Sermon October 10, 2021: Root of Conflict (Pentecost 20)

Images by WikimediaImages & PublicDomainPictures 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/627749036

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cr6Q0JVXrdP

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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 509 Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me Cathy Wilkins
Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me … performed by the Crist Family
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VT-kyKUvUk

(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 98 To God Be The Glory Cathy Wilkins
My Tribute (To God Be The Glory) – Andrae Crouch & All Star Choir – Tribute Album
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RZTYDPavEY

(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: Root of Conflict
Text: James 3:13-18
Series: Doers of the Word

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

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SERMON NOTES

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good life let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. 18 And the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

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HYMN 451 Be Thou My Vision
BE THOU MY VISION — My Favorite Irish Hymn! 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihJAJA4ibEs

(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

The root of conflict: what is down at the bottom? What is the root that is feeding the conflicts happening all around us? Well, I want to suggest to you that it’s bad information.

It seems like every week we are hearing of a new great crisis that is coming upon us. And this past week, the new great crisis, if you haven’t heard, there’s going to be a shortage of toys this fall! And if you want anything under the tree for Christmas morning, you better go out and go shopping right now because Black Friday in November – there won’t be anything on the shelves left! So everybody else will come and grab all the goodies and you’ll be left out … so you’d better go Christmas shopping this week, right now. I don’t know if you’ve heard that or not, but that’s the latest. It’s going to be a tough year for retailers.

This crisis is what’s known as the supply chain problem. You see, when COVID was roaring, factories in China had to close down. Some factories in Vietnam are still closed down because of COVID. So as a result, it used to be that the Pottery Barn could order a dozen couches from China and they’d be unloaded in Los Angeles within two weeks. That’s not true now.

In fact, American companies have sent so much manufacturing overseas in order to save a few dollars … now, they can’t get the parts from overseas to build the products that you hope to find on the shelves in the USA. With computers, for example, if I understand right, it’s power supplies. Well, if they made those in the United States, we wouldn’t have a problem. But they can’t get here from China or Malaysia or Vietnam quick enough for people to assemble their product and put it on the shelves.

What you’re looking at here (in this picture) is the back end of a container ship. Down in the corner of the photo is the side of a container ship. 90% of everything that comes into the United States is shipped over the ocean by ships, and 70% of everything that comes to the United States comes in ships like these on the picture that you see. Containers are stacked up just like in a warehouse. One of these ships can have up to 23,000 containers on the ship. One container can hold as many as 700 dishwashers.

So if your dishwasher broke down this week, there’s your dishwasher! It’s in that container that’s buried in the stack. Not only that, the toy that you want to give your child for Christmas, it’s probably stuck in a container on the other side.

What you’re looking at on the screen, the picture, that’s the Little People’s Playhouse. It’s predicted to be the third most popular toy in the United States for Christmas this year … and I’m sorry to tell you, it’s still probably stuck on a ship somewhere. Now, if they got it to the store, you’d have to fork over $99 for it. Even though it looks like it’s made out of a few pieces of plywood that is cardboard thickness, and a ninth grader with a jigsaw could make one in about an hour – $99. But if you can’t have that under the tree, people tell us, your Christmas will be ruined.

Wouldn’t it be terrible if this Christmas wasn’t as materialistic as all the wonderful Christmases we’ve had before?

But you see, when we begin to feel our feelings, when we begin to think about the shortage, when we begin to think that we won’t be able to have what we want, you know what happens? Our anxiety begins to rise. Now, why does our anxiety rise? It’s because the knowledge that we brought into our mind is taking us in that direction.

This is how we feel when we’re anxious. Now, if you don’t know what that is, that’s a puffer fish. Pufferfishes, when they get upset, they blow up like a balloon. And all of a sudden, these porcupine-type spines poke out every direction. And all over the United States today, that’s what’s happening when people think about how their Christmas is going to be ruined.

There are over 60 of those container ships waiting in line to unload in Los Angeles. It’s gotten so bad that Walmart has actually leased its own container ship – to get their stuff over here from China. It used to be worse, there have been as many as 88 container ships in line, waiting to be unloaded. All that stuff can’t be put on the railroad until it’s unloaded. By the way, the railroads are overwhelmed with how much they have to ship. And the trucking firms are overwhelmed with how much they have to ship.

