February 26, 2023 Times Of Refreshing (Lent 1)

Image by Tumisu from 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/802346990

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c0nOnRVygzp

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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: Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance
We confess, O God, that we are attracted to false gods and easy answers in life. We are vulnerable to temptations that could damage us in ways that are not obvious. Forgive us that sin that draws us like moths to a flame. Restore us and fill us with godly resolve. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Hear the good news: Christ died for our sins and rose again that God may free us from the tyranny of judging others to live fully in the power of God’s grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, God forgives your sins and offers you a transformed future. Live fully into God’s grace! Amen.

HYMN Softly And Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling
Alan Jackson – Softly And Tenderly (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkRTfrLBii0

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 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus Lyrics YouTube by Johnny Carrasquillo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5qc0EcNgqw

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: Times Of Refreshing
Text: Acts 3:19, Matthew 4:16-25
Series: The Jesus Revival

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

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Matthew 4:16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 18 As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb’edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb’edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

23 And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decap’olis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.

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HYMN He Touched Me
Gaither Vocal Band – He Touched Me [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5m–ptwd_iI

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

I want to talk with you about something that the Bible calls times of refreshing. “Times of refreshment” – this verse comes from Acts 3. But I’m referring to things that have happened in a small town called Wilmore, Kentucky, where Asbury College and Asbury Seminary is located.

On February 8th during a chapel service in the morning – the students are required to go to chapel three times a week; this is a religious college – something wonderful happened.

The students at chapel that day, some of them, did not want to leave when the service ended. So they stayed, and they were praying. And some of them started singing and others sang along, and then they kept praying. They began to share testimonies of what God had done and what God meant to them. Word went through the campus that people were praying in the chapel and others came to the chapel also to pray, and that prayer meeting went on pretty much continually for 400 hours. For 400 hours, people did not want to stop worshiping. For 400 hours, people did not want to leave the church.

Something wonderful happened. They were filled with enthusiasm. They were filled with joy. They felt the presence of Jesus Christ, and they didn’t want to leave. And you know something else? As news spread, other people came to find out what was going on. So many, in fact, they couldn’t get in the doors. And so you see there on the screen a picture of a long line of people.

And a long line of people waiting to get into a church is such an unusual event, the news people showed up … because apparently there’s nothing less believable than the idea that people would stand in line to get into a church. Last weekend, one news network said that there were 20,000 people who descended on this little town of Wilmore. Just over the past weekend, 20,000 people were standing in line. They had opened other places, other churches, and other buildings on campus to hold all the people. They were all worshiping God, and they didn’t want to go home.

And we want to call this a revival. It’s happened before. Not only that, it happened in the New Testament surrounding things that Jesus said and did. People want to call it a miracle, but I think it’s something that it’s good for us to understand. But the very first thing we need to understand is what we are looking at is what is called a lag measure. If you do the right thing, good things happen, and all of a sudden, out in that cornfield, there is a beautiful result, a beautiful harvest. And you can measure the harvest, but the harvest is something you measure after what’s important took place. Fifty thousand people drove to Wilmore, the news people estimated from February 8th to 24th, that’s something measured after everything that caused that was done. So this is a result that you discover after.

But everything that happens before that is called a lead measure. What causes this? Lead measures.

You’re looking at a picture of Randy Dowdy, who farms in Brooks County, Georgia. He and his family are regular winners in yield contests. Randy was the first to pass the 500 bushel per acre mark in the National Corn Growers Association yield contest. He also holds a world record soybean yield of 190 bushels of acre, but he also has a commitment to let other farmers know how to do it. You see, how to do it, that’s the lead measure. You can measure, “Did you do this? Did you do that? Did you do this?” That’s what produces the lag measure, “This is the high yield that happened.” And there’s an article about it, and I’m going to put the link on Facebook so you can read it. It’s very technical, and I don’t understand 10% of what they said you needed to do.

But I do understand one thing. Your typical farmer, if they look at a yield of 500 bushels an acre, the first question they will ask is, “I wonder what seed did they plant?” Because it’s the sowing that determines the reaping. In 1963, the record yield that year was 218 bushels of corn an acre. In 2022, last year, the record yield according to the National Corn Growers Association was 394 bushels an acre. Almost double. But in 2019, apparently, everything happened at exactly the right time and everything you would want to happen in a cornfield happened in exactly the right way, and the all-time record is 616 bushels per acre.

