October 30, 2022: We Are A Three Grace Church: Sanctifying Grace (Pentecost 21)

Aaron Burden via Unsplash + Wikimedia Bacon

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/765313142

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c36U38VutyA

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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 Holy Holy Holy
Holy Holy Holy (Silo Sessions) // Sounds Like Reign
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDcis8A_8lU

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 Take Time to be Holy
The Collingsworth Family – “Take Time to be Holy” A cappella
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6l9-CDuoag

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: We Are A Three Grace Church: Sanctifying Grace
Luke 6:40-49, Mark 7:18-19, Luke 6:5, Matthew 22:36-40
Series: We Are …

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 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but every one when he is fully taught will be like his teacher. 41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 42 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye. 43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. 

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose,  he stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Mark 7:18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters, not his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)

Luke 6:5 And he said to them, “The Son of man is lord of the sabbath.”

Matthew 22:36 “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.”

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 Lord, I Want To Be A Christian 
Lord, I Want to Be a Christian by the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (Michigan) Virtual Choir with James Biery, director and organist.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M212opRGkEw

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

John Wesley spoke of God’s grace operating in our lives because we’re on a journey through life. Last week, we talked about justifying grace, which is that love and kindness of God that helps us to make a new beginning, to be born again, as Jesus said. Justifying grace changes everything. All of a sudden, it’s like a new baby is here.

But then you ask the question, what’s next? Well, if you raised a baby, you understand what’s next:
They learn to crawl, they learn to walk, they learn to talk, and then they never stop talking.
They learn to ask questions.
They learn what they’re supposed to do with their life, their life’s work.
They find someone and fall in love.
After the new birth, we then move on to sanctifying grace, which is the grace that helps us to move on from being born.

There are a lot of things that come after a baby is born, but that’s where it all starts, as John 1:12 said: But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God. But what’s next for the child of God? And the answer is that God has a wonderful plan for your life. It’s simply this, for you to grow and for you to grow up, for you to learn and grow and develop wisdom and go on to perfection.

That’s the way John Wesley put it. You were not meant to grow up bent or twisted or wrong. God’s wonderful plan for your life is to help you to grow in a way that is pleasing to God.
And the religious name for that perfection, for that desired will of God, is holiness. God has a desire for us to be holy. But the word that is translated holy also means wholeness. God has a desire for you to become more and more whole as your life continues. And that same word is translated as healing. Whatever’s broken, God wants to mend. Whatever illness or sorrow is presence, God wants it to be healed. Going on to perfection is like that phrase from the 23rd Psalm the green pastures still waters, the restoration of our soul. God has a wonderful plan for your life, and that’s that you go on toward holiness and go on toward perfection.

And this is what it looks like. You’ve seen this. We pray it. What sanctifying grace looks like is this. You’re praying: Guide me to all that is good, and God guides you. Cleanse me from all that is not, and God cleanses you. Teach me your ways, we ask and form in me your nature. And God does that in sanctifying grace. And as our desire turns from what we need to what we can do for God. Our prayer also becomes in sanctifying grace: Help me to serve you as I am gifted. This is what sanctifying grace looks like. Every day we learn. Every day we grow.

Earlier this week, I ran across this beautiful quote which really helped me during a time when I was really emotionally struggling. It’s actually an affirmation. And the author Robin Norwood said, when you’re upset, when you’re sad, say this over and over again. And she said, you can’t have two thoughts at the same time in your mind. (I don’t think that’s right, because I find I can worry about more than one thing at a time!) But she said if you’ll say this, it’ll move out of your mind things that are hurtful. And here’s the affirmation she recommended: My life is divinely guided, and I grow in peace, security, and serenity every day, every hour.

I don’t know that I could find a better word for sanctifying grace than those first five words: My life, your life, is divinely guided. Your life is divinely guided.

