May 28, 2023 What Does God Want From Us After Pentecost? (Pentecost & Memorial Day)

Image via Flickr. Pieter Bruegel, Antwerp, Groeninge Museum.

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/830897156?share=copy

Screenpal: https://somup.com/c0huVgaTGP

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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: (St. Teresa of Avila:)
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which   He looks
Compassion on this world…
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

HYMN 375 There Is A Balm In Gilead
‘There is a balm in Gilead – Ronald Ellis – The Adventist Vocal Ensemble
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fcMxI_6xsk

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Almighty God, through Jesus Christ you overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. Grant that we, who celebrate the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may, by the renewing of your Spirit arise from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; through Jesus Christ our 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 334  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: What Does God Want From Us After Pentecost?
Text: John 7:37-39, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11-14, John 20:21-23
Series: The Greatest Story Ever Told

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

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SERMON NOTES

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. 38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

1 Corinthians 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

11 All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body–Jews or Greeks, slaves or free–and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

John 20:21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

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HYMN 526 What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Alan Jackson – What A Friend We Have In Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znWu2HCJ92c

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

Pentecost Sunday is today.

What exactly is it that God is asking of you and me now that the Resurrection has happened? And we talked about the various instructions that were given to the disciples, one of which, however, was to wait. Wait in the city until power comes upon you. Because the power to do what God wants us to do comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Because, in all sincerity, brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting. We do our part and we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. And God does the work.

Once upon a time– And that means that this is an imaginary story that the preacher made up. Once upon a time, there was a young man named Peter. He worked on weekdays, but on the weekends, in order to make a little bit of extra money, he drove a taxi. So one Saturday morning, early, he pulled up in front of a hotel and picked up a man. And for some reason, he instantly knew that it was Jesus. And Jesus looked at him and said, “Do you mind if I ride up front with you instead of riding in back?” Peter said, “Well, that’s fine with me.” So Jesus got into the seat beside Peter. And Jesus said, “You know, there’s six hours before my flight. I’d like to learn some things about the city where you live.” And Peter goes, “Well, do you mean all the tourist things?” And Jesus said, “No, actually, I’m curious about you. I’m curious about your life. And maybe you can show me this city, but in the context of your part in it.” Jesus said, “I’d like to drive around the neighborhood where you live.” And Peter said, “Well, okay. That works for me.”
“Jesus,” he said, “my mom was ill this morning. So if you don’t mind, I’d like to stop at our house. I want to make sure she’s okay. She also asked me to bring home a gallon of milk.” And Jesus said, “Well, that’s perfect.” So they drove down the streets toward the part of town where Peter lived. Peter stopped at a grocery store and Jesus said, “Why don’t you pick up a second gallon of milk?” And Jesus gave him five dollars. Peter came out of the store with the second gallon of milk and he said, “Jesus, I’m not sure what you need this second gallon of milk for. It’s more milk than my mother and I would drink.” And Jesus said, “Well, tell you what, turn left, three blocks from here. Now turn right.” And they began to move into a part of town that was poorer. And Jesus said, “Now stop in front of that house and take the gallon of milk up to the front door and ring the doorbell.” Peter took the gallon of milk up to the front door, rang the doorbell. And a mother holding a baby answered the door. There were little children all around her. And she saw the gallon of milk. And Peter said, “Jesus told told me to give this to you. And the woman said, “How did you know?” And Peter just shrugged and said, “Jesus told me to give this to you.” Little children started jumping up and down because they liked their [milk?]. They went on from there to Peter’s house where his mother was ill with a fever and in bed and Jesus said, “Why don’t we pray for her?” And they went inside the house and Jesus took Peter’s hand, and he said to Peter, “Now, please, you take your mother’s hand and I’ll say a prayer. And then the words that I say, I’d like you to pray them.” So Jesus prayed and Peter prayed. And Jesus prayed and Peter prayed. He prayed the words that Jesus said, and his mother said, “Peter, I feel so much better.” And she got up and said, “I insist that you stay and have breakfast.” And she made the breakfast.
While they were eating, Jesus looked at Peter’s mother and said, “Tell me about your neighborhood. Is there anything or anyone that deeply concerns you?” And she says, “Well, yes, three doors down from our house, one of my very good friends lost her husband two weeks ago, and I’m just very concerned about her emotional health. But I don’t know what I can do. And Jesus said, “Well, you lost your husband, didn’t you?” And she said, “Yes, four years ago. I remember how hard it was. And Jesus said, “Maybe what you found out when you went through it will make a difference in your neighbor’s life. And she thought for a minute, and she said, “You know, the hardest time for me was in the evenings when I would wait for him to come home for supper.” And she said, “I think I’ll make supper and ask my neighbor to come and spend the evening with me. She likes to play cards, so I guess we’ll play Gin Rummy. And Jesus said, “Well, I think that’s a great idea.”
There’s something in what you know that can bless someone else. The time came to get back in the cab and as Jesus and Peter drove to the airport, Jesus said, “What about you? How about your neighborhood? Is there somebody that you’re concerned for?” And he said, “Well, the guy in the desk next to me, his wife left him. And he’s really dealing badly with it.” And Jesus said, “Maybe you could pray for him. And maybe God will give you an opportunity to do something that will make a difference.” And the rest of his life, Peter, remembered the day that he drove around with Jesus.

