Sermon September 18, 2022: Serving The Needs In Prayer With Jesus (Pentecost 15)

Image via Pxhere

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/750786997

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3QFVoVOwfw

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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 298 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Bill & Gloria Gaither – When I Survey the Wondrous Cross [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z3Cn5Yj10I

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 393 Spirit Of The Living God, Fall Fresh On Me
Spirit of the Living God (Silo Sessions) // Sounds Like Reign
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En44FTqOifs

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: Serving The Needs In Prayer With Jesus
Luke 10:1-2, 27-37, Matthew 25:34-40
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

Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

Luke 10:27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Matthew 25:34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’

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 399 Take My Life and Let It Be
Take My Life and Let It Be – Chris Tomlin [with lyrics]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA9zA7O6bH0

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

“Serving along the path with Jesus” – if you will allow it to happen. This is the concept of a path, where Jesus guides us each day. And it’s our goal to stay on the path, to stay in the way that God has created. That’s so much easier than us trying to figure out God’s will on our own.

Ephesians 2:10 says that we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works created in Christ Jesus to do God’s will as we go through the day. And this particular path that we follow is one which God has prepared beforehand. So as you go through your day today, as you go through your day tomorrow, let it become possible that the people you meet along the way, the situations that you experience along the way, know they are there so that we can learn something. But they’re also there so that we can do something that is good, perhaps for ourselves, perhaps for the people we meet. But God has made a way, the best way, through every day, and I’m calling that the path, and this verse suggests that we should walk in them.

Luke 10: After this, the Lord appointed 70 others and sent them on ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was to come. He still set up this path and sent the disciples out to do God’s work. Verse two, and he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Now, think about this for just a moment. Every single day the disciples got up in the morning and the very first thing they did was talk to Jesus. And all day long they would have conversations with Jesus and with each other about what Jesus was trying to do. And all day long they would try to do God’s will and help the people they encountered.

But in this instance, he sent them out without his presence, without his help. But they were still doing the same things. They were just out on their own. Nowadays, we do that sort of thing and we call it a mission trip. A lot of people that go on a mission trip find it to literally be a life-changing experience. And for many, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But when you think about what the disciples did every day, this sort of thing is an everyday thing. After Jesus resurrects and ascends into heaven, they are going on little mission trips like this all day long, every day – because it’s normal.

Some of you have seen me wear one of these black polo shirts. It says DiscipleWalk on it. And I coined the word DiscipleWalk. I made it up to reflect that kind of day where, as a disciple, you just go from one thing to another and understand that you’re moving forward in the will of God. And so I wore this shirt today to remind you of that. If you’ve seen it before, it’s because I actually have four of them! It’s good to remind people that we’re on a disciplewalk. We’re not just on a mission trip that might happen once a year or once every four years. Every single day, we’re walking with Christ, interested in doing God’s will. And Jesus is sending us into the harvest.

On the other hand, these are hard times. You’re looking at a photo of some of the members of the Elim Christian Mission, which is a Pentecostal church in El Salvador. They are, depending on how you count it, the 15th largest church in the world. They have over 35,000 people in their worship services. Their problem there, of course, is there are so many people that about the only time they can gather the whole church together is by renting a soccer stadium.

But the main feature of this church is the people are organized into small groups, very similar to what John Wesley did with what he called his class meetings. They have over 11,000 cell groups. And they do study the Bible, they do worship, they do fellowship, they have dessert, they help their neighbors. But the main focus of the cell is on the evangelism of the people around them. 11,000 cell groups, 120,000 in attendance.

COVID hit them hard. “Upon reopening after the COVID lockdown,” Pastor Mario Vega wrote this week, “attendance had dropped by 50%. The pandemic has shown us that we must be more intentional in making other disciples.”

“The positive side of the pandemic,” he wrote, “and the lockdown is that it allowed us to discover that we still need to focus more on making stronger disciples.” What they found after they came back from the lockdown is that 60,000 people disappeared. Their church was 50% smaller. Please think about the meaning of these words in red. They discovered that they didn’t need to focus on building back up the attendance. They discovered they didn’t need to focus on making the worship or the cell meeting more fun or the desserts better. But they decided that what made the difference was that if the people who were present were stronger and better disciples, everything else would come from that.

Well, they’ve regained 24,000 people but because of the impact of COVID, a third basically dropped away. Now, those statistics are not unusual here in the United States because no matter what church we go to, there is going to be a challenge to our faith that the world is going to present to us. There are going to be difficulties, and if we don’t stay strong, it’s easy for that challenge to sweep us away. But if we focus on making disciples, stronger disciples, better disciples, everything flows from that.

I found a phrase on the internet this week that really explained that to me. We will not naturally drift into becoming faithful disciples. If anything is coasting, it’s usually coasting downhill. Becoming more faithful disciples is a matter of intentionally working at it.

