Sermon July 10, 2022: Let The Holy Spirit Speak For God (Pentecost 6)

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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/728477959

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3i6VEV0gxW

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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: 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

HYMN Blest Be The Ties That Bind
Blest Be The Ties That Bind by John Fawcett
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_AYrlHRm5c

(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 − 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.

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 Be Still My Soul
Be Still My Soul – A cappella – Eclipse 6 – Official Video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqKVFYD8Obc

(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: Let The Holy Spirit Speak For God
John 15:25-27, 16:12-15, 20:21-2; Zechariah 4:6, Ephesians 2:10
Series: “The Acts of the Holy Spirit through the Apostles.”

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

John 15:25  It is to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.‘ 26  But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27  and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:12  “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13  When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you. 14  He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you the things that are to come.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   – Howard Thurman

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HYMN “Are Ye Able,” Said The Master
“Are Ye Able,” Said The Master | HBBC Choir
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkwBi5-huIs

(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

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

God desires to come close to us in times of trouble. God desires to speak into our hearts when there’s confusion and stress and fear. We need to learn how to let the Holy Spirit speak for God and witness to us in hard times and witness to others that God’s love is true.

This photo is a picture of the church where I grew up. This is a photo of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Champaign, Illinois. It’s at the corner of Green Street and Mattis Avenue, just a few blocks from the house where I lived. My parents moved to Champaign when I was in third grade, and this is the church we attended. We rarely missed a Sunday.

A year later, when I was nine, my youngest brother was born. The cord was wrapped around his neck, and the nurses did not catch it in time. His brain was deprived of oxygen, and during that time, the portions of his brain that controlled all motor movements died. This is called infantile cerebral palsy. My brother was able to swallow and he was able to cry, and he was unable to do anything else. And for as long as he lived, that would be the truth.

As you can imagine, this was devastating to my parents. And my father renewed his dedication and became even more involved in the church. As I recall, he actually even, one year, chaired the stewardship campaign, which is the most thankless job in any church! But over the years, my father and mother began to notice something, and that’s that the people of the church pulled back from them. They would stand in the hallway to greet people, and they would be at a potluck, and people would avoid them, and they did not understand. A close friend of theirs was a social worker. One of the younger women of the church came up to her once and said, “I just don’t know what to do. Every time I’m around Dorothy,” that’s my mom “my heart is just breaking with sadness for how she feels. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless. There’s nothing that can be done. And so I avoid her.” And my mother’s friend was not happy.

Four years later, very suddenly, when I was 13, my brother died very suddenly. He came into crisis and was taken to the emergency room in the middle of the night and died that day while we were in school. And I would like to tell you that my father, since that time, to the best of my knowledge, has never attended a worship service in a church except those where his son was preaching.

You see, isolation is dangerous. A young officer asked a French general once, “General, in the heat of battle, when I don’t know what to do, in the heat of battle, what do I do?” And the general said, “When you don’t know what to do, you march toward the sound of the cannons.”

We’re told by Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is the Paraclete, the one who comes alongside. Friends, I’ll be honest with you, when you and I don’t know what to do we need to remember that the name of the Holy Spirit literally means the one who comes alongside. We don’t deal with cannons. But when you don’t know what to do, look around you and come closer to the person who is isolated, the person who has no one. Come alongside.

Jesus, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, talked about a man who was isolated. He was actually beaten near to death, dying at the side of the road. And a Levite, a priest, came down the road, walked around him on the far side … because he probably couldn’t do anything. He felt helpless. And in addition to that, if he was in the presence of a dead body, he would not be able to serve at the temple. But he avoided the person who was isolated. And a lay leader in the temple also came by, did the same thing. But it was the Samaritan who came alongside the person who was isolated. And Jesus said to us, “Go and do likewise.”

This is a parable Jesus said to explain what it meant to love your neighbor. You need to come alongside, just like the Holy Spirit comes alongside. And because the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us, when you come alongside of someone else, you bring God’s presence to them.

But I’ll be very honest with you, friends – and this whole coronavirus thing has made it a thousand times worse – we are living in a society today to where people are more and more isolated. And isolation and the emotional impact of isolation, which is frequently depression, is one of the greatest threats to health in our day. And it is largely unrecognized. The American Association of Retired People estimates that the impacts of people living in social isolation add almost $7 billion a year to the cost of Medicare. Why? They get sick sooner, they stay sick longer, and when they go home, they get sick again. We are not created to be alone. We are not designed by our Creator to be isolated. We are designed by our Creator to be connected to other people and we care about them, and they care about us.

And that’s why I love living in a small town, because most of the time, people around here understand that. We’re not created to be alone. We’re created to have someone come alongside of us, just like the Holy Spirit comes alongside of us.

I was busy on Friday. It was the day of Kim’s surgery. We came to the hospital, and we sat, and we sat, and then we sat some more, and then we sat some more. And at some point in time, I don’t remember exactly when it was, Kim reached out to me and grabbed me by the hand and she said, “I need you to tell me it’s going to be okay.” Friends, we need somebody to tell us it’s going to be okay, even if that’s a lie. We need somebody to give us the medicine of hope at a time that we need hope.

