Sermon 10/04/20: Tiny Healings (Kingdomtide IV)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 10/04/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Do You Wanna Be Well (Lyric Video/Live In Columbia, TN/2012)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHV1WoAkOXs

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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 Booth Brothers – Let the Healing Begin [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X8vok_mD9M

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: Tiny Healings
Text: John 20:21-23, Mark 2:6-12, Matthew 11:28-30
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Audio Sermon at Wesley UMC

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SERMON NOTES

 John 20:21 … As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Mark 2:1 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7 “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

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HYMN Joy Gardner – Healer In The House (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcq-R1bolpo

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

We’ve been standing in this grocery store aisle for several weeks now, talking about the fact that God uses ordinary people. God uses people like you and I to do God’s work.

And we’re very accustomed to the idea that God will work when we are in this building. We’re very accustomed to the idea that God will work through the organization of the church, the committees of the church, the mission teams that go out to do God’s work from the church. But in this season of the pandemic, it’s almost as if we need to remember even more powerfully– we need to not forget that God does not need a building to do God’s work. God does not need a committee to do God’s work.

If God has you, God can do what God wants to do every place you find yourself. So we’ve been talking about how God can flow through us in many little tiny ways and I’ve encouraged you to let God working through you to be a habit. So that you can be aware of the moment that God gives you to do some good thing that, just like a spark, God will blow upon it until it burns with a very bright light.

God can work through you and, in fact, there’s a real question if that’s not actually how God prefers to work because the church is on this corner. The food pantry is on that corner. But the reality is each one of us are on every corner and in every place spread throughout this entire town. It’s possible that God would prefer to work through you.

So here’s the reality. This is the picture early on that Sunday morning when the governor of Illinois said because of the pandemic it’s not safe for the churches to gather that Sunday morning where the bishop of our United Methodist Church said the last thing that we want to do is to be away that one person might give this virus to another for everyone’s safety. The church was not open and Christians had to be Christians somewhere else than in the church building. Now, of course, we’ll be back and here we are. I’m always astonished. I talk with other pastors on Facebook and there’s a great number of churches that are still not meeting face-to-face. I believe that the precautions that we take– because we take every possible precaution that we can. I believe that the precautions that we take make it safe for us to gather but there are those out there who have still not met together even outside since last spring.

Apparently, a pandemic can stop the church from working. Apparently, the pandemic can send church people home and keep them from gathering. Apparently, the government in its desire to keep people safe and the church government too, represented by the bishop, can close things down. But no pandemic, no government official can close a Christian down because God can still work through each one of us no matter where we are. The lights may be turned off, the building may be locked, but God is still at work through God’s people. One day the building will be back. It won’t be necessary to wear masks. We’ll be singing as loud as we can. All those things are in the future, but no pandemic could stop God from working through each of us even if it’s safer for us not to work together as a group. God can work through you.

Here’s the verse that lays the foundation for this, John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus said this to the 11 disciples. Jesus said this on Easter Sunday to those who met with the resurrected Christ. He didn’t say it to the institutional church because the institutional church hadn’t happened yet. Jesus did not say to the church, “I’m sending the church.” Jesus said, “I’m sending you, and I am sending you to do the same things that I did.” And the power of God we can assume this means will be flowing through you just as it flowed through me. Now I have a feeling they really had his attention when he said that.

But look at what he goes on to say. “And with that, he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.'” You see, when God works through you, it may be your feet that take you to a place, it may be your hands that do something with a wrench or a hammer, it may be your words that come into someone’s ear, but it’s the Holy Spirit that does the work. When you read the New Testament and all of Jesus’s actions and miracles, it is the Holy Spirit who does the work. Philippians chapter two said that Jesus left behind all of his godly attributes until what was left was empty, entirely human. It says, “He emptied himself and was born in the form of a servant in the likeness of man.” Jesus left behind in heaven all the god part of him, so that when he was on this earth, he was no more powerful than anyone of you are. But the Holy Spirit working through him was more powerful than anything we have seen since Jesus walked this earth. I am sending you, but receive the Holy Spirit. Know that it’s the Holy Spirit that is doing the work.

And then, verse 23, comes this incredibly odd statement, “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” And I’ve said this for several weeks now: how many of us realize that the ministry that God calls us to do is to walk out in the world and when we come across a person, “Your sins are forgiven. Your sins are forgiven”? And I don’t know who it would be but it’s possible that we would come across someone and we might say, “Your sins are not forgiven.” But what we want is for sins to be forgiven. And Jesus Christ gave you and I that as a job, “I am sending you out to forgive people’s sins.” Or if they haven’t learned their lesson, I guess, maybe we’re being sent to not forgive them. But that’s not something that we deeply think about. We know we’re supposed to love our neighbor. We need to keep in mind that the most beautiful way that you can love your neighbor is to do whatever is necessary for God to forgive their sins. That’s a ministry given to us.

Jesus sends us, and Jesus sends us to do that in the grocery aisles and hardware stores, and as you walk up and down the street for a little bit of exercise in the open air. I’ve suggested that you make this a habit and, in a tiny way, do this as a habit. Let the anchor which is, “I’m going for a walk,” or, “I see someone,” let that be a thing that would stimulate you to a habit of prayer, that would stimulate you to be aware of their attitudes and your attitudes, that would stimulate you to be grateful. Tiny gratitudes. And when people are hurting or need some little bit of help, tiny mercies. Because when you do those acts of kindness, when you pray for their emotional state, their attitudes, you will draw people to you. You’ll have a little flock of people that you’ll pray for because God will continually bring the same people around you to receive your prayers and your ministry.

And from those prayers there will be tiny healings. And maybe some big healings also. This is what you’re here after, this is who you’re here after. When you are within 10 feet of a person, you pray “Lord, I ask you to help them. Lord, I ask you to forgive them. Lord, I give you thanks for everything you’re already doing in that person’s life.”

Even if they’re a stranger because, as we talked about last week, God will tend to bring the same people around. You’ll just pray for them once, but it’ll turn out that this man works with your brother in law, or he’s distantly related to your next-door neighbor. But that God will bring the same person back. And you will have the chance to continue to change their lives through tiny prayers.

But let’s talk about this question of healing. There was a case in Mark chapter 2, where a whole lot of religious people surrounded Jesus because they wanted to see Jesus do a miracle. Jesus was inside of a house. Back then they made houses with thatched roof, with roofs that were made out of sticks. And Jesus was inside the house, and all these religious people were all gathered around him. They were sitting in the doorway. They were standing around outside looking through the doors and hey, guess what, these people all wanted to see a miracle.

And a sick man comes up and he can’t get in the room where Jesus is. Why? It’s crowded with people who want to watch. So you know what they do? They go up on the roof and move the sticks away. Now, if you hear the sound of a power saw, we don’t want anybody cutting through our roof! But back in those days it wasn’t that hard to fix the roof. But they lowered this paralyzed man down in front of Jesus. And from that we are going to receive a lesson on healing. Now this is very early in the ministry of Jesus. It’s something he wanted people to understand.

So in verse 5, Jesus says when he saw their faith– whose faith? The faith of the people who were willing to lower the man through the roof. You see, it doesn’t have to be the sick person’s faith. The faith be in the people around them. It can be your faith when you’re praying for that man in the grocery store aisle. Your faith can activate the power of God. When Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven.”

What an odd thing to say. It’s almost as if your sins being forgiven is what causes healing to happen. And, of course, immediately, in the crowd, there were people who said “stop, stop Jesus! This isn’t how you heal people. This isn’t how you help people. Let us explain to you what is proper!” They can’t do it, but they’re going to tell Jesus how he has to do it! Do you have anybody that you know, your neighbor, or relative who’s like that? They want to tell you how to do it even if they don’t know themselves. “Why does this fellow talk like that? He can’t forgive sins. He’s blaspheming. Only God could forgive sins.”