Unfortunately, we human beings frequently get this wrong. So let me define what going on to perfection is not. In the previous slide down, in the bottom corner, was the word anxiety. Because sometimes when God guides us, God points out things that shouldn’t be, and sometimes we feel some anxiety from that. But overall, we feel God’s love to bring us out of darkness and toward light. But sometimes human beings have the wrong idea.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a kingdom that was famous for the accuracy of their archers. Their reputation for the accuracy of their archers was so great that the reputation alone protected them from invaders. But one night, one time, a soldier decided that he would come to that kingdom and learn about archery, learn about how to do it so that he could be a better servant for his king in the army of the nation where he was from.
And as he came closer to the country with the famous archers, he began to notice as he walked through the forest … on this tree over here, a bullseye. In the center of the bullseye, two arrows. On this tree over to the left, there would be a bull’s eye, and in the center of that bull’s eye, two arrows. Obviously, these were warnings. And he kept walking forward and he came around a corner. And he saw a soldier painting a bull’s eye on a tree with an arrow already in it. And as he watched, that soldier took another arrow and shot it right next to the other one from two feet away
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Sometimes, people claim to be perfect. Sometimes people claim that perfection is what already is. That is not true. In the counseling realm, we call that denial. But you see, sanctification does not allow dishonesty. Sanctification does not allow deception or denial, because God in sanctification reveals to us where we are not perfect. Now, we can fool other people, but sanctifying grace reveals where we are not yet perfect. Now, if you want to go on to perfection, you need to know that, because it will tell you, I need to go this way, or I need to go that way. But if your desire is to hide what is imperfect, to live in dishonesty, to pretend to be something that you’re not, sanctifying grace will continually bring you up to look honestly at who you are.

Now, with regard to this, I need to talk to you about something that is called cultural holiness. In November, we have an anniversary coming up. In 1938, on November ninth and tenth was a night in German history that’s referred to as Kristallnacht. Translation of that word is the night of broken glass. All of a sudden, without warning, the Nazi government of Germany stirred up his citizens to riot. And for two days, they destroyed Jewish businesses. They threw rocks through the windows, and you see a picture of that on the screen. That’s why they call it the night of broken glass.

That’s not all they did. They burned down synagogues, places of worship for Jewish people. They burned down Jewish homes. They began to arrest Jewish men. And in these two days, over 30,000 Jewish males were rounded up and taken to concentration camps. And this was the first time that Nazi officials made massive arrests of Jewish people specifically because they were Jews, without any further cause for arrest. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, the Nazi regime ordered the Jewish community to pay an atonement tax for the damage that had been done to their homes and buildings of over a billion reichsmarks. And this is the beginning of what is called the Holocaust.

But it is possibly the most horrific example to us of cultural holiness. Because when the Nazi government says, “It’s a sin to be Jewish,” when the Nazi government says, “It’s righteous and holy for you to do anything you want to Jewish people just because they’re Jewish …” the culture defines right and wrong in a way that’s unholy.

And I’m sorry, brothers and sisters, but this tendency is still with us. Politicians are still pointing out people that you’re supposed to hate because that’s the right thing to do. Politicians are still pointing out people … that it’s okay to harm them, to throw rocks in windows, to burn down their churches. And that kind of persecution has gone on throughout history … usually out of sight, usually hidden, but it’s gone on throughout history because the culture will say that something’s holy when it’s not. The culture will say that something is righteous when it’s not. And the culture says different things all around the world.

If you go over to Ireland, the culture says it’s okay to have some whiskey. But during Prohibition, back earlier in the century, the Methodists said, “No, no, no.” I think there’s a song, “Lips that touch liquor will never touch mine!” If you go back a little further in history in the Methodist church, you know what was the most horribly sinful thing that you could do? It would be playing cards because the religious culture would identify something as unholy and other people would see it as not unholy.

There’s a really cute cartoon of a man arriving at the heavenly gates, and St. Peter is looking at him and saying, “Oh, bless me, no, that’s not a sin. You must have felt awful.” Well, you see, that’s the problem. You can’t let the culture tell you what’s wrong because all too often, the culture and what it condemns and what it attacks and what it tells you to hate, the culture is not speaking of what God wants you to know.

And you’ll also find cultural holiness in the Bible. But here’s the solution. It’s very, very simple. Jesus says, Luke 646, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do what I tell you?” Because if you want to know what holy is, don’t ask a politician, don’t ask a king, ask your Savior. “Why do you call me Lord, Lord?,” Jesus says, “And not do what I tell you?”

And then he goes on to say, verse 47, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them.” You see, there’s two parts there. First, you have to hear his words, then you have to do them. And Jesus makes a promise, “I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation of the house upon rock. And when a flood arose and the stream broke against that house and could not shake it … why? Because it had been well-built.” If you let Jesus tell you how to live your life, you will build a life that is well-built. Sanctifying Grace builds a life that is well-built.

