Sermon January 30, 2022: Tool #4. Roadside Neighboring (Epiphany 4)

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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/671564862

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3VvncVDZns

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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 What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Alan Jackson – What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znWu2HCJ92c

(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 There’s Something About That Name
Gaither Vocal Band – There’s Something About That Name [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdSl9ynS3G4

(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 #4. Roadside Neighboring
Text: Luke 10:25-37
Series: Christmas Story Connections – We’re In This Together

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

Luke 10:25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’

36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

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HYMN Freely, Freely
FREELY, FREELY – Aaron & Esther – Hymn Session 004
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BS1ndKgU36I
or
Freely, Freely, from First Methodist Houston September 13, 2020
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buIOhfHnEbo

(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

As you know, we’ve been talking about how to have the same warmth of heart, the same spiritual blessing, the same concern for other people right now that we have in December. How can we have those feelings all year long? And I’ve given you some New Year’s resolutions. Now, right about now, the end of January is when we give up on trying to be better people! But please don’t. Please consider how you can make your life more of a blessing!

Tool #4: Roadside Neighboring. What does that mean? Well, there it is. Here’s that prayer again. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. You see, you can ask God to help you where you’re struggling in your faith. Some of us have struggles related to what we believe, but I’ll guarantee you my struggles are more with the next one. Lord, I obey. Well, imperfectly … not like I would want to, but I can pray, Lord, help my disobedience because what I want to do is make the next phrase true. Lord, I want to follow you, so help me to stay on the path – and not just this moment, but all day long.

Have you considered that there is a road from when you get up in the morning and you travel that road, and you can follow Jesus all day long until you lay down at night? How can we follow Jesus all day long? Stay on the path that God creates for us all day long?

Benjamin Franklin asked, “What good shall I do this day?” And you get these ideas as answers to that question. But here’s the better question, what good shall I do all day long? The reality with that, as you travel your daily path, is to be aware of what’s important. The picture in front of you, if you look at it carefully, what’s important is the road is curving to the left. If you want to stay on the path, you’re going to have to curve in just the right amount also to the left! Later on, the road will curve to the right, and if you’re going to follow Jesus all day long, when that path curves to the right, that’s how you’re going to want to go also. Not only that, sometimes there are stop signs. Sometimes, as you’re following Jesus, God says, “I need you to stop for just a bit. Don’t be in such a hurry. Stop for just a bit. Look both ways.” God wants us to stop so that we don’t miss something important because, you see, we’re traveling this path with Jesus Christ.

You know how it is at Christmas … we’re surrounded by Christmas! We’re surrounded by Christmas all day long. In fact, it’s a little bit like this picture, isn’t it? How can you walk down that street and not be thinking about Christmas? How can you not think about Christmas when, out of every loudspeaker, everywhere, it’s playing Christmas songs one after another after another after another after another? And, in fact, for some of us, by the time Christmas gets here, we’re so tired of the Christmas songs!

But whether it’s the decorations, whether it’s the things in stores that we would like to give as presents or receive as presents, whether it’s the Christmas music at Christmas, in December we’re surrounded all day long by reminders that Jesus came at Christmas. And all these reminders stir up feelings inside of us. And that’s why the Christmas season is such a blessing … because the environment that we’re in constantly reminds us of Jesus.

Well, friends, let me be honest with you. You may be glad that the Christmas music stops, but there’s no reason why you can’t play Jesus music every day. In fact, for some of us, it would be better than the choices we make. For some of us, it would be better to turn off the news that gets us down and turn up the music that causes us to praise. What we do in December, we can do all year long in one way or another. You can keep the reminders of Jesus there. Of course, one option is to leave the Christmas decorations up all year long. But you can decorate your environment in your heart all year long to remind you of Jesus.

And not only that, at Christmas time, we see other people. We bump into them. And at Christmas, we treat them kindly. There’s something about people at Christmas – we are continually reminded to treat them better than we might normally do. So I’d like to invite you to consider imagining each person you run into – and I don’t mean literally. I mean imagine each person you encounter wearing a T-shirt that says, “Pray for me. I need it.” Because the reality of each person’s life is they could be wearing a T-shirt just like that because that’s the truth. You can put anything on the T-shirt, “Jesus loves me, but I’m not aware of it.” But you can remind yourself to love other people. You can remind yourself to give thanks to God and praise God for every beautiful thing around you. Your environment may not remind you like it does at Christmas, but you can remind yourself about what God wants.

