Sermon September 25, 2022: Jesus In Prayer (Pentecost 16)

Yoke by Jean via Flickr; grapes via Pixabay

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:

Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/753408727

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3QZ0lVOKkb

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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 Amazing Grace
IL DIVO – Amazing Grace (Live Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYMLMj-SibU

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 Because He Lives
Guy Penrod – Because He Lives (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LB3un06HUSY

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: Yoked With Jesus In Prayer
Matthew 11:28-30, John 20:21-23
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 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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
Alan Jackson – What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znWu2HCJ92c

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

Today, I’d like to talk about the concept – might not be something you’ve really thought of before – that we have a partnership with Jesus Christ in the ministry of prayer. And the scripture has an interesting word for this. It calls us to be yoked with Jesus Christ.

Let me remind you of something that you’ve probably done. It’s a question about imagining the potential for our life. Sometimes the form of it is this. People will be sitting together visiting, maybe around the supper table, and they’ll say, “What would you do if you won the lottery and all of a sudden you had $100 million?” And people like to imagine what life would be like if that came true. Another version of the same question, “What if you found a magic lamp and you rub the magic lamp and you could wish for anything, including more wishes, and it all would come true?” And there can be a joy as we imagine how good life could be.

And you know what I’ve been impressed with is – I thought over the last six months – it would be wonderful to win the lottery. It would be wonderful to have a magic lamp. But to be honest, you know what’s even better? What’s even better is to believe that we can pray and God can answer our prayers … because here’s the thing. I’m not a financial adviser. I might not know what to do with $100 million, but I know God knows what to do with any prayer that I would pray. If any prayer I could pray could come true in 12 different ways, I know God, who is smarter than me, would know the best way to answer that prayer. It might be nice to have a lamp that you could rub, but a lamp can’t think. A lamp can’t tell you what to ask for, what to wish for. But the Lord God guiding us by the Holy Spirit can help us to wish for what is the very best. To be honest, prayer is better than a magic lamp because we have God’s help.

So let’s imagine it this way. Maybe you would like to imagine this later today. What would life be like if all your prayers were answered? Now, you notice I didn’t say what was on the screen because that’s something else that I think would dawn on you. What about all the prayers that we don’t pray? What about all the requests that we never make? What about all the prayers that we don’t ask? And you see. Here’s the thing. God is wise. God is good. God is smart. And you and I, we can get help so that we know what to ask so that we know how to pray.

And that’s part of this idea of being yoked with Jesus in prayer because as you go through your day, Jesus will bring before you all kinds of reasons to pray. And I think that’s the solution to so many of the problems that we deal with.

We just said these words, “Lord, I believe.” And just like the man in the scripture, we are crying out, “Lord, help me to believe more. Help me with my unbelief. Help me where I am lacking in belief. Help me, Lord, to see what’s possible in my world if things were according to your will.” In other words, say that when we say, “Lord, help me to see my world as you see it.” You see, we see people from a negative point of view because we see them quite often from our perspective. And from our perspective, there are people– every single one of us knows someone who is dumb, sick, stupid, dishonest, evil, mean, selfish, you name it. We all see that. But if we could see the world as God sees it, if we could see potential as God sees it. If we could see people as God could help them to become, we’d be able to pray for that good to happen! Because God not only sees our sins and failures, God also sees the good that could happen. And if you and I become aware of that potential goodness, we can pray in partnership with Jesus that God would begin to change the lives of people all around us, that God could begin to change situations and problems all around us from little ones to big ones.

And then the next thing, Lord, I obey. I guarantee you the biggest problem in my life is the person I see in the mirror when I shave. That guy causes most of the trouble that I go through. That guy I see in the mirror says stupid things, talks too much, sometimes, gets all stirred up for no reason, and makes a lot of mistakes. And when we say, “Lord, I obey. Help me with my disobedience,” what we’re saying is, “Lord, help me to be the person I want to be. Help me to be the person I can be with your help.” And what are the steps toward being that better person? I know what mine are. I’m not sure what yours are. I need to be more focused. I need to see my world clearly. I need to be guided because sometimes I want something that’s not good for me. That third serving of lasagna, maybe I don’t need that. We’ll not talk about chocolate.

And that little phrase. “Prune me,” means “Lord, you may need to take away from me something that I don’t need.” You’ve heard me say this before of that scripture about how the Lord Jesus will prune you. That’s like waking up the next morning with 100 fewer pounds around your waist … you are not going to miss those extra pounds! And it’s okay for us to say, “Lord, stuff I don’t want, things I don’t need, bad habits I want to get rid of, Lord, just take them away.” That would work for me. “Lord, where I’m disobedient, where I am doing wrong things, help it not to happen.”

