August 6, 2023, Ask Me For Them, Pentecost 10

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again,, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP:
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 in flow 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.
Holy Spirit, come alongside of us, fill us, comfort and counsel us, speak through us, and empower us to do God’s will. Amen.

HYMN Children of the Heavenly Father
Children of the Heavenly Father by SE Samonte
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1Le7-y9xVI

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − Dear Lord, This morning as I contemplate a new day, I ask you to help me. I want to be aware of and filled with your Spirit—leading me in the decisions I take, the conversations I have, and the work I do. I want to be more like you, Jesus, as I relate to the people I meet today—friends or strangers. 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 by Alan Jackson
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4uIyz_d90

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: “Ask Me For Them” – Praying In Your Circle
Text: 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Matthew 9:35-38, James 4:1-3, John 7:37-39
Series: You Have Not Because You Ask Not

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

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

1 Timothy 2:3 This is good, and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

James 4:1 What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members? 2 You desire and do not have; so you kill. And you covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

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.

ARTICLE: Forrest Chapel UMC welcomes prayed-for new members
July 14, 2023
https://www.umcna.org/postdetail/forrest-chapel-umc-welcomes-prayed-for-new-members-17489680

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Blest Be The Tie That Binds
Blest Be The Tie That Binds by Darby Hughes
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r42dPVi3AVM

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

“Ask me for them.” Last week, we talked about circles of influence and circles of blessing to where God would bless people around you because every single one of us has a circle of influence. And I shared this diagram with you. This is a diagram from Oregon where the irrigation arms go around in a circle, and they water everything in the circle, and consequently, everything in the circle grows. And I suggested to you that this is a little bit like the Holy Spirit overflowing out of us to, in effect, water the people around us so that they can grow. And I suggested to you that what God wants from us after Pentecost is to be able to flow out from people like you and me, ordinary people, to touch the lives of people around us.

A number of years ago, a good friend, Pastor Tom Logsdon, shared something with me that made an impression. He said, “The very first meeting when you go to a new church– the very first meeting you have with the Administrative Board, bring them all up into the sanctuary and have them sit where they sit. And people being people, they’ll be scattered all over the sanctuary.” And he said, “I look at them, and I tell them this, ‘Wherever you’re sitting, that’s your zone. And whoever sits near you, those are your people. So you pray for them. You ask God to help them when they need help. And if there’s a Sunday that they’re not there, you pray for them. And pray that they’ll soon find their way back.‘” And he said, “If it ever happens that a new person comes and sits in your zone” – hi, Susan – “those people are yours.” [laughter] Susan loves to say hello to new people, although they’re not all new. But we’re just so glad that you’re with us today.

And I thought to myself, “What a beautiful idea it is, that we should care for our neighbors.” Now, the commandment says to love your neighbor as yourself, but the idea is that part of our neighbors are the people who sit near us when we come to church, the people who live near us, the people who we are in touch with as the week goes by.

Let me tell you a story from the history of missions. This story comes from Burma, now known as Myanmar. I’m guessing, around 1828, there was a Baptist missionary, Adonirom Judson. And he was a missionary to Burma. And what you’re looking at is the Salween River valley in Burma. And he was coming there to preach the gospel. And he camped on a hill overlooking this valley.

And in the night, he couldn’t sleep. And he looked down and he could see the fires, little fires in the distance, which were fires in the villages in that entire river valley. And he cried out in prayer. He said, “Lord, what should I do so that these people can hear the gospel?” And even though he was a good Baptist and good Baptists generally don’t think this way, he actually heard, as the story goes, he actually heard God speak to him in an audible voice. And what the voice said was this, as he looked out over all the people who lived in that valley, what the Lord said to him was this, “Ask me for them. Ask me for them.” And so before he went down into the valley to begin to preach, he spent a day there in prayer on the hill, asking God for the people who lived there to come to Christ.

Asking God for people makes a lot of sense. I have here in my hand a story that comes to us all the way from Alabama. I put the link on our church Facebook page so that you can read it if you would like, the whole story. But there’s a small church in Alabama, it’s called Forest Chapel. And they decided to pray for God to bring them new members.
And here’s the story.

