Sermon August 7, 2022: Jesus Prays For Direction (Pentecost 10)

Image by Sharon Tate Soberon via Flickr

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/737205318

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3jiVYVZmqV

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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.

HYMN Sweet Hour of Prayer
Sweet Hour of Prayer (Silo Sessions) // Sounds Like Reign
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADaNGj6p890

(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 Open My Eyes, That I May See
Open my eyes that I may see by The Joslin Grove Choral Society
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aR6ESB143a4

(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: Jesus Prays For Direction
Mark 1:32-39, Matthew 6:9-10
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 6:9 Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

Mark 1:32 That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together about the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

35 And in the morning, a great while before day, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him pursued him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Every one is searching for you.”

38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

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 What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Larry Ford – What a Friend We Have in Jesus [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qm3mKa2buhg

(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 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

In this new sermon series, we’re wanting to talk about how Jesus prayed because Jesus is our role model. Jesus is our example. Jesus shows us how to be a Christian. Jesus shows us how to follow. Jesus follows God the Father, and we follow Jesus. It’s the same thing. So when we look at how Jesus prayed and asked us to pray, it will help us to pray prayers that change the world all around us.

So the question is how can we follow Jesus today?

Here’s the question, how can we follow Jesus today? And there is a huge problem because whenever you ask this question around pastors, to be honest, we pastors sometimes are the big problem. Pastors want to answer the question with regard to the big picture. So the question how can we follow Jesus today becomes the question what does Jesus want us to do all year? What does Jesus want us to do over the next 10 years? What does Jesus want us to do from now till the end of time? Because “today” is like “from this day forward” often in the minds of we pastors.

And here’s the answer to that question. In James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let them ask God, who gives to all people generously and without reproaching, and wisdom will be given to him. But let him ask in faith …” You see, we need to answer this question wisely.

And if we answer the question wisely, all of a sudden, I think it becomes a different question. Because the question it becomes is how can we follow Jesus this day, today? And we know that one day follows another and follows another and follows another. But my mother had a saying that she loved: this day, well lived, guarantees a blessing on every day that is to come.

I think the real question for you and I, as followers of Jesus today is what do we need to do today? And then tomorrow you ask the same question, “What do I need to do today?” And then the day after that, “What do I need to do today?”

Because here’s the thing, I’m good, but I’m not good enough to tell you everything that God wants to be done … because on into the future, there’re some things we just don’t know. But it’s very likely that I can tell you what Jesus wants today. Today, I can do one thing or five things or maybe 10 things. But if we give a limited focus to the question, I think I can answer with confidence what Jesus Christ wants me to do today when I can’t answer the question for all time.

I think the question basically is this comes right out of the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6. Pray them like this … Jesus said, and in verse 10, thy kingdom come. God’s will results in the kingdom of God happening right now, right where we are. And there are some things that you and I should be doing today to help that to come to pass. And so Jesus says, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth right here with the same quality, with the same effectiveness that God’s will is done in heaven.

And you see, I think you and I can more easily know what we need to do today than knowing what needs to happen for all the days that are yet to come. So let’s take our focus off of the far future and focus it on right now. How can we follow Jesus today? And that means we’re going to take a moment to stop. Maybe it will be that sweet hour of prayer, maybe it’ll be less time than an hour, but we’re going to stop somewhere near the beginning of the day to ask the question, Lord Jesus, what do you want from me today?

Because if you and I can do that, if each one of us can do that, then what all of us do in one day will add up to make a huge difference.

I would like to tell you a story from my past. In 1978, I was a seminary student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. And in my second year I was able to take a job as a youth minister in a United Methodist church. That experience was so positive, felt so right that it seemed to me that I should be a United Methodist pastor. And that’s what started me on the road that brought me to be your pastor. And down the street from us at the Buechel United Methodist Church, that’s a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky, there was another church. They were a little bit larger than us. We had about 300 people that came on a Sunday and they had about 500.

