April 7, 2024, Day 1 – What’s Next: Peace, Sent, Receive, Forgive, Eastertide 1

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
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.

HYMN – Right-click, open in new tab to play …
451 Be Thou My Vision
Be Thou My Vision | Celtic Worship ft. Steph Macleod
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiukM6WHQEQ
OR
Be Thou My Vision by 4Him -Lyrics (Celtic Version)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIMhshpf0Y4

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 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.

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 – Right-click, open in new tab to play …
382 Have Thine Own Way, Lord –
Have Thine Own Way – Gospel Music Hymn Sing at Lee University
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8W4ChAKlpo
or
Have Thine Own Way Lord by Johnny Cash
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-J8C2BYnxE

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: Day 1 – What’s Next: Peace, Sent, Receive, Forgive.
Text: John 20:19-23, Ephesians 2:10,
Series: Instructions for Walking In Newness of Life

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 20:19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 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.”

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

1 John 2:3 And by this we may be sure that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says “I know Him” but disobeys His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5 but whoever keeps His word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this we may be sure that we are in Him: 6 he who says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.

Romans 8:28  We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.

  ————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN – Right-click, open in new tab to play …
378 Amazing Grace
Alan Jackson – Amazing Grace (Official Music Video)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogxLNlgKM8c
OR
Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone) – Chris Tomlin Worship Video w/lyrics
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R1c20IXPYk&list=PLcHqC9YNzSaAaAu19bKe9ERIjUfUSVf31&index=5

BENEDICTION

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

Last week, I reminded all of you that one of the benefits of Easter is that we could walk in newness of life, according to Romans chapter 6. That resurrection wasn’t just something that Jesus experienced, but we also had the opportunity to experience new life and the power of new life. And so today, I want to talk briefly about the instructions that Jesus has for us to live that new life. What exactly is it that God expects and wants from us in this season of resurrection?

Last week, we talked about the reality that whether it’s your lazy boy recliner or it’s the tomb on Easter Sunday, that’s a place of rest. That’s a comfort zone. But now, it’s no different than before. Jesus asks us to rise up out of our comfortable place and to follow him, just as he always asked the disciples to follow him and still ask for us to follow him today. The church is not a resting place. Our faith is not meant to be a place for us to retreat, but we rise up with new life to follow Jesus on into that life.

And so now it’s possible that you’re like me. I’m one of those men who think you don’t need to read the instruction manual. There are wonderful, brilliant people. The very first thing they want to do is read the instructions. And so is there an instruction manual for this walking in newness of life? And the answer is, of course, there is. When you open the Bible, you will find instructions for living. You will find instructions for living in the book of Genesis. You will find them in the book of Psalms. You will find them in the words of the prophet Isaiah. But you will find the very best instructions in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, where you can read the instructions from Jesus.

In 1 John 2:3, John reminds us, “And by this, we may be sure that we know Him if we keep His commandments.” If we follow His instructions. Verse 4, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ but disobeys His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, in him truly love for God is perfected. By this, we may be sure that we are in Him.” And this is verse 6, “He who says he abides in Him, in Jesus, ought to walk, ought to follow– ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” Consequently, I encourage you to open the Bible sometime throughout the day, read a chapter in the Gospels. In the month of April, I recommend it to be one from the Gospel of Mark. It’s the shortest one. It’s very plain-spoken and clear. And when you find an instruction, when you find something that Jesus says that seems to be, “Do this,” make a mark in the margin or highlight it. Because it’s possible that later that day, later that week, or maybe months from now, you’ll be in a situation where what Jesus said, all of a sudden, will remind you what Jesus wants at this moment in time. It’s good to follow the instructions, but it’s good to know them.

And ironically, on Easter Sunday evening, day one, the first day after the resurrection, Jesus gives them four instructions. John chapter 20:19, “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were for fear of the Jews.” You see, all of the disciples were uncertain. What if they were next? So they were very afraid. And on that day, when they were afraid, Jesus came and stood among them. And He said to them, “Peace be with you. Be at peace. Be calm. Don’t be afraid.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and then showed him His side. And the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. You see, Jesus took that moment of fear and anxiety and changed it by his presence.

