November 6, 2022 We Are A Three Grace Church: Prevenient Grace (Pentecost 22)

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/767687229

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c3X1c1VumdH

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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 572 Pass It On
Hymn, Pass It On, UMH 572, Concord Wesley UMC (NH)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OD0VJhL6j30

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − (Dr. Colleen Hanycz, President of Xavier University)

Loving Creator,
We asked for strength, and you gave us difficulties to make us strong.
We asked for wisdom, and you gave us problems to solve.
We asked for prosperity, and you gave us purpose and brains to use.
We asked for courage, and you gave us fears to overcome.
We asked for patience, and you gave us situations where we were forced to wait.
We asked for love, and you gave us troubled people to help.
We asked for justice, and you called us to be just and to lead with integrity.
Lord, we may feel that we have received nothing that we asked for or wanted. And yet, we received everything that we needed. For this, we give thanks. 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 585 This Little Light Of Mine
This Little Light Of Mine – Trietsch UMC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsoHVFa9xwU

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: Prevenient Grace
John 3:7-21, Matthew 5:13-16
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

John 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born anew.‘ 8 The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit.“ 9 Nicode’mus said to him, “How can this be?“ 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand this? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.“

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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 536 Take The Name of Jesus With You
Take the Name of Jesus With You – Lyrics – by Charlie Williams
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CI4heEYGCas

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

We are a Three Grace Church. Now, what that means is that John Wesley had the idea that God works in our lives in different ways at different times and so grace appears in three different ways.

The first is that great moment of transformation: justifying grace.

The second is that ongoing process of growth and improvement where sanctifying grace changes us. We talked about this last week because God has a wonderful plan for your life and my life. God has a plan for you to grow up and for you to grow as a human being, but as you grow, the focus begins to change because not only are you growing, but you grow to help other people. You see, sanctifying grace helps us to become more and more like Jesus, and as we get closer and closer to what God wants us to be, we get closer and closer to being like Jesus. And you know, friends, if you’re going to be like Jesus, you’re going to come down from heaven into the earth, and you’re going to be there so that other people can also find the faith that you have.

It becomes a generational thing. 2 Timothy 2:2 talks about this … how there are generations of people who help people who help people come to the Lord Jesus Christ, and you see, that’s prevenient grace. God has the desire to change our world for the better, sanctifying grace, but what God chooses to do is to change people for the better, starting with you but then spreading out from you. Because the question that grace brings to us is are we willing to help God with this work that Jesus came to this earth to do?

When I teach this as a class, I ask people to tell me how they found the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior, and we talk. With some people, there is a moment that they can point to. With other people, it’s a certain time in their life, a season. And I ask them a question, “Who was a part of your life at that time, and what did they do that helped you to find faith?”

And I hear the most amazing stories. A particular Sunday school teacher, a youth pastor, a pastor in a particular sermon, or a next-door neighbor. For some people, it was parents or grandparents. But God sends people into our lives that help us to find faith. And you know the ironic thing? It’s like they come into our lives, they do what God wants them to do, and then, for a lot of folks, they disappear. You don’t see them again. The pastor who preached the sermon the day I gave my life to Christ in 1972 – I haven’t seen him since 1972.

But those people are God’s ministry to help you change your life, and they are prevenient grace. And as you follow Jesus, as you become more like Jesus, you will be offered the opportunity as well to cooperate with God in helping other people discover what you’ve discovered.

Now, when children are little, they do want to help. Maybe you only let them wash the silverware, but the whole thing about being big is you want to help. And as you grow closer to Christ, you’re more able to do what helps. I said to you a couple of weeks ago that I had three goals.

First of all, I wanted to go to heaven. That’s justifying grace.
Number two, I want to be like Jesus. That’s sanctifying grace.
But prevenient grace is this: Third, I want all of you to come with me and all of the people that you love and on out through our community.

I want people to find that grace that we’ve experienced. This is God’s will. You’re familiar with John 3:16, right? God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Look at verse 17. For God sent his Son into the world, prevenient grace, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned. He who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. Now, what this verse indicates is there are basically two kinds of people in two very different situations.

And it goes on to say this. And this is the judgment that the light has come into the world, and people love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. The minute the light of Jesus Christ appears in the darkness of this world, it’s like a city set on a hill. You can see it from a great distance, the light shining.

And the minute the light begins to shine in the darkness, people begin to move in one direction or the other. Verse 20, for everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light. Why? Lest his deeds should be exposed, but he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God. Now, that’s true, but it’s also true the closer a person comes to the light, the more we become aware of his or her vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and problems. The closer you get to me, the more you’re aware of me as a person, and the more you will be aware of my weaknesses and problems. But you know something? God’s grace makes me willing for you to see me as I am.

Neil Cole, who is an evangelist, once expressed it this way: “The light of Jesus Christ shines in the world. And instantly, there are two kinds of people. The first kind of people are moths. Because they come to the light. They’re attracted to the light.” And when you go out into the world, when you are out and about today and tomorrow, and at a ball game, or in the grocery store, someplace else, if you’re like a light that’s shining, people will come up to you. The Holy Spirit will provide them. People will come up to you and want to talk to you. That’s how you know that God has something for you to do. Somebody comes up to you and wants to interact with you. How do you be a minister to them?

Well, God has sent them to you because they have something to say. Here’s what we do in response: we listen. Because everything is personal. And they have come up to you, and of course, as they get closer to the light, it’s more visible to you what the problems are, what the needs are. They’re going to tell you what those are.

