March 10, 2024, We Are All Asked To Learn Together, Lent 4

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.)

Lord, I believe: Help my unbelief. Help me to see my world as You see it.
Lord, I obey; Help my disobedience. Focus me; guide me. Prune me.
Lord, I follow; Help me to stay on the path. Thank you for the path, for guidance, for Providence and protection.
I humbly ask for wisdom and for knowledge in every human situation.
Lord, help me to flourish as a part of the vine, as a means of grace, as a person through whom your Holy Spirit flows. Amen.

HYMN 374 Standing On The Promises
Alan Jackson – Standing On The Promises Of God (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YQXiQfEjqs

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer −
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. 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 349 Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Church Online) – Hillsong Worship
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Ka7bVQmbnk

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: We Are All Asked To Learn Together
Text: Luke 6:46-49, Hosea 4:6, Matthew 7:7-8, 18:3
Series: What We All Have In Common.

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

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SERMON NOTES

Luke 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation; against which the stream broke, and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Hosea 4:6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

Matthew 18:3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 7:7 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

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HYMN Trust and Obey
TRUST AND OBEY | The Living Stones Quartet LSQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suXUg0dLsAo

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

During Lent, we are talking about things that we all have in common. And what we all have in common is we have a need for forgiveness. We have a need for Jesus to help us to change our lives, to do God’s will. Last week, we talked about the need to learn how to love one another. And today, I’d like to talk to you about that general need, which is for us to learn, for us to grow and learn, and especially to learn together and learn from each other. We all have that in common because we have something to learn.

But before we talk about that, I’d like to tell you about a problem that people did not understand. You see, part of loving one another is the truth that the love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay because love isn’t love until you give it away. What you’re looking at here is a picture of a baby, Jadwiga Shulakowska, a little baby girl, whose mother was a prisoner at the Dachau concentration camp. And they took a Catholic monastery, a former convent, near Dachau, and turned it into an orphanage for children and especially for babies. And this was a very difficult time for these children, but especially for the babies.
They began to notice not so much an illness, but the fact that the babies would have a failure to thrive. As babies, they would begin to exhibit signs of depression. They would lose interest in the world around them. They would not interact with other people except to cry and to complain. And the nurses in the orphanage worked harder to make sure the babies were fed. They worked harder to make sure that the babies were clean. They worked harder to make certain that this area was free of disease. But the babies kept dying. In fact, 37% of the babies died. 37%.

But the ones that survived grew up with behavior disorders, with mental illness, with an inability to relate to other people in healthy ways, with learning disabilities. And they did not understand what the problem was, but they began to discover that if the nurses took the babies up in their arms and loved them, the babies would get better. One of the points of this is at the beginning of your life, you need someone to love you and to show you love, to show you lots and lots of love in order to be healthy.

So when Jesus says you must be born again and you heard me say this earlier, born again means you start out like a baby. You know what your immediate need is? People need to love you. Because as a babe in Christ, as a born-again infant child of God, you need to be loved by the people around you with the sort of love that God loves you. And that’s the cure for this, to be loved.

The point of what they discovered about institutions raising babies is if there’s not enough love, the babies don’t grow up. The babies are stuck, and 37% of them die. And you see, this is the problem with the church functioning like an institution. It needs to function more like a family. Scientific studies were done. They had the information from the babies in these orphanages, but they put a group of babies with mothers in prison. And as difficult as you can imagine what it is like to raise a baby in a prison, those babies thrived because they needed the love of their mother as much or more as they needed a place that was clean, as much as they needed food that would nourish them. But the love of a human being is what helps them to grow and helps them to thrive.

So when Jesus says, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” And in John 13, “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you,” I want you to understand, please, that means that people who come to Christ will thrive when they feel loved, which is why Jesus said, “Go love people.” Because this is a foundation. This is where we begin.

Now, you know what the next stage of development is? The next stage of development is one that parents find quite amazing, wonderful and frustrating: when children feel loved and safe, they begin to explore their world. Children begin to ask questions.

