Sermon March 6, 2022: The Forty Days of Lent (Lent 1)

Image by Guenther Dillingen via 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/685051147

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3e1cQVFhhJ

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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 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 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 402 Lord I Want to Be a Christian
Lord I Want to Be a Christian – Spiritual arranged by John Barnard, sung by the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (Michigan) Virtual Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M212opRGkEw

(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 − 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 349 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Alan Jackson – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKAPHjficIc

(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: The Forty Days of Lent
Matthew 4:12-22, 11:28-30
Series: When Jesus Changed Our Mind

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

Matthew 4:12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Caper’na-um by the sea, in the territory of Zeb’ulun and Naph’tali, 14 that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zeb’ulun and the land of Naph’tali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles– 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb’edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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HYMN 382 Have Thine Own Way Lord
Have Thine Own Way Lord – The Champaign Church of Christ worship team
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_F5Ukj2bFhg

(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 are beginning 40 days of Lent. In the Old Testament, Moses went up on the mountain for 40 days to speak with God, and came down with The Ten Commandments. Jesus, after he was baptized, went into the wilderness for 40 days to also speak with God. And he came back understanding what God wanted. And so every year we take 40 days in Lent so that we can speak to God and learn what God wants for us.

God can tell us a lot in a day. We can learn very deep lessons, even in an hour. But it’s worthwhile to take time, perhaps even up to 40 days, to be certain that we’ve really heard from God. And so Lent begins.

The 23rd Psalm is a great blessing to me because it says to me, in different words, that God loves me, that God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life. You see, green pastures are in the Shepherd’s plan. He knows where the green pastures are. He knows how to bring us to where they are, and he asks us to follow him. The shepherd has a wonderful plan for your life that includes still waters, that includes the restoration of your soul, that includes all good things.

And we may be here in the valley of the shadow of death. We may be here in the valley of the shadow of COVID. We may be there in the valley of Russia doing things in the Ukraine that they should not. We may be in a world that is full of trouble. But Jesus still has a plan to bring us up and out of where we are, and into a better place.

Now, here, unfortunately, brothers and sisters, is what some people find difficult to accept: when God loves you like a shepherd, it means that things are going to change. Some people said the seven favorite words of the Church are, “We’ve never done it like that before!” There is a great comfort in things not changing. And believe me, I understand that. It’s exciting to get a new car, but I still miss the old one. It’s exciting to sit in a brand new lazy boy recliner, but I still miss the old one. And the old chair is down in the basement, sometimes I go visit it, because I like the way things were before.

I would like to tell you that hanging in my closet are far more shirts than I can actually wear. And back in the back are some that are 15, 20 years old. And some days I just put them on, and I just think, “Wow. This shirt really is lasting.” I like the way things have always been.

And of course, if the way things have always been … if that’s green pastures, I can thank God for already putting me in the best of all possible worlds! But the reality is, if you’re going to let the shepherd lead you, if you’re going to allow God to bring about the wonderful plan that God has for your life, that means that we need to be open to be changed. And God does change our lives.

And in fact, to a great degree, that’s what Lent is about. Loving God is going to lead to adjustments because you and I are under renovation. We are fixer-uppers to some degree, more or less. Some of us just need a little paint. Some of us might be like the house in the picture to where there are holes in the floor. But we are under renovation, and that’s part of the theme of Lent.

And loving God with all your mind, that’s what we’re commanded to do. Loving God with all your mind is going to have this result: you will change your mind. Loving God with all your heart means that your feelings will change. Loving God with all your soul – the soul is your concept of self, your identity, who you are: This is who I am. But when God begins to work on you, your identity will change.

And when you pray for God to heal you, when you pray for God to help you with your physical health, you’re actually praying for your body to change. You see, God’s will leads to change. And we make adjustments to be in harmony with God’s will.

Well, adjusting ourselves and our lives closer to God’s will, closer to God’s better life is called repentance. We change our minds: I once thought this was true. But now I understand that I was fighting against God. I was resisting God’s will. Now I choose to agree with God and allow my life to change, to be in harmony with God. And that change is what repentance is all about.