And as I sat there with Kim that day, I was thinking about the ministry of a chaplain, that I was both a husband and a pastor and a chaplain that day. And I was thinking about the ministry of chaplains, about how they come and just simply represent that God cares and they give people hope that it’s going to be okay. And this is what we need. This particular phrase is one way that we witness to people, that we bear witness that what we believe is true, that we bear witness that God is real and God’s love is real and that God is here. This is one way that we bear witness. It’s going to be okay.

The Holy Spirit bears witness. Jesus says John 15– this is in the upper room. This is their training and what to expect when Jesus is gone, what the Holy Spirit’s going to do. And Jesus says, But when the counselor, the Holy Spirit, the paraclete comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me. The presence of the Holy Spirit will communicate what God wants people to know. The Holy Spirit will come alongside of the disciples, and in doing that, the Holy Spirit will come alongside of the person who needs the witness.

Verse 27, And you also are witnesses because you’ve been with me from the beginning. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that even though we have things to say, it is the Holy Spirit who most deeply communicates to the hearts of people. Jesus goes on to say in John 16, I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when the whole spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears, he will speak, and he will declare to you. He will glorify Me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. What God wants to be said, God will tell Jesus, Jesus will tell the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit will declare it to us, and God will speak down that chain into the lives of other people. All that the Father has is mine therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you the things that are to come.

Now, I meant to say this earlier. Let me not wait any longer. I want you to understand that the people of the church where I grew up are not bad people. They are good people. They are caring people. But what happened to my parents was simply this: they were not trained to understand that from time to time, God would ask them to go somewhere where they were uncomfortable, to bring comfort. God, through their pastors, did not train them to understand that what it means to serve Jesus Christ is from time to time, you go where you don’t want to go. You go where it hurts and where you’re distressed and upset. In fact, Jesus called it carrying a cross. You take on a task that is unpleasant, because through that task, kindness and mercy and love and joy and peace flow to another person, even if it costs you something in terms of discomfort.

It wasn’t the sort of Christianity they were taught … that sometimes following the Savior means you go up to someone who is in an uncomfortable situation and you’re uncomfortable, too, but they’re not alone. And that’s the witness that quite often people absolutely need. You are not alone. So it’s not that any of those people were bad people. They just had not been taught that sometimes to follow Jesus means it’s okay that you feel uncomfortable.

In addition to that, when the Holy Spirit shows us things– we talked about this a couple of weeks ago, how the Holy Spirit’s going to teach us is to remind us of things that Jesus said. The Holy Spirit’s going to remind us of things that Jesus did. And sometimes understanding what Jesus said and did is precisely the comfort that a person who’s suffering needs. I remember as a very young pastor talking to some of the older pastors, “What do you do when you’re in a hospital room and it’s just terrible?” And the pastor said to me, “A lot of times I’ll open up my Bible and just read the familiar passages and remind people of the God we have faith in.”

Consequently, in every situation that’s difficult for us, it’s wonderful and wise for us to ask the question, what did Jesus say about this? Because quite often we’ll be reminded of what needs to be said and we’ll be able to be a witness in that particular situation.

So here it is, friends. For every human problem, it arrives complete with a divine plan, if not to solve the problem, then to help people in the middle of the problem. Here’s the sad thing. People are very aware of the human problem, but quite often they’re so riveted and distracted by the problem, it’s hard for them to perceive how God wants to help.

But I would say that God’s generic basic plan has three basic parts. First, #1, we need to love God in every situation, in every relationship, with all of our hearts and soul and mind and strength.

And then part two, love your neighbor as yourself. The reason the church members where my mother and father attended church pulled away from them is they did not know how to love them. But that’s always going to be the question for us. Remember, the Good Samaritan. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise in every situation, and especially those that make us feel uncomfortable.” What is the way to love in this situation? If you have a child, you know that sometimes the way to love is with a spanking. I do not recommend that you give spankings to other people, but sometimes it’s needed. But most of the time, what’s needed is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and gentleness because, friends, there is not enough of that in our world.

But remember what I said. If you’re a soldier and don’t know what to do, march to the sound of the cannons … if you don’t know how to love your neighbor, ask that question that explains so many things, “What would Jesus do?” Because the Holy Spirit is ready to remind you what Jesus would have done. The Holy Spirit is ready to remind you what Jesus would have said.