One Harvard scientist actually studied this. In the years between age two and age five, an average child will ask over 40,000 questions. 40,000 questions. Now that works out to 100 a day on average. Other experts say, no, it’s 300 per day, but maybe not for all those years from two to five. Another expert said, 450 questions a day. Friends, let me ask you a question. How many questions have you asked today?

The other thing that I have to say with some ironic truth is, “Why is the sermon the only time that someone stands up before a group in the United States where you’re not allowed to raise your hand and ask a question?” If we did this right, it might be that I should stand here on Sunday morning and ask, “Well, who has a question for us to discuss this morning?” And the problem is, most church folks would think, “If no one has a question, church will be over sooner and we can beat the Baptists to the restaurant!” Oh, it’s such a temptation.

But you see, here’s the truth. If you’re going to grow up in Christ, if growing up as a born-again child of God follows the pattern that God created in the world, you’re going to go onward from this first stage to where when you’re loved and you’re loved enough, you know what’s going to happen? You’re going to begin to be curious about your world. And as Dorothy Parker said, The cure for boredom is curiosity… Have you ever heard somebody say church is boring? Friends, church is boring when people have no curiosity. The cure for boredom in this life is curiosity. And Dorothy Parker went on to say, “There is no cure for curiosity.”

There is no cure for curiosity. And unfortunately, for people who don’t have curiosity, it’s very likely they’ve not gotten enough love to become curious about their world. Consequently, in Hosea 4:6, God says, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Why is there a lack of knowledge? Because there is a lack of curiosity.

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “Truly, I tell you, and He tells you and you and you and me too. “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Now, what is it exactly that Jesus sees that is of such value in a little child? There may be many answers to that question. But it’s very possible that one of the answers to that question is that children are curious and they want to learn. And they want to learn about God if they’re children of God. So curiosity is a good thing.

Curiosity is a good thing. And here’s what the Scripture says about your curiosity. Jesus says this, Matthew 7:7, “Ask.” If you’re curious, you’re going to ask. “Ask and it will be given to you.

Seek. Curious people are seeking people. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you because verse 8, “For everyone who asks receives. So ask and keep on asking. The one who seeks finds. So seek and keep on seeking. And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Curiosity is a good thing.

So I want to ask you this this morning. Now, we do want to beat the Baptists to the restaurant? – so I won’t let you answer this question. But I want to ask, what would you like to know?

What would you like to know? Where do we bring questions for answers? Because, friends, if the statistics are true, each one of you has 40,000 questions. And I’m just sort of assuming you haven’t made it through all 40,000 yet. Now, there’s an age to where children stop asking questions. They rapidly drop off at age 11. You know why? They’re getting ready to be teenagers who know everything. If you’ve raised children, you would know exactly what I mean. But by age 11, they’ve started to understand the world around them, and they started to figure out what their life is about, and they slow down on the questions that they ask. So let’s turn our focus to answers now. We shared this scripture a couple of weeks ago, too, because it’s so important. Jesus says, in Luke chapter 6, “Everyone …” That means no exceptions. “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words,” Jesus says, “and does them,” Jesus says, “I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep and laid the foundation upon rock, and when a flood rose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it because it had been well-built because it was resting on the rock.” Now, what you’re looking at here is a Jeep Cherokee, and I don’t know if that’s asphalt or concrete there, but it’s resting on the rock. It’s stable. And God’s wisdom, what we’ll have if we hear the words of Jesus and do them, God’s wisdom is stable. Consequently, this is a good place to park your jeep.

Now, this is not a good place to park your jeep. What you’re looking at there is a roof of a Jeep Cherokee that’s barely visible after being swallowed up by quicksand at a national park in Arizona, April 1998. And that’s because quicksand is unstable.