And we get all anxious, waiting for that stuff to get to us. And hopefully, there’ll be plenty of paper products this fall! But you know, one of the worst things you can do is get anxious and go to Walmart or wherever you like to shop and buy everything on the shelves. Because then the 10 people who come after you get to enjoy that anxiety that you feel you prevented for yourself.

The problem with anxiety is this: it obscures the truth. It prevents us from understanding what’s really going on. As Paul said in First Corinthians 8, “Knowledge puffs up” and that’s where I got the idea that a puffer fish would be a good thing to show you. Then Paul goes on to say that love builds up. Knowledge makes us all hollow and overblown. But love makes us stronger.

If anyone imagines that he knows something – that he is an expert because he’s on Facebook, Paul says he does not yet know as he ought to know … because what we ought to know is that we may be right, but it is not guaranteed that we’re right. What we ought to know is that someone else’s knowledge may be closer to the truth. What we ought to know is that if we’re going to grow in knowledge, we need to listen. Knowledge can puff us up, but love can build us up. But if one loves God, one is known by Him.

You see friends, we have to have a filter between our hearts and minds and the knowledge that comes flooding into our lives. We have to have a filter … to filter out knowledge that is untrue, that is inaccurate, that will lead us astray.

And the very best way I know to have a filter is to ask yourself a question, What kind of knowledge is this? What kind of information is this?

Here’s what James says about it, “Who is wise and understanding among you. By his good life, let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom” – – – Not the arrogance of a know it all – that’s the pufferfish – but in the meekness of wisdom.

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.” What kind of knowledge is this? Is it going to lead us to bitter jealousy? (My neighbor got that little people house, and I didn’t!) Is it going to lead us to selfish ambition – to strive to beat other people to the store in time, to gather up everything that we want? Is it the kind of knowledge that’s going to cause us to boast and brag or think that we’re superior? Is that the kind of knowledge that causes us to be false to the truth? Because when you think about it, that is false knowledge?

You see, you and I have this river of information that is flowing toward us more and more. Because of the internet, because of TV and radio, and the media, we have more information flowing toward us than any other generation in history. And every day, it’s more. We have to filter out the knowledge that is harmful to us to let the good knowledge come through.

This wisdom James refers to as bad knowledge; this wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but this knowledge is earthly. This knowledge is unspiritual. This knowledge is devilish and puffs us up with all those things. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder, chaos, every vile practice, every form of evil. What kind of knowledge are we letting into our minds?

Here’s what James says that we are seeking, “But the wisdom from above is first pure then peaceable, gentle, open to reason. The wisdom from above is full of mercy and good fruits. The wisdom from above is without uncertainty or insincerity.

What would it be like for us to be a part of a conversation where this was the way that people were treating each other? Wouldn’t that calming conversation fill us with joy? James goes on to say in verse 18, “In the harvest of righteousness.” The word “righteousness” can be translated as “wholeness.” It can be translated as “health” or “wellness.” The harvest of everything that you would hope and wish for yourself is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Now, friends, I am 66 years old. I hesitate to tell you that when I was a teenager, there was nothing I liked better than arguing, and there was nothing I liked better than proving to my father by 100 different ways just how wrong he was and how stupid he was.

But now that I am a father and a grandfather, I realize something: I never won any of those arguments. Because the more I pushed at him, the harder he pushed back. I will say, however, my father always spoke quietly and gently, full of mercy, open to reason. And then he would prove that I was wrong. He lost his temper perhaps two to three times during my entire childhood. (I do have to tell you he was a junior high math teacher. Those people know how to get through hard times and suffering, I guarantee you!) But I benefited from his thoughtfulness and his gentleness, and by the fact that when he would argue with me, it was sown in peace by those who make peace.

Now, perhaps I have learned over these years a little bit how good that is. This is the kind of knowledge that helps us in a time of high anxiety and stress because it does not puff us up with information that we can arrogantly argue with. It teaches us how to love. And love builds us up. That’s why Jesus calls us to learn how to do that.

So how do we respond to this river of knowledge that flows toward us? Ask the question “What kind of knowledge is this?”

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Is this knowledge about something I cannot change?

God grant me the courage to change the things I can. Does this knowledge show me the things that I can change and does it encourage me to do something about it?