And of course, Jesus, from their facial expressions, and also because the Holy Spirit is telling him. Jesus knows what they’re thinking. He knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and so he addresses that. He says to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to this paralyzed man, “Your sins are forgiven,” or say, “The healing has happened. It’s time for you to get up, take your mat and walk”? But I want you to know Jesus said and Jesus wants us to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. Jesus was given the authority by the Father to forgive sins when he encountered them as he went to and fro upon the earth. So he said to the man, “I tell you. Get up, take your mat and go home.” And he did and everyone was amazed. “We’ve never seen anything like this!” But I think the point that Jesus wants us to understand is this kind of amazing thing – a miracle! – begins with forgiveness. Forgiveness releases the power of God.

And so fast forward to Easter Sunday, as the Father has sent me to give forgiveness, I’m sending you. And on down through history till today, God is still sending us to ask for forgiveness for people. And on that rare case that something is so evil that it cannot be forgiven pronounced death, the power of God is released, I want to suggest, through forgiveness. So when we say those tiny prayers that result in healing, let’s keep forgiveness in mind, and let’s go just a little bit beyond that. There is a thing called the placebo. I’ve mentioned it before. You may have read about it. When they test a medicine to see if a medicine works, they give a new medicine to 100 people. And what they discovered– you see, some people get the medicine and some people get a placebo, which is like a water pill, a sugar pill. What they’ve discovered is on average, 30% of people, no matter what the illness, get better from nothing but their faith that this pill will work. 30%!

Now, I’m not much of a gambler. But if there was a one out of three chance that Diet Dr Pepper could cure me, I’m going for it since Diet Dr Pepper is cheap! [laughter] If there is a one out of three chance that chocolate will prevent some kind of illness, I’m ready to load up on chocolate. But the placebo effect, which may underlie many miracles in your life going all the way back to Jesus’s life– the placebo effect relies upon three things to work.

The first one is what you believe, what the man in the grocery store aisle believes.
The second one is the belief of the authority, the doctor, the expert, you, the person praying for them. Do you believe that your prayers will work?
And the other thing that increases the other person’s faith is that there is a relationship between the person giving the medicine and the person receiving. So I want to encourage you to pray that way. Lord, help them to have faith! And to pray in such a way that a relationship can happen between you and the person you’re praying for, to where they believe in you, they believe in what you say, and they believe in God. That’s the placebo effect.

There is also what’s known as the nocebo effect. The nocebo effect is the idea that “if you drink Diet Dr. Pepper it will give you cancer.” Here’s the point. If you believe that strong enough, you can make it happen. Consequently, I have decided that nothing I like to eat causes any bad thing to ever happen to me … because I want to keep on eating it! But if you listen to other people, and we probably all know people like this, they read on Facebook, or they read on the Internet, that regular tea will kill you, but green tea will heal you. That you need to stay away from gasoline and only drive cars that run on diesel. And they want to give you this never-ending list of horrible things that will happen to you if you eat a piece of chocolate. Watch out for that, friends – because what you believe can come to have power over you. So believe that Jesus Christ is Lord over everything and surrender yourself to Him.

But sometimes our prayers are answered, not just because God is powerful and the Holy Spirit is at work, but because our faith has a power. So when you pray for someone, pray that God would increase their faith.

Not only that – you’ve heard me say this before too – there’s a psychiatrist, David Burns, he does brilliant work. But one of his famous sayings is that hope is the most powerful antidepressant. This is a difficult time, this pandemic that we’re going through, it wears all of us down. And it’s possible you may have been tempted to take some medication to keep you calm and less worried, and if that’s what you feel is the right thing to do, you should do that. But the point that Dr. Burns makes is that if you have hope that life will get better, it will help lift you up out of depression. Hope is the most powerful antidepressant.

So when you pray for someone, pray for their hope to grow because faith, that’s the placebo effect, hope, which lifts people out of despair, the Bible says that faith and hope and love, which is you praying for people, that’s what will last forever.

And in fact, we talk about the fruit of the spirit. You can always pray that someone would benefit from the fruit of the spirit. … Lord, please give this person love and joy and peace. Lord, please help this person to be kind, and patient, and gentle. Lord, please help this person to be good, to have self-control, and to be faithful. We can pray for the fruit of the Spirit to grow, and we can pray for emotional wounds to be healed.

It’s astonishing how easy it is for us to pray. For God to heal a broken bone. But it never occurs to us to ask God to heal a broken heart. How easy it is for us to pray for someone to be able to find a job! But how it never occurs to us that praying for someone to find better friends is not something we could do. Bert Lancaster, a minister who’s now in heaven, he once said that, “In every pew in every church there’s someone with a broken heart.”

And friends, you and I can pray that God would heal broken-hearted people as easily as we can pray that God would actually heal broken hearts through surgery, bypass surgery, stents, or some other procedure. But the emotional wounds that people so often carry through their life and lead them into great difficulty. A lot of times, they don’t seem like appropriate things that we should pray for. Let’s pray for people who have broken hearts.

When you’re standing in that aisle… I saw this quote this week. Emily Post, the famous lady for etiquette, proper manners. She once said that “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use. And if you can be aware of what other people are feeling, that will help you to be aware of how you can pray so that God can work.

Here’s what I think. Just as the tide comes in, just as the tide flows out, I think the Holy Spirit flows like a tide within our life. I think if we make a commitment to not quench the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, like a tide, will cause us to flow towards certain people. And through our prayers, God can do miracles in their life. As we love God, and we love our neighbors through how we pray for our neighbors. And we’ll be able to see little tiny prayers become a mountain of little tiny healing that will flow like the tide throughout everyone we know in this life. Throughout every community in which we’re a part!

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus. Thank you for breathing upon us and telling us to receive the Holy Spirit. We do. Thank you for giving us this ministry of praying that others would be forgiven. Lord, help us to do that. Help us to be aware of their feelings, but Lord help us also to be aware of your feelings and how you are pushing us in gentle ways like the tide toward this person or this person or this person. To pray for what is broken, to be mended. To pray for whatever illness is present to be healed. To pray for their sins to be forgiven. To pray that they would find new life in their faith in you and in following you, just as we have. We ask these things 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.
 

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Funeral Sermon 9/29/20: Thelma Jones

Funeral Sermon 9/29/20: Thelma Jones

Service Sandy Branch Cemetery – 10:30 am
Link for the audio sermon – click here.
(A new window will open; click on the > triangle to play.)

Thelma’s Obituary:

Thelma Runyon Jones, age 80 of Salem, passed away on Saturday September 26, 2020 at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Effingham.

Thelma was born on October 21, 1939, in Salem, Illinois. She was the daughter of Merle and Frances (Wimberly) Runyon. Her mother passed away when Thelma was four years old and she and three siblings, Jim, Bill, and Carolyn, were raised by their grandparents Albert and Mary Wimberly.

Thelma was baptized by immersion into Christ’s fellowship on December 14, 1958. She enjoyed talking to people, especially young children, and babies. She also helped with the formation of the neighborhood food pantry in Kinmundy several years ago.

She owned and operated Thelma’s Beauty Land beauty shop in Kinmundy for many years where she made many friends. Thelma was a Charter member of Rho Beta Sigma Phi. In past years she enjoyed cooking for her family and friends, especially during the holiday season.

