March 12, 2023 The Revival of Faith, Hope, and Love (Lent 3)

Image by Marco Verch via Flickr

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/807148293

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c0elf5V4YKJ

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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 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God (Virtual Choir #4) – directed by David Wesley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4EoLm3_luM

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 Sweet, Sweet, Spirit
Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Sweet, Sweet, Spirit [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i73PZJugjTk

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: The Revival of Faith, Hope, and Love
Text: Mark 1:40-42, 5:22-43, 6:56, 1 Corinthians 13:11-13, Luke 17:5-6
Series: The Jesus Revival (Times Of Refreshing)

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley Sermon Audio

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SERMON NOTES

Mark 1:40 And a leper came to him beseeching him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

Mark 5:22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Ja’irus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, 23 and besought him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 And he went with him. And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” 29 And immediately the hemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?'” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

Mark 6:56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or country, they laid the sick in the market places, and besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well.

1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood. 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

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,

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HYMN Because He Lives
Gaither Vocal Band – Because He Lives [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spa7WkwjwGw

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’ve been talking about revival, how it happens. We’ve been talking about what God recently did at Asbury University in little Wilmore, Kentucky, how people stayed after church because they didn’t want to go home. They didn’t want to stop praying. And they just kept praying for days and days. And God began to answer their prayers. People are still trying to figure out what God did that would cause 50,000 people to travel to this little tiny town in Kentucky.

Well, what I want to suggest is it’s the same kind of thing we read about in the New Testament because what Jesus was ready to do in the New Testament, Jesus is ready to do now, and he’s ready to do here. And the same Jesus Christ who was there is here is here. But we are still trying to figure it out. I read a text on Facebook this morning and I just shook my head. Somebody said, “What happened at Asbury, that’s the spiritual Woodstock of our generation.” That’s quite a reach, folks. But people are trying to figure out what God is doing. And it’s not a bad thing to try to figure out what God is doing, even if a few nuts and flakes wind up in the conversation.

What is it that God is doing? Well, here’s what I would like to suggest today based on a few scriptures from Mark. Whenever the Kingdom of Heaven begins to happen, God comes into people’s lives and their lives begin to change. Prayers are answered. Miracles occur. God helps people.

From that time, Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent.” Why? Because as you repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is going to start to happen. We pray that in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come.” This is what it looks like when the kingdom comes, because what we’re praying is thy will be done, on earth in Foster Township, in Kinmundy, in Wilmore, Kentucky, thy will be done right here and right now. But what does it mean for the Kingdom of Heaven to be at hand? I think Jesus is trying to say, “Get ready because God is ready to do something.” And we don’t want the people of God to be holding God back because they don’t understand that God is ready to do something.

Mark 1:40, “And a leper came to him beseeching him and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.'” You see, this man decided that Jesus held all the power to make his life better. “If you will, if you want to, if you decide, Jesus, it’s all simply up to you. If you will, you can make me clean.” Or you could say, “If you want to. Is that your desire, Jesus? Is that what you want?” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. And said to him, “I will. It’s what I want. Be clean.” And immediately, the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. You see the Kingdom of Heaven happened, right then and there.

And then Jesus says a very peculiar thing. He says to the man, “Don’t tell anybody.” But of course, he didn’t pay any attention to Jesus. The man who’d been healed went out and began to talk freely about it and to spread the news so that now Jesus could no longer openly enter a town but was out in the country. And people came to him from every quarter. Because if he came into a town like Wilmore, Kentucky, all of a sudden, 50,000 people would show up. And the people who really needed him couldn’t get to him.

But you see, here’s the reality for us to understand. What the world is really curious about is why did all these people show up? Well, I want to tell you, Friends, it’s obvious. When God begins to answer people’s prayers, people who need answers to their prayers start to show up. Answered prayers always draw a crowd. When people begin to feel God’s presence– and by feel, I mean that they literally emotionally begin to feel at peace and calm and forgiven and loved by God, when people begin to feel like that, and they talk about it, other people realize, “That’s how I want to feel too.” And it draws a crowd. Answered prayers always draw a crowd.

