Sermon August 28, 2022: Staying Balanced In Prayer With Jesus (Pentecost 13)

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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/743826132

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3jue0VTzvp

An experiment – with a few errors – the Kinmundy UMC 9 am service, 8-28-2022.
https://vimeo.com/743973085

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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:

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. 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. Amen.

Amen

HYMN 344 Lord You Have Come To The Lakeshore
First Methodist Houston, 2/27/22: Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfSrgYDAvyk

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 Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of The God
Seek Ye First – Maranatha! Music [with lyrics]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsBpM9IcBts

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: Staying Balanced In Prayer With Jesus
Matthew 22:35-40, John 13:34-35, Matthew 9:35-38
Series: Praying With Jesus

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 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

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 128 He Leadeth Me: O Blessed Thought
The Martins – He Leadeth Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0nDUpXmdig

BENEDICTION 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.

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

Staying balanced in our life, staying balanced in prayer with Jesus. How do we live day by day with Jesus?

I love the image that comes with this prayer that we began our service with. Lord, I follow. I want to follow. It’s my desire to follow. Help me, Lord Jesus. Help me to stay on the path.

Now, what’s interesting is, when you look at the Book of Proverbs, when you look at other places in the Bible, they talk about how there is a path. And not only that, God provides us with a path to follow. Now, if you can tell the difference between a path and just walking through the field in whatever direction you wish, it’s not too hard to stay on the path of God’s will. The path is clear. That’s why we can thank God for the path. We can thank God for guiding us by providing us with a path. We can thank God for providence, for providing for our needs. We can thank God for protection.

I still remember all the way back into second grade, my mother had this little plaque that she had on the wall, and it had this saying: Yesterday is but a dream, tomorrow but a vision, but today, well-lived … Today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well, therefore, to this day. You see, if you and I can live this day well as a follower of Jesus Christ, those days of goodness and blessing will accumulate.

Now, we all have this sense of turning away from the world, of turning our eyes upon Jesus, and setting aside times for us to spend with God. And so we are here together on Sunday morning. We are perhaps the best Christians we are all week long here in church on Sunday morning. But we have to ask ourselves, if our prayer is Thy will be done, is Sunday morning enough, or do we not need to learn how to be good Christians seven days a week? And we think to ourselves, well, I’m going to have a devotion today. I’m going to open up the Upper Room, and certainly, for those minutes, I will be totally focused on Jesus Christ. But are those minutes sufficient? Or would we rather not wish to be Christian 24 hours of each day, seven days of each week? How do we do that? How will I know God’s will? In the midst of all the other things that the world is clamoring for me to do, how exactly do I stay on the path?

Let me tell you what I have felt is the best answer to that. It’s not your problem! It’s not your problem because I think you and I are living the 23rd Psalm day after day. What that means is we have a shepherd whom we are supposed to follow. And that shepherd is going to lead us to greater green pastures and to still waters. And that shepherd is going to restore our souls. That shepherd is going to protect us when we’re afraid. Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. And the last words of the Book of Matthew, Jesus seems to promise this to us, “Lo, I am with you always to the close of the age.”

So what does that mean? I may be distracted, but if I will notice, Jesus is right there with me. And the role of the shepherd, when you think about it, is to keep the sheep on the path, to keep the sheep headed in the right direction. And if you will allow Jesus Christ to live your life with you, he will be there in all these moments. And it will be okay for you to watch television. It will be okay for you to be in the stands and cheer in a ballgame. It will be okay because Jesus Christ will still be with you. God is going to fill in the blanks in our day, and each day is very full.

So here’s what I would suggest is the best answer. How do I follow Jesus? How do I stay on the path? How do I know what God’s will is? If I follow Jesus today, one day will be enough. Not only that, if Jesus is the shepherd, each day will be shaped and designed by Him for the best purposes. I can trust God to give me this day what I need and not overwhelm me. I can relax and follow my partner … if I will allow Jesus Christ to be my partner in this life.

Now, when we begin to think like that, a number of things become quite obvious. We have a need to see our world as God sees it because then God can show us what is God’s will for this moment. If you and I misunderstand what’s happening around us, it’s very likely we’ll misunderstand what God wants. But if we can add, to our own point of view, God’s point of view, we’ll be able to learn.