She married Cecil L. Jones on August 4, 1956 in Mt. Vernon, Illinois and he survives her in Salem.

Also surviving are her children, Lee Jones and wife Mary of Centralia and Tom Jones and wife Sue of Effingham, grandchildren, Leah Blomberg and husband Frank of Farina and Matt Bushue and wife Carrie of Kinmundy; step grandchildren, Major Ian Goodman of California, Linda Bushue of Salem, Crystal Stuckemeyer and husband Daron of Altamont, Heather Bushue of Effingham, Cassie Rinker of Festus, MO; son-in-law, Wayne Bushue of Kinmundy; sister, Carolyn Runyon of Salem; a brother, Bill Runyon and wife Rosetta of Salem; half-sisters, Terry Campbell of Cartter and Judy Rhodes of New Mexico; half-brother, Mike Runyon and wife Glennda of Centralia. She is also survived by sisters-in-law, Phyllis Jones, Joan Jones, Janice Jones, Mary Jones, and Lenora Jones, and brothers-in-law, Dean Jones, Don Jones, Richard Jones, and John Jones. She also leaves behind numerous great grandchildren; and special friends, Bud and Norma Alberson; and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

She was preceded in death by her daughter, Mary Bushue; granddaughter, Erica Bushue; a brother, Jim Runyon; in-laws, Helen and Jack Cox, Harold Jones, Kathryn Jones, Dwight and JoAnn Jones, and Bill and Mary Lee Jones.

Private family graveside services will be held on Tuesday September 29, 2020 at the Sandy Branch Cemetery in Kinmundy with Rev. David Kueker officiating. Those in attendance are asked to please wear a mask and abide by social distancing recommendations. Memorial contribution can be made to the Shriners Children Hospital of St. Louis, the Sandy Branch Cemetery, or the donor’s choice and can be left at Crouse Funeral Home who is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at www.CrouseFH.com.

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Sermon 09/27/20: Tiny Flocks (Kingdomtide III)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 09/27/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – More Than Ever [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GcihwpFWkE

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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 Gaither Vocal Band – Gentle Shepherd [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej5cXox_50k

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: Tiny Flocks
Text: Mat 22:39; John 13:1-17, 34-35; John 20:19
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mat 22:39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

John 13:12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

John 20:21 … As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

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HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Where No One Stands Alone (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktjRlDYE3Gw

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

It’s a beautiful thing, if you’re a sheep, to be aware that you have a shepherd. It’s a beautiful thing, if you’re a Christian, for you to be aware – when times are difficult – that you have a Savior. To be aware when you’re not quite sure what to do, which choice to make, which direction to go, for you to feel the guidance of your Lord who will lead you, as Psalm 23 says, in the right paths. It’s a wonderful thing to have someone who loves you so much to be your shepherd in this life.

Now we’ve been standing in a grocery line for several weeks now, dealing with the reality that the way churches have always done it before, our way of having activities and programs and committees and mission trips where we get a whole bunch of people together and then we work together to do something … That, unfortunately, in a pandemic, we can’t do what we used to do.

But that doesn’t mean that you are helpless as a Christian. You can still do everything now with a pandemic, with your face mask on, that you did before in terms of what you do to do God’s work. Instead of doing it as an institution, however, now it’s just us. You and me. And Jesus is right there in that grocery line. He is ready to work through you out there on the mission field which is every place outside this building.

And so we’ve been talking about how to do that and I’ve encouraged you to ask the question, “Who is around me?” and, “What does God want to do?” Because sometimes the person in front of you at the grocery store line, or someone else you’ve seen somewhere, maybe there’s something about their groceries that’s like, “Oh, I got to pray for them.” But you will feel moved to pray for that person. Please do that. It’s probably the Lord Jesus Christ tapping you on the shoulder.

But not only that, you may feel moved to say something. Please do that. Because you may be the person who speaks with a voice of God into their life. Please do that.

But today I want to talk to you about another very interesting reality. The person in front of you in the grocery store line might seem like a stranger, but the odd thing about the person that Jesus draws us toward is you’re probably going to run into them again. And you’ll probably see them, maybe in the grocery store. Maybe it’ll turn out that you work with his brother; maybe it’ll turn out that they live a block over from you in the town where you live. When Jesus Christ draws us to pray for someone, it’s often because we’re already connected to them or, surprise, there’s a connection we don’t know even know about.

Because when Jesus ministered to people, you could read it all the way through the gospels: He created a relationship with them that continued. And God works through relationships.

Let me talk just a minute about mission trips. There’s nothing wrong with mission trips. Mission trips are a wonderful experience. We get together in a big group and we go, as this group has done down to the inner city. Maybe we go to another country. Maybe we go to Appalachia to work with the poor. But we’ve all gotten together to do something to help someone. We’re not able to do that now in a pandemic. And people who are a part of an adventure like this will honestly call it an adventure. They will tell you that it was a life changing event when they traveled to Costa Rica to build an orphanage where a missionary would help those orphans find Christ. That the people who received them were so appreciative and thankful. It gave them this huge, happy blessing to serve the Lord. And for the week, two weeks, however long they’re there, it would feel to them like heaven had come to Earth.

But you know what happens? They have to go home and that can be a problem, because Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors and we have this very human desire to love people who we will never ever see again in this life. To love people who are total and complete strangers.

Now, do you know why? First of all, they are so amazed by how holy and wonderful we are. You know why? Because they don’t see us back here at home. It’s a Christian thing to want to get up in front of a crowd of people and tell them how wonderful Jesus is, but hide from those very same people how much you struggle yourself back home. It’s a form of hypocrisy. And it feels so good to talk about Jesus in the presence of people who don’t know any of your problems, and so we’re drawn to that.

We admire someone who gets up on an airplane – I would hate to try to do that today – and gives a sermon to the people on the airplane: You need to ask yourself, “If this plane crashes, where will you spend eternity?” I actually read in a book how that was the recommended way to do evangelism! But you see, here’s the problem, the commandment is not to witness to strangers. The commandment is to love your neighbor. And I don’t think that you can love without creating a relationship.

So the problem, and it’s a temptation for preachers too because we’re up here in front of people. It’s a temptation to feel all that love and appreciation but not be honest about what you’re going through. And so consequently, there is a temptation to prefer to reach out to strangers who will never see again than to reach out to our actual neighbors who actually know us even at our worst.

This temptation is one that I’ve talked about for over 20 years. I call it stranger evangelism. It’s so much easier for us to talk about our faith with someone we’ll never see again. And conversely, so difficult to talk about our faith with someone who we will see every week, if not every day. It’s a human thing. But you see, here’s the problem, random acts of kindness to total strangers that we will never see again where no ongoing relationships develop where that person would never expect us to be kind to them again because what if we weren’t in the mood to be nice. We’re kind once and then we turn our back and walk away leaving that person who’s been blessed, saying goodbye and dealing with, “Wow, they’re so wonderful. I will never see them again.”

As I said, the command is that we need to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. And that implies a relationship grows. If you, as Jesus did, wash the feet of people … if you do a kindness at the right time, if you do something that really helps them, a relationship develops. And if you do it because Jesus told you to do it, it becomes a relationship in which faith is a part. And so Jesus says to his own disciples, I’m the teacher, I’m the Lord, but I wash your feet; if I wash your feet, you ought to wash the feet of other people. Because a servant is not greater than his master and I’m among you, Jesus said in another place, as one who serves. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. That’s a little bit more than thinking about them. That’s a little bit more than planning to do them. That’s a little bit more than having good intentions. Blessed are you, if you do them.