And what I have felt this Lent is I feel surrounded by people who have incredible needs for prayer. And we share those prayer requests with each other. There are other prayer requests that I’m the only one that’s aware of them. People want God’s help. And so it seems to me, this Lent, more than any year previous, I am feeling drawn to spend more time and prayer. And if the paperwork doesn’t get done, if the sermon is shorter, Friends, you’re just going to have to deal with the disappointment!

Because I honestly do feel that it’s important that I spend time praying for the people who need God’s help. And you may be feeling the same sort of thing this Lent, being pulled to our knees to pray. That’s why the crowd is there. They feel pulled to their knees to pray. And consequently, today I wanted to talk about things that help prayers to be stronger.

And my favorite scripture for this, you’ve heard me speak on it before, a little bit later in Mark, a couple of chapters later, “Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name. And seeing him, he fell at his feet and besought him saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death.'” Now, look at how he phrases his faith, “I need you to come and lay your hands on her.” You see, what Jairus believes is, if Jesus is in the same place where his daughter is and if Jesus lays his hands on her dying body and prays for her, this man believes that a miracle will happen and his daughter’s life will be saved. But Jesus has to physically come and be present. Now there are a few other scriptures that talk about this too. But this is what Jairus believes. It’s what his faith tells him, “Come and lay your hands on her so that she might might be made well and live. And look at verse 24 at how much Jesus loves us, and he went with him, and a great crowd followed him and thronged about him.

And now we meet another person. Look at verse 25. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for 12 years. We assume this is the illness known as endometriosis. But in the Jewish faith that saw bleeding as an incredibly serious spiritual problem – we’d be here all day if we went into all the details – this was an incredibly difficult illness for her to struggle with. She had it for 12 years. In the Jewish religion, it was probably considered to be worse than leprosy. Not only that, verse 26, she had suffered much under many physicians. You know how it is. The physicians don’t always do what feels good. Not only that, the physicians had taken all their money. She had spent all that she had, and she was no better, but rather grew worse.

She was beginning to be desperate, and she decided to turn to Jesus Christ. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and reached out and touched his garment, for she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” You see, she made a decision, “This is what I need to do,” and she acted on it by faith, and immediately, the hemorrhage ceased, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.

But notice the next surprise in verse 30. “And Jesus perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him,” that someone had just gotten the help they needed from God. Someone had gotten healed or forgiven. Something had happened, and Jesus immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” You see, Jesus knew how the power flowed, but he didn’t know who it was. Now, I remember having a discussion with my pastor when I was 17 and I said, “You see, God can answer prayer, and Jesus didn’t even know who it was,” and my pastor said to me, “Well, I think Jesus did know who it was.” Well, if that’s true, then he misled people. And I said, “No, I don’t think so.” Jesus knew that God had acted, but Jesus did not grant permission, except that Jesus was always willing for God to do what God wanted. “Who touched my garments?” Jesus said. Something happened, and now I know … he touched me and made me whole. Something happened.

Verse 31, his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pushing around you, pressing around you and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ What are you talking about?” … because you see, they didn’t feel the power. And he looked around to see who had done it, but the woman who, more than anything, wanted to remain hidden, in secret and not publicly identified, but the woman knowing what had been done to her came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the truth.

And notice what Jesus he said to her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” And Jesus says this phrase multiple times, and sometimes it’s said in the sense that, because they didn’t have faith, he could do no good. Your faith has made you well. Go in peace and be healed of your disease.

Friends, if our faith influences the power of God to help us– we know God wants to help us, but if our faith influences the power of God to help us, it’s important for us to understand the role of faith in prayer and in healing, which leads me to this observation: in science, there’s a thing called the placebo effect. When your doctor prescribes you a medicine, it’s been approved by the FDA and it’s gone through rigorous testing to prove that this medicine works.

And the testing they do to prove it works is like this: they set up a blind study, half the people get the medicine, half the people get a placebo, a pill or a shot that has no effect whatsoever. There are no active ingredients. If it’s a shot, it’s usually distilled water. If it’s a pill, it’s usually a sugar pill. In other words, half get the medicine, and half get nothing.