About a year ago, a small group of church members at Forrest Chapel UMC in Hartselle embarked on a prayer journey.

The group began meeting right after Sunday morning worship service each week to pray. The time was brief and to the point. The prayer was for God to send the church five new families.

Jennie Turney, a longtime member of the congregation, shared that her daughter’s large church in another state was praying for 25 new families. She challenged her own church to do the same on a smaller scale. They decided to pray for God to send five new families.

“For a small country church, this seemed like a big ask!” said Patty Andrews. “We hadn’t really grown at such a rate over the last several years.”

The group decided not to have any big events to attract people. They were just going to pray. They met in a room off the narthex for about five minutes of prayer each week. Six to eight people were involved, taking turns leading the prayer time.

“We didn’t have strangers immediately lining up at the door, begging to join,” said Andrews. “We didn’t even have a strategic plan of action. We just had a real desire to share the love of Christ with our friends, family and community, offer a place to meet together to worship God and provide space to experience the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.”

Since the group started praying, Forest Chapel has added six new members. “We are very thankful for our six new members, and for God’s love, mercy and grace,” she said. “God is so faithful!”

https://www.umcna.org/postdetail/forrest-chapel-umc-welcomes-prayed-for-new-members-17489680

So whether it’s a valley in Burma in the 1800s, whether it’s a little tiny country church in Alabama in 2023, we can ask God in prayer. It’s a prayer that God answers. As I said to you last week, things that we never pray for may never happen. And so James pushes us. James says very clearly, “You do not have because you do not ask.” And so friends, consequently, let’s definitely ask God for what is near and dear and important to our heart, whatever that might be.

James goes on to say, “You ask and you do not receive sometimes because you ask wrongly out of selfish motives to spend it on your passions, to give you what you want to need instead of what other people need.” We don’t pray for new members so that we can be a bigger church, we pray for new members because God blesses people who come closer to Christ. And there are so many things that we need, and we often forget to make it a goal to ask God first, specifically and deliberately.

Now, this particular prayer, let me give you a couple of scriptures to support it. This one comes from first 1 Timothy 2:3 where Paul says, “This is good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,” verse 4, Who desires all people to be saved.”

The United Methodist Church and its history is Arminian where our theology understands that God desires all people to be saved. There are other kinds of theology that say that God chooses these people to go to heaven and God chooses these people to go to hell. And we don’t believe that. We believe in exactly what Paul says right here: God desires all people to be saved.

Consequently, when you pray this prayer, you’re praying according to God’s will and God answers your prayer. God desires all people to be saved, God desires all people to come to a knowledge of the truth. And this is something we can pray.

Now, there is no reason why you could not pray for everyone in that giant crowd. When I found this picture on the Internet, it said there were 2,000 people lined up on that street. You can pray for the whole bunch of them. But I’ll be honest with you, God is most likely to answer the prayer that you pray when you can pray for someone by name. Because your prayers will be most effective among the people that you know. The people in your circle of influence.

And in fact, Jesus said that your service to God in this sort of prayer is very important. Matthew 9 verse 35, “And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every disease, and every infirmity.” Verse 36, “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion for them. Because they were harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd.” Like people that had no one to watch over them and take care of them.

How is Jesus going to solve that problem? Here’s the very next verse. Now, what’s interesting about this verse is, as I read the New Testament, there are only two places where Jesus gives people a prayer request. There are two specific places where Jesus says, “Pray for this,” and this is one of those two. It’s in your bulletin every single week. It is on the prayer page in your bulletin every single week, because Jesus asks us to pray for this to happen: Then Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

In 1985, I moved to Quincy, Illinois, and behind the house where I lived was a large plot of farmland. Perhaps 2-4 acres. And the farmer who farmed that grew vegetables for the farmer’s market, and he grew flowers for florists. And my neighbor said to me, “Thank God he’s growing things for the florist.” The previous year, he planted the whole four acres in tomatoes. And the price was so bad, he left the tomatoes in the field to rot. It was not pleasant to live in that house that year!

