Sermon January 16, 2022: Tool #2. Daily Directions (Epiphany 2)

Image by Quesnay Aguiar 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/666371857

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3VDciVoEjX

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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 this prayer:

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. 
Help me to realize your worldview.
Lord, I obey. Help my disobedience. 
Clarify my reality. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow;  help me to stay on the path. 
Thank you for the path, for guidance, for providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation. 
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine. 
May this be true for me! Amen.

HYMN 206 I Want To Walk As A Child Of The Light
Unionaires – 2014 – I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmcz2T5hCsY

(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 − 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.

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 601 Thy Word Is A Lamp Unto My Feet
Amy Grant – Thy Word (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OTVuGaiTsE

(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: Tool #2. Daily Directions
Text: Mark 1:14-15, Habakkuk 2:1-4, Jeremiah 29:10-14, 30:1-4
Series: Daily Christmas Resolutions

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

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Habakkuk 2:1 I will take my stand to watch, and station myself on the tower, and look forth to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. 2 And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end–it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.

Jeremiah 29:10 “For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

Jeremiah 30:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: 2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. 3 For behold, days are coming, says the LORD, when I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel and Judah, says the LORD, and I will bring them back to the land which I gave to their fathers, and they shall take possession of it.” 4 These are the words which the LORD spoke concerning Israel and Judah …

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HYMN 419 I Am Thine, O Lord
“I am Thine O Lord” by 200 Voice Mass Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3OS0sHUwlk

(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

It’s now been long enough since December that Christmas is beginning to be a memory. But you remember what we always say during the Christmas season: I wish people could be like this all year! Because, during the Christmas season, we pay more attention to God. We pay more attention to each other. We try to be more loving and kind. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be like that all year long? And so I want to suggest to us, you know what that is brothers and sisters, we need to be the kind of Christians all year long that we are at Christmas. And so I can’t resist giving you advice. And so I’m giving you advice about how I think it would help to do that.

Last week we talked about the tool of daily devotions. That if you stop each day to surrender, to yield, to pray in one way or another, thy will be done. That will make a difference all year long.

Today I want to add tool number two, which is in addition to saying, “Thy will be done in a daily devotion,” that you take time to listen to God and let God give you directions. Think about it. When we continually pray, thy will be done, should we be surprised that God actually wants us to do something specific? And if we would take time, not just to talk in our prayers, but time to listen, you might hear from God about what’s important and what’s not important.

And here’s the main point for today, what you hear from God when you listen– in order to be able to remember it– in order to be able to remember it, write it down. Because if you ever heard the phrase, “I made a mental note and lost it,” it’s so easy for us to get distracted.

But friends, if you write it down, God’s directions will guide you. Over all the years, I have different ways that I’ve done this. Nowadays, I keep all those directions on my phone. When there’s something I need to remember, I’ll literally create an alarm that will go off at a certain time and it will flash, “Don’t forget, don’t forget. Do this.” Putting a sticky note on the mirror where you shave if you’re a man, where you put your makeup on, if you’re a woman, that will remind you all day long. I used to carry index cards in my pocket and like you heard me say, I do this on my phone now, but I used to make little notes on index cards for what I needed to remember.

And you see, here’s the truth. If you write it down, if you make a list, what’s on your list, you’ll remember. If you don’t know that to be true, just think of the last time you went to the grocery store and came home with a basket of snacks and forgot what you came to the store to get! If you really want to remember write it down because that makes a difference.

Now Jesus would begin his day seeking God for direction. So I’d like to ask you just to imagine for a moment what a day was like for the disciples. Jesus said very clearly, “Everything I do is because the Father has told me.” What that means is Jesus didn’t make plans very far in advance unless God told him.

And all around Jesus is the crowd because Jesus provided healing. Jesus provided health. Friends, honestly, that’s all you have to do to gather a crowd, is to help people with what they need most.

But in the middle of that crowd around Jesus, the disciples are sitting and waiting. They are sitting and waiting every day because they have no idea what Jesus is going to tell them that they need to do. Friends, that is a characteristic of being a follower of Jesus. You have to check in on a daily basis, Lord, what’s on your list for my life today? Now, what’s on the list for the day in this picture is they’re going to take five loaves and two fish from a little boy and feed 5000 people. Do you think they could ever have predicted that? The only way that they know what to do, as followers of Jesus, and brothers and sisters, the only way we know what to do as followers of Jesus, is we need to check in each day and say, “Lord, what is it that you want us to do today?”