Verse 49, “But he who hears and does not do them, is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.” Now, why would anybody do that? If you go into the desert in Israel and you look for a nice flat place to build a house, nice flat place, sandy soil that will support the weight of a building — by the way, you know where you find that? In a dry stream bed. Friends, if the creek is dry and you build a house in the middle of the creek, I guarantee you there will come a time when the stream will not be dry. But see, that’s the risk that you take. If you build a house on the sand without a foundation, Jesus says, “Against which the stream broke and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”
If you want the results of your efforts to endure, listen to the lessons of Sanctifying Grace and build your life on the foundation of what Jesus tells us to do.

So let’s understand about cultural holiness in the Bible. You can open up the Old Testament. You will find in many, many places the Jewish dietary laws. They are there in the Bible, Jewish people are not to eat this. They are not to eat that. They are not to eat this. They are not to eat that. Most famous thing, of course, is bacon.

But something most other people don’t understand, there’s a Jewish law that says you shall not boil a calf in its mother’s milk. And because of that, Jewish people who follow the dietary laws of the Old Testament have never had a cheeseburger because you’re not supposed to combine those foods because it’s disrespectful to mother and child. Jewish households have two different sets of dishes. They have two different sets of cookware.

And the Jewish leaders got into an argument with Jesus one day. Mark chapter seven, you can read the context. But here’s what Jesus says. He said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from the outside through his mouth cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach and so passes on?” Thus he declared all foods clean.

This is something I’d like to ask you to let it sink in. It’s not that the Old Testament is wrong. It’s not that the Old Testament was wrong. It’s that Jesus Christ had the right and the authority to change God’s law to suit the truth that he wanted you and I to know. So enjoy your bacon. Jesus said that bacon cannot harm you spiritually. Enjoy a cheeseburger because Jesus wants you to pay attention to far more important things than eating bacon. You see, that’s the problem with cultural holiness. They pick out one thing like eating bacon. They pick out one thing like smoking a cigarette. They pick out one thing like drinking a beer. You remember that Irish whiskey we talked about? They pick out one thing like playing cards, and they lift it up above every other commandment and act as if it’s what you should pay attention to. Usually, when that happens, the person who says you shouldn’t play cards is doing a whole lot of other things but wants you to know that card playing is wrong because they don’t do that thing.

You see? It’s denial. It’s dishonesty. But the thing for us to understand is that Jesus can change the Jewish law. And in this case, he does. In another case, in Luke chapter six verse five, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Jesus was called a lawbreaker. You know why he was called a lawbreaker? Because he didn’t keep the rules of the Jewish Sabbath that the Jewish people in their culture taught, and that sort of snuck into the Old Testament as law. And so when Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath day, they claimed that he was a sinner because he was kind and merciful to someone on the Sabbath day. But he pointed out to them, the son of man is Lord of the Sabbath. And again, whole sections of the Old Testament were set aside because Jesus is the one who lays down the law for you and I to follow.

35 verses later in the same chapter, Jesus says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone, including each one of us, everyone, when he is fully taught, when we have gone on to that perfection, everyone who is fully taught will be like his teacher.” Friends, the point of sanctifying grace, the desire of God in sanctifying grace, the desire of God is that as you and I go on to perfection, we become more and more and more like Jesus. Consequently, when you read in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and John of what Jesus said and what Jesus did, friends, that’s for you and me still today.

Here’s a picture of a synagogue that was burned on Kristallnacht. A Jewish scribe said to Jesus in Matthew chapter 22, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Out of all the law, out of all the rules, out of all the regulations, what’s the highest priority? Because whatever that is, it will draw a line that should not be crossed. It will create a boundary of holiness. If you’re inside the lines, that’s holiness. If you cross over that line, it’s no longer holiness.

And here’s what Jesus answered. And he said to him, Jesus said, “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.” Friends, if your goal is to love God with all your heart and soul and mind, you will not be burning down synagogues. If that’s your goal, you will not be harming people, because loving God with all your heart and soul and mind is going to take you away from that sort of thing and draw you to the center where God is.

Not only that, a second is like it, Jesus went on to say: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” God is never going to tell you to burn down the church where your neighbor worships. God is never going to tell you to throw a rock through a store window where your neighbor earns his living. God is never going to tell you to harm your neighbor because this is the command that draws the line. And if you’re inside those boundaries, that’s where you’ll find holiness. But when you go past that line, that’s where you find sin. And then Jesus points this out: “On these two commandments, depend all the law, all the Old Testament, all the sayings of the prophets.” Everything God said, if you stay within those lines, you will be holy. And as you listen to the teaching of Sanctifying Grace, God will help you move on toward perfection.

