Sermons September 12, 2021: Avoiding Anger (Pentecost 15)

Photos from Pixabay

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/602829804

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/crQX03VQL3c

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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 WESLEY COVENANT PRAYER:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

HYMN 64 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty
The Collingsworth Family (Holy, Holy, Holy) 05-03-13
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbezPGo9gB0

(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 − Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference … living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; taking this world as it is and not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. 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 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: Avoiding Anger
Text: James 1:17-27, Galatians 5:13-14
Series: Doers of the Word

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

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SERMON NOTES

James 1:17 Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

19 Know this, my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, 20 for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing.

26 If any one thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

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HYMN 402 Lord, I Want to Be a Christian
Lord I Want to Be a Christian (hymn) – First Methodist Houston
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNa9Sda5G7c

(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

In the weeks to come, the sermons will be from the Epistle of James. They’re going to be about wisdom and how to live our lives and interspersed with other things. The ladies in Kim’s Bible Study have studied the Book of James at great length. So you’ll find this to be familiar territory.

The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the good shepherd of the 23rd Psalm, is always asking us to follow him. And that means to follow him toward a greater sense of wholeness, a greater sense of holiness. We have come so far, and God asks us to go a little bit further for the benefit of our lives.

One of the things that can hold us back is not just the problem of anger but the bigger problem of avoiding anger. Now, here’s the truth of anger. The truth of anger is that you’re disappointed. There’s something that you wanted. There’s something that you hoped, and it’s not going to happen. There’s a person who you trusted. There’s a person who you love, and they have disappointed you. Perhaps you might even feel that they’ve betrayed you.

When we feel disappointed, we have two choices. We can go toward the sadness. But quite often, we jump into being angry. Why? Anger protects us from feeling sad.

But as the saying on the screen says, “I sat with my anger long enough until she told me that her real name was grief.” Underneath every experience of anger is sadness and disappointment and frustration. So when we don’t want to feel that sadness, we avoid it. And psychologically, one of the names they use for avoidance of this type is denial. “I’m not really sad. I’m the one who’s been harmed. I’m the victim here. Someone has done evil toward me.” And in that state of denial, we can jump into blaming other people. And then, all of a sudden, the anger comes out toward them.

Denial is the way that people handle what they cannot handle. Most of us simply aren’t willing to be sad. And so, anger can rush in and take over. And then, that very strange thing happens. We imagine that the other person is 100% wrong and that there’s no tiny possibility that some little part of what happened that disappointed us is our problem. When you think about it, that’s what’s wrong with blame. We have made someone else to blame for everything we’re feeling. The only person, Carl Rogers said, who cannot be helped is a person who blames others – because they can’t accept responsibility for what they’re feeling or what they’ve experienced. And so, it all shifts quickly, sometimes instantly, into anger.

What does God want from us? What is the definition of holiness? You’ve seen this scripture, several weeks now. Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom brethren. We have freedom to choose. Only, Paul says, do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, an opportunity to be selfish, an opportunity to be self-centered. But use your freedom differently. Through love, be servants of one another. For the whole la – all the rules, all the reasons and explanations and definitions of holiness, whatever that is, all of that – is fulfilled in one phrase, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ So that’s the goal of where we would like to be when we are down in a lower place, sometimes struggling with anger.

Here’s what James has to say, James 1:17, Every good endowment, every perfect gift, every good thing, in other words, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will, He brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. Know this, my beloved brethren, let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. For the anger of man does not work…

Let me say that again, “The anger of man does not work.”

In one way or another, we will regret the explosion of anger. Now, to hold faith with the scripture, what it says, not only is that the anger does not work– it says it this way, “For the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” You cannot bring about a righteous world … You cannot bring about a holy world … You cannot bring about a better world by resorting to anger.

God’s work is not done by angry people. Now, that doesn’t mean that God can’t use an angry person. It just means that we should know, if we are acting out of our anger, it’s very unlikely that we will have the result that we wish for. It’s very unlikely that we will have, as a result, a better world or a better life for us or anyone we’re connected with.

Now, let me tell you a joke. I always warn you, it’s a joke so that you’ll know that it’s supposed to be funny. Okay. Here’s the joke.

A woman goes to the doctor, says, “Doctor, I’m so worried about my husband’s temper. I don’t know what to do. Every day, my husband seems to lose his temper for no reason. It scares me.”

