of the Bible.

How do I be more successful in this life? This is Psalm 1:1 … Blessed is the man, the woman, the child who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the sit of scoffers. But how do you learn not to do those things?

Look at verse 2, but his delight is the law of the Lord. When you see that phrase, law of the Lord, it literally translates from the Hebrew as instructions. You could substitute law of the Lord with the word of God or the words of the Bible.

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. Now, I have to tell you honestly, brothers and sisters, that could mean all day and all night. That could mean 24/7. But what I actually think it means is that this blessed person stops in the morning and consults God’s word about what should I do today? And then in the evening, they review the day and consult God’s words for what can I learn from my mistakes?

If we would pause in the morning and the evening to consult the map of scripture, we would always be on the right path. But here’s the promise, the very next verse, he is like a tree planted by streams of water. In a desert country like Israel, being close to water, that’s the key to being fruitful. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither and in all that this person does, they prosper. But the reason they prosper is that they consult the wisdom of God’s word in the morning and the evening. A good thing for us.

John 8:31, Jesus reminded us of the importance of his words with this. Jesus then said to the Jews who had believed in him. You see, the first step is belief. Now is the step that follows belief. If you continue in my word, Jesus said, you are truly my disciples. Being a disciple means continually reading the word of God. So I always like to say, let’s begin with the words of Jesus and become an expert on them. “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples.” Verse 32 – here’s the result- “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” The words of Jesus provide us with the truth.

“And they answered Him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been in bondage to anyone. How is it that you say, You will be made free?'” And anyone could say, “Well, wait a minute, what about slavery in Egypt? What about the fact that we’re under Roman dictatorship right now?” In other words, their response to Him is nonsense.

But Jesus answers the question within their statement. “‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.'” The Greek word for sin [h’amartia] means “missing the mark”. Now, you can make a mistake on purpose, or you can make a mistake by accident, but what Jesus is saying is that everyone who makes a mistake becomes influenced … falls under the curse of making mistakes … can become a slave to making mistakes … a slave to sin.
The slave does not continue in the house forever. The Son continues forever. So if the Son makes you free by providing you with the truth, you will be free indeed. The Bible gives us the truth as Jesus’s words come into our hearts and our experience. And Jesus can help set us free from all the ways that we fall to one side or the other from doing what is God’s perfect will for us.

This is so important that at the close of the Book of Matthew in the Great Commission, Jesus reminds the disciples who are now going to carry out His will and build His Church that they are to go into all the world. They are to make disciples there to baptize them. And then, Verse 20, because this goes the rest of their life, “‘Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded,'” not simply to know and not also simply to do, but to teach everyone how to do in such a way that others see their obedience to every command of Jesus.

And since teaching others every command includes teaching them to do this, Matthew 28:20, those disciples are taught to teach others, and it comes right down to us, brothers and sisters. We teach ourselves, but we’re supposed to teach others.

How can the teacher teach without first reviewing the textbook? In the back of your bulletin each week, you will find the S.O.W. questions. These also come from CPM, this incredibly successful evangelistic disciple-making movement. You take a verse and you ask that verse a question. Here’s the first question you ask. “What does it say?” Then you ask the question, “What does it say that I need to obey?” And then you ask the question, Who needs to hear this? Because maybe that scripture is not for you, maybe it’s for someone else you know, who’s really suffering. Maybe it will give them instructions that will save their life, will save their job, will save their marriage, will heal their family.

And with the CPM S.O.W. Question Bible study method, you ask those questions of every single verse. For God so loved the world. What does that mean? That he gave his only begotten son. What does that mean? That whosoever believeth in him— whosoever? Who would that involve? Does that mean me? Should not perish but have everlasting life...

Don’t run out of questions because your questions will guide you toward the truth, as Jesus promised in Matthew 7:7. Ask and it will be given you. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be open to you. Let your questions find answers in the words of Jesus Christ.

Well, let me tell you about a personal problem I have. Back in July, on the 11th, Kim and I needed to be in Fairfield, Illinois. And I knew without a shadow of a doubt, the best road to Fairfield is you go out toward Louisville, and then you turn and you go down to Flora and then you follow U.S. 45 down to Fairfield. That’s the right way to do it, right?

I have no idea why the county would decide to dig up a bridge or whatever it is they’re doing on the road to Louisville at the county line. But you see, Kim and I need to get to that meeting, and neither one of us like to be late and there it was, road closed.

And so we turn to the right and began looking for a way through the country. Now, I don’t know if you remember back the middle of July, it seemed like every place we turned went down into a low place that was full of floodwater. We finally got there. We were only five minutes late, but it wasn’t because we practiced the law of speed limits. But we did get there.

And I said to myself, never again. I’m going to learn. I’m going to make a map.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, August 7th, just a week or so ago, I headed the right way to Fairfield, and son of a gun, the county still hasn’t finished that work on the county line. What’s going on here? I mean, if they put up the barricades, you think they would actually do something … but it’s still there.

And I said to myself, never again. I’m going to make a map. So I turn south and I kept going south and east and south and east and south and east. And I finally got to Fairfield.

And on my way home, I decided to go through the country again. And this time, no matter how I went, pulled over, looked carefully at the GPS, no matter which way I turned, I ended up on the wrong side of the county line road.

Twice I went down roads that looked like this. And friends, I’ll tell you, it’s a warning if the grass is growing in the middle of the road. It truly is. It’s a warning. And I said to myself, never again.

Next time I go to Fairfield, we’ll find out whether I learned, right? But I do know this, it’s happened to me enough now that I know to turn right on Meachem Road. Sure hope I don’t miss the street sign.

And then once I get down Meachem Road far enough and I set the GPS for Brown Chapel. It was flooded the first time we got there. Now, it’s not. And I think I’m going to be able to get there.

But you see, this is what happens. As we travel the road, we make a map … sometimes on paper, sometimes a mental map. And as you travel … in the sense of following Jesus … in your life, you are making a map.

And there are places on your map, to be honest, that are blank. You haven’t been there or maybe when you got there, you didn’t update them, having forgotten. But as you follow Jesus, there are places on your map that are blank.

But here’s the amazing, miraculous, almost magical thing. As you read your Bible every day, the words of Jesus begin to fill in the blank spots on your map so that when you look at it, you will find that Jesus has provided you with an answer to the question, where am I and which way do I go now?

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, we thank you for your guidance. We thank you for the sense that we just kind of have this inner knowing within our spirit that tells us to turn this way or that way.
But Lord, sometimes that inner knowing isn’t you. Sometimes it’s the way we’ve always done it before. So we’re just absolutely certain by now that that bridge between here and Louisville has been fixed. Sometimes, Lord, that feeling that we have is not the best way.
Lord, I pray as we seek to follow you with a map, because how else, Lord, can we tell other people the best way to follow you? As we seek to follow you, Lord, with the map, thank you, that the word of God fills in the blank places in our experience.
And Lord, all too often, before we get there, we’ll find that you have already marked on the map the solution that we most need in that daily moment. We ask you to bless us with your guidance through the word of God 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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