So what is the great and high priority for us in our daily life? Jesus answered this question Matthew 22:35, And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, what is the great commandment in the law? What’s the primary instruction? What are your directions? What should happen first? What is the great commandment in the law?” And Jesus responds, verse 37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” So if you ask the question, what is God’s will for my day? That’s it. God’s will for your day and my day is to love God with all my heart, with all my soul, my conscious mind, my personality, with all my mind, my intellect, and my intelligence. Every day if your shepherd is in charge of your day, if you let Jesus be Lord over your day, every day then is going to have moments that are lessons. Every day is going to have experiences where you will strengthen and grow in loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s like exercise, and Jesus will give you just the right amount of lesson and exercise that you need in that day.

Now the lesson goes on. In the very next verse, Jesus says, “And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In other words, you’re going to start with focusing on God, and then you’re going to start dealing with other people, including yourself. And by the way, a lot of times that’s when the problems start because other people can be difficult. Sometimes the person we see in the mirror is the most difficult person we deal with, but Jesus says in Verse 40, “On these two commandments” – on these two things, like your left hand – “on these two things depend all the law and the prophets.” So dealing with people is the other part of what God is going to lead us toward.

Jesus said it a little bit differently in John, Chapter 13, Verse 34: “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another…” Same idea, but then Jesus makes it stronger, “That you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Jesus says the way you and I learn how to love other people is to love them the way Jesus did, and this is where, when we read the scripture, we quite often are reminded … maybe … what Jesus did is what I need to do today with this person.

Jesus goes on to promise in Verse 35, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples.” It’s proof that what we believe is genuine, when we love one another as Jesus loved us. So what does that have to do with today?

There is another prayer request that Jesus made of the disciples. There are two. Now Jesus taught them how to pray, but there are two places he said, “I want you to pray for this.” And here’s number two, Matthew 9:36: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” You see, if we begin to see the world around us as Jesus sees it, we’re going to begin to notice people who are harassed and helpless. It’s about 9:30 in the morning now here in church. I don’t know if you’ve seen anyone who’s harassed or helpless quite yet, unless it was you this morning. But as we go through our day, how often do we notice people who feel harassed and helpless? Let me tell you why they feel harassed and helpless. If you understand the context of the 23rd Psalm, they feel harassed and helpless because they’re like sheep without a shepherd. People need the Lord, Jesus Christ, as a shepherd to guide them in their life, and you and I need that, too. So if we’re a step ahead of some of the other people around us, maybe we can show them what it’s like to live life with the guidance of the shepherd … because, you see, it’s very likely that you are God’s answer to that person feeling harassed and helpless. It’s very likely that you are God’s answer to someone’s prayer.

I’ll be honest with you, friends. If you need to borrow a lawnmower, I’ll bet you somebody here has got one to lend. If you have a question about your life or about something the Bible says, there’s probably somebody here who has an answer to your question. Jesus has chosen to work with people who feel harassed and helpless through us, and what he calls these people are people who are laborers, willing workers in the harvest.

Verse 37, “Then he, Jesus, said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.'” Do you remember when Jesus said to Peter and Andrew, “Follow me”? What was the rest of the sentence? He was going to teach them how to fish for people. He was going to teach them how to help people find Him as the shepherd of their lives, and it is still God’s will for each one of us to help Jesus with that.

And so the question for us, if our prayer is, “Thy will be done,” are we willing to be laborers in God’s harvest? And of course, if we are living the 23rd Psalm day after day, we will be answering, “Yes, Lord, we are willing to work with you and help you with these people who are harassed and helpless.” And you could call that the right hand, if you want to, the right hand of partnership, because with the right hand, your first task to do God’s will is to notice God, because if you notice what God is doing, not only will you understand the world as God sees it, you will see God doing something, and you will go, “Oh, that’s so wonderful.” You know what we call that? We call that praise. And in fact, because you and I can never notice everything that God does, when we praise God, we are revealing to God and also to people around us how much we understand what God is doing. All day long, when you see a reason to give thanks, if you will give thanks, you will learn how to love God more. Sometimes what you’re thankful for is an idea and that’s loving God with your mind. Sometimes what you’re thankful for is something that touches your heart, that’s loving God with your heart. But if you’ll notice God and give thanks, you will grow more. And not only that, Jesus shows us lessons, we learn. And quite often our lessons cause us to pray.