Now, somebody might want to ask, “Pastor, shouldn’t I be sorry for the things I’ve done that are not God’s will?” That’s good. But all too often we have the concept that repentance means that we are wailing and weeping for how bad we are.

And friends, there are a lot of people who feel really bad about something they’ve done. And then they go back and do it again, and they feel worse. And then they go back and do it again, and they feel worse. A lot of times, weeping and wailing about how badly you have done does not actually really lead to you changing your ways … so I want to say that repentance is not necessarily about you criticizing yourself or weeping and wailing about how sorry you are, but it absolutely is about you changing your ways. Or, where you don’t have the strength, letting God change your ways.

Now here’s the truth. If the way you have behaved has done someone harm, you’re likely to have feelings of regret. If the way you have behaved has done yourself harm, you’re likely to have feelings of regret. But don’t get stuck in regret. Let God bring change.

It’s a blessing to me to get up in the middle of the night and there’s just enough light to make it down the hallway safely. I consider it to be an important thing to be able to walk through my house in complete darkness. Now, by the way, I don’t put things in the hallway to trip over. [laughter] I make certain it is safe to walk in the dark. But as I walk through the house in the dark today, I’m thankful that light shines through the windows just enough that I can see the way forward. If you want to understand God’s will, you want the lights to come on.

And in places in the Gospels, it talks about how Jesus comes into the darkness like a great light. Here’s one of them, Matthew 4:15. The land of Zebulun, the land of Naphtali, the land of Marion County, in the village of Kinmundy, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness, us too, have seen a great light. And for those who sat in the region in shadow of death, light has dawned. Because, since Jesus came, we can now see what God wants us to do. And we can also see what God does not want us to do. And we can also see where we’ve gone astray.

And the very next verse says this. From that time, Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent.” The light’s here; you can see. It’s time for things to be different. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. God is ready to act and to work and to do God’s will in our midst, to bring us to green pastures and still waters and restore our souls. So Jesus begins to preach repentance. And I want to say what’s implied here is He never stops asking for people’s lives to change.

Very next thing, as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who’s called Peter, and Andrew, his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow me.”

Now notice that these two concepts are right next to each other … think for a minute, what it means to follow Jesus. You’re going to change the direction you move. You’re going to change what you do.

There’s no record in the Bible that Peter said, “But my wife and I are celebrating our anniversary tonight, and we’re going out.” Andrew did not pull out his calendar and say, “Lord, I can pencil you in next week on Tuesday.”

Jesus said to them, “Follow me.” And what I want to suggest to you is this is a word that is the same as repentance. “You had plans; now, follow me instead. There were things you intended to do. Leave them behind. Follow me instead. I have something I want to do with you. Are you going to come with me? I want to teach you to be fishers of men.”

And notice verse 20, it says, “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” The implication is they dropped their nets right there on the beach because they knew that being in the presence of Jesus was more important. And so they allowed their plans to change. They allowed their lives to change.

The very first principle in Rick Warren’s beautiful classic, The Purpose-Driven Life, is that you and I need to understand that whatever it is that God has in mind, it’s not about me. It’s not about what Dave wants. It’s not about Dave getting his way. It’s about Dave surrendering to something far better than me having everything my way. It’s not about me and my plans, this whole following Jesus thing. It’s all about Him and His plans.

And just in case you missed it, “Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, in the boat,” we assume up on the sand, “with Zebedee their father mending their nets. And Jesus called them.” We assume he used the same words, “Follow me.” And again, verse 22, “Immediately, they left the boat and their father and the family business and everything else and followed him,” because this following, this repentance, is not about me and my plans.

Friends, I think we just need to let this sink in. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Jesus is still the Good Shepherd in the year 2022. Jesus as the Good Shepherd still brings change for his sheep. And this is good. As Jesus said in John chapter 10, “… I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the Good Shepherd …” And whatever plans the Good Shepherd has, they are for our good. Whatever direction the Good Shepherd takes us, it is for our good. However, our life changes when we stay close to the shepherd. This is good. This is good.