Jesus then says later on in the chapter a new commandment I given to you that you love one another even as I have loved you. And if you do this, everyone will know that you are my disciples … because this is how people who don’t know Jesus recognize someone and realize that they do know Jesus as Lord and Savior. And because love creates relationships, they develop not only a relationship with you, but also with your Savior, as they want the same relationship for themselves. And so Jesus washed his feet. Jesus loves people, and he says to the disciples, “I want you to do the same thing. I’ve given you an example.”

And Jesus is even more explicit in John 20. In these words that come from Easter, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” We’ve been talking about this for a year. The basic reality is that everything Jesus did, Jesus is now sending you to do … in small ways, but the same thing.

And now with those tiny things, He is going to help you. Look at verse 22, “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.‘” The Holy Spirit will go with you and do the heavy lifting.

And notice what you’re supposed to be doing. Look at verse 23! “If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven. If you do not forgive anyone’s sins, they are not forgiven.” I would be very surprised if, throughout this past week, you’ve been thinking to yourself, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I forgave the sins of every person I came in contact with because Scripture says they would be forgiven?” Not to just forgive the people who harm you, not just the people who act rudely around you, not just the people who are mean to you (because there are people like that), but to be someone who, when you walk into a place, you say, “Jesus Christ is Lord.” And under your breath, perhaps not out loud, you look at everyone who’s there, and you say to yourself, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus is sending you to do the exact same thing that he did in a small way, but the exact same thing.

“I came,” Jesus said, “That they might have life, and they might have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” And now, Jesus says, “I’m sending you to be a shepherd.” And the tiny mercies you do – that was the sermon last week – as you shepherd, people will begin to create a tiny flock because kindness and love create ongoing relationships.

Now, we pray this Centering Prayer every week. And I have taught this prayer for over 20 years. And I have said to people in online classes … tell me about the people who have blessed you in your life. Who have been the ones to help you spiritually when you have felt alone and in great need? And as people tell me who has been that person for them, well, I frequently discover it is a great empty vacant place in their lives. There weren’t people like that in their life. And so when they read this 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... They want to be the little kid. Who feels the comfort of walking with the Savior. And they become aware that they want someone in their life to be that big brother that they can trust. Who will take care of them?

You know what’s astonishing. It never occurs to them. That they can be that person for someone else. Now, of course, at the center of everything, it’s all about us until we grow up and realize that we’re not the only ones who– I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life — but we don’t realize how we can help someone else find Jesus and He can become the center of their life.

We still yearn for someone who will guide us. To all that is good. To help us to turn away from everything that is not good. When we fall in the mud to help us get clean. We yearn for that person to be in our life. But we seldom realize that we can be that person in someone else’s life.

We yearn for someone to teach us to do what we don’t know how to do. But we rarely realize that God might wish to use us to help others to learn. Teach me your ways, Lord. Form in me your nature. If Christ forms in you his nature then you will realize that you are to be like Him with others because this is exactly what he did.

Help me to serve you as I am gifted. We’re all gifted in different ways. Friends, I want to tell you with all the honesty in the world, you don’t want me weeding your garden. I want to tell you with all the honesty in the world, you don’t want me working on the engine of your car. I’m the kind of person who thinks if we took this tube and hooked it up over here instead of over there, what would happen? (By the way, you know the answer to that question? Nothing good!) You don’t want me mowing your yard. My mom asked me to mow the yard, and I went out and mowed it, and she said, “Dave, you see those long strips where you missed places?” “Well, I see them now!” You don’t want me helping you.

But each one of us has something that we’re good at, and we want God to show us what it is and help us to develop those gifts. But it rarely occurs to us that if we’re going to be like Jesus, then we’ll help other people to understand what their gifts are. Oh, you have a beautiful voice. I love to hear you sing. Oh, you are so good with that lawnmower. I would love for you to mow my yard. Or at least “You really know what you’re doing!” Do you understand how few people ever get appreciated, how few people ever get thanked for the good stuff they do, how rarely people are told, “Wow. You really did a wonderful job there.” If you want to see somebody smile out there in public, a waitress, a cook, the person checking you out at the grocery store, tell them what a great job they do. You may be the only person that day who actually appreciated them.

Help me to notice my neighbors. See, that’s what we’re talking about. And work through me to redeem my neighborhood. You know when the innkeeper turns away Mary and Joseph, who is it that God sends to be with them? The shepherds. God is still in the business of sending shepherds and asking you to be those shepherds to help people.

We all need that hand that reaches up that holds us steady. When I see a kid standing on a car like this, I want to run over there and be that hand, but, of course, you don’t want to put your hands on somebody else’s child. But you can be the hand that holds someone steady. And God wants you to use you. Or God wants to use you to help someone in that way.

I am a sinner, Lord. Please be my shepherd and help me to be a shepherd to others. Please be my Savior and help me help others know that there is a Savior. And please be my Lord and help me to demonstrate by the way I live that there is a Lord who will help us every day. Amen.

You see, we are not only people who receive in a major way, but we are also people who give back in little ways. And God can do miraculous things through all the little ways that we love our neighbor. So I like to invite you just to consider: Who did you possibly shepherd this past week? Who had a better life or a happier day because you spoke to them? Who did you pray for? Who did you say, “Lord, forgive them their sins,” just like Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them.” Did that happen?

Well, if it didn’t happen last week, why don’t we consider causing it to happen on purpose this week? Because if you are kind to people, you will find that they will want to hang around with, and you’ll draw this little flock of sheep that will follow you everywhere you go. If you shepherd them, they’ll come with you.

I love this final slide because, if we do what God wants us to do, there will always be someone riding along with us. There will be someone in our back seat on the journey of faith with us.

Lord Jesus, help us to notice our neighbor. Help us to be people who realize that we are sent to be a blessing in the same way that you came to be a blessing to us. And in little ways that are appropriate for the situation, in little ways that are a perfect fit for how you have made us as people, help us to be this shepherding loving influence to the people around us who literally are our neighbors. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Friends, let us let the Shepherd live through us. 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.
 

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HYMN OF THE DAY … template

HYMN OF THE DAY … title
https://www . youtube .com…

This hymn inspired out worship Sunday morning 9/20/20.

What does it mean to [quote]?

Scripture

Note

Sources
You can read the lyrics here:

Here’s an article that discusses the possible meanings.

Check out other versions of the song in the column to the right … is there one you like very much? Share it in the comments.

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Sermon 09/20/20: Tiny Mercies (Kingdomtide II)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 09/20/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Bread Upon the Water [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9jF6jGLfCg

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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 Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haase & Signature Sound – Give It Away (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUfcasIspAY

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: Tiny Mercies
Text: John 13:1-17, 34-35; Mat 22:39; James 2:14-18
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mat 22:39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 

John 13:1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. 

6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” 8 Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.” 

12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. 18 But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.

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HYMN Gaither Vocal Band – Sow Mercy [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=httACYMAokw

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

Photo by ADimages via Pixabay.

TRANSCRIPT

We’ve been standing in this grocery aisle now for several weeks talking about how to be the church out there. And I want to tell you very honestly, it’s not possible for you to be the church out there in the grocery aisle, but it is possible for you to be a Christian out there in the grocery aisle. And as the song said, “Throw your heart wide open,” and what God puts on your heart, give it away … because if you can be a Christian out there, then the work of the church continues.

“What am I hereafter?” You’re going up and down the aisles. “Lord, where’s the coffee? Can’t remember where the coffee is. What am I hereafter?” Going up and down the aisles. “Oh, darn, the cookies my wife wanted me to buy. They don’t have them anymore. Wonder what she wants. What am I hereafter?”