“What would Jesus do?” is always a good question for every human problem. And doing and saying what Jesus would do is quite often the witness that will bring the greatest blessing. But that’s not the only kind of witness. Here’s the one that I find very much a struggle, and that’s to let the Holy Spirit speak through silence. God can talk into the hearts of another person, but it’s going to be hard for them to hear what God has to say if I just keep jabbering and jabbering and jabbering and jabbering. When I get uncomfortable, you’ll know. I talk and talk and talk and talk and talk and talk. It’s my nature. But quite often the Holy Spirit can speak right into somebody’s heart. It will just be present … but be quiet because listening is powerful. Listening is love. Listening is a way to be a witness of the love of God. It’s not an easy way for me.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul encourages the believers at the church in Corinth. He says, “I want you to be able to prophesy.” What did he mean by that? Not that he wanted them to be an Old Testament prophet. But in the New Testament, prophecy is when God tells you something so that you can tell someone else to benefit them. I don’t know if you realize, but that’s me every single week. “Lord, what am I going to say on Sunday? What am I going to say on Sunday?” And now Sunday has come, and I’m standing up, and I’m sharing with you what I feel God wants me to tell you. But God works that way with all of us. Quite often, through our intuition, you’ll just have a hunch. It’ll just feel right. I need to tell that story about when my baby brother was born and how they treated my parents. I need to tell that story of when I was in school and was treated unfairly. You’ll be amazed, but God will give you a sense in your heart of what you need to say. And here’s the truth, if you’re wrong, you’ll learn the hard way that it was the wrong thing to say. Nonetheless, what God puts in your heart, it’s good if that comes out of your mouth.

It’s also good for you to make it something you are telling to use words like, “It seems to me … this reminds me of something that happened to me. This reminds me of something that happened to Jesus.” Test the waters and let them decide whether this is what is needed.

Be careful about giving people orders! When I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time with some very enthusiastic teenage Christians. And they frequently would come up to each other and come up to me and say, “God told me to tell you …” And 99% of the time, they were completely wrong. Sadly, there are some people who think that God tells them to go around and give people all kinds of orders about what they should do or not do. Frequently, that’s not the kind of witness that the Holy Spirit brings. Because remember, the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, that usually doesn’t mean God orders you to do this.

But one of the things that we can do as we reflect and have a conversation with people is through what we say. We can help clarify what’s going on when they’re surrounded by confusion. Because remember, they don’t know what to do either. And one of the key ways we can do that clarification is take what we hear them saying and rephrase it in our own words. “I think I hear you saying this. Is this what you mean?” And then, again, you listen. And the witness that comes as you lead someone in a conversation helps people understand, especially if you add this one little phrase that’s so helpful: “Is there something more you’d want to tell me?” And listen. Share your stories.

Finally, I would like to tell you about one of my favorite TV shows. I kind of have a twisted sense of humor. One of my favorite TV shows is the show called Mom. And it kind of is about a mom. But back on June 29th, I saw this little meme on Facebook. And it said, “You’re stranded on a desert island. The last TV show you watched is your rescue team. Who is coming toward you?” And I typed onto there, “The recovering alcoholics from the TV show Mom.”

And I thought to myself, “That’s exactly right.” That was the last show I had seen, to be honest. Because when you think about it as the– and you may have never attended or been a part or maybe even ever have heard of Alcoholics Anonymous. But ironically, this comedy really kind of explains how these people help and support each other. They go to each other. They help each other. They encourage each other. And no one is left alone. In an AA meeting, people take turns telling their own experience of how they have struggled with alcohol. And the oddest thing, when they talk about how hard it’s been, it gets easier. When they talk about how much they’ve suffered, their suffering is relieved.

One of the famous things about AA is their slogans. They have a lot of sayings. Some of them are on the screen. “Easy does it. First things first. Live and let live, but for the grace of God go I. Think, think, think. One day at a time,” which, by the way, almost comes right out of scripture. “Let go, and let God.” I actually found online a list of 400 of these. Later on, this afternoon, I’m going to put all 400 on Facebook. Because some of them are exactly what we need. Some of them might not apply at this day, or at this time. But some of them are exactly what we need. They are the wisdom that helps us to cope.

But what Jesus literally said is that the Holy Spirit will give us a saying that is something Jesus said or Jesus did. Our wisdom is the things that Jesus said and did. But I thought to myself, if I was in trouble, I’d be blessed for people to come after me, the way they help each other on this TV show. Even though it’s a comedy, it demonstrates some good things.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, even though I’m a preacher, I know that a sermon isn’t always what people need. Sometimes, people need me to just listen. And that’s not always easy. Sometimes, people need me not to give a lecture, but to simply just share where I’ve hurt in the past. Lord, I don’t know what a person might need. But I do know this. You said that your Holy Spirit would come alongside of me so that you would be there to help me when I need help, not just for myself, although Lord, I am commanded to love myself. But when I’m in a situation with another person, the Holy Spirit who comes alongside of me will also have come alongside of that other person and help me to know what to say if I should say anything. Help me to know what to do if I should do anything. Help me to understand that person when I don’t understand. Lord, help me to realize that when I seek to serve you, the very best way that I can serve you is to be a channel for the Holy Spirit to not only be present so that people are not isolated, but for the Holy Spirit to bring the witness of what that person needs to hear. Lord, I pray that you would work through me, through the Holy Spirit. And I 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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