The doctor says, “I have a cure for that. When it seems that your husband is angry, just take a glass of water and start swishing it in your mouth Swish, swish. Just swish and swish, but don’t swallow the water until he leaves or until he calms down. Swish, swish, swish.

Two weeks later, the woman comes back to the doctor looking fresh and reborn. She says, “Doctor, that was a brilliant idea. Every time my husband started losing it, I swished with water. I swished and swished, and he calmed right down. But how does a glass of water do that?”

The doctor calmly said, “The water itself does nothing. It’s keeping your mouth shut that causes the miracle.”

Let it sink in. It’s keeping your mouth shut that causes the miracle.

Proverbs 26:20: For the lack of wood, the fire goes out. What the person says to us when they’re angry is on fire. Sadly, everything we say back to them is so easily misinterpreted. Everything that we say back to them is like putting wood on the fire. Every time we try to explain our position, it puts more wood on the fire. Every time we explain at great length that they’re wrong to be angry, it puts more wood on their fire. And if we explain it a second time or a third time, or 12 times, the fire just gets more wood, and the fire just burns higher.

Psychologists call this an escalation of tension because it takes two people to have a fight, and if one person won’t participate, swish, swish, swish, the other person just gets tired, and their fire wears out … if there’s no one to whisper back at them. Quarreling ceases.

The miracle is when you keep your mouth shut and don’t justify yourself to a person who is angry with you. Not easy to do, but it can be done. Therefore, James writes, put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness, and receive with weakness the implanted word. The bible verses that you read are supposed to be like seeds that are planted in your heart, and you want to see them begin to grow. And that implanted word is able to save our souls. But, James cautions us, be doers of the word, not just hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

And you see that hearing only, deceiving yourselves, this is what I mean by the idea of denial. Hearing it, but not doing it. Denying reality. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who observes his natural face in a mirror. You look, you see yourself, and you walk away and you completely forget what you saw. Verse 24, “For he observes himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.”

Now, I have never put mascara on, but I have an assumption it goes much better if you have a mirror to look in. I’ve never put lipstick on, but my assumption is it goes much better if you have a mirror, so that you can see the reality of what you’re doing. But I have learned the hard way not to shave unless I look in the mirror because I either miss places or I press too hard and I cut myself. We need to see clearly what reality is to be able to do what needs to be done. So James goes on to say, “He who looks into the perfect law, the law of Liberty, and perseveres being no hearer that forgets but instead a doer that acts, that person is going to be blessed in his doing.”

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue — we should have Carol tell us about bridles. They help you steer, go in the right direction. They help you speed up. They help you to slow down. They help you to stop when stopping is needed. Friends, you and I need that kind of control over what we say. But if you don’t have that control and deceive your heart, it will cause the religion that you have to be in vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the father is this. Here’s what James says, “To visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” And another way to say exactly that is to love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the rule.

So, the cure for anger: Pause and feel your feelings and grieve first. You will find that the amount of anger that you feel will be much, much less if you are in touch with your own sadness, if you are aware that it’s not that you’re angry – it’s that you’re disappointed and grieving. Anger is in a big hurry. And it takes us too fast where we should not want to go.

The cure for blame is to stop long enough to understand, to learn – because when harm is done to us, we always want to respond immediately. When harm is done, we’re always saying, “We should do something. Someone should do something. Someone should go do something.” But nobody says, “Why don’t we think about what we should do before we do anything?” The cycle of anger to denial to blame can be slowed down if we take time to think. It’s a very old custom to count to 10. I count to 10 all the time. Sometimes I need to count to 100. Sometimes I need to count to 1,000. However long I need to count before my brain is in charge, that is a wise decision. We need to understand a problem before we do anything to try to solve it. Otherwise, we can be swept away in our anger and do things that we will regret in the future.

Finally, the cure for denial and one of the cures for avoiding the problems of anger is to love the truth. You will learn to know the truth if you look into the Bible. There’s a place in the Bible where it says, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). But you’ll also know the truth if you look in the mirror and look very clearly at your own behavior and ask yourself, “Is this really what I want?”

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, if we’re driving down the road at night and turn our headlights off, bad things are going to happen. If we walk through a house in the dark and are not careful, bad things can happen. Lord, for life to be lived in the best way that it should be lived, we need to be able to see clearly. And so, Lord, we pray that you’ll help us when we’re upset, when we’re sad, when we’re angry. We ask that you would help us to be informed by the truth. We ask that you would help us to see the truth. Lord, we ask that you would help us to be guided by the truth. 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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