But they were quite an amazing church. The name of that church was Southeast Christian Church. And I got a piece of mail in the early ’90s inviting me to go to a seminar on small groups and lo and behold, it was held at the Southeast Christian Church of Louisville, Kentucky. And I thought to myself, I know exactly where that is. So I drove to Louisville for the seminar. It was on a Monday and a Tuesday and it was amazing. But the most amazing thing is I went to the church building down the road to the west of the Methodist church where I had worked and no one was there. In fact, it was all locked up. I looked at the address on the materials I had been sent and it was a different street address still on Hikes Lane. So I drove past the Methodist church on down to this gigantic building.

You see, in the time between they had grown from a congregation of about 500 people coming on Sunday morning to a congregation of around 6,000. And they had a big new building because you can’t put 6,000 people the same building that would hold 500. I actually stayed an extra day so I could go to their Wednesday evening service. And this is a picture of that sanctuary. It looks exactly like it did when I was there in 1991 because I wanted to know what made the difference.

Now, in the years since then and on to today, the Methodist Church that I used to work at has not only not grown, it shrank. But, here, this other church had grown so significantly. What made the difference?

And before the service started, people filed in, and they were sitting and visiting with each other. And I would go up to individuals and I would say, “Hi, I’m a pastor from Illinois. I wonder what makes this church a church that you chose to be a part of?” And you know what’s interesting? I talked to about a dozen people. You know what every single one of them said? “Since I started coming to this church, Jesus Christ became very real to me and he is now my savior.”

And I thought to myself, “No way! I know it’s the big gym you’ve got. I know it’s all the activities that you do. That’s what they tell us back in Illinois makes all the difference in the world because when you’re bigger, you can do more, and you’re busy seven days a week. So I’m not quite sure I believe this.” I didn’t tell them that, but that’s what I’ve been told made the difference.

And the pastor who had founded the church, Bob Russell, stood up and he gave his sermon. I have to be honest with you, I was disappointed. He was very serious. He was very calm. He didn’t tell a joke. He was not flashy. It wasn’t like showbiz. And I said to myself, “I could preach better than him.”

And then in the middle of his sermon, he said, “There are people who wonder what happened here and why our church has so significantly grown over all the years.” And he said, “I’ll tell you what it is.” And I’m like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, tell me, tell me, tell me, tell me!”

And I will never forget what he said. Again, so calm, so dry, so boring. He said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing here has always been and will always be that Jesus Christ comes first because when you get that right, when you get the main thing right, everything else flows from that. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” And I said to myself, “I need to remember that because that’s what causes 500 to become 6,000.”

Now, just so you know, they didn’t stop keeping the main thing the main thing. That particular church is now the fourth largest church in the United States of America; on Sunday morning, their weekly attendance is over 25,000 people. In fact, actually close to 26,000 people. Down in the lower left-hand corner, you can see an airplane view of their campus. It looks like a mall, doesn’t it? They have over 30,000 members. Bob Russell is now retired. Their third pastor after him is now the pastor, but they are still keeping the main thing the main thing, and the main thing is always Jesus Christ and that we need to do his will. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. So let’s put Jesus first.

This is a picture of the Sea of Galilee at sunset. Mark 1:32, “That evening at sundown, they brought to him, Jesus, all who were sick or possessed with demons.” They brought these people to him at Peter’s mother-in-law’s house. Verse 33, “and the whole city was gathered together about the door. And he, Jesus, healed many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew Him.” So you see, Jesus became very famous and this is still true today. If you can solve a person’s problem, they will come from all over to get their problem solved. So we have this huge crowd of people all around the house and some of them are healed and some come wishing to be healed, but it doesn’t just quite happen yet for them. Please keep that in mind.

The next morning. This is a picture of the Sea of Galilee at dawn. “And in the morning, a great while before day, he, Jesus, arose and went out to a lonely place and there he prayed.” Now the scripture doesn’t indicate that he’s watching the Sea of Galilee, but in my mind, I imagine Him watching the sun come up there.

Verse 36, “And Simon and those who were with him pursued him and they found him and said to Him, everyone is searching for you.” In other words, when the disciples woke up, Jesus was missing. He was praying, but the disciples noticed that people started to line up. I’ve been a pastor for 42 years. I’m still waiting to walk over to the church and see people lined up, waiting for it to be unlocked! I’m still waiting.

