March 19, 2023 A Generous Grace (Lent 4)

Image by John Dillon 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/809399284

Screencast-o-matic: https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/c0eF0iV4pHN

———————————————–

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 378 Amazing Grace
Chris Tomlin – Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone [with lyrics]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YFGzY_8li8

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 420 Breathe on Me, Breath of God
Breathe on Me, Breath of God by SE Samonte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5keJHZdWYM

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: A Generous Grace
Text: Philippians 2:1-13, John 3:16, Mark 8:34
Series: The Jesus Revival (Times Of Refreshing)

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

——————————————————————————————————–
SERMON NOTES

Philippians 2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

John 3:16 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.

Mark 8:34 And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

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,

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN 298 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
The Wonderful Cross [with lyrics] – Chris Tomlin & Matt Redman
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qC1IllbwX4w

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

Lord Jesus, I pray that you would increase our faith, and I pray that you would bless the words that I speak today. That they might support us in heart, in mind, in soul, in strength, and that they might increase our faith. Amen.

A generous grace. We have been talking about something that happened earlier in February that is going to go down in history. All of a sudden, people began to pray at Asbury University, at a small town called Wilmore in Kentucky. And they prayed overnight, and they prayed for some 400 hours, and God began to do something. And, of course, what I want to suggest to you is that when God begins to do things, a crowd begins to gather. But it’s not about the crowd, it’s about God.

From that time, Matthew 4:17, Jesus began to preach saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” And whenever people repent and turn toward the Lord Jesus Christ, God begins to act. That’s the Kingdom of Heaven starting to happen. But this term, revival, what exactly does it mean?

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, children came to the front of the church for the children’s sermon. And the pastor said, “Boys and girls, I want you to pay very careful attention. I want to ask you a question. What has brown fur, lives in a hole in a tree, and loves nuts?”
And a little boy was so excited, and he just raised his hand. He knew the answer. He said, “I know. I know. I know.” And the pastor said, “What is it? What’s the answer?” And the little boy says, “It’s Jesus. I know it, it’s Jesus.” And the pastor is trying to fix this and the boy just keeps saying, “It’s Jesus. It’s Jesus. I know it’s Jesus.” Finally, his mother comes up and starts dragging him out of the church. And the little boy just keeps yelling, “It’s Jesus. I know it’s Jesus.”
After the service, the pastor came over to the little boy and said, “Let’s have a talk. Do you know what a squirrel is? Didn’t you know what I was talking about?” And the little boy said, “Aren’t you supposed to be talking about Jesus?”

And you see, friends, that’s the whole point. We need to be talking about Jesus. We need to focus on Jesus. Whenever the focus shifts from Jesus to anything else, church begins to get a little squirrelly. Jesus needs to come first and to be at the center of everything. Consequently, there is this verse in John 12:32, and it has two meanings. Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” Now, the literal meaning is that is a euphemism for being crucified because they lift the cross up and the pole falls into a post hole in the earth, and the person who’s dying is up high above everyone, so everyone can see them suffer.

But it also has the meaning of the fact that when we lift up Jesus so that he is visible, so that he is the center of attention, I’ll see him. And especially when we see him on the cross, Jesus himself predicted and said this, “He will draw all people to him.” So you see a crowd there at Asbury in the picture? Jesus is drawing all people to him. That’s the result. What’s the cause? The students began to lift Jesus up and desire him to come first in all things.

You see, that’s the default. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” That’s the default. For us to understand that God comes to us in love and God sends Jesus to us as an expression of God’s love. And so notice the next verse, “For God sent his son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” There’s been a lovely little meme that’s been making the rounds; started back at Christmas. If God did not send Jesus to condemn the world, I don’t think he sent you.

Because God’s default is not to condemn the world, God’s default is to love and to seek to draw the world back to God, including us here in the church, to draw us all back to the lord. And so, when we lift Jesus up, he will draw all people to himself.