Did it ever occur to you when you are going up and down the aisles in the grocery store, you might be there after something other than just the food you put in the cart? Because it could be in that place, the Lord Jesus Christ has a task for you to do beyond simply gathering the food for your own table.

“What am I hereafter?” Well, you know the quickest way to figure out the answer? Look not at what is there, but look at who is there because this is how God works. “Who am I thereafter?” is most likely going to be God’s focus. Sometimes God, needs you to minister to you.

But it’s very possible that there is a person who is in the grocery store at that moment. It’s not a coincidence because you will have the opportunity to provide a tiny little bit of mercy to them that will help them get through their day. It might be nothing more than a smile. It might be just a thank you. It might be something else you would say, particularly, if this is someone you know. Because you see, there are neighbors that you know, and there are neighbors that are strangers until you get to know them. But God’s will for your life, most of the time, involves a who more than a what. Because God loves people.

And more often than not, God chooses us to be the method by which God’s love is delivered. Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Oh, now that I have your attention, now that you’re going to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you know what God says? Now, I want you to pay attention to your neighbor. You, not the church, not the government not the social work agency. Not the Department of Children and Family Services. Not the soup kitchen or the food pantry. They may help your neighbor but you, you, you personally are asked to love your neighbor.

Every now and then I talked to my dad about people who needed help. I would talk to my dad about people who were poor. And my dad would look at me, and honest to God, this is a truth from my teenage years. My dad would look at me and say, “That’s why I pay taxes. And that’s all I need to do to take care of anybody who’s in need because I pay taxes. And it’s the government’s job to take care of my neighbor.” Well, this scripture would indicate that it’s my job and your job and we can’t delegate it to the government. We can’t even delegate it to the church. It’s our job.

Remember this TV show? (An image from the TV show “God Friended Me” is on the screen.) There are Westerns, here are cop shows, there are soap operas. There’s actually a name for this kind of TV show. It’s called The Good Samaritan Genre. Where someone is asked to be the Good Samaritan. And they always pick someone unusual, someone who doesn’t look like an angel that goes around helping people be touched by an angel. Or you’ve gotten Michael Landon and that guy who was with him (that didn’t look like he’d been in church his whole life), but God wanted to use them. And in this show who does God pick to love people? An atheist. Seems kind of ironic to me that the last episode that they showed was just as the pandemic was taking off. But this young man who’s an atheist would get a signal on his cell phone that he was supposed to help someone who most of the time he didn’t even know. But God would get his attention and point him to a person.

Now, it’s a part of the TV show genre that it’s an atheist because that seems interesting to us. But it’s worth doing just a little bit of thinking … why would God call on an atheist to do God’s work even if it’s on a TV show? What advantage might there be to that?

Here’s one explanation. In the dissertation I did way back in 2007 I called this the Institutional Two-Step, implying that it was like a dance like the Texas two-step. That when Jesus gives a command to his followers like you are to love your neighbor, we do with that command something that we shouldn’t do. There are two steps.

First step is this, Jesus told me to do something. What I need to do is create an institution that will do God’s work. I need to create an institution that will fulfill the commandment that Jesus Christ gave. Why? Isn’t it more efficient if we work together? Isn’t it more efficient if we get organized? Because we can hire staff, and we can rent buildings, and we can just do a whole lot more of this God stuff if we do it as an institution.

And then once they create an institution, step number two, they delegate the fulfillment of God’s commands, they delegate obedience to what Jesus asked us to do to the institution, and then support the institution. It’s no longer my job to love my neighbor. That’s why we have the church. And while the church loves the neighbors, the pastors who’ve been to seminary and staff members who are brilliant at youth work and children’s work– as the church loves our neighbors, all I’m asked to do is to support the church. It’s no longer my job. I’ve delegated it to the institutional church. And, friends, here’s the problem with that. What has the pandemic done? It has interfered with every institution doing its job. And it’s interfered with the institutional church as well.

But it’s not the institutional church that is asked to obey Jesus Christ, even though it should. The command comes to us. And we cannot delegate it to the government, to the Department of Children and Family Services. We can’t even delegate obeying God to the church. The command comes to us.

But some would say, “You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I, by my work, will show you my faith.” At some point in time, your faith is going to require you and me to actually do something, not just a matter of believing, not just a matter of showing up for worship, not just a matter of supporting the church financially or even getting involved. From time to time, our faith is going to require you and me to be the one to wash feet.

Now, where does that come from? John 13, at the conclusion of Jesus’s ministry, when he’s drawing everything together and explaining really important things to the disciples, he does this. Jesus rises from supper. He lays aside his garments, and he wraps himself with a long towel around his waist. And then he pours water into a basin and begins to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the very towel with which he’s clothed, the task of the lowest, humblest servant in the household. Philippians 2, which we looked at a couple of weeks ago, says that Jesus humbled himself and took the form of a servant. And when he had washed their feet and taken his garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you – take a look at verse 13 – “You. You call me teacher and Lord, and you are right for so I am. If I then, your Lord and teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet for I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master. Nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.” If you know these things, blessed are you, if you do them. You and I will have an opportunity to do a tiny kindness, a little mercy, to people around us.

Jesus commands us to do that. In verse 34, he makes it very explicit, “A new commandment I give … not to the church! A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you. That you also love one another.” In other words, as you read through the scripture, whenever Jesus did something, we get to do that. He did it in a big way; maybe you’ll do it in a tiny way. A tiny mercy. But we get to do that. He has set an example for us. Such that, verse 35, “By this, all people everywhere will know that you are my disciples.”

You see, in the picture on the screenl somebody is washing feet. Well, it’s Jesus. But it just might also be you.

And you see, here’s our problem with that. We’re used to the idea that institutions take care of details. Somebody is going to say, “It’ll be a whole lot more efficient if we organize a foot-washing agency, a foot-washing ministry. We can rent that empty storefront downtown. We can put it in new water pipes. We could wash 10 times as many people’s feet in an hour. We could have times posted on the door when they could come by and get their feet washed. We could hire an administrator to run this thing. We could just do a whole lot more if we made it an institution.”

But that’s not what Jesus wanted. This was meant to be something not for you to organize, not for pastors to institutionalize, but for you and I to do as a small kindness, a tiny mercy directly to specific people. Because here’s the problem: when we institutionalize anything, the institution will fail to accomplish the task. Because there they are in that building down on Main Street, whereas if every Christian everywhere was doing God’s will, God’s will would be done everywhere. On earth as it is in heaven.

And so the church fails. The church fails people. The church inadequately fulfills God’s commands, and people out there blame the church, and people inside the church blame the church for something that’s not really the church’s job.

And so Christians say, “Somebody needs to be washing those feet. Isn’t that what we pay the pastor to do? Somebody needs to wash those feet. Why don’t we have a foot-washing committee? Somebody needs to wash those feet. The government ought to provide that service.” In one way or another, we say, “What Jesus asked us to do is not my problem.” Friends, what Jesus asked us to do is asked of us. And we cannot delegate it. It’s meant to be not an organization but a bunch of tiny people doing tiny things to fulfill God’s will, and they all mount up and pile up and more gets done.

But you know something? We’re can feel a little bit like this little kid in the Superman outfit going down the road. You see the plane crashing up ahead. We feel like God is asking too much from us. We feel that God has asked us to do things that are incredibly difficult and beyond our ability. We think to ourselves, “Who does God think we are? This problem needs a genius. I’m not a genius. This person needs a therapist. I’m not a therapist. This person needs a miracle, and I’m certainly not a miracle worker. Who does God think we are to expect this of us?” And I’ll be honest with you. It’s not the best question.