On Easter Sunday night, Jesus looks at the disciples– and I want to suggest to you, he looks at us through them. And he says three things: first one, “Peace be with you.” Don’t be anxious. Peace be with you; “as the father has sent me, I send you …” in other words, everything you and I have done together before this, I send you now to do with others. Even so, Jesus says, “You don’t need to be anxious because what you’re going to experience is what you’ve experienced before. You’ve been there. You’ve done that.”

Verse 22, and this is what’s important for today, and when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.Sometimes I feel discouraged, we sang just a few minutes ago. And I think my work’s in vain … but then the Holy Spirit … revives my soul again. Everything that you and I do for God, God wants us to do in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t mean that we know how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, but that’s what God wants.

And then comes this third instruction, which I said to you, kind of catches me by surprise: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven.” And that reminds us that asking God to forgive people, that’s part of what we do for God.

“But as the father has sent me, so I send you.” We also talked about the scripture being like a jigsaw puzzle where you can take each verse up, an individual piece, and ask yourself, “Where does this fit in my life?” And for many years now, there have been three Bible study questions on the back of the bulletin each week, and they’re very useful to take a verse and ask it three questions:

What does this verse say?

But then perhaps a little bit more important. What does this verse say that I need to obey? Because some of what Jesus says to us are instructions for what God would like us to do.

Last week we talked about the great commandment, and I said to you, every single verse, when you try to apply it to your life, it will fit into one category or another:

1. It’s going to be a verse that will help you love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. And what a blessing that is.
2. Or it will be a verse that will guide you in loving your neighbor but also in loving yourself. 3. And in addition to the Great Commandment, there’s also the Great Commission. The last words of Jesus in Matthew, where he says to go into all the world and make disciples – that you and I can be used from God, by God through the Holy Spirit, to help other people find faith. We can be people who bring Jesus to the people we know who need him the most. So … how does this verse help my neighbor become a disciple? How does it help me become a better disciple? The last thing that Jesus says as a part of the Great Commission is we all have a responsibility to teach other people to observe, or obey in other words, what Jesus asks: how does this verse help us to learn to observe all the commands of Jesus?

And then the third question, which may be the most important one– we read about missionaries who feel called to go to the other side of the world to spend the rest of their life in Africa or in Asia ministering to people. They’re in a completely different country. But something that we don’t realize, when those people get to the mission field on the other side of the world, they’re ministering in their new neighborhood. Your mission field is your neighborhood. And if your call to minister as a missionary overseas, well, you’re called to be there because that will be your neighborhood.

Friends, every single one of us has a neighborhood. Every single one of us has neighbors and, thank God, many of those neighbors are having a wonderful time in life. But every so often there will be somebody in front of us, and we’ll know that life is not wonderful. We’ll know about a broken marriage. We’ll know about the grief of death. We’ll know about illness. And your micro-mission field will most likely be among the people that you know. And that’s where the Holy Spirit helping you to understand each of those verses will help you to understand what God wants us to do, today, after Pentecost.

This is a picture meant to represent Jesus talking to the disciples in the upper room. On the last day of the feast, John 7:37, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the scripture has said, out of his heart, shall flow rivers of living water.” What does this mean? In John, chapter four, Jesus said to the woman, the Samaritan woman at the well, “If you knew who I was, you’d ask me, and I would give you living water. There would be a well of living water. You could reach into yourself and find whatever it is that you needed.” But what Jesus was saying– look at verse 39 on the screen. Now, this, he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive. Friends, we all start out with the water in our hearts for what we need. But what God wishes is for what’s in our hearts to overflow and become like a river. Now, maybe out of your heart, it’s a creek. Maybe out of your heart, it’s a little stream. Maybe out of somebody else’s heart, it’s a dry stream for a few times a year, but then the rain comes. But all these little streams feed together, and they become a great and mighty flow of water to change the desert.