One of the most fruitful things you can do before you go to bed at night, maybe you make a written list, maybe it’s just something you do as you wait to fall asleep: Lord, here’s what I noticed today and I’m thankful for. Lord, here’s what I noticed today and I give you praise. Lord, here’s what I learned today. Lord, here’s what I prayed for today. And you will learn how to work with God by giving attention to that first commandment. So the first thing is to notice God.

Here’s an example that we talked about last week, Luke 18:1, and he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. And the example was used of an unjust judge – of a person who was unfair. And sometimes we can get discouraged and we can feel that God is being unfair to us. Well, the teaching of the parable is not just to say that God is not unfair, but to say that we need to persist and hang on in our prayer. So one of those things you can ask yourself, did I get discouraged today? And is that because I’ve given up on God answering prayer? You see, that will strengthen your love with all your heart and soul and mind for God.

We are living the 23rd Psalm day by day, but that also includes dealing with people and sometimes dealing with people is difficult. Jesus says that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves but that means that we have to notice our neighbor. You see, those words are in tiny, tiny, tiny print there. I need to work hard sometimes to notice someone other than myself.

And there are some of us who struggle with just the opposite. We notice everybody else’s needs and we never ever pay attention to our own. That’s equally a mistake.

But if you will notice what God is doing, God will teach you and help you to love other people the way Jesus loves them. Because when you love them that way, your life and their life will change. And we talked about that two weeks ago when we talked about how Jesus had the gall to ask us to pray for our enemies. Why would Jesus ask us to pray for our enemies and pray for people who persecute us? Well, here’s one simple reason: if you learn to do that, you will be like God. Or as Jesus said in verse 48, you therefore must be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect. If you see the world around you the way Jesus sees it, it will change what you understand to be perfect. Perfect will no longer be you not making a mistake. Perfect will no longer be surrounding yourselves with people who do not make mistakes, because guess what? There is only one place on this earth where no one makes mistakes. And if you want to spend some time there with people who will not hurt you, will not talk badly about you, will not be negative people, all you have to do is go out to Evergreen Cemetery with a chair. Because only the cemetery is where you’ll find people who are perfect in terms of no longer making mistakes.

It’s quite clear when you look at this verse in context– what Jesus says here is what it means for your Heavenly Father to be perfect is perfect in mercy, perfect in grace. And you know something? If you listen to Jesus Christ talk to you about dealing with other people who stress us out, who cause all kinds of hassles and trouble, you’ll learn how to be merciful. And you’ll learn how to be more like God. And that’s good.

Friends, we have the privilege, we have the opportunity to live the 23rd Psalm day by day. But the important part of that is to let the shepherd do the shepherd’s job. And that means as we go through today, that we focus on what we’re supposed to do today and look for a balance between our life of worship, where we pay attention to God, and a balance with what God also wants us to notice, which is our neighbor and the people around us, a balance between paying attention to God and paying attention to other people because they’re God’s people.

But the first lesson, if you want to go through life living like the 23rd Psalm, is that this is done one day at a time. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan for Monday. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan for next week. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t plan throughout months and years to come. What I’m saying is, when it’s time for you and I to live, we need to focus on the serving of God’s love for today, which is one day’s work. And I’ve been intrigued with the possibility that what I cannot do for a whole week, what I cannot do for months at a time, I might be able to listen to Jesus Christ and do today what needs to be done today and to pay attention as I go through the day and deal with people– to focus on the people that God has brought into my presence that day. Now, there may come a day, maybe it’ll be tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock, every single one of you will show up at the church office wanting something. That might be a little challenging but that’s not normally how it works! If your shepherd leads you about when to come and see the pastor, then the pastor is not going to need to worry about being overwhelmed, because Jesus is going to serve up for you and for me today, what we need today. The call for us is to be faithful one day at a time.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, when we contemplate what it is to serve you, in our mind, it is not something we will ever be able to do. Because certainly, Lord, we are far from perfect if that’s how we measure perfect. But Lord, we may be able to do those tiny things that you ask us to do today. But unless we turn our attention to You, Lord, to follow you today, to listen to you today, to let you teach us and guide us today, our minds will wander far away from the doable portion of God’s will that you give us to do today. Help us, Lord, to focus on today. And we pray that you will lead us as we seek to do thy will on earth. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. 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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