And the wisdom to know the difference. Does this knowledge help me to know the difference?

Does it help me to live one day at a time?

Does it help me to enjoy one moment at a time?

Does it help me to take this world as it is? In other words, to face reality. And not as I would have it. In other words, to mistakenly imagine that the world is the way I want to imagine it is.

Does it help me to trust that God will make all things right if I surrender to God’s will?

Does this knowledge help me to be reasonably happy in this life?

Will it help me to be supremely happy with God forever in the next?

We can ask that question: What kind of knowledge is this? And filter out what’s not good, and hang on to what is truly beneficial.

Galatians 5:22, one of my favorite verses in the entire Bible, describes the fruit of the spirit, what we see when the spirit is working in our lives. It’s not that we get puffed up but we get built up. Because the right kind of knowledge will increase love and joy and peace within us and in how we treat other people. The right kind of knowledge will build up patience and kindness and goodness within us that will help us to deal with what frustrates us. The right kind of knowledge will teach us faithfulness, will teach us gentleness, will teach us self-control. Paul goes on to say, “If you can do these nine things, against such, there is no law.” In other words, what’s wrong will be excluded. That’s the kind of knowledge we need.

But here’s the next verse that Paul says: And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the desire to be arrogant, to be selfish, to be dominating, to be argumentative because Christ Jesus and the Spirit want that to die in us, because if we live by the spirit, people will be able to see it in our lives. Let us also walk by the spirit. Let us have no self conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another. That’s the kind of knowledge that we need.

I spent nine years as the pastor of Caseyville United Methodist Church, which is a suburb of St. Louis. It’s very, very close to East St. Louis on the Illinois side. And the current pastor there now, Mike Barclay, put this on Facebook this week. And it just really blessed me. Here’s the full message.

To agree to disagree is a wonderful thing. To be able to say to a person, “We don’t agree, but I still love you and it won’t come between us,” that is a wonderful gift. In some churches, everyone is expected to agree. Everyone must see it the same way. If you don’t, then you are guilted and run out on a rail at our church, you don’t have to agree with the pastor or anyone else, for that matter, to be a part of our fellowship.

What a wonderful thing to be able to say that, and with one small exception. It was entirely true of the nine years that I spent there. And the small exception is this. There were a tiny number of people, just two or three or four, who made it very, very clear that they could only be happy in a church where everyone agreed with them, where everyone told them only what they wanted to hear, where everyone had exactly the same opinions as them. In other words, I can only be a part of a church where everyone is just like me. Good luck with that! Because, unfortunately, when that’s how you feel, you prevent other people from being themselves.

And so there were a few people who were very vocal about the fact that they could not stay in a church because someone else made them feel uncomfortable because they didn’t say things that they wanted to hear. And I grieved over every one of those people.

Pastor Mike went on to quote John Wesley, one of the beautiful and great quotes of John Wesley, “On the essentials, let us agree. But on everything else, let us think and let think.” Let other people think!

Mike Barclay goes on to say the kingdom of God is a big place with room for lots of different kinds of people in it. Not all of them agree on everything, but they all love God and are glad to be in his family. Blessings, Pastor Mike.

Friends, the vision of this church, our vision statement says We are a functional family of God… And I’ll be honest with you, not every church is always functional. But we are a family of God, so let me ask this of you as you think about your own family.

Does everybody in your family agree?
Is everyone in your family always pleasant to each other?
Is it true that there is no one in your family that just irritates the bejesus out of you?
Is it true that there are some people in your family that are hard to get along with?

Friends, if that’s true for all of our families, can we allow people to be themselves in the family of God?

Please pray with me: Lord Jesus, you said that what you wanted for us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Lord Jesus, in Galatians, Paul said that loving our neighbor as ourselves fulfills all the requirements that God has for holiness. Lord, don’t let us be puffed up with knowledge that makes us fight and argue and brings out the flesh that’s in us. Help us, Lord, to be built up by the love that you desire to flow through us, and not just to the people within the church, but to all the people around us, including our families. And Lord, even that person in our family who is so hard to get along with because they’re just wrong. Lord, bless us to have the right kind of knowledge that builds us up. And we ask that in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

And indeed, Jesus Christ is our example of how to be that person!

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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