Okay, Pastor Dave, what are the changes God wants to make?
I’ve already used the term disciple walk. I have polo shirts that actually say Disciple Walk on them. A disciple walk is where you and I decide to follow Jesus and listen to what he says just as if we are disciples just like they were disciples. And then we think about what Jesus said, and talk about it and try to live by it.

What are the changes that God wants?
Well, friends, there’s a path. We talked about that since the beginning of the year. You are on a path that God has already planned.

But along that path, there will be road signs. There’s a curve to the left. You’re coming up on a steep hill. Better slow down. You’re going to be going down a steep hill. You’re 12 miles from El Paso. Time for lunch. There are road signs along the path as we follow Jesus.

And what I want to suggest to you is those road signs mark the path and that they are the commands of Jesus. What he said to them, he says to us. And however many days it takes you, if you spend some time on the path and read a chapter and listen to Jesus’ voice, he will tell you what he wants and you can figure it out. Just follow the signs. Just follow the instructions.

Well, that may require some thinking. That may require some discussion. Friends, I’ll be very, very honest with you. I would love for you to call me on the phone and say, “Pastor, I just read that Jesus told me to do this and this and this. And what exactly does he mean?”
Now, I do promise you, if you call me at 02:00 AM in the morning, my answer will not be as good as if you call me at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. But I want to say to you, please, as the disciples follow Jesus, they talked about what he said all day long. And you and I can talk about what he said. I would be happy to meet with each one of you face to face here at the church, on the phone, whatever works, and listen to you as you think out loud with me, “This is what I think I hear Jesus telling me.’ And I would be happy to do my very best to answer your questions.

But I’ll be honest with you, friends, sometimes I feel like a girl on Friday night in high school: why does the phone never ring? Doesn’t anybody like me? I want to be there for you!

Lent is like bringing a house “up to code.” There are all these changes that need to be made. You find them in the building codes.

Well, for us, in our life, we find them in the words of Jesus, I want to suggest. And over Lent, we’ve got 40 days. We have lots of time to work on a building and to build ourselves up. But what we need to do is to begin by looking over the plans and being ready to change that house, being ready to change our minds because there is a plan. God has a plan in place!

That’s the first adjustment. For every day we have, for every task that you feel you need to do, for every opportunity, for every goal, for every hope, for every dream that you may have, for every relationship you’re involved in, whether it’s joyful or troubled, for all of these things, God has a plan.

And if we turn on the lights so that we can see clearly what God is trying to do we will save ourselves a lot of time. We will save ourselves a lot of trouble because we are wise when we make adjustments, when we adjust our behavior, when we adjust our feelings, when we adjust our thinking to the plan that God has for us.

This is the invitation. You heard me say it last week. It’s worth repeating. Jesus says to every one of us – especially when we feel harassed and helpless – “Come to me …” By the way, in the Greek that’s the exact same word that’s translated as follow. Follow me, it literally says in the Greek, all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. That’s what we’re wanting to do in Lent is to learn from Jesus. And it’s safe to do that because Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life and we know we can trust Him. Because as he says, “I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls … for my yoke is easy, my burden is light.

Please pray with me. Lord, if we were perfect we would not need to change. Lord, if life was perfect there would be nothing that we need to do. And I’m thankful, Lord Jesus, that we’re good but we’re not that good yet. And so in these 40 days when we think about what You want … just as Jesus took 40 days to pray and think about what God wants … I pray that You would bring about a change in our awareness of what You’re asking of us, Lord Jesus. Sometimes we imagine it to be some great and difficult challenge – when You told us that your yoke is easy and your burden is light.
Lord, I pray that You would help us to hear from You and then grow and let positive beneficial change come to each of us … into our families, throughout our church, spreading out into our community and on to our whole nation. Lord Jesus, I pray that You would bring Your people toward the green pastures and still waters that You have planned for each of us. 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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