One of the very exciting things about my childhood was the annual open house at the University of Illinois, School of Engineering. And students and children were invited to tour through the School of Engineering and see little experiments, little scientific experiments that the engineers would do for us. One of those, they had something like a sandbox; it was about two feet by two feet, sand in it about a foot high, and you took your shoes and socks off, and you stood on the sand, and the engineer running the little demonstration would say, “Now, stomp it down. See, isn’t that sand firm?” And then he’d reach over to a water faucet and turn on the water, and all of a sudden, your feet would instantly go right down through a foot of sand to the bottom. And he said, “This is what quicksand is. Because the water is flowing through it, it’s not stable. It won’t hold you up.”

And here’s what Jesus says about that. Verse 49, “He who hears and does not do them, don’t even think about people who don’t even hear because they’re not listening. He who hears and does not do them is like a man who built his house on the ground without a foundation, built his house on quicksand against which the stream broke and immediately it fell and the ruin of that house was great.

You have a choice, friends. You can learn God’s wisdom, hear it, and do it and park your car on the rock. But if you don’t pay attention to what God wants to teach us, if you don’t have the knowledge that God wants you to have, it can be like parking your car on the sand. What I find really interesting about this picture is if you look at the sand, there are tire tracks all the way through it and over it. But on this day, it was not safe. It was not stable. And that’s the wisdom of God.

So let me go back and ask this again. Where does your curiosity focus? What are the questions that you have? As Joyce was headed toward Indiana, I’m sure your question was, how is my daughter doing in the hospital?

Oh, you know what Kim and I are asking questions about. Brayden, you don’t know this, but I’m retiring in July. And for 43 years, the church has provided me with a house. July 1st, I do not have a house. Now, somewhere, Kim says I don’t have it, but somewhere in my house, there’s a tent. And I keep mentioning this because it makes me chuckle, even though it’s not very funny. I don’t want to live in a tent. So Kim and I have to go hunt for a house. Well, what would you like to know, Dave? Well, I want to know where I’m going to live.

And you see, here’s the cool thing about questions. Questions lead to more questions. What do you need? Well, two-car garage. Got two cars. Kim has arthritis in her knee, and she would like to have the laundry on the main floor. And there are a few other things. Because, see, when you start asking questions, you start making a list of answers. Questions lead to answers and your knowledge grows.

In the same way, there are things that you would like to know, and your questions will lead to answers. In fact, formulating the best question to ask frequently leads to the best possible answer. And that’s because questions go out from us into the universe looking for answers. And when you ask a question, the answer will tend to come back frequently from another person, because we learn from each other.

First thing I do in the morning is step on that scale in the picture to learn something. This is my birthday present. This is a new computerized scale that tells me much, much more than I really want to know. It tells me my weight, but it also tells me that I am 33.8% fat. It tells me if there was no fat on my body, I would weigh 186 pounds. That’s probably what I weighed in seventh grade, to be honest. I can’t even imagine weighing that. And it tells me a whole lot of other bad things, including the fact that my metabolic age is seven years older than I actually am.

So it’s very humbling every day to stand on the scale and get answers to those questions until I look at the next machine, the thing that tests my blood sugar and tells me how sweet I am. That’s very humbling too. But you see, I ask the question, and I’m thankful for an answer.

One of Kim’s nicknames for me is Google Man. When a question comes up in a group of people, I can’t resist pulling my phone out to try to find out the answer. I wanted to get my hair cut on Monday. So I called the haircut place at Walmart and nobody answered the phone. And I thought to myself, “Wow, they must be really busy.” I went on the internet, and yeah, they’re open on Sunday. They’re open on Monday. They’re open seven days a week. I go to Walmart thinking, “Well, maybe they can work me in.” And it turns out the internet is sometimes wrong. They’re not open on Sunday. They’re not open on Monday. The internet can be wrong.
You see, sometimes you have to test the answers that come in response to your question to see if they’re right. But Google has a lot of answers for us, but some of them are not correct.

Facebook has a lot of answers for us because I can put my question on Facebook. Does anybody know when the haircut place in Walmart is open? And all kinds of people will tell me the answer. It’s interesting how often you see on Facebook, there was an accident on Interstate 57. Watch out. And then other people will comment on that and say, “Is it still bad?” Yes, it’s still bad. And they’ll give information back and forth on Facebook on how the roads are, how the traffic is, all kinds of things like this.