“Well, Pastor Dave, what does God want?”

Here, Jesus plainly explains it. We’re familiar with the story, but let’s go through it again. Luke 10:25, “And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test.” This is the motivation of the individual. This individual does not care what’s important to Jesus. What they want to do is tear him down. They want to make him look bad.

A lawyer stood up and put him to the test saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” Jesus knows how to deal with arguments. You turn it back on the person and ask them to define what they would see as the answer to that question.

And the lawyer answers, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have answered right. Do this and you will live.”

Now you would think the argument was over, but no. But the lawyer, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Now, it’s really interesting.
Nobody says to Jesus, “My heart is full of love for God.”
Nobody says to Jesus, “My mind is full of love for God.”
Nobody says to Jesus, “My soul is full of love for God.”

Because you see, here’s the sad reality, friends, if you fall short, it will show up in how you treat other people.

That is a reality. And who is my neighbor? And not to say anything bad about lawyers, but there are people who have enough money and they choose places to live so that the neighbors they have around them are only the kind of people they like. It’s an exclusive neighborhood. So in a sense, he’s saying, “Don’t I get to choose who my neighbor is? I’m doing pretty good with the people I’m willing to be kind to.”

And Jesus tells the story, verse 30. Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho. And he fell among robbers who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.” The road from Jerusalem, high in the mountains to Jericho, down by the River Jordan, is extremely steep. It’s narrow, and it goes in these canyons. And you can’t see around the corners. And in fact, the sun casts shadows that are hard to see. And robbers hide in those shadows. In fact, they call that road the Valley of the Shadow of Death because it is dangerous to travel it.

Going away from Jerusalem where the Temple is, down to the Jordan River, it’s very, very dangerous. And a man was injured traveling that road. Now, by chance, a priest was going down that road. Now, if you study the Jewish law, something you need to keep in mind is that priests, if they touch a dead body, if they’re in the presence of a dead body, and of course, someone who is near death could become dead while the priest was helping them, are then unable to serve in the temple. So some people want to argue, “Well, the priest is in a hurry to get to the temple.” But what it says literally is, the priest is going down that road away from the temple. They’re on the way home. They’ve had a hard week serving God, and they want to get home. And when he saw him, the man about to die, the priest passed by on the other side. You wouldn’t think it. But that’s what happened.

So likewise, a Levite — the tribe of Levi was entrusted with the care of the temple. They received a great deal of money for doing jobs in the temple. When he came to the place and saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

Friends, how we treat other people reveals the sort of faith that we have. So here is the contrast. But a Samaritan … someone not even of the Jewish faith, someone against whom Jews discriminated and heaped great scorn upon them … a Samaritan who had every possible reason to hate a Jewish man– but a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. Will you repeat those words with me? Ready? “He had compassion.”

He had compassion.

And because he had compassion, he acted upon it. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine to wash the dirt away. Then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. Some of us, in the congregation or listening online, we may have nursing training, we may have EMT training, we may know how to do this medical care. Perhaps the way we would have to show compassion is to dial 911 to get a professional to come and help this man who’s near death. But the Samaritan knew what to do and did it. And not just that, the next day he took out two denarii – a denarii is a day’s wage for a laborer. He took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, “Take care of him. And whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.” His compassion extended beyond that day. His compassion extended forward for two more days. And not only that, he said, “Whatever more you spend, I’ll pay you back.” Who knows how many days? Nonetheless, he did this because he had compassion.

And so Jesus looks at the lawyer. Which of these three do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers? And here comes the answer: the one who showed mercy on him. And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” So, friends, on the road, on the path that we follow, as we follow Jesus all day long, from the minute we wake up to the minute we go to bed, it is a path where God asks us to have mercy. It is a path where God asks us to feel compassion and show compassion.