The better question when you feel overwhelmed by life, or that God wants you to do something, is this one; who do we think God is? Because … if the tender mercy is for you to give a cup of hot coffee to a homeless person when the windchill in Minneapolis is 40 below, who do you think God is? Somebody else will bring the coffee. Somebody else will pay for the coffee. Somebody else will make the coffee. Your part in the mercies of God may be as small a thing as simply being the hand that holds the cup.

If we trusted God to take care of everything that felt like it was beyond us … to where we were willing to do our little part, whether it’s to buy the coffee or make the coffee or pour the coffee. If we trusted God to handle the complexity, how much good would happen if you and I were simply the hand that gives the cup of coffee to the person in need. God will take care of everything that’s beyond us, if we’re willing to do the tiny mercy. The part that belongs to us.

But the problem, I think, is not so much that the mercy is tiny. I think we’re very capable. The problem, I think, is more of the fact that we don’t realize that here and now is the time for us to do that tiny mercy. It would be wonderful if a notification would go off in your cell phone and you get this message and it would say, “You see that guy in front of you, he’s having a hard day. He had an argument with his wife. His children are upset with him. I want you to smile at him and tell him that God loves him.” Wouldn’t it be great if it was that explicit?

But if you throw your heart wide open and you’re ready to give away what God has put into your heart, to show kindness, to sow mercy, I don’t know that you need God to send you a message on your phone, unless you’re an atheist.

Maybe if you just open your heart, you’ll get a sense that this guy, this guy’s the one. And maybe all you’re supposed to do is pray for him. Pray for him when you have lunch, pray for him later that day, pray for him tomorrow morning. Maybe that’s all you’re supposed to do … today. Because – guess what? You may find out he lives down the street. And you’ll get to show him another tender mercy. And then another.

When we ask ourselves, “Lord, what is Your will?” I pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” When we say to ourselves, “Lord, what is Your will?” the answer might be more about a who than a what. And then, when we throw our hearts wide open and when we look at who is around us, we may realize in our heart who needs the word of kindness, who needs a little bit of mercy.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, certainly, it’s important that we get everything into the cart that we need. Certainly, Lord, it is important that we buy everything that’s on sale before the store runs out of it. But in the midst of all the things that we are focused on, help us to remember that You ask us to love our neighbors. And that includes the person in line in front of us and the person in line behind us. And in fact, Lord, the people all around us, no matter where we are. Help us Lord, to be able to throw our hearts wide open and have the sense that we are being drawn perhaps only to pray for a specific person. Help us Lord, to understand that as we pray, You will do the heavy lifting and everything we feel that is beyond us. But Lord, if we can simply be a Christian in that place at that time, Your will will be done. Because Your will is focused on the people that You want to reach. And so we pray Lord that You will teach us how to experience and be a giver of tiny mercies to people who need them most. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 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.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Deep Word Writing Project Template

Deep Word Writing Project Template
Title:

Quote:

[1] Source:

Note:

Questions: (input for note)
– SOW Questions
– Monroe’s Mountain questions
– Heath Made to Stick evaluation: SUCCESS

FLOW (Clarity of) Goals:
Satisfaction level today:

Set up plans to allow flow …
Achieve GTD Engagement and Execution clarity: WTD.
Plan for the 8 requirements of flow.
Outline the necessary planning steps to create the path toward conclusion.

FLOW:
THE PLAYING FIELD & RULEBOOK
1. Clarity of goals* and immediate feedback*
2. A high level of concentration on a limited field*
3. Balance between skills and challenge. Do-able. Within reach.#
4. FLOW: Go down the checklist* (at your best speed#) and SCORE!

FLOW CHECKLIST #1
1. Select item for focus now.
2. Add template
THIS IS THE PLAYING FIELD
3. Review quote … fix typos.
4. Title and subheads – draw game boundary lines (highlighted quotes)
GENERATE MATERIAL – RUN PLAYS
Template questions – SOW Questions – Monroe’s Mountain questions – Heath Made to Stick questions = plays
9. Conclusion – 2 yard line. Call to Action.
CLEAN UP
10. Editorial review – Spell check
11. Publish and celebrate

AoI/CS: Deep Work = read and respond to my own writing.
Deep Word is defined as deep work reached by pleasureable flow and ends in publication, typically on my blog. It is an extension of my preaching ministry.

MBA Purpose: As an architect of ideas, I add value to information
1. from a variety of sources (input),
2. to provide innovative spoken and written solutions (product) 
3. for intense and widespread human problems (market) 
4. in harmony with God’s will (evaluative process).

Use plans to measure enthusiasm and pleasure.

Turn partly done categories and ideas into project blog post templates.
I can then ask … do I want to do this … complete this? Begin this?

Posted in zTemplates | Leave a comment

Sermon 09/13/20: Tiny Gratitudes (Kingdomtide I)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 09/13/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Thank You [Live] ft. Ray Boltz
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxntuF5Hrt8

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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 Marshall Hall – Thanks [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKklTvwbuDg

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: Tiny Gratitudes
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 1 Peter 1:6-9, 4:12-13
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Wesley UMC Sermon Audio

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

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1 Peter 1:6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. 9 As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

————————————————————————————————————-

HYMN Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter – In Everything Give Thanks (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcZ46aKpb_I

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

Photo images from NickyPe and others via Pixabay.

TRANSCRIPT

We’re talking about how we can be effective as Christian people, how we can do our ministry, how we can practice our faith in a day when everything has changed. And all the good old days and the good old ways and our most comfortable way of worshipping, our most comfortable way of serving, all the comfortable ways are no longer available. How do we be Christians today?

The nation of Israel dealt with the same problem. They were jerked out of Jerusalem. They were taken away from their temple. They were not allowed to worship as they had always worshipped, but they had to learn how to cope. And we do too.

And what I have suggested to you is that, if we change tiny things, those tiny things can make huge differences. And the first thing to adjust is this: Jesus is here no matter where we are. And we interact with Jesus out there at the grocery store. We interact with Jesus out there in the neighborhood. And he’s real out there. And we can worship and serve him out there and sometimes in new ways that are more fruitful and beneficial to actual people. Today.

Quick review. When you want to change a habit, try doing it in tiny ways. You look for an anchor, something you always do that’s as natural to you as brushing your teeth. And the new behavior that you want, tie it to that thing that’s already a habit so that when you brush your teeth, you pray a specific prayer.

I saw this week, on the Internet, a little video from Daniel Pink who’s a business school professor, and what he recommended was that when you wash your hands (anchor), be thankful (new, tiny habit). When you wash your hands, and he said at least for 20 seconds, that will give you time to think of what to be thankful for. When you wash your hands, be thankful. I suggested to you when you enter a room, declare that this room, this is a place where Jesus is Lord because it changes how you see that place. Tie the new behavior to something you already do.

And then the third thing is to celebrate because what Stanford professor B.J. Fogg says is that when you allow yourself to feel good, because Jesus is Lord, because of what you remembered when you washed your hands that you’re thankful for, if you allow yourselves to feel emotionally good– men, I know this will be a challenge! If you allow yourself to be emotionally happy– friends, if you’re grumpy, this will be difficult! But if you can find a little bit of happiness and celebrate, those emotions will be like cement that will glue this new habit into place in your life.

If you’re having trouble doing something that’s good for you, it’s very possible you’re not celebrating enough … that you need to give yourself a little jolt of joy to help you to want to go back and do it again because it feels so good.

When we understand the first commandment, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind,” you know the natural response to love is to feel joy. To have a desire to celebrate. We have so many reasons to celebrate. The way that God lives and is a part of our life today.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Happy 2020. My favorite joke about 2020 is this. I called my mom on the phone and reminded her that when I was a kid, she promised if I kept doing this or that, she would kick me into next year. And I said, “Mom, please, would you please come by and do that?”