And you see that’s what’s at the heart of following, because what’s at the heart of following is what Jesus began to preach. You’ll see it there in verse 15: The time is fulfilled. Now is the time. The Kingdom of God is at hand. God’s ability to be the ruler, the King of this Earth, it’s about to happen. But you know why it happens? We repent.

And what repent means is we turn away from what we should not be doing and we turn toward what we should be doing. And by the way, it’s not enough to turn toward it and say, that’s a good idea and do nothing. We move forward in the doing of God’s will. And what helps us to do that is to believe the gospel. That doing what Jesus wants makes a difference.

In Habakkuk chapter two, the Prophet says, “I will take my stand to watch, to watch and pray, and station myself on the tower and look forth to see what he will say to me and what I will answer because, you see, prayer is a dialogue. What I will answer concerning my complaint.”

And here’s what God says to Habakkuk, “The Lord answered me, write the vision. Make it plain upon tablets, so that he may run, who reads it.” Now, I don’t know if that means that he should run and do it right now or if the print needs to be big enough so that as he’s running he can actually read what God wants him to do. Not sure which one it is.

But the clear thing is this, when God tells you to do something, in Habakkuk’s case, God says to him, “Write it down.” Verse 3: still the vision awaits its time. It hastens to the end. It will not lie. It’s going to happen. Habakkuk reminds us, if it seems slow, wait for it. It will surely come. It will not delay.

Many of us are familiar with this scripture. Sometimes we quote it out of context. Here’s the context from Jeremiah 29:10: for thus says the Lord, when 70 years are completed for Babylon — the Jewish people were taken away in captivity to Babylon, and people were saying, “The Lord’s going to help us. The Lord’s going to save us. The Lord’s going to send us back maybe next week, maybe next year.” But the prophecy comes to Jeremiah: it’s going to be 70 years, but don’t be afraid. Here’s what God says, “I will visit you after that time has passed, and I will fulfill to you my promise, and I will bring you back to this place.”

And here’s the verse we’re familiar with, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” But here’s the reality, God’s timing is not quite like ours, so how should the people of Israel remember that it will take 70 years, but then they can trust God to act?

Just a few verses later, the beginning of the next chapter, here’s how they can remember: God says the word came to Jeremiah from the Lord. Verse two: Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Write in a book. Write in a book all the words that I have spoken to you. For behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When all the promises that God has made will actually happen.” But in order for us to hang on, in order for us to keep the faith, in order for us not to get confused, not to get bewildered, not to lose hope, we need to write it down and read it over and remember that we can trust God. So don’t trust your memory. Write it down.

Pastor Dave, someone might say, I think you’re right. I think I should pray. I think I should listen to God. But you know what happens, Pastor Dave, when I listen to God? 10 million things go flying through my brain.

It’s almost like a geyser, Old Faithful, one thing after another. Some of us have the problem. We wake up in the middle of the night and the brain just keeps throwing these things at us. It’s called rumination. Zen Buddhist monks who practice this stillness meditation called “mindfulness” – be still and know that I am God – recognize that when people get still, all of a sudden their mind starts acting like a monkey. They literally call it the monkey mind.

I kind of like the picture here. It’s a little prettier than a monkey mind, but just that everything that’s in your head turns into butterflies and roses and goes flying off in all directions. Isn’t it like that sometimes? But as all the ideas float up to the top, you can pull one off at a time and look at it and say to yourself, “Is this something God saying to me?”

It’s strange. Quite often I am still, and all of a sudden I think of everything I forgot to do and everything I need to do. When that flows to the top of my mind, if you write it down on your to-do list, you’ll stop thinking about it. Something somebody else has said to me floats up to the top of my mind. “Lord, is this just me being frustrated with that person, or is there something you want to tell me?” And if it’s from God, it’s worth writing down.

Well, Pastor Dave, someone might say, how can I know when God is talking to me, and it’s just not my own inner frustration or irritability? How do I know when it’s God?