Now let’s apply that to this wonderful thing that happened at Asbury. The crowds that gather, the upwelling of worship and joy, and the feeling of the presence of God, all of that is the result of being faithful. And it’s important to ask the question, “What led to this?” Lag measures (reaping) are the result of lead measures – which are sowing good seed and acting in different ways to take care of the crops. So to paraphrase the military motto, so the corn crop can be all the corn crop can be. None of us have fulfilled the potential of all that we can be. No church has fulfilled all of it’s potential — well, no church that I know of around here. In other words, normal churches like us, we have not fulfilled all the potential of what God can do.

But lest we think 50,000 people in one month is dramatic, let me remind you of the fact that there are other places where this sort of thing happens. What you’re looking at here is a photo of the grotto at Lourdes in France. February 11th, 1858 — I’m not sure what it is about February! On February 11th, 1958, a 14-year-old peasant girl named Bernadette reported that the Virgin Mary appeared to her. This was the first of 18 times the Virgin Mary appeared to her with a message. It was important that Bernadette share that she was calling the world to prayer and, one more word, repentance. Calling the world to repentance.

And people began to come to the place where this happened. And when they came to the place where this happened, they had a very deep feeling of the presence of God. And they had a very deep feeling that God could answer prayers. And they had a very deep feeling that God loved them. And there were people who were ill who got healed. In fact, the spring water from the grotto was believed to possess healing powers.

So fast forward to today. Every year five million pilgrims of all denominations visit this place because people have a deep hunger to feel the presence of God. They have a deep hunger to be involved in a spiritual encounter with God where everything we believe feels real. And in the 165 years since the first appearance, an estimated 200 million people have visited this small town in rural France. The population of Lourdes in 1858 was around 4,000 people.

Now, I’m not saying this to suggest that 5 million people will come here to Kinmundy and try to come to our worship. Although, it would be nice. I’m not saying this so that a line would be down the street, of people trying to get into our sanctuary. Although that would be nice. I’m saying that it’s smart for us to understand this. And to understand when it happens, we can look and discover why it happens, and we can link what’s happening in Lourdes or at Asbury or other places with what Jesus said and did. Because when we connect what Jesus said and did with what we see happening around us, we will have a deeper understanding of what happens around us. And we will have a deeper understanding of what happened to Jesus.

So let’s work our way backward to understand what’s at the heart of this beautiful experience of God. So we’re in Matthew 4. We’re working backward here from the reaping, from the harvest. And he, Jesus, went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease. Notice that, every disease. And every infirmity among the people. Verse 24. So his fame spread throughout all Syria. Now that’s not just Israel; that’s out even beyond Israel. And they brought to him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains. Demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics and he healed them. And the result of this good happening drew a crowd. It will always draw a crowd. Verse 25, “And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis and the Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”

And when you read the words of Jesus in context, he began to tell people, “If you’ve been healed, don’t tell anyone,” because pretty soon there were so many people coming to look that people who needed to heal could not get closer. Do you remember the Bible story where they actually tore the roof off the house to lower the man who needed Jesus down through the roof? Why? There were too many people just standing around watching.

So here’s the harvest. But what preceded this? What happens before Matthew 4:23? Well, you’ve heard me talk about it over the last seven weeks. Just before Matthew 4:23, Jesus goes by two brothers, Peter and Andrew, who are fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and he says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” He goes a little further and tells two brothers, John and James, “Follow me.” And they get up immediately. They follow him. And guess what? As they follow him, as they begin to do what he says, go where he goes, and listen to what he wants them to hear, fish start showing up. In other words, Jesus shows them how to live so spiritually that other people come … and they want it, too. It comes from following Jesus. That’s what causes this revival.

And we talked about that the last seven weeks. The verse right before this, here’s what it says: From that time, the beginning of Jesus’s ministry, Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent…” It’s time for us to change our ways. It’s time for us, as one translator said, to turn away from sin and turn toward God and move toward God. That’s what repentance means – because it’s time … for the kingdom of God is at hand. God is ready to act. Now, it’s time, for us to turn toward God and receive what God is willing to give. And so Peter and Andrew and James and John, there’s nothing bad or sinful about fishing, but they turn away from fishing. And they turn toward following Jesus. And then, astonishing and amazing things begin to happen as Jesus begins to work.

So I want to suggest to you that following Jesus, that’s like all the work that the farmers do to help the crop to grow. And repentance, I want to suggest to you, is like the seed farmers plant. It’s where God begins to start to act. I want to suggest to you that that’s what makes this happen.