So, what does it look like when Jesus is lifted up? There’s a beautiful portrait of Jesus Christ in Philippians chapter two. In fact, they believe that verses 5 through 11 are actually a hymn, an early hymn sung by the church. And no one knows the melody, but the Greek is written in a way that rhymes as if it’s to be sung. So Paul draws this picture for everyone: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, and he goes on to say, “This is what I want to see.” Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility, count others better than yourselves. Let each one of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Verse five, “Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus.

Now think about that word this. I think it’s like the equal sign in an equation. What you have just read is Paul describing what it looks like when Jesus is visible in the church. But the verses that follow also describe what it’s like when Jesus is visible: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus. Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. But he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

You know, on Facebook and in conversations, sometimes we ask ourselves questions that help us to explore our minds. One such question is, “Out of all the people in history, who would you most like to spend a week with?” And you know the first answer is always Jesus. But that’s not what I say because I don’t want to go back to the time before there was air conditioning. It’s pretty childish. I don’t want to go back to the time before air conditioning and running water. I don’t want to have to walk everywhere I go. (If the question allowed me to bring Jesus here, I would bring him here!) But think about the difference between then and now … isn’t that almost the difference between heaven and maybe the worst way that earth can be? Jesus did not count equality with God to be a thing to be grasped. Jesus did not insist on his rights. Jesus did not say, “I want to stay here in heaven where everything is comfortable and perfect.” He came to us. That’s God’s default. God so loved the world that he sent Jesus. And as he came to us – look at verse 7 – he emptied himself, he left behind every aspect of being God so that what was left was that of a human being, with all the limitations, all the discomforts, all the difficulties of being a human being. He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Pastor Rick Warren wrote a bestseller. You probably have a copy of it in your home. Most people do. It’s called The Purpose Driven Life. The very first lesson he makes in the book is this: your life does not have this purpose; it’s all about me. And Jesus Christ models that for us. He did not count equality as a thing to be grasped but surrendered it and came to be among us as one of us. This is the view that Jesus gives us of what it means to be Jesus. And then verse 8: Being found in human form, he humbled himself further – humbled himself! – and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.

In the garden of Gethsemane, he said, “Lord, God, if there’s any other way. Nonetheless, Thy will be done.” We pray that all the time, “Thy I kingdom come, thy will be done.” When Jesus prayed it, this is what he knew was going to happen. He became obedient, even unto death on a cross. And because of His surrender, because of the way He showed His love. Because of the way He was willing to fulfil God’s will, here’s the result: Therefore, God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess, what? Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. This is what Jesus showed us what it’s like to be the Christ.

Matthew 10:24 says it very simply: A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master, as if you or I had rights that we could claim that Jesus chose not to claim. But, verse 25, “It is enough – it is enough! – for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master.” So, therefore, friends, have this mind among yourselves, which Jesus showed to us.

On Ash Wednesday, we gathered together out at the Wesley church. As it’s a tradition, we read this scripture from Mark 8:34, “And He called to Him the multitude with His disciples and said to them, if anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. And for those who wish, the mark of a cross is placed on their forehead so that everyone can see, I am willing to follow Jesus and take up my cross.

But you know where this comes from? When you read in Mark 8, Jesus says to the disciples. “Who do men say that I am?” And they have various ideas. And he looks at them and he says, “Who do you say that I am?” And Peter says, “You are the Christ. The Messiah.” And then Jesus began to explain what it means to be the Messiah. It means He’s going to die upon the cross. It means he’s going to suffer. It means He’s going to be rejected by the Jewish people. It means that God’s love poured out will be rejected.

And Mark 8 says that Peter grabbed him by the arm and pulled him aside and began to rebuke him. “Jesus, how can you be so stupid to think that that’s what should happen to the Christ because we know what should happen. Everything should go your way. You should get everything you want. Oh, and those of us who are following you, real close to you, we get a whole lot of things that we want, too.”