“Pastor Dave, what am I supposed to do when I follow Jesus?” Have mercy; show compassion. That’s the place to start.

Now, you and I, our lives are very different. Compassion can mean different things. Mercy can mean different things. But that’s what every one of those things has in common. The Greek philosopher, Socrates– brilliant man– Socrates was challenged by his opponents in Athens, “If you’re so smart, tell us the directions to Mount Olympus.” Mount Olympus, where the gods live. Everybody knows about it, but no one knows where it’s located because, of course, it’s a myth.

“Tell us the directions to Mount Olympus.”
Somebody else could say, “Tell me the path to heaven.”
Somebody else could say, “Tell me how to follow Jesus.”
And Socrates has quite a challenge here. What’s he going to answer?

Well, here is his answer. “If you want to go to Mount Olympus, just make sure that every step you take is in that direction.” If you want to go to heaven, just make sure that every step you take is in that direction. If you want to follow Jesus, just make sure that every step you take is in that direction. Friends, it’s as simple and as difficult as that.

But as the Scripture says, God prepares the way.

This is Ephesians, chapter 2:10. A couple of interesting things here. “For we are his workmanship.” You see, Christ Jesus is working through us to do this, and we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. You were not made to do bad things. What Jesus is doing in your heart and in your life is good. Good things. And then here’s the next phrase; it just makes it so clear: “Which God prepared beforehand.”

“Which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” You see, from the minute you get up, if you’re following Jesus on this path, to the minute that you lay yourself down to sleep, everything that happens in your day is prepared beforehand. Now, I’m not saying that God prepared accidents or suffering. I’m saying that God prepared us for what was going to happen. And so here’s the reality: the people you meet on the way? They are on the way. They are not in the way!

Now I do promise you, as you’re going down Illinois Route 37 towards Salem, driving probably way too fast, the other person in the car coming toward you, probably way too fast … You are not going to have much of an opportunity to love them because they’ll zip right past you.

But here’s the reality. When you’re outside of your car, when you’re on your feet, the people you encounter in front of you are not obstacles. They’re a part of what God wants you to do today. Surely you can take the time as you pass them to say, “Lord help that person. I can tell he doesn’t feel well. Lord help that woman. I can see that she’s upset,” or whatever it is that you sense. “Wow, that child is really happy. Thank you Lord, for making happiness happen.” The people on your path are a ministry prepared for you beforehand so that you can love your neighbor.

Now it’s possible that, like the Good Samaritan, you may be traveling down a road and find a stranger near death. But the greater reality every single day of your week is you’ll pass by people you already know. You already know if they’re not feeling well. You already know if they’re upset. You already know how to pray for them!

And not only that, you may feel the nudge of Jesus Christ upon your conscience.
To stop for a moment and tell them that you’re praying for them.
Stop for a moment and express your condolences.
Stop for a moment and say a kind word
… because every person you meet on the way is your neighbor that day, and the command of God is to love your neighbor as yourself. Not hurry on by, but to do this thing that God asks.

As CS Lewis said, you can’t go back and change the beginning for someone, you can’t go back and change what caused the problem they’re dealing with. But you can start where you are and change the ending for that person. Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it might change the whole world for that person! Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”

Mother Teresa said, “God did not call me to minister to the millions, but to minister to the one in front of me.” Day by day, person by person, that can add up to the millions. But if we want to follow Jesus all day long, we want to minister to the person in front of us. As Arthur Ash said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” And have the confidence that the fact that that person is there means that God wants us to love them. And whether you spend 30 seconds doing that with a prayer or 30 minutes in the midst of a conversation or whatever else you might feel God wants you to do, you are fulfilling the will of God in Christ Jesus because God says to us, “Go and do likewise.” Show mercy. Feel compassion. Show compassion.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, if we’re less than perfect, we know that it’s visible in what we do, in how we treat other people, because, Lord, other people can get on our nerves. Other people can frustrate us. Other people can bring out the worst in us. Lord, I ask in every human situation in which we find ourselves, from when we get up in the morning to when we go to bed, I pray that you would be there when they bring out the worst in us. I pray that you would be there to bring out the best in us, and help us, Lord, in every human situation to be more like you. 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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