That’s a prayer we all can pray because you see, we are on a path and we just prayed this, “Help me, Lord, to stay on the path, to not wander away from it. Thank you, Lord, for providing a path, for providing guidance,” because when you think of the 23rd Psalm, the sheep are always on a path. They may not realize it, but they are always on a path that is planned by the shepherd. And it is a fact, I believe, that God will customize your day. When you look at Ephesians chapter two, and we’ve talked about this, God makes opportunities for good to happen and arranges for them beforehand so that as you go through your day, you have all these opportunities for good to happen. Because as Jesus said in John 2021, Easter Sunday evening, to the disciples and to us, “As the Father has sent him,” Jesus says, even so, Jesus is sending us. What that means is, as you and I go from morning to evening, there are opportunities for us to do God’s will, not as if it depended entirely on us.
But you and I are working with Jesus for the best to happen as we go through our day.

And what that has to do with this partnership of prayer is that everything that happens to you today, everything that happens to you tomorrow, and everything that happened to you yesterday, is an opportunity for you to pray. It might be to pray for you. It might be to pray for someone you encountered. It might be to pray that a problem that you saw in someone else’s life or that you see in your own could be solved. But you see, everything that happens to us can become a prayer request for life to be different.

And in order to help us to know how to pray, we humbly ask for wisdom. We humbly ask for knowledge in every human situation. There is no benefit for us to be ignorant and to not understand our own lives.

And of course, what we’re praying for is this, “Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine.” This comes from John chapter 15, where Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” We are connected to God. And just like a living thing, the life comes up through the roots, comes out through the vine, and the life comes to you and I in the branches and we are fruitful like these beautiful grapes because of what flows into us from God. And this is what we want. This is the partnership with Jesus that we desire … because I want to suggest to you you and I are in ministry with Jesus Christ.

Now, I’m a minister. And you know it’s a job. And as a result, I have responsibilities for all kinds of things. But I’m talking about not minister like a job but the ministry that Jesus Christ is ready to do in your life, through your life, not only to benefit yourself but to benefit other people. You are in ministry in a different way with Jesus Christ.

And I think it’s a little bit like this. This is the invitation, I think, that Jesus gives us to be a partner with him. From Matthew 11, “Come to me,” Jesus says, “all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” By the end of the day, maybe not Sunday, maybe some other day, you may feel like those donkeys in the photo that are on that road with an 8-foot, 10-foot high stack of stuff piled on their backs. Do you ever feel like that? You get to the end of the day and you just wonder, “How in the world could I ever get everything done?” We just quite often feel overwhelmed. (Now, if you don’t feel overwhelmed, I guarantee you you can turn on the television, you can open up Facebook, you can read a magazine, and they will tell you everything you’re not doing good enough … because you see, the message of the world around us is you need to do more.) And so we keep taking on to ourselves what other people want us to do until, again, we’re just like those donkeys. We can hardly pay attention to anything because we got to watch our feet because one misstep and the whole thing will come crashing down. But Jesus says to you and me, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Brothers and sisters, sometimes we just have to breathe deep and let go of all the things that are piled on us.

And Jesus goes on to say, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Now, there are two ways to understand a yoke. An ox wears a yoke because it distributes the burden across their shoulders so that they can pull their load without it hurting them. If we do things the way Jesus wants us to do them, it will balance the load, and we can pull our load. We can do what we need to do.

The second thing is, in the Bible, the concept of yoke was understood by rabbis as take upon you the way of life that I’m teaching you. And you see Jesus through the words in red in the New Testament, through everything that Jesus said and taught – Jesus is teaching us a way of life that will allow us to pull our load without wearing us out or harming us. “Take my yoke upon you …” – When Jesus says that, what Jesus says is do things my way and see if it isn’t better. Let me influence how you live your life and see if it isn’t better. Take my way of doing things and learn from me, because, Jesus would say, “I’m not like the other people that pile more and more expectations upon you.” And by the way, I know the guy I see in the mirror is the one who piles most of it on me. Jesus says, “I’m not like that.”

Jesus says these words instead, “I am gentle and humble or lowly in heart. And if you pull my load, if you do my work, if you do things my way, you will find rest for your souls.” So you can look over your life, and ask: what is it that’s wearing me out? What is it that’s pulling my life out of balance? What is it that’s harming me? It’s not something Jesus wants you to do. You’ve heard the old joke, a person goes to the country doctor and says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.” What does the doctor say? “Don’t do it!” Or maybe a better way is to understand why it hurts and why you should probably find something different to do.

You will find rest for your souls. Serving Jesus should not be something that causes us constant and neverending anxiety, but it should instead give us a deep and inner peace because we can keep calm and follow Jesus.

Now, you remember Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, I send you.” Remember that? If Jesus sends you and I as the Father sent him, then you’re going to be doing the same sort of things Jesus did. If you do the same sort of things Jesus did, then when you read the New Testament, you will see a pattern of doing God’s will that fits with our life today, too. And you know what Jesus did more than anything else? God would put someone in his path and he would have a conversation with them that would entirely change their world.

The picture on the screen is the woman at the well. He had no idea that she would be coming to the well that day. She had no idea she would meet Jesus that day. But they sat down and they had a conversation. So much of what God did through Jesus was him having a conversation with people. So, friends, please let it dawn on you that when God works through you, a lot of times it will simply be a conversation you’ll have with someone and God will work through that. God will, in the moment, give you the words to say. God will, in the moment, help another person simply by being with you. And while there are some people who are hard to talk to, this is not very hard work.