We started our worship with this phrase, “Christ has no body but yours.” And what’s happening after Easter, what’s happening out of Pentecost, is that the hands and feet of Jesus Christ on earth now will be God working through people like you and me. That’s what God wants after Pentecost.

Here’s the other thing that God wants after Pentecost, and that’s that we respect the way that God works through each of us. 1 Corinthians 12:4, now there are varieties of gifts. If you look around the room, everybody’s gifted in a different way. There are a variety of gifts but the same spirit. There are a varieties of service – there are different things that we all do – but the same Lord. And there are varieties of working … But as God is working in different ways through each of us. We need to remember it’s the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

The Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us, but verse 7 reminds us of something very important. No one’s left out. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit, the way the Holy Spirit shows up, for the common good. And the way the Holy Spirit shows up in you is different than the way the Holy Spirit shows up in somebody else. The problem they had at Corinth is that there was a lot of envy. People would say, “I wish I could preach like Peter. I wish I could pray like Paul. I wish I could sing like an angel, like so and so.” And the voice of the Holy Spirit to each one of us is to say, “There’s something special about you. And that’s how I want to work through you.”

And you see, here’s the thing. If you ask most church-going people, “How is it that the Holy Spirit wants to work through you?” they would honestly tell you that no one has ever asked that question before. They just don’t know. But here’s the truth. Paul goes on to say in 1 Corinthians 12, “All these ways that the Holy Spirit works through people, all these are inspired by one and the same spirit who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” When I try to sing for you on Sunday morning and my voice goes flat or high, I say, “Lord, I wish I could sing like an angel.” But God reminds me, “I gave you the tools that I wanted you to work with.” And that’s true for each one of us – we don’t get to pick. Verse 12, for just as the body— remember Christ has no body but yours. Just as the body of Christ, the church is one and has many members, many different parts, and all the parts of the body, the members of the body, though many are one body. so it is with Christ. For by one spirit, we were connected, baptized, immersed, put into, made into one body. Jews and Greeks, slaves or free, all were made to drink of one spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. The church does not consist of one any one of us can do. But as for what each of us can do, many, many small things add up to be a mighty force to do God’s will in our world.

When we think about the meaning of Pentecost, we need to think about then and now. For 42 years as a pastor on Pentecost Sunday, I preached on Acts Chapter 2, which is what happened in Pentecost back then. And I thought to myself this time, “That’s important, but what happens then is different from what God wants for us in Pentecost now.”

Pentecost then is the outcome of Jesus intentionally working for three years to build his church. He carefully laid out the method for the disciples to fish for people, and then he said to them on Easter Sunday, “Now, what I did is how the Father sent me. Now, I will send you to do the same things.” And there is much that we can learn from this – Pentecost Then, and the methods of Jesus. And in fact, I found it fascinating. There’s a real disagreement among scholars as to how many people lived in Jerusalem. Some scholars suggest there were 60,000 people that lived in Jerusalem, but Josephus, who actually lived during those times, said that the population of Jerusalem was 600,000. But on days of Jewish festivals, like Pentecost is and was, the population of Jerusalem would increase threefold. So maybe 600,000 people were now 1.8 million people. But think about what Jesus did for three years as he went back and forth across Israel, everything he said and everything he did. Everyone knew of Jesus and knew someone Jesus had helped or healed.

And then on Pentecost Sunday, instead of Jesus standing up and preaching to the crowd, because you see there was a loud noise and a huge crowd came, the sound of a mighty rushing wind. Scholars suggest it’s a noise like a tornado, which people tell me is like the loudest train you’ve ever heard. But they all came to the place where they heard the sound, and Jesus doesn’t stand up to preach a sermon. Now it’s Peter … because you see, now, Jesus works through us.

And Peter preaches one sermon, and that day 3,000 people are baptized. Pentecost then is the outcome of Jesus intentionally working for three years to build his church, and the very first day there are 3000 members. Not only that, within a few weeks, the numbers have increased, the Bible says, to 5000 men; I want to add wives and families to that and say the church by then was probably 15,000 people. Now, maybe this is not very hard to do in a city of 600,000. But I think that what Jesus told them to do would work anywhere. And if that’s true, if you and I do what Jesus did, if you and I obey what Jesus asked us to do, we we can see a church of 12 become a church of 24. We can see a church of 30 become a church of 60. We can see a church of 60 become a church of 120.