Simon Peter sees that all kinds of people are waiting for Jesus. You see, they’ve come because they need to be healed. They’ve come because they need to be set free from demonic oppression, from evil that is controlling their lives. They want what Jesus has to offer, and they are lined up and they are waiting. And there’s a part of me that’s assuming what Simon Peter is thinking … I think he’s thinking this is a lot less work if they’re in line waiting for Jesus. Maybe we could build a building, maybe we could have a hospital and Jesus could be the divine physician and we could charge for the rooms. And we could serve lunch, and they would pay for the lunch and we could pass the collection plate and it would be full. And I can imagine that Simon Peter is thinking this way because the way our world defines it today, that’s a success. Jesus, everyone is searching for you. You, you are so popular. You need to get out of this place and come back and take care of these people who are waiting for you. I think this is what Peter could be thinking, because I can imagine myself thinking the same way.

And Jesus catches them all by surprise. And he said to them, “Let us go.” The implication is that all those people are there and need Jesus. And Jesus says, “No, we need to go.” The implication is that Jesus walked away from all those people who were in need.

Jesus said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns that I may preach there also. For that is why,” notice that, “that is why I came out.” Not to be a healer, although God does do that. Not to be an exorcist, although God does that – God rights the wrongs of this world – but to share the truth about God. “And if I let myself be distracted by that,” I imagine Jesus thinking, “I’m going to forget why I came because the ability to help people can be very distracting. And that is why I came.” Verse 39, “And he went,” and my assumption is he went immediately because that line of people would never end. “He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.”

You see, what Jesus did first thing in the morning is he went away from all the distractions and he said, “What does God want?” And based on his best answer to that question, that’s what Jesus did that day. And the disciples, if they tried to predict what Jesus was going to do, guess what? They were frequently wrong. But the whole thing that Jesus was teaching them about following him is they didn’t know what was going to happen the next day because they had to follow.

And I wonder if it’s still true for us today. You and I don’t know what God is going to want and need tomorrow. But I think the mercy will be there so you and I can know what God wants and needs from us today.

And, again, I would like to remind you of this verse in Ephesians that we’ve talked about so much. God is ready to work through you and I today. God already knows because God sees the parade from above. God can see what’s going to happen in your day and is already working in all those events that are going to happen to do God’s will.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Now how can you follow Jesus today? Know as you go from right here to what’s next, to what’s next, to what’s next, that Jesus has already prepared everything that lies ahead. And there may be something for you and I to do where God will work through us.

Sometimes God works through our words. We say something kind and comforting.

Sometimes God works through what we do.

But sometimes God simply works because you’re there and you see another person there and you say to yourself, Lord, help them. Because I think one of the most powerful ways that God works through us is we verbalize in prayer what we sense in our hearts that God wants to be done.

And what I’d like to suggest to you during this season of Pentecost is that’s the main thing. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is for God to answer your prayer when you pray, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

I would like to tell you a story that comes out of Southeast Christian. This has to do with a radio personality by the name of Liz Curtis Higgs who, in the years prior to 1982, had a significant drug habit, had a significant drinking problem, had a significant wild partying lifestyle that was going to destroy her life. And she was on the radio in Louisville, Kentucky. And another couple was also on the radio and they happened to go to this church. And they became friends. And Liz Curtis Higgs, at their invitation, went to church with them on Sunday. Now, Liz Curtis Higgs was a powerful, strong-willed, absolutely refusing to listen to anyone who criticized her lifestyle, kind of woman.

Let me read you the story: Sad to say that Sunday the preacher took as his text the verse from Ephesians, wives, submit to your husbands. Now, it’s in the Bible, and so it’s true. But if you were trying to win someone to Christ, like Liz Curtis Higgs, would you pick that text? I don’t think so.
When Liz heard the words of that verse she became disturbed, angry, and upset. She complained she had never met a man whom she could trust. But she kept listening to the sermon and the pastor read the second half of that verse that almost no one ever quotes. Husbands, be willing to sacrifice yourselves for your wives like Jesus did for the church, dying for her.
Liz was intrigued. Leaning over to her friend, she whispered, “If I could ever meet a man like that who would be willing to sacrifice for me, who would put me first in other words, I would go with him anywhere.”
The friend leaned back to her and said, “Liz, the man has already done it. His name is Jesus. He laid out his entire life for you on the cross so that you might have life and have it abundantly.” And tears began to roll down her cheeks. And her defenses began to melt.