In Galatians chapter 5:22, we have the Fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace. Friends, if God is telling you something, God will be telling you to love someone, not to harm them. If God is telling you something, it will bring you joy. It will not cause you disappointment. If God is telling you something, it will help you to find peace, not stir you up and make you more anxious.

If God is telling you to do something, God will be telling you to be more patient. Wouldn’t that be great? God will be telling you to be kind. God will be telling you to be good. God will be telling you to be faithful and trustworthy. God will be telling you to be gentle rather than harsh. God will be telling you to have self-control rather than to lose your temper.

God will be telling us, through everything that God wants to say to us, how to be a kinder, better person. You can test the ideas to flow to the top of your mind with the Fruit of the Spirit.

You can also test them by remembering that there are two basic directions to which God brings our attention. You see, there’s a command that we are to love God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. And so, if something comes to your mind that teaches you how to love God, that asks you to do the work of loving God, that’s probably from God because it’s calling you upward.

The other direction is to call us outward into our neighborhood. Most of the time, when God has something for you to do, it’s attached to a person. You’re supposed to do something for some specific person. That’s why the second commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Quite often, what God wants you to do will be connected to a neighbor.

Oh, and you live in your neighborhood. A lot of times, the person that God wants to tell you to be kind to, to love and to help, will include yourself. Most often the person God wants to help is you. We’re all tied up in everybody else’s business, but God is tied up in our business.

So if what you’re hearing from God is about you or your neighbor, that’s probably worth thinking about. If what you’re hearing from God is how you can love God with more of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, that’s probably from God. Everything else, not so much!

The moment of surrender in your daily devotion, it’s a surrender to God’s will and it puts God first. But because it is what it is when we put God first, God provides us with direction and God frequently provides us with directions. Ben Franklin put it this way, his morning devotion, he would always ask one question: What good shall I do this day? He would then make a list and he would go do it. If you didn’t get it all done one day, well, there it was in writing for the next morning. Because the good that God wants you to do is still on your list day by day.

God lays down general principles for our life based on wisdom and common sense. It is also a reality that a godly, holy routine benefits us all. Whatever you have as a devotion, if you make it a habit, it will naturally begin to happen automatically. And one of the ways you do that is you have certain habits. You get up in the morning, you do this, this, this, this, this, this, and this because … habits stack in an order that feels very natural and normal to you. How do we make our devotions a habit? You insert them into that stack of habits that you’re already doing and all of a sudden it will begin to feel natural to you. Whether your devotion is one minute where you say, “Thy will be done, Lord, what do you want?” or whether it’s longer, it will become a habit.

When I was younger, I obsessed about whether I was doing God’s will. I literally did. I worried, “It’s the morning. God, should I eat breakfast?” I’d go to the pantry and there would be four kinds of cereal. And I would say, “Lord, which kind of cereal is your will? Because all the others are wrong.” Well, that’s the way I thought as a teenager. God finally got through to me to say, “Dave, I don’t really care which cereal you eat!” Some decisions, God just wants us to make a wise decision.

But some of us worry about the details like that. No one should need to seek God about whether to take a shower. Friends, you just ought to do that. [laughter] God is not going to change his mind and say, “Dave, I’m testing your faith. Go without a shower today.” God doesn’t work that way. In fact, most of the time it’s the devil that brings challenges and tests to us. God has a pattern of wisdom and common sense for our life. No one should have to seek the Lord about whether to take their medication today … because whatever is good, you should be doing that!

But occasionally God does ask us to do something specific for a specific person. And friends, if you have that sense and it passes all the tests that we’ve mentioned, write it down because you want to keep that on your mind to follow through. Because when you do God’s will, as God has asked you, you’ll begin to see miracles take place and prayers be answered.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, I thank you that I’m in the presence of such wonderful people. Lord Jesus, I thank you that I’m in the presence of people who are good Christians. But, Lord, even though we’re good, we sometimes get distracted. It’s hard for us to keep focused. Even though we’re good Christians, Lord, it’s hard for us to remember everything. And so thank you, Lord, that the way you help us to remember what’s important is that, if we write it down, it stays on our minds. And so, Lord, when we pray, when we listen to you, help us to take what you say to us when we are listening and put it on a list so that we will remember. Lord, help us as Jeremiah helped the people by writing down, making a book of everything God has said. Lord, help us to write it down and make our own little book of what you’ve asked us to do. 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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