A lot of us have questions about our health. That’s why I have that scale and why I have that blood sugar tester. Some of us are waiting for answers to questions from doctors. And when we have experts, we need to listen to them. But when the information comes to us, again, we have to test it to make sure that it’s correct because we’re surrounded by answers. And from people and machines that want to give us answers, but we need to listen to them. And you’ll notice at the far left of the picture is a lovely young couple. And, apparently, he was able to buy the house that he wanted. And I hope I’m able to buy one too. We have a wonderful realtor that is helping us. She’s been doing this for a long time, and it’s very, very smart. So we’re listening to all the experts, and we’re trying to figure out the answers to the questions. And I need those answers.

But something I need to keep in mind, and we all need to keep in mind, is that any question asked seeks for an answer, but I also need to ask Jesus. You see, this question is probably as valuable or more valuable than any other: What did Jesus say about this? Now, I’ve been reading the Bible, Old Testament, and New Testament, for many, many years. And there’s not much in there about buying a house. There’s even less in there about what kind of roof you want or what kind of inspection should happen and various other things. But there’s a lot in the Bible, especially in the teachings of Jesus, about how to treat people. And you see, I’m buying a house with a realtor. I need to treat them well. And I’m buying a house from someone who is my neighbor. And Jesus told me to love my neighbor. Jesus told me to be patient and kind and gentle with people, including someone who might want to sell me a house. I hope they want to sell me a house. The wisdom from Jesus can apply to every situation. It may not perfectly apply in detail, but Jesus has answers for our questions in life. We need to ask him also. What did Jesus say about this? Lord, how should I pray for this situation? This person that’s on my heart and mind, how can I pray for him or for her?

If you send these questions out as prayers, they will find an answer. And quite frequently, God will bring to your mind a passage of scripture. And then, just like building your house on a rock, you can begin to apply your life to practice and do the wisdom of God. And the situation won’t be unstable. The situation will become stable because Jesus is ready to bring wisdom to our lives.

What’s the catch? If we’re curious.

So, friends, I want to invite you to indulge your curiosity. I want to invite you to put wood on the fire of your curiosity because God has answers for everything that you would like to know. God has answers for everything that you need to learn. God has answers. So I want to encourage each one of us, come to Jesus and be like a child, and bring your questions with you. God doesn’t mind questions. God doesn’t object to your curiosity.

And just if you’re parents, remember all those questions you were asked. Why is the sky blue? You’re welcome to ask God. Why did you make the sky blue? Why is this? Why is that? Bring your questions with you when you come to Jesus. Questions are fine. Bring your questions with you. Bring all 40,000 of them and let God begin to answer the questions you have because it’s always true, Jesus said this: If you ask, you’ll receive an answer. If you seek, you’ll find the truth. If you want into a new house, knock. Watch the door open.

Now, remember, preliminary to this, love one another. As I’m looking for a new house, I have to pay attention to that. There’s a whole lot of people involved in buying a house. And I’m supposed to love every single one of them. I’m supposed to show them what Jesus is like. Pray for me because it ain’t easy, friends. I think you heard the chuckle from the back corner there. It’s a stressful time. But Kim and I are asking good questions, and we believe that God will answer them. And whatever it is that concerns you, whatever it might be, turn that worry into a question, and you might be surprised at how quickly the answers will come because good questions focus us on good answers.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, the Prophet Hosea warned us that people are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. The lack of good information has led many people to stray, has led many people to park their truck on quicksand, has led many people to live their life in an unstable environment. Lord, renew and wake up the curiosity in our hearts and help us to turn our concerns into questions and consequently, Lord, to hear the answers and then sort through the answers to discern, Lord, which one is the answer from you of what we need most today. I pray, Lord Jesus, that you will guide us into our curiosity and help us to ask our questions. 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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