You remember what Jesus said to Peter when he talked like that? He said, “Get behind me, Satan,” because, you see, that’s a temptation that Satan brings to people. “What it means to be holy, what it means for God to be powerful means,” Satan says, “you should get everything you want.” But friends, you know it’s not like that.

And so right after that, Jesus calls everyone around him who is there to be able to hear, including the disciples, and he says, “Here’s what it means to be the Christ: if anyone wants to follow me, to come after me, let him deny himself.” You’ll have a cross, too. Now something to keep in mind, Jesus’ cross brought him suffering. But it also brought a great blessing to all of us. Please understand this. Your cross is not about suffering. It’s about God making the world better. That’s what Jesus did. But it won’t always go your way. You won’t always win.

And so, Jesus said, in John 12:32, says the same thing today, “When I am lifted up from the earth, when people see me on the cross, I will draw all people to myself.”

And so all the news organizations take these pictures of the crowds gathered at Asbury, because this is their understanding of a revival. There’s a huge crowd. But the huge crowd is a byproduct. It’s the result. And on the news, those questions they would repeat over and over again, “How long will they last? How long will this keep up? Those people praying all night long, they’re getting tired. How long? How long will it last? Is the revival over yet?”
And I read that again and again and again.

And here’s what I want to say about that. When our focus shifts from Jesus to the revival, the revival begins to fade away. When our focus shifts from the cause to the results, the results begin to fade away. We want to remember that Jesus is the cause of all of this and that when we lift him up, he will draw all people to him. What a tragic thing it would be for you to be a seminary student and to get an A in church history and to get a B in religious philosophy and to get an A- in the New Testament but get an F in following Jesus, or get a D in putting Jesus first. Because, friends, I’ll be honest with you, one of the problems that our church has is there are people who are really, really smart, but what they know has not shown up in what they do. And in fact, there’s an old zen proverb that says to know and not do, means you don’t really know yet. I think if we got an A in following Jesus, putting him first, making him visible, we would see our world change, right here, right where we are.

And so I leave you with this prayer. In fact, I leave you with a thought. If you take this church bulletin home, the Call to Worship prayer that began our worship, you can pray to begin your day this week. The Congregational Prayer that we pray before our prayer time, the Centering Prayer, you can pray it before you go to bed at night. The scripture that we’re hearing about today that is printed on the back of the bulletin, you can ponder it, asking God, what does this mean? How do I live it? You can pray for the people who are listed on the prayer page. And the church events that are listed on this page. And the activities that are coming up on this page. And you can lift Jesus up all week long. Let’s get an A in being like Jesus.

And so I suggest there are two parts that make this revival happen. The first one is to repent, and in the prayer, you see it there: Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. Is that true? Yes, that’s true. But Lord Jesus, you can help me, and I can ask you to be more and more the center of my life. That’s what it means to repent. That lifts Jesus up.

And then all the other words are what we do as we follow Him. And if you want, you can perceive them as a checklist. Some days you’ll get to do them all. Sometimes it won’t be all. You’ll get to those the next day. But lifting Jesus up is about repenting from what we are not yet. And deciding to follow in doing more of what God wants us to do.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, increase our faith. Because our world has problems. And we need to have faith. For our prayers, Lord Jesus, increase our faith, and help us to lift Jesus up. So the more people become aware of him and, in particular, Lord, as they get to know us, they become aware of Jesus. As they become more aware of what our church is doing, they become more aware of Jesus. Lord, help us in all things to make you visible. So that people can come to understand what we know in our hearts: You are wonderful, Lord Jesus. And you are the generous grace of God sent to us because God loves the world. And does not wish to condemn the world, but that through you, Lord Jesus, the whole world would come to be saved. And so, Lord, we pray that you will bring revival to us because certainly, Lord, revival is that we revive and come alive. And Lord, may your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. 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 )
 

This entry was posted in Past Attend "Worship at Home". Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.