Now here’s the ironic thing. The medicine has to do better than cure 30% of the people. You know why? What they have found over the years is 30% of the people who get nothing get cured anyway. So if you’re going to spend money on pills, they better do better than nothing, because the third of people get better because of nothing.

Harvard Medical School trained cardiologist, Herbert Benson, Harvard Medical School faculty, teacher, Herbert Benson, wrote a book about the placebo effect. The title of the book is called Timeless Healing. And he wanted to examine the placebo effect scientifically. Now, please understand, this is not a religious book. This is a medical book about healing. And what Herbert Benson said is that if people take the placebo and they believe it will help them, if people act – in other words, you actually have to take the pill, not just believe it – that yields 30% cure. And it’s interesting. You see, there’s something in your body that responds to what you believe to be true. But he went on to say, if the person taking the placebo really believes that it will help them, it’s more effective. And if the person believes an authority figure like a doctor, who says, this is the latest medication, it’s going to help you, if they believe the doctor, and even more, if they trust the doctor, if they have confidence in the doctor, if they feel the doctor cares about them, Herbert Benson says the placebo effect is even more powerful. And in fact, in his book, he says, it’s as powerful as 90% effective.

Now, given that there are some illnesses for which there are no medications– friends, everybody’s got this. It’s part of the way God created the body. So that’s what Herbert Benson says is the science.

But now let’s look at that same science with faith. You see what actually makes the placebo work is the people have faith. And faith is not an inert inactive ingredient. Faith is the active ingredient in these results. People believe they’ll get better. And it’s so strange, they do. Now it’s quite ironic, the medicines that were highly in favor 20 years ago, they began to lose their effectiveness. Doctors began to say, “We’re not sure if this will help or not.” And all of a sudden the placebo effect doesn’t work anymore. Because their faith has changed.

So if the doctor is going to have you take medicine and if you’re going to pay for it, you might as well believe that it will help you. Because faith is the active ingredient, and not only that, remember, faith in the active ingredient, that’s 30%. But you know what makes it even more powerful is when you believe that an authority figure cares about you, wants to help you. And if they believe in this medication, and if they feel trustworthy to you, it has even greater power. And friends, when we exercise our faith, as Christian people– Jesus is the great physician. Jesus is the authority figure. And if you feel trust in him, if you feel that he cares for you, if you feel that he is going to help you, that will strengthen your faith. Because the healing comes from Jesus and faith in Jesus.

So that’s the science that’s behind what we call faith healing. And it even works when the doctors aren’t believers. And it even works when it’s not about religion or faith. But if we apply faith to it, it is even more powerful to help us.

By the way, let me encourage you to be wise. Please do not decide that you believe that because your car is low on gas, if you fill the gas tank up with water and lay hands on your car and pray for Jesus to turn it into gasoline– I do not recommend that. Please be careful. Please be wise. There was a rumor that started flying all over the internet a few years ago that one way to kill the coronavirus was to drink bleach. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. Please be wise.

But having faith in Jesus and having faith in your doctor, God will see that faith and it will strengthen your prayers. But please be wise.

Now, in different times when I preach this sermon, I have said that this woman was ridiculous. I’ve said that her decision to touching the hem of Jesus garment was a little bit like me deciding to drink Diet Dr. Pepper and that will cure my diabetes. Now please understand this. I’m a big fan of Diet Dr. Pepper. And the main reason that I would say that, that this was not smart was because I know that this woman and you and I, there are people who will try to convince us not to believe. They will try to convince us not to have faith. They will try to tear down our faith. And the point that I wanted to make – and I’ve been encouraged that I should explain it in a different way – is that you don’t want to let people talk you out of doing what you know to be God’s will. Now, that’s not the same as, again, filling your gas tank with water and praying for it.

But the strange thing that she believed – because the standard was that Jesus has to come to your house and touch the person. That’s how healing happens. He touched the leper – She invented something new. But notice what happens. Just two chapters later in Mark. And whatever he came and villages, cities of the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces along the side of the road and they begged Jesus, they besought him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. You see, what this woman thought would work, all of a sudden now everybody knows this will work. They have faith in it. And notice what it says, “And as many as touched even the fringe of his garment, were made well.” This is now the normal way to get better, the accepted protocol for healing. But it started out as something that she believed in faith and took a risk. And she found out when she stepped out to meet God, God met her halfway.