And then He gave them four instructions. Once again, He says, “Peace be with you.” Then number two, this most profound saying, let it sink in: “As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.” As the Father has sent me. Throughout Jesus’ life, the Father directed Him to go here and to go there, to say this and to say that, to stop and spend time with people. And now, God is going to give you the same assistance and work through you in the same way. As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you.

Verse number three, and when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. You will need the Holy Spirit to do what God wants you to do.” And then this most peculiar statement, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” A few weeks ago, we talked about the man who was paralyzed and Jesus looked at him and said, “Your sins are forgiven.” That was the first part of his healing. Sometimes the first part of our healing is to be forgiven. Ironically, I think this instruction is the one that we most often ignore. Not on purpose. It just doesn’t occur to us.

And to me, these connect up with Ephesians 2:10, which is a beautiful, beautiful passage about how God walks with you, where Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship…” God is working on us. We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works – to do good things which, now notice this, God prepared for you beforehand to walk in. Here’s the most interesting thing about this verse. As you go through your day, you will encounter opportunities which God has prepared beforehand. God has prepared them beforehand, in advance, so that you can do God’s will. Jesus goes along ahead of you to get everything ready. And here’s the thing I think that’s interesting. A brick building like this church is built one brick at a time. You may not consider yourself able to do great things for God, but you can do little things for God one at a time and trust God for these little things to all coordinate together to do something amazing and big.

So as you go through your day, I want to suggest that you will notice what God wants you to do happening right in front of you. You will notice what you are to do happening right in front of you. In the picture, it might be this man who looks dejected. It might be that young couple that is walking in front of you. When you look into the distance, it looks like a man is standing there holding a bouquet of flowers. What could that be?

In addition to that, the people that God puts in front of you might be strangers, like the man the Good Samaritan helped. But God is even more likely to use you to minister to people that you already know because they have troubles too. God goes in front of you, and you will find your opportunities to do good along the way because they will be put there on purpose. All we have to do is notice. All we have to do, since we’re supposed to love our neighbor, is to notice our neighbor, and we’ll have the sense of what God wants because you do not walk alone in this life.

So here comes the instruction. As the Father has sent me, even so, I send you. If you look at the New Testament and ask yourself, “What did Jesus do?” What you will find most amazingly is Jesus goes from one conversation to another. As he’s walking from this place to that place, he has one conversation after another with different people. And through those conversations, he changes lives. Friends, I want to tell you, conversations change lives.

The sociological science that is known as the diffusion of innovations, widely understood as being true throughout the world in every culture, every corporation, every business, every country, every church, every community. 16% of people are interested in things changing and getting better but to be honest, 84% of people love the comfort zone. They love the way we’ve always done it before. Why does the radio keep playing all this strange new music? And they’ve started to figure out if they want to make money, they play the music from when you were a teenager. It’s true. But here’s what that science of sociology says. The 84% of the people in the world, if you want their lives to change, if you want Jesus Christ to influence them, if you want them to come to Christ and follow Christ and find in Christ what you found in Christ, these 84%: They only change because of conversations with people they trust. In other words, with their neighbors, one of which is you. You have more influence over someone living down the street than the president of the United States. You have more influence over your neighbor than the actors who won the Academy Awards. You have more influence over people who know you than any celebrity, any famous person anywhere. You have more influence over your neighbors probably than a preacher. And this is why Jesus chose to work through you, because your conversations can change lives. And as you go through your day, you will find that God prepares you to be involved in conversations. And through those conversations, Jesus will help you. You will notice what you are to do right in front of you, that person who is right in front of you.

And so remember, there are four instructions. The first one is Jesus wants to work through you. Here’s number two. When you are with that person, what you want to do, Jesus was the model here, the first thing that you say is some form of peace be with you. Psychologists will call that being a non-anxious presence. There are all kinds of people. Some will come up to you and they will make you anxious just because of how nervous and anxious they are. What a wonderful thing it is to be a person who calms people down because you’re calm. Being a non-anxious presence basically means to be like Jesus.