So here’s the thing. Cultural holiness sometimes comes from the internet and the media. Sometimes, it’s newspapers and TV. They’re always trying to tell you what’s right and wrong. Sometimes, cultural holiness comes from churches and pastors who will tell you that, instead of loving your neighbor, you should hate your neighbor. Sometimes, cultural holiness comes from the church because sometimes the church gets it wrong. But the thing that I want to suggest that we want to remember is when we ask the question, “Who defines what is holy?”, I hope none of you say that it’s David Kueker (me). I hope none of you say that it’s our bishop, or some other bishop, or even a bishop that’s not a Methodist bishop. I hope that you understand that who defines what’s holy is Jesus Christ, and I hope you will let him speak to you.

Because sometimes, friends, we get all messed up about the bacon. Sometimes, it’s how we were raised. Let Jesus explain what’s holy. And it’s easy to hear Jesus because you can open up the New Testament, and read the words of Jesus, and let it sink in. And the Holy Spirit, through Sanctifying Grace, will deepen and help your understanding not just of what is holy in general, but how you and I should lead our life differently because we’re going on to perfection.

Now, in the history of the holiness movement, in the history of the Methodist church, sanctification was seen as an experience a little bit like salvation. A little bit like being born again, sanctification was seen as something that you should pursue. Not as a form of daily growth, but sanctification was something that you should come down to the front of the church and you should pray and pray and pray and pray until all of a sudden sanctification drops on you. It was perceived as something that you would experience because it was perceived that you were too much of a sinner to ever become a better person because you tried to be holy.

My former father-in-law married a young lady from a small town in Kansas, and his mother-in-law was quite a trial. She went to the Free Methodist Church, she made sure that everybody knew it. And my father-in-law married my former mother-in-law who, as a teenager, as a cheerleader, was forbidden by her mother to wear make-up because it was just wrong. (Friends, this was the movie, Footloose, come to life.) But at family gatherings, from time to time, the grandmother, the mother-in-law, would say, “I’m so thankful to God that I’m sanctified because, since the day the Holy Spirit fell on me and sanctified me, I have not committed a single sin.” Friends, you remember painting the bullseye on the tree [laughter]? And I can just imagine my former father-in-law, who was a particular target for her displeasure, just shaking his head as she would proclaim that because she had this experience, she was no longer a sinner.

And here’s the sad thing, if there’s no place for you to grow, if there’s nothing left for you to learn, if there’s no way for you to become better, what are you missing in this life? Because the only people who are done learning, the only people who are done growing, the only people who are done moving forward, are the people you will meet at the cemetery. Their names are carved on the tombstones. Their time here is over.

Friends, if you’re still here, you’re not done growing, you’re not done learning, and you’re not done coming closer to the ideal that Jesus Christ set. Nonetheless, it’s good for us to think about this understanding of a second blessing because I think it’s certainly true. It cannot be that it is all our work on our own to become better people. But in the same way, I don’t think we can pass the buck and the responsibility to God. Because Jesus tells you and me, “Do this and this and this,” and then gives us the chance to learn by doing. So, I want to suggest to you that our going on to perfection, our becoming a better person, is something that is a cooperative experience. We cooperate with God to become better people, to become holy.

So let me invite you to contemplate sanctifying grace working in your life and to understand that it’s time to grow up. And you can ask yourself at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day, anytime during the day that you want, you can ask yourself, “What did I learn from Jesus today?” You may not have an immediate, obvious answer. But if you ask that question, you’ll begin to realize that God was guiding the experiences of your life, that there were lessons in every conversation you’ve had that day. There are lessons in everything that you did that day, right or wrong, lessons about how to go on to perfection. What did you learn from Jesus today about loving God? What did you learn from Jesus today about loving your neighbor? What did you learn from Jesus today about loving yourself? Those are good things to learn and wonderful things to pray about.

Please pray with me. Lord, sometimes the day just goes by so fast, and sometimes we’re so busy that it never occurs to us to stop and look to you and ask the question, “Lord, what did you want me to know? What did you want me to do?” And, “Lord, when I look back over this day, what did you want me to learn?” Because, Lord, if we begin to ask those prayers, it will strengthen the work of sanctifying grace to solve our problems, to change our lives, and to make this life more and more like a heaven on earth. And so, Lord, we pray that through sanctifying grace, you would help us to learn, and help us to grow, and help us, Lord, to grow up. 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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