I was sitting in my La-Z-Boy recliner and all of a sudden I heard this incredible sound of laughter from the woman on the couch next to me because she had seen this cartoon. If 2020 was an ice cream truck … see what the sign on the side says? It’s selling liver and onions and the kids are hiding. There’s at least one person here this morning who loves liver and onions. My dad loved liver and onions. He loved liver and onions so much my mom finally refused to ever cook it for him again. And he didn’t care. He would cook it himself. I want to tell you, I’ve had my entire life’s quota of liver and onions. So that’s me hiding on the side of the house there.
Now, you know why we make jokes? When something hurts, if we can laugh about it, it takes some of the pain away. When something is uncomfortable, if we can laugh about it– especially, if you can learn to laugh at yourself, you will never run out of reasons for laughing! But if you can laugh at it, it can’t scare you like it did before. One of the ways that human beings deal with stress is to laugh about it.

And so if you’re feeling down in the dumps, if you’re feeling depressed– and there’s a lot of depression around us. There’s even PTSD because of people living and dealing with ongoing pressure, which leads to depression. There’s a lot of it all around us. But if you can train yourself to change your emotions, you have a powerful remedy for how we feel. And here’s the first thing I absolutely want to tell you. You actually can change your emotions.

How many of us have been angry, have been sad, have been feeling anxious, and somebody told a joke and all of a sudden we were laughing and laughing and laughing (until the bad feelings came back). You can change your emotions instantly by telling a joke. Now we all know there are some people who can’t tell a joke at all.

And some people have said that I’m one of those, so I actually have a book. Some of you know this story. Kim and I have this book of jokes with us when we travel. Not so much because we get depressed when we drive down the road. Not so much because we get anxious. Not so much because we argue with each other.
But when we get tired, the one not driving, which is always me. The one that’s not driving starts reading jokes to the one that is driving. And you know, about one out of five actually causes her to chuckle. It keeps us awake.
You can change your emotions by something as simple as telling a joke.

Now I don’t go to scary movies. But just think about the last time you went to a scary movie. There you are with that hot date and you’re buying your ticket and you’re saying, “Oh boy, oh boy. I can’t wait to see this movie. I can’t wait to see this movie. Halloween number 26. Can’t wait to see this movie.” And the minute you’re in there, flickering light on a screen causes you to feel incredible emotions of fear. And you know in your mind that it’s just pictures. But you still feel it, don’t you? You still feel the feelings.
You can change your feelings by changing what you pay attention to. And one of the simplest ways to change what you’re paying attention to is to ask yourself the right question. One of the best questions for me is what’s funny about this? Because when I turn that self-deprecating humor on myself and I see some way I’m an idiot and all of a sudden, my arrogance, my anger, my frustration disappears. What’s funny about this?
A more serious question: Leo Buscaglia said that the thing that his father did that helped him to become a college professor, that helped him succeed in life, is every night before he went to sleep, his father came in and sat at the edge of the bed and said, “Leo, what did you learn today?” If you ask the question, “What can I learn from this?” it will direct your mind toward what will make a big difference.
The question I most recommend is this one. “What is God doing here? Right here right now?” Because you know something? God is trying to do something even in the most uncomfortable moments of your life. God is trying to do something even when there’s great pain and distress. If we can look at what God is doing, then we can add our little bit of effort to strengthening what God is doing for the benefit of everyone involved.
And the final question? It’s a really good one. B.J. Fogg recommends another tiny habit. This is one of his handful of basic habits. When you get in bed at night to sleep don’t fall asleep until you’ve made a mental list. What happened today for which you can feel gratitude? What happened today so that before I fall asleep I can be thankful?

There some people who recommend literally as a way to change your life to change your thinking habits to change your emotional habits to literally keep a gratitude journal so that when you’re frightened, take a moment to look on paper and read of all the good things that God has done, and it will change how you feel. Take a minute to look through all the kind and good things that people around you have done, and it will change how you feel. Being thankful … little gratitudes are very powerful to change how we feel when we’re stuck in a bad place because they change the focus of our attention from what we complain about to how we are blessed.
Here’s what scripture says about this. First Peter 4:12, beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you— I’ll explain what that means in just a moment. To prove you as though something strange were happening to you. Now if you’re a silversmith, if you’re a goldsmith, you know how you purify the metal? You turn up the heat until it melts, and all the garbage flows up to the top, and you can scrape it off. Friend, one of the reasons why the heat is being turned up on us is it brings up the garbage that’s buried deep inside. When it’s flowing on top you can scrape it off.

But don’t be surprised when that happens. It’s always going to rain sooner or later on a day when you want to go outside and play. Don’t be surprised, but rejoice on that day. Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings. It wasn’t easy for him. That you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. No matter what’s happening today guess what lies in wait in the future? Many good things.

It’s only September but some of us are already looking forward to Christmas. Many good things await in the future, but in this present moment sometimes there is difficulty. And we got to get through the present to get to the future, and if you’re Christmas obsessed, to get to the presents. Let what’s going to happen in the future change your perspective of what’s happening right now.
Peter writes, In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials. Why? Verse 7, so that the genuineness of your faith more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire. You see … that’s the heat that brings up the garbage. We’re all going to be tested. We’re all going to be heated up. And what’s garbage is going to come up to the surface. It’s going to happen. Without having seen him, Peter goes on to say, “You love him, though you do not now see him. You believe in him and you rejoice. Rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy as the outcome of your faith, the outcome of practicing your faith, you obtain the salvation of your souls.”

So when things get tough, what is God’s will? Here it is. Rejoice always. Rejoice is always the choice that you have. Pray constantly. As the King James says, pray without ceasing. Because troubles drive us to pray. But finally, look at the 18th verse. “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Good days, bad days, and everywhere in between. Give thanks in all circumstances, for to be thankful, this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Now you and I sometimes may feel a little bit like this dog. There is a treat on your nose. It’s not fun to wait till you can have the treat. But notice the dog’s eyes: Are they focused on the treat? Or are they focused on the master who will give permission? We need to give thanks for what we have but can’t quite enjoy yet, knowing that the signal will come in a moment. And what’s resting on our nose will be ready for us to enjoy.

You can make choices that will change how you feel. It’s as simple as telling a joke. It’s as simple as asking a question.

It’s as simple as finding a good book. We have a library here in Kinmundy that is full of them.

But if books aren’t for you, there is a good movie. I looked at Kim yesterday and I said, “You know, if today’s a bad day, we need to pull Rat Race out of the bin and watch it again.” That’s her favorite crazy funny movie. It always works. But maybe for you it’s not a movie. Maybe it’s a comedy television show. Maybe it’s something as calming and simple as a jigsaw puzzle. Hopefully it’s not an ice cream sundae. I had one of those yesterday too, because too many of those can cause other problems! But there’s something that will bring you joy that you can choose. Choose to rejoice. Choose joy.

You can work at a goal till you win. This is the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. They were happy that day. And you can work toward a win, whatever that might be in your life and rejoice in it. And not only that — you could look back on it just as if it was yesterday and feel that joy again. You can think back over your victories, the good things that have happened, the days that you were a winner, and the feelings will come right back. And you’ll get to enjoy them again. Walk back through your memories and be thankful for every victorious moment.

There is always embedded in every difficult situation a reason to be thankful … if for no other reason than, as I have frequently said that is the Minnesota state motto which is, “Could be worse.” But to be honest, there’s always a reason to be thankful somewhere. Keep looking. And when you find it, celebrate. Whatever tiny piece of good is in the midst of whatever we struggle with.