And part of being a non-anxious presence could be these four things. The first one is to assume positive intent. We cause ourselves a lot of anxiety if we assume that this person who’s coming toward us wants to harm us, wants to accuse us, wants to criticize us, wants to pick a fight with us. It just might be that they don’t want to do those bad things today. Assume positive intent. And into that assumption, project calm and peace and listen in a caring way. A lot of the people you run into during the day will be having a wonderful day. That’s great. Rejoice with them. But sometimes you’ll notice there’s a thunderstorm. It’s raining on their eclipse. Could happen – not having a good day. Into that difficulty, send calm and peace, and project your own positive intent. I mean you no harm. That’s what Jesus did when he came into the presence of the disciples. Peace be with you. And all of a sudden, they began to feel safe. You’ll notice what you’re to do right in front of you.

The next instruction, and when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” In Luke, it says that they were to receive the understanding of the Word of God. Friends, we need to breathe in because we need to be guided by the Holy Spirit in these conversations. Now, I know you’re smart … but you’re not that smart, that the Holy Spirit can’t help you and guide you. You’ll notice what you are to do right in front of you. Sometimes you’re the one who listens, but sometimes you’re the one who tells your life, your stories. Sometimes God works through both.

Then finally, this one, if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. What a powerful thing it is to say as you listen to a person talk about their pain. What a powerful thing it is to pray, “Lord, forgive them. They know not what they do.” That’s what Jesus said from the cross, to pray for people to be forgiven.

Now, please don’t call me after 10 o’clock at night. But if you called me at 9:30 and said, “Oh, Pastor Dave, you won’t believe this, I met so-and-so and I prayed that God would forgive them.” Friends, I want to be honest with you. I would be thrilled because whoever they are, I know they need forgiveness. I know they need love. But I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know anyone who has told me that they’ve prayed for that. So-and-so has an illness like cancer. Well, I prayed for them. So-and-so lost their job. Well, I prayed for them. But in the whole reality of life, isn’t forgiveness even more important?

And not only that, sometimes, sometimes it’s possible … Sometimes it’s possible that you’ll be talking to someone who goes from one excuse to another about their bad behavior, about how even though they did this thing that is obviously wrong, the other person deserved it. Even though they did wrong, the other person deserved it because it’s all their fault. It couldn’t possibly be my fault. Every single one of us knows somebody who’s filled with one excuse after another for the bad things they do. And they tend to live lives that are full of suffering.
I think it’s rare, but it’s possible that you might pray, “Lord, hang in there with so-and-so until they learn their lesson because they need to know better.” Sometimes your prayer will be, “Lord, don’t forgive them just yet until their hearts have changed.” It could happen.

But those are our four instructions for walking in newness of life. Because you see, friends, as we go through this life, as Paul said in Romans 8, not everything is good. Not everything is good. But what Romans 28 says is that in everything, whether it’s good or not, in everything, no matter how bad it is, God works for good. In every difficult situation, you will find God working for good.

Now, please notice this next phrase. God works for good with those who love Him. Now, quite obviously, that’s God working for good with people who aren’t going through good things. But since today we’re talking about how God works through you, I’d like to ask you to let that phrase sink in as having a slightly extra meaning. In everything, God works for good with you to help them. God works for good with those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. And you are called to the the purpose of working with him. And as you walk in newness of life, God has a desire to do many little kind and good things through you. And you can trust God to coordinate what you said today with something that someone will say tomorrow, with something that they will read next week, and that everything will work together for good in their life because that’s what we’re here for.

Thy kingdom come. That’s what we’re here for.
Thy will be done, not someday or somewhere, but right here and right now.

Because as the Franciscans said, “You may be the only Bible that some people read.” May they find out about Jesus Christ from you. You may be the only Jesus that some people meet. May people see Jesus in you. Because in these days after the resurrection, God wants to show the Lord Jesus Christ to people who need Him desperately. And He’s chosen to do that through ordinary people like me and you.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, thank you that we can walk in newness of life. Thank you that we can see our lives be changed for the better, that we can see prayers be answered and miracles happen in our lives. But what kind of people would we be if we only cared about prayers being answered for us? If we were only concerned about healing and help for the problems that we have? Help us, Lord, to walk in newness of life and understand that just as the Father sent you, now, Lord, you are willing to send us and not only that, prepare the way for us so that as we go through our day, we can pray for the people who we encounter. And through conversations we have with them, Lord, You can work miracles in their life of love and joy and peace. And so, Lord, we pray for just that, for your kingdom to come, and your will to be done, here and now. 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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