For Jesus says, “My yoke is easy. My burden is light.” Now, if you feel overwhelmed, you’re carrying more yokes than the yoke that Jesus wants. But think about what Jesus wants, and you can sort through those extra yokes.

I love the idea of time management. One of the principles that has helped me most with time management is this, that scientists have actually studied this. Do you know that 80% of the good that happens in your life generally comes from 20% of what you do? If you’re in sales, 80% of the sales you make will come from 20% of your customers. Now, what does that mean? 80% of the good in your life will come from 20% of what you do. And what that means is that four out of five things that you do really aren’t worth doing. So if you’re too busy, you know what you’re too busy doing? Things that don’t give a great benefit. And if they don’t give a great benefit, maybe you just need to get them done.

The example I like to use is the plumber who comes out and works on your house. That’s good. But when that plumber comes home at night and is tired and gets the bill ready, because they don’t get paid unless they send you a bill, right? The bill does not have to be on parchment. The bill does not have to have pretty artistic little drawings of butterflies in the margins. It’s just a bill. And so, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, with regard to things that are not truly important, “Get ‘er done,” and move on to something else.

Because here’s what Jesus says to you and I when we are doing God’s will, “My yoke is easy, my burden is light.” And if our experience is not this way, we need to make some kind of adjustment, because some of what we are doing is not God’s will. For example, here’s an example of your burden not being easy. If you load too much on the wagon, it’s going to tip you up to where you can’t do anything. Be careful what burden you put on yourself.

And not only that, your yoke is– Remember, you’re choosing the wise way to be. Here’s an example of not understanding what’s important. These little girls found these kitties and brought them home. Now, if you can see the picture, you know those aren’t kitties. That white stripe down the back says those are baby skunks. And I don’t know if baby skunks can do, what grown-up skunks can do, but I guarantee you they are not going to make good pets. It’s easy for us to forget what the main thing is because the main thing is for us to do what Jesus wants, not what everybody wants.

And as you go through your day, if you’ll humble yourselves and listen to Him, he will draw your attention to what really matters. Because when He said this to you, He was not kidding. His will for your life, his yoke for your life, is easy. It is something you can do. And the burden He wishes you would help Him pull is to live your life for him. And so you can keep calm and pray on, because what I want to suggest to you is that every now and then, say something that blesses somebody. Every now and then, do something that blesses somebody. Maybe we give them a plate of cookies that cheers them up. Maybe we loan them a tool or our lawnmower.

But I think the main things that we do for people that help them most is to pray for them. And that releases the power of God to act in ways that are beyond our ability, to help people with their greatest problems. So I want to suggest to you that everything that happens in your day is a sign of something that could be a reason for you to pray. And so consequently, as we go through the day, we listen to Jesus, we pay attention to the people we encounter, we pay attention to the problems we observe, what isn’t as good as it should be, and then we follow through.

And quite often the way we follow through is to pray. Sometimes we’ll need to do something else, but I think, most of the time, it’s to pray. The picture you’re looking at is the picture of the church sign out here. The day of Pentecost came back at the beginning of June, which is when we and the church realize that the Holy Spirit is with us and we need to listen to Holy Spirit. So that phrase has been on the sign, but it’s a phrase for us:

What is the Holy Spirit telling you today? Inquire inside.

In other words, we have an answer for you inside the church here. But that’s a question we need to ask ourselves as we go through our day. Holy Spirit, what are you trying to tell me? Jesus, what are you trying to show me? And whatever it is, if it’s something that we can do, then the Holy Spirit is like a Swiss army knife. The thing we see that we need to do comes with the Holy Spirit providing us with the tools to get it done.

But we need to listen and then follow through. And I want to suggest to you that when we do, you will find that the yoke of Jesus Christ is easy and his burden is light. We are called to care for the people we meet. We are called to compassion.

I’d like to invite you to read this poem with me by reading the dark print. I’ll read all of it, but please join me on the dark print, because the point of this idea that Christ is in partnership with us is Christ is in heaven. We are now the body of Christ on earth, and Jesus works through us in many little ways that are not a burden, that are not hard, that are not difficult. But Jesus wants to work through us. Please hear the call to compassion, because

Christ has no body but yours, no hands no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet.
Yours are the eyes. You are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

I Corinthians 12:7 says “That to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit.” In other words, there is a way the Holy Spirit shows up for the common good as we go through our day.

Please pray with me: Lord Jesus, we get stirred up and anxious about many things and sometimes we miss the reality of what you can do in our life when you answer prayer, what you can do that would benefit us when you answer prayer, what you can do to benefit other people when you answer prayer, what you can do to change the world to be a better world when you answer prayer. Lord, help us to understand the deep significance and meaning of us being people who ask all the prayers that need to be prayed. Help us, Lord, to see that as our ministry. 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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