But I’ve been studying these methods of Jesus for many, many years and I find them fascinating. Because the exact same thing done in different places in the Third World has led churches of 20,000 people, 50,000 people, 100,000 people, and the world’s largest church, 700,000 people. And I’m quite sure you’re looking at me right now and saying, “Pastor Dave, our little town of 700 needs a church of 700,000 just about as much as a fish needs a bicycle.” Nonetheless, I find the methods of Jesus to be fascinating. And I think, to be honest, it’s really smart – we should be doing what Jesus did now, today.

But when I asked the question, as I told you I did at Easter and now I’m doing at Pentecost, if I ask the question, “What does Jesus want us to do here and now, after Pentecost, you and me?” My answer is a lot simpler than the methods that lead to a church of 3,000.

But before I answer that question, let me remind you of a story. It’s quite unusual.
Martin Luther King, on the night before he was assassinated, preached a sermon. It’s a very famous, beautiful, and moving sermon. And in the closing paragraphs, he says this– there was no way that he could know, but in the closing paragraphs he says this,

“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead.” And brothers and sisters, you and I know we have some difficult days ahead too. But Martin Luther King went on to say, “It doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop and I don’t mind. Like anybody,” he said, “I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place, but I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will.”

I just want to do God’s will.

Brothers and sisters, I am 68 years old. It’s really quite odd every morning when I get up, I feel exactly 68 years old. And there are some of you out there that are smiling at me right now because you’re thinking, “Well, your still just a youngster!”

But these words have spoken to me this week. Longevity has its place. I will tell you, I intend to live to be 108. You might ask me, “What’s so special about 108?” Why? When I’m 107, I’ll be dancing at my 50th wedding anniversary. So that’s my goal. Longevity has its place and just like Martin Luther King dreamed of great things, I would like you to know that I also have dreamed of great things for the United Methodist Church and for every church that I served and for our church right here. I have dreamed of great things, but you know something, as you get older, you begin to get focused on certain things that are more important. What is it that older people have that’s an advantage over younger people?

Next time you have a few minutes go down to the park, sit on a park bench and watch children playing on the playground. Every single adult I know looks at the children and says, “I wish I had their energy.” But the wise old ones will often add, “I may not have the energy, but I know to save my energy for what’s really important.” And so I find myself now not daydreaming so much about a church in Kinmundy with 3,000 people coming to church, but I find myself now just simply saying those words that are really important: I just want to do God’s will.

And what I want to suggest to you that this is what God wants from us, now that Pentecost has happened. Here and now, we can learn from what Jesus did to build his church. We can learn from how the church of Acts operated. There’s a lot that we can learn, but what God wants from us really is quite simple, this attitude: I just want to do God’s will.

And you know the answer for each one of us will be different, but you know what you do that will have in common with what everybody else is doing? It will connect to the great commandment because what God wants you to do, God’s will for you, it’s about loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It’s about loving your neighbor. It’s about loving your neighbors yourself. It’s about helping your neighbor through the Holy Spirit to come to Christ and to follow Jesus and to learn what he wants them to do.

So I think if Jesus was riding around with us each day in our car, in our life, the questions he would ask you and I are simply this: how is your neighborhood doing? What is God doing? What is it that God wants to do in your neighborhood today? And that little thing, whatever it is, if you and I can focus on that, would lead to the accumulation of millions of little things and no one of them would ever be difficult for any of us. The accumulation of millions of little things would pile up and change the world … because here’s the truth, whatever it is that God wants to do, it’s through you that God wants to do it.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus on Ascension Day, you ascended up into heaven, and as the meme says, you’ve been working from home ever since … because Lord, it’s your plan now, it was always your plan, that you would now work through your people. And that we in little ways would love our neighbors and pray for our neighbors and help our neighbors come closer to God and deepen their understanding of you. And Lord, we are to love ourselves in the same way. And it was always your plan that all the many things that you do through each of us would amount to a great thing as you work through all of us. And so, Lord, I pray that, guided by the Holy Spirit, living within each of our hearts, as we ride about the events of our daily life with you in the co-pilot seat, Lord I pray that you would help us to discover the joy of being a part of how you love people including ourselves. 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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