And you may have the opportunity to say what I have called for years, “The Magic Words.” Whatever sort of struggle that person is dealing with, whether it’s grief, or illness, or someone in their family, the magic words are these: “I go to a Church that prays for people who have the same kind of problem that you’re struggling with. Would you mind if I prayed for you?”

So you’re asking permission. But the other thing is, the next time you see this person, they’re going to come up to you, and you’re going to say, “Has God answered our prayer?” Because if God hasn’t answered the prayer, then let’s keep on praying. You see, the conversation changes to be a conversation about how God is answering our prayers. So that’s the way it is with moths. And God will work through your conversation because conversations change lives.

Now, the other kind of people, remember, the light shines, and they go running for the darkness. I don’t mean this in a mean way, but that’s a little bit like cockroaches. They’re afraid. They’re afraid of the light, they’re afraid of these conversations. They’re afraid. Now, the last thing you want to do with a cockroach is to get them into a corner and to force them to talk to you about Jesus! They’re scared to death. But you can be kind to people who are not quite ready. By praying for them as you see them running away from you, you can pray for them that God will help them change their hearts and not be afraid.

Because you see, friends, you are a light. In the sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.” Next time you’re driving through the country late at night … and it’s getting harder and harder to drive through the country where there isn’t light … when you know you can see in the distance the light on somebody’s farm, you can see that light for miles. And you know where you see a light shining, there are people. If you’re in trouble, you’ll find help.

Jesus says to you and me, “You are a light.” And so verse 15, “People do not light a lamp and hide it under a bushel basket, but they put the light on a stand and it gives light to all the house.” And here come the words of prevenient grace to you and me. We need to let our light so shine before people so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Shine your light all over Kinmundy. Shine your light wherever there is darkness.

Because you see, where you bring the light, where you shine the light, the darkness goes back. And with regard to following Jesus, let me remind you of something you may not have realized. When you are a light and you shine your light in the darkness– we talk about following Jesus, which is us going where he wants to go. Do you remember what he said in Matthew 28? He said, “I am with you always.”

So when you walk into a place and it’s dark, the light of Jesus Christ follows you.
There’s an old joke. It’s a dad joke. Why did some oldtimers refuse to fly in an airplane? Jesus said, “Low, I am with you always.” Now, I don’t know if you have friends in low places like that country song says. But you see, here’s the truth: If you go low, the light goes with you. Wherever you go, the king of kings goes. And whenever you’re someplace that’s a little dark and a little disagreeable, and you might be tempted to be afraid, remember that wherever you go, the king goes. And wherever the king goes, the king does his work to change people’s hearts. So friends, you are the light. Don’t be afraid to be the light in dark places, because wherever you go, the king goes.

Now, when you get home, I’d like to ask you to do me a favor. I’d like to ask you to go to the closet and get yourself a light bulb. And I want to ask you to hold that light bulb in your hand and think about this: A light bulb does not fulfill its purpose until it is in the socket and connected to power because the purpose of a light bulb is to light up. Friends, the light bulb you hold in your hand is perfect. There’s really nothing wrong with it. It’s perfect, but it’s not what God needs it to be until the light is shining. You are wonderful people, but when God’s light is shining through you because you’re connected to that power — this is what we talk about in the season of Pentecost, being connected to God’s power. When the light is shining through you, you are doing what God created you to do. Friends, be like a light bulb, but be like one that’s connected to the power so that God can work through you to change people’s lives.

One more thing about John Wesley, John Wesley created a movement of laypeople, people just like you, who were connected to power, and they lit up. And they went out to do God’s work like I hope you and I will. And other people called them Wesley’s preachers, but he continually said, They’re not pastors. They’re not clergy. They’re not preachers. They’re people just like you, but God is using them.

But do you know the instructions that John Wesley gave to those people? He said this: “You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work.” The reason that he said this is there’s a tendency when a person gets involved in religion to get busy with all kinds of activities and busyness that don’t lead to anyone getting saved. So John Wesley needs to set the priority:

You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those in darkness who need you most. It is not your business to preach so many times and to take care of this or that society or to conduct committee meetings or to paint the church basement. It’s not your business to do all of that as much as this, but to save as many souls as you can and bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.

Now, you may not be ready to do that yet, but this is where God is drawing us to be people who are willing to cooperate with God’s work, to be willing to be like Jesus because this is what Jesus did. He didn’t chair committees. He didn’t paint the church basement. By the way, there’s nothing wrong with that! But Jesus spent his time in helping people come closer to Christ. And if we’re going to be like Jesus, that is going to be a part of our life.

That’s what it means for prevenient grace to work through you to help other people. That’s the answer to the question; who do you want to bring with you? I don’t know if they’re a moth, and they’re coming up to you and asking you questions about God. I don’t know if they are like a cockroach that’s running away from God. But through your prayers, God’s prevenient grace can help them come closer.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, as Christians, we’re so thankful for a good beginning — that’s justifying grace. Lord, we’re thankful that you’re helping us to grow, and that you’re helping us to grow up and to be better people, and that’s sanctifying grace. But Lord, help us to look onward to what comes next … that it’s possible for us to be enough like Jesus, that you could use us in our own very simple ways to be a light in someone else’s darkness, to be a means of prevenient grace by which someone else begins to wake up and realize that they want Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. And Lord Jesus, I pray that for each one of us and for all of us as a church, that you would begin to use your people to bring all the people toward you. And we ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agPnMxp5Occ )
 

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