And so you have this little story about musicians:
Someone comes up to a musician, and asks “How do you perform so well?”
And the musician says, “Practice.”
“It must be an innate gift.”
The musician says, “It’s practice.”
“I can never understand why some people have talent like this. It’s magical and a mystery.”
And the musician says, “It’s practice.”

Friends, our faith is like this. It’s practice.

And if we can focus on doing what Christians should do, if we can focus on doing what Jesus tells us to do, if we can focus on praying as Jesus teaches us to pray, we will be stronger and better disciples. And this is where the idea of that path comes in. Because if God has put lessons along your day, today, you have the opportunity to learn at a pace that God has designed. Not overwhelming, but God will present you with what you need to learn each day, what you need to do each day. The path provides you with lessons to learn and opportunities to practice.

And what are you practicing? It’s this. You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
A scribe came up to Jesus and challenged him to name the greatest commandment. And Jesus said, “Well, what is it to you?” And this is the answer. And the last part of the answer is this, “and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered right. Do this and you will live.” Take a look at verse 29: But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Now, the reason that’s interesting is you can argue with someone about whether they love God with all their heart. You can argue whether they love God with all their mind. You can argue whether they love God with all their soul or personality. But most of those things are invisible.
But what is very clear is how we treat our neighbors, the people around us.

And so this man wants to make excuses and say, “Who is my neighbor?” And here Jesus tells a story to explain who your neighbor is. A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. The road from the mountains where Jerusalem is down to Jericho by the Jordan River was twisty and turny, and it was a favorite place for robbers and murderers to wait for people. In fact, it actually had the nickname the Valley of the Shadow of Death because the sun shining on the twists and turns would create dark shadows where the robbers would hide. And so a man falls victim and is laying there half dead. Now by chance, a priest was going down that road and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. We can guess, but we don’t know why the priest ignored a dying man. So likewise, a Levite, one of the rulers of the temple, one of the leaders of the temple, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. We can imagine that we know why this happened. But what we do know is he just simply ignored the needs of a dying man.

“But a Samaritan,” Jesus says, “as he journeyed, came to where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion, and he went to him and did what he could.” It says that he bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine to cleanse the dirt and the blood from them. And then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii, two days wages for a laborer, and gave them to the innkeeper saying, “Take care of him and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.”

Jesus looks at the scribe, “Which of these three do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” And he said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” That’s what God is asking for. And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Now, you and I are traveling a path each day. We’re probably not going from Jerusalem to Jericho, but we will encounter situations where we will have an opportunity to show mercy. We will encounter situations where we will have an opportunity to have compassion and act on it. Sometimes there won’t be anything you and I can do, actually, physically, with our hands, but it might be that God’s purpose is to remind us to pray for that person. And perhaps if we could do something, it would be later, next week, later.

But what God wants, as we go from Jerusalem to Jericho, or from Kinmundy to Salem, or wherever we go during the day, is to show mercy to people. That’s what it means to be a disciple and love your neighbor. And if you and I practice that, it will become easier and easier and easier.

What you’re looking at in the picture is what’s called a double play. Now, I know almost nothing about baseball. I actually looked up the double play on Wikipedia and found out there are about six or seven different kinds of double plays. I had no idea. But the thing I can tell you is that professional baseball players have practiced the double play. They have practiced it thousands and thousands and thousands of times. So when it comes up in the game, in the moment, and they need to do the right thing, it’s almost automatic. And if you and I practice our faith on this journey from rising up in the morning to going to bed, if you and I practice our faith as we are guided by the Holy Spirit, as we are guided by Jesus Christ, over all those multiple times of practicing our faith, it will become almost automatic and, you might even say, almost easy. What the Church needs is for us to practice our faith.

Here’s another important aspect of this that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25. This is a parable of what it means to love your neighbor. At the end of time, all human beings are gathered in front of Jesus, and he sends some people to the right and some people to the left. And I’ll let you read the parable to find out what happens to the people on the left, but the people on the right are entering into Heaven. And Jesus explains “Why?” Verse 35. Now, this is a parable. It’s to teach us not exactly a literal statement. But here’s what Jesus says, “I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked,” which in those days was the sign of extreme poverty, “and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.” And on the faces of all the people to whom Jesus is saying this, you can imagine that they’re getting more and more confused. And here’s their response: Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothed you? And when did we see you sick, or in prison and visit you?” And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it to me.”

So what this parable says to us is that as we go along the path of a day, we ought to ask ourselves the question, “Did we see Jesus?” Because quite obviously, the people who did what Jesus wanted didn’t see him … but he said to them, “When you did it to someone who is your neighbor, you did it to me.” And that makes an eternal difference.

I would like to tell you that I was one of the worst children in the entire world growing up. And it wasn’t so much because of misbehavior, but my mother said, “David comes home from school and I say, ‘What do you do today?’ And David says, ‘Nothing.'”