Now, you think about farmers. Some of us here are farmers. Some of us are retired farmers. You know you work all year long. The most foolish thing in the world would be to leave it out in the field. Somebody needs to go out and bring it in. In the same way, what Jesus, I think, is saying to us is that there are people who are ready. And there are people who are ripe. And somebody needs to go bring them in. And in those days, it was individuals walking out, looking over the field, picking what’s ripe, and bringing it in. And maybe that’s still how God desires to work. Because sometimes, God’s answer to a problem is a person.

Now, we’re in an age to where we invent big machines to do our work for us. I’m not up to date on the latest in farming equipment. But every time I talk to farmers, they seem to tell me that the combines this year are now bigger than last year’s and more expensive than last year’s. But sometimes, God’s answer to a problem is not a big machine, but a person. And that prayer that Jesus asks us to pray suggests that God wants to send people out into the harvest, to help other people find their way home.

Now, let me give you what may seem like a silly example. There’s a Southern Baptist Sunday school expert by the name of Josh Hunt. And he wrote this a number of years ago. He said, “We used to have friends over on Friday nights to play cards. We would have dessert, tell jokes, and play games together. One day, I suggested to Sharon,” his wife, “That we invite a couple who had visited the church to join us on Friday night. We did. And we had a good time in the process. During the entire evening, we never said anything about church, or Sunday school, or the Bible, or anything remotely religious. But do you know what? They joined the church in a few weeks. Now, he is teaching a Sunday school class himself. And they would both tell you that they were not living a disciple’s life before they played cards and ate dessert with us that night.

That’s why I say if you want to double your Sunday school class every two years or less, give a Friday night to Jesus. Have your friends over. Play cards. Eat pie. Tell jokes. Laugh. Have a good time. But most of all, include people who are not a part of the church. Ministry has never been so much fun. And this ministry is based on sound church growth thinking.”

And then, here comes this phrase that really spoke to me. He said, “People are no longer looking for a friendly church. They’re looking for friends.” And what I take that to mean is that when the Holy Spirit tries to wake someone up, you know what will happen? They’ll go to church with their friends. He goes on to write – and this is astonishing – “90% of the people who came to play cards, 90%, later joined the church.”

Well, I don’t know if you want to get together and play cards this Friday or not. But just in case you wondered, that’s why we have a SALT potluck once a month for people to get together and visit with each other. In case you wondered, that’s why we try to go on a trip once a month, and that’s to give you an opportunity to invite people that might be too shy to come to church, to invite people that are disinterested in a sermon, no matter how good it is. But they still love pie, and they still like to get together with people. And more in this day and age than any time in history, people are lonely and feel isolated and abandoned and in need of friends. That’s why Jesus said to the disciples, “First command: love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and there’s the second, to love your neighbor as yourself.” Now there are all kinds of ways to love your neighbor, but pie works. What Jesus wants us to do is to show love and care to people at the point of their greatest need because, you see, sometimes God chooses to solve a problem with a person.

So how do we turn this verse into a prayer? Here’s what I would suggest to you: there are specific people around you in your circle of influence. Some of them you probably know by name, but some of them maybe not. Maybe it’s the couple that lives three doors down and have little kids. But you can pray, “Lord Jesus, please help that couple that lives down the street from me to be saved. Lord, please help that young family to come to a knowledge of the truth. Lord Jesus, please help that young family come to follow you as Lord and Savior. Please help them to come home and be a part of a church family.”

Jesus made a prayer request, and we can pray that as a prayer also. “Lord Jesus, please help me to be a laborer in your harvest. Lord Jesus, please help me to love my neighbor in such a way that it helps them to come to you. Lord Jesus, please help me to be the kind of friend that everyone needs who is coming toward you.”

In a minute, we’re going to sing the hymn, Blest Be the Tie That Binds. But I want to suggest, brothers and sisters, just like a baby lives for nine months before a baby is born, the tie that connects a person to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, it starts out there in the world outside the church, as God gently and patiently draws people to come home to Him.

And here’s the thing: sometimes it’s true that we do not have because we do not ask. Lord, please help our church to be a nurturing blessing so that many new people will come home to Jesus Christ. Lord Jesus, we ask this in your name. Amen.

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

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

Additional Resources

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

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

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.