Liz Curtis Higgs in 1982, continued to attend that church. She even began to sing in the choir. She was an alto. And then one Sunday morning, she came down out of the choir to the altar and gave her life to Christ. People in the choir said, “We thought she was already one of us.” She was, but it took God time to work. And she went on to become a bestselling Christian author, wrote over 20 best-selling books, quite an amazing life. But it all started when she was told that there was someone who was worthy of her trust, when she was reminded that there is someone who is worthy, someone who is worthy for us to follow, someone who is worthy for us to be willing to submit, to say, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done.”

Because He is worthy. Because He is worthy. Because He is worthy.

You see, friends, when we pray that prayer when we live our life, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” we are building heaven here on earth. In fact, in Matthew, it’s called the kingdom of heaven. And what makes it the kingdom of heaven is that’s where we do what Jesus said to do. We are building heaven here on earth, one day at a time. If you try to imagine everything that God would want you to do, it will overwhelm you. But if you can just focus on today and let today be well lived, you will be astonished at what you will see God do all around you. Because we’re building heaven here on earth one day at a time, one person at a time, one conversation at a time, one event at a time. And as you go through your day, as God’s will is done, you’re bringing heaven on earth all around you.

But what it requires, as Jesus demonstrated, is that you need to step away for a moment. Jesus, first thing in the morning, asked “God, what do you want today?”

And maybe you don’t have an hour to spend in prayer or hours like Jesus did. Some of us, we like to figure out everything in advance and then, of course, we find out that it doesn’t work out that way!

Some of us are people who, instead of praying for an hour in the morning, before different things that happen, we take just a minute to pray: and we say, ‘Lord, right here, right now, what do you want?” – because in each moment, you’re the person who prays, “Thy will be done.” And so you need to listen, perhaps just for a few seconds, perhaps for a minute, just to be aware, “Oh, that’s what I need to do.”

But moment by moment, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, whenever it is that you stop to think and pray and say, “Lord, what do you want?” — your willingness to follow through and be obedient changes the whole world all around you.

So it’s printed in your bulletin. I’d like you to hang on to the bulletin perhaps for those morning devotions. And let these words help you to focus on what God wants. “Lord, I believe. But help my unbelieving. I can serve so much better if I can see my world as God sees it.

Lord, I obey. But help me wherever I’m disobedient. Help me to focus instead of being distracted. Help me to be guided instead of feeling lost.” And for some things, we need to pray, “Lord, prune me. Take that away. It’s holding me back.

“Lord, I follow …” because that’s the key question for how do we follow Jesus today? “Lord, I follow. Help me to stay on the path.” And that’s the first thing for us to understand. There truly is a path. You have many choices about how you go through your day. But there’s one that will bless you the most. What a wonderful thing it is for God to provide you with a path to follow. So we pray, “Lord, help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path!” Because on the path, there will be guidance. There will be providence because God is working in everything that happens. There will also be protection because God is working through you.

And so in our prayers, perhaps first thing in the morning, perhaps as we go through our day, we are people who humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge.

In every human situation, we ask for God’s guidance and we pray, “Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine.” If you’re not familiar with those words, they come from John, chapter 15 to where Jesus says that, “I am the vine and you are the branches as long as you stay connected with me–” this is a summary of that whole chapter. “As you abide in me and stay connected to me, you will flourish and be fruitful because you are a part of the vine.”

Please pray with me: Lord Jesus, help us to ask the question each day in the best way. Whether it’s minute by minute or once for the whole day, help us to ask how it is that we can best follow Jesus today. And as we go through the day, Lord, guide us and teach us and help us to learn so that the next day, we can follow You better, be more aware of what You wish. Help us, Lord, to learn how to be Your disciples, to learn how to be Your followers. Just as the original disciples learned over three years, Lord, help us to learn so that we can also follow You and that we can be faithful as we pray that Your will is done. Throughout our day, throughout our world, 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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