Some of you might remember that from your children.
“Well, David, where did you go today?”
“Nowhere.”
“Well, David, who did you talk to?”
“Nobody.”

My mother said that if the school burned down, she’d have to read about it in the newspaper because there was no way that you would hear about it from me. Maybe you were like that.

But sometimes I wonder when Jesus looks down upon us if he doesn’t feel a little bit like my mother did. Jesus says, “What did you do today?” And we say nothing. And Jesus knows better. Jesus knows everything we did. Jesus wants to talk to us about it.

And if you and I want to be stronger and better Christians, we will have a conversation with Jesus – we call it prayer – about what happens today. Now you have two choices. You can have it at the end of the day, or you can have it as the day goes along. “Lord Jesus, what just happened there? Lord Jesus, what was that person saying to me?”

And because the Holy Spirit guides us, because the Lord Jesus is present with us, you can have that conversation as you go through the day.

And I guarantee you it will make the day more productive in a spiritual sense, not the least of which because if you read a little bit of the Bible every day – you’ve heard me encourage you to do this – there is, I hope, a verse that will strike you as being particularly meaningful to you. And then as you go through the day, it just simply sort of goes through your mind in the background. And you might be surprised to find examples of that verse in action happening in your life for you to learn something from. You might read something in the newspaper and see something on TV that reminds you of that Bible verse. And you know what we have when we have a Bible verse applied to regular life? What we have is a seed.

And spiritual life can come from the smallest of seeds, even one as small as this mustard seed that you see in the picture. Sown in into your life as you travel your daily path because Jesus will put seeds into you that will grow and deepen your understanding. But also, you can gather these from your daily reading and sow them into the lives of other people. There are three questions on the back of your bulletin, every week, there for Bible study.

What does it say?
What does it say that I need to obey?

Because there’s a lot of verses that tell us truth, but they don’t give us instructions. But the final question may be the most powerful one:

Who needs to hear this?

Because there are people around you. And God will give you a word, a bit of God’s truth, that can help them. Now, it’s not going to happen every day, but when it does happen, it will be very powerful and meaningful … if you can accept that you are on a mission from God. You see, if you just feel that as you’re going through your day and God’s not really a part of it … you’re just running your errands. It’s okay to live like that; many people do.

But if you feel that God is guiding you through your day, God has a mission for your day. And along that day, God is going to provide you with lots of practice in how to be a strong, good Christian. If you believe you’re on a mission from God, all of a sudden you’ll start seeing the different parts of things that God wants you to do. You’ll realize that you are on a disciplewalk and that Jesus has something for you to do each day.

Now let me tell you, I have one small complaint, as a pastor. There are a lot of times I feel like my mother because God does something in your life on Tuesday, and I never hear about it. God answers a prayer of yours on Wednesday, and I never hear about it. You read something in the Bible on Thursday, and it’s confusing, and you’re not quite sure what it means. And you think to yourself, who could I ask? And I just feel like this beautiful girl sitting by the phone at home on Friday night without a date … because God put me on this earth to try to answer those questions. God put me on this earth to try to join you in your prayer so that when you say, “I met so and so, and I felt so bad, and I want to pray for them.” Call me. I’ll pray with you because we’re on this trip together. And I would love to hear everything that God is doing in your life. I am here for any question, or thought, or experience that you would like to share. And I would love to hear it. I would love to hear it.

Because you see, this is what is going to help us to come back from COVID. This is going to help us come back from any challenge, any illness, any change in employment, any financial difficulty– which is to practice our faith and become stronger in our faith.

And I can’t think of a better example of what this would look like than this prayer that is known as the Prayer of St. Francis. Because when you begin your day, you can let this prayer run through your mind as you go through your day.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred– and whenever you see hatred as you go through your day, then sow love.
Where there is injury– whenever you find someone injured and wounded, you can sow pardon and forgiveness.
Where there is doubt, you can sow faith.
Whenever you encounter despair, you have the opportunity to bring hope.
Whenever you encounter darkness, light can shine from you into that darkness.
Whenever you encounter sadness, your presence can be a comfort and bring joy.

Here’s what’s different when we see ourselves as living a mission trip– as living out a disciplewalk:

Oh, divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as if it was all about me. But instead, Lord, help us to seek to console. Not so much to be understood, as if it was all about me … Instead, let us be people who understand. Let us not be people who only wish to be loved, but be people who are willing to share love. For it is in giving that we receive. And it is in pardoning and forgiving others that we are pardoned. And it is in giving of our lives, or dying, that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, everyone woke up this morning and everyone has been following this path of life that goes through our day. Help us, Lord, to perceive that path as one that You have designed, a way that You have chosen to teach us. And help us to have the practice of living our life and living our faith as You would want us to live it. Perhaps it’ll be a day that is full of lessons; perhaps it will be a very calm day. But still, we can travel through our day with Your presence and with Your help. Lord, help us to be on a disciplewalk and grow in our faith. 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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