And in fact, when you read the accounts of what happened at Asbury, here’s something you find. The student body president was interviewed, and here’s what she had to say. On Wednesday, February 8th, 2023, a handful of students, just a handful, remain in the chapel following a regularly scheduled service. After a fellow student— now this was later that day. After a fellow student decided to openly confess some of his sins to the small group, ‘the atmosphere changed.’ In other words, it became more than just prayers and singing when one of the students wanted to get right and repent of something he was struggling with. And repentance became the theme. I want to live a different life. Same thing at Lourdes. The Virgin Mary, in her appearance to Bernadette says, “People need to pray and repent.” Same thing. That’s the seed that becomes the harvest. That’s the lead measure that grows into the lag measure, the harvest we can measure.

And we talked about this for seven weeks. We talked about “organizing for the new year.” But I had no idea that God was going to do this on February 8th at Asbury …. where it helps me to realize that as I was asking you, “Let’s get organized to do God’s will in the new year,” … God had us learning how to get organized for God to bring a revival … to change people’s lives, starting with us.

So what are the lessons about revival from the sermons from Epiphany?

Well, there are things that we need to stop doing. That’s repentance. John Wesley said, “Do no harm.” There are things that we should start doing. John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can.” And if we make a commitment to follow Jesus, that’s what we’re going to be doing.

And I’m beginning to see as I look at what’s happened at Asbury, it’s almost like a cycle. I turn away from something I shouldn’t do and turn towards something Jesus wants me to do. That’s what it means to follow Him. And the cycle just keeps repeating, growing stronger each time.

John Wesley’s third rule is to attend upon all the ordinances of God. And look what happens next. People start going to worship. People start going to listen to sermons. They start going to church. They start taking communion. They start doing all these things that we see in Asbury. And now people are praying and hoping that that will begin to spread worldwide. This is what causes a church to come alive.

Again, I wouldn’t mind thousands of people standing in line to get into our church. I wouldn’t mind that a bit. But friends, I want to say this: If we can come alive spiritually, if we can be blessed in this way by God, it will bless our church, because, of course, the outcome of what Jesus did in his three years of ministry was what happened in the book of Acts where on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell. Three thousand people were baptized that day. (By the way, do you know who those 3,000 people were? They were the people who were crowded around Jesus for the three years previous, watching God work.

In Acts 3, God heals a man in the temple through Peter. And Peter in his explanation of what is going on, verse 9, he says to the crowd: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord …” So I want to suggest that this is Peter’s name for what God is doing, “times of refreshing”. And how they come is there are things that we stop doing, that’s repent; there are things that we start doing, that’s following Jesus. And it begins to be a self-renewing cycle in the people.

So let’s do the same thing here in our town. No reason why we can’t. No reason why you and I can’t repent and follow Jesus in our lives and then let God make a cycle of life happen in us and in our church!

Which brings me to this prayer that I wrote many years ago. You prayed it with me quite a few times. That very first paragraph, that’s repent. Lord Jesus today, I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. Repentance is not focused on how awful I am or how awful I feel about it. Repentance is focused on my desire to be pleasing to God. And so at the heart of repentance is I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life.

The rest of the prayer very clearly gives a list of the things we do when we follow Jesus. Lord Jesus guide me to all that is good. Cleanse me from all that is not. Lord Jesus teach in me your ways and form in me your nature. Lord Jesus, help me to serve you as I am gifted. Lord Jesus, help me to love my neighbor as myself, which means, Lord Jesus, help me to notice my neighbor. And work through me so that my whole neighborhood can come to Christ. This cycle is a part of what this prayer describes. And I thank you for praying it with me as a church. May God’s will be done!

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus every week, we pray The Lord’s Prayer in worship. Every week at different times during the day, we might pray The Lord’s Prayer. Every week we say these words, “Thy kingdom come.” We may forget, Lord Jesus, that what that means is we want you to do your will in our midst so that people who need healing are healed, people who need to be set free are set free, people who need help are helped, and people see that God loves them. And they feel the presence of God.
Lord Jesus, may it so be that people all around us would feel your presence, would see the blessings that you bring to all of us, that people all around us would say, “We see the power of God, and we’ve learned that God is real.”
Lord, that’s a very deep human hunger. I pray that you would reveal yourself, not just at Asbury, not just at Lourdes, but that you would reveal yourself in the lives of people right here in Kinmundy, where we live and where we go to church. Lord, I pray that thy kingdom would come and that your will would be done. And 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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