And so in Luke 17:5, the apostles say to the lord, this is their prayer request: “Increase our faith.” If everything is a result of a strong faith, Lord, increase our faith. Maybe the very first prayer that is said in this church on Sunday morning should be, “Increase our faith.” Maybe the last prayer we say before we leave, the first prayer you say tomorrow morning, the prayer you say at night before you close your eyes should be this prayer. “Lord increase my faith.” Because if faith leads to our prayers being answered, this is a prayer we want to pray. So I say to Jesus, “Increase our faith.”

And here’s how Jesus responds to their prayer. “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed– ” now, mustard seed, extremely tiny. If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, be rooted up and be planted in the sea. And Jesus says it would obey you.

I have a wonderful friend who’s a dentist. Rick Penny is very scientific and literal. And he put on Facebook. He said, “Dave, it’s not the mustard seed. That’s how we get mustard.” It’s not about the mustard if you have that much faith, that’s what it’s trying to say. And if you had to say, “Rick, well, you’re right. You’re right.” But if you have faith in the smallest amount, the amount of a mustard seed. You can say that this problem, go jump in the lake. You can say to this illness, go away. You can say to this person who is violent and abusive and frightening, mind your own business. If you have even the tiniest little bit of faith, it can lead to so much good happening in your life and in the lives of people you care for. So you see, we want to increase our faith.

There’s a lot of ways to do that, but I just want to mention a couple here. And 1 Corinthians 13, there is the phrase. Look at the 13th verse there. There are three things that last, faith and hope and love.

And I think that hope strengthens our faith. In fact, I wonder if faith isn’t like an engine and it runs on fuel. And I think that hope is fuel for faith. The way the world tries to destroy your faith and tear you down and discourage you is by encouraging you not to have hope. There are a lot of ways to define depression, but one of them is hopeless and helpless. If you want to have prayers of faith, you want to encourage yourself not to be hopeless, but to be hopeful. Not to be helpless, but to know that God is powerful and strong and able to help us. So when you begin to pray, I want to encourage you in your emotional place, let yourself hope that your prayer will be answered. Be fuel for your prayer of faith.

But Paul also says the greatest of these is love. I know when you pray for someone, because they have a problem, because they’re suffering … I know that you do that because you care, because you feel love. But I would encourage you when you pray, don’t pray in an incredibly logical and unemotional way. Let your feelings of wanting good happen flow to God with your prayer. “Oh, Lord. I love so and so. I want the best for them.” Let your emotions strengthen your faith to travel with your prayer.

And not only that, as I said in last week’s sermon, scripture is like wood for a fire. Scripture will fuel your prayer as well. You need to let the Bible come into your life and let it feed your prayers. One of the most faith-building things you can do is turn scripture into prayers. “Lord, just like you healed the woman who touched the hem of your garden, helped my friend who is ill.” No reason why you shouldn’t quote scripture to God in your prayers. It will strengthen your faith.

So, Lord, increase our faith. This is the picture, by the way, that my friend Rick Penny had trouble with. “Dave, it’s not about the mustard.” But you see, friends, here’s the truth, if you’ve got this much faith, that little bit, you’re ready. You’re ready to pray. Lord, increase our faith.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, just like on the day when that woman reached out to touch the hem of your garment … this is what happened in that scripture, then … We pray that you will do your loving work with us today. That, when we reach out to you for ourselves or for others, that our faith in your ability to help us will release your power toward us, to do God’s will, to do God’s work, to do good. And so Lord, we pray, increase our faith. So that the prayers of our faith, filled with hope, filled with love, filled with trust in you, filled with an awareness that you do love us. Lord, we pray that you would empower our faith and grant our prayers according to your will. We pray, Lord Jesus, that the Kingdom of Heaven would come pouring in, to be a witness to everyone around that you are a loving God that helps your people. And so, Lord, here is our prayer … increase our faith. And we ask this in the name of Jesus, 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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