When you’re looking for something to be thankful for, don’t go too far from home. Because there’s a whole lot of us that when we think about what would make us thankful, we think something like, “Well, I could go to France.” Unfortunately, with the pandemic, you can’t go to France.
“I could go to New York City.”
“I can go to a high school football game.”
If you look too far away from home, you’ll begin to think the thing that you need to be happy is something that’s far, far away because for many of us, for most of our lives, going on a trip, going on vacation, going to see the grandchildren, that’s been our choice when it’s time to rejoice. And we don’t always have that privilege. How much more wise it is for you to look for reasons to be happy right here right now. So don’t go too far.

How long has it been since you have rolled down a hill on your back on the grass? When you were a kid, this probably really caused a great deal of happiness, although if you were wearing a white wool sweater like this lamb is, your momma probably wasn’t too happy.
But you always have a choice of doing something that brings you joy. And if that’s not good enough and strong enough, I’d like to encourage you to take BJ Fogg’s advice. When you pray at night before you fall asleep, count your blessings. Look for ways that you can be thankful, and if you really want to make the power of this last, take a moment to make a list and literally write them down in what some people call a gratitude journal.

Because the day will come. You’ll need to open that journal and start reading backwards from today to previous days. To pull your emotions and your mind out of a dark place into a place that is full of God’s light and love and happiness. Because we always have a choice to be thankful. We always have a choice to rejoice.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, these are challenging days for some of us. Lord Jesus, these are difficult days for some of us. But these are harder days if we cannot hold onto the reality that life is not all difficulty. The day is not all darkness.
That you have given us in the midst of whatever we’re going through right here and right now something even if it’s just a memory of winning the World Series. You’ve given us something to be happy about.
Help us, Lord, just like a person drowning to grab onto that happy, thankful thing, like a life preserver … so that it can help us stay above the deep waters.
And so Lord, we ask that in the midst of difficult times, which these certainly are, that you would teach us how to be thankful. That you would teach us what it means to rejoice. And then throughout the day every time we do something that’s a good thing, Lord, help us to anchor it in our life by taking a moment to celebrate. We ask these things in the name of Jesus the 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.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | Leave a comment

Sermon 09/06/20: Tiny Attitudes (Pentecost XIV)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 09/06/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

HYMN: Gaither Vocal Band – Jesus Is Everywhere
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADR8kkQf0j4

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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 Old Friends Quartet – I Want to Be More Like Jesus Every Day [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGpo1ke0EWE

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: Tiny Attitudes
Text: Philippians 2:1-17, Matthew 10:25a
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Audio for sermon at Wesley UMC

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SERMON NOTES

Matthew 10:25a it is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.

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

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

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

14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.  

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HYMN Alan Jackson – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Live)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufYSFCKKoHs

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

How are we to practice our faith in this new day? We are living in something that our world has not seen for over 100 years – a pandemic. How are we to do what faithful Christians do today? Well, if we cannot do big things perhaps God will help us to do tiny things. Because if all of us are faithful, the tiny things will mount up to be far more than the big things we used to do.

I’ve encouraged you the past few weeks when you arrive at a new place to announce, whether it’s just to yourself or out loud, “Jesus is Lord,” knowing in your heart that Jesus is here and that Jesus is LORD right here and right now, even if that’s a place that doesn’t seem to be much of a holy place. A grocery store, aisle like this one; it’s a hard place to be holy. It’s a hard place to be spiritual, but Jesus is here.

And in a way, it’s possible that you can be his missionary in places as ordinary and difficult as this, but you can be his missionary in every part of your ordinary life. And that’s because of one very simple tiny truth that I hope will fill your heart this morning.

And here is that tiny truth, Matthew chapter 25. It is enough, It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. How are we going to live our faith in this day and this time? It is enough to be like Jesus. It is enough. While somebody is bound to ask, “Pastor, it’s not easy. How exactly do I be like Jesus?”

Let’s look at what the scripture says. Philippians 2:5-11, we believe that this is actually an early Christian hymn that people would sing these words to remind them. Have this mind among yourself, Paul writes, which is yours in Christ Jesus who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. It is enough for you to be like Jesus. So how can it be … This week? This day? That you would empty yourself.

How can it be … This week? This day? That you could find yourself taking the form of a servant. As you do, you will be like Jesus.

The next part. In being found in human form just as we are, he humbled himself, and he became obedient unto death. Even the death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. It is enough to be like Jesus.

So… This week? This day? How do you imagine that you will become obedient, willing to sacrifice yourself? Whatever form that takes, you will be like Jesus. It is enough to be like Jesus. The verse goes on to say, verse 10, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on Earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. How is it, this week or this day, that your knee will bow, that your tongue will confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, right here right now, wherever you might find yourself?

Because … why do you confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? He is with us, and because it’s enough to be like Jesus, He will help you in every time, and every place where he is acknowledged to be Lord. This week, this day, how will you fall to your knees, and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, in the place where you are, right here, right now? Well, if we did that, what would we see that would be different? There’s an old phrase … intentions are good, emotions are good, but obedience is something that a camera can see. If obedience becomes something that you do, a camera can see it. So, if people did this, what would a camera see? What would you or I see in people?

Just before this hymn to Jesus Christ, and just after, Paul explains that. And here’s what he says– whoops, got ahead of myself here! It’s enough to be like Jesus. You see I didn’t want you to forget that. It’s enough to be like Jesus. But if we are like Jesus, what are we going to see? What’s the camera going to see?

Well, if there is any encouragement, Paul writes if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the spirit any affection and sympathy, complete my joy,” Paul writes. By being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord, and of one mind; this is what a camera can see when people are willing to humble themselves and take the form of a servant and be like Jesus. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit. But in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others. It’s a little bit like taking up a cross to benefit all mankind, which is what Jesus did. How will we humble ourselves further to be like Jesus? “Therefore my beloved,” Paul writes, “As you have always obeyed. So now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work …” You didn’t think it would be anything but work, right? Pretty much every problem that we face in this life is helped to be solved by work. Are we willing to work? What does Paul say? “Work out your own salvation.” Work at being like Jesus. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling … don’t take anything for granted. Believe in, trust and work, because, verse 13, “God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God wants salvation to come to us. And God is working in us to bring that to pass. It is enough to be like Jesus. Paul goes on to say — just think for a moment about how hard this is would be for some people — or how hard this would be for some churches. Verse 14, “Do all things without grumbling or questioning.” Uh-oh. Questioning is not asking questions because you want to know. Questioning is doubting and challenging and arguing and feuding because if you can do all things without grumbling or questioning, you will be blameless and innocent. You will be children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. Among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life. So that in the day of Christ, Paul writes, “I, Paul, may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”

This is what a camera would see if we were like Jesus. Because it is enough for a disciple to be like his teacher. It is enough for a servant to be like his master. And it is enough in this time for us to be like Jesus.

And, in a sense, when we do that, we will be missionaries in all kinds of places. Because if Jesus goes with us, we bring the light of Jesus Christ into the darkness of the world. And there are some places that are pretty dark, but there is no place that remains dark when you bring the light to it. And so Jesus is here in this grocery store line or any place else you might find yourself. Jesus is here. Jesus is Lord.

And it is enough, if you can, in this place, to be like Jesus. You’ve heard these letters before, WWJD, they stand for What Would Jesus Do. Well, there you are, in a challenging place, people are fighting and arguing, and there are so many temptations.

There’s the temptation to look at this young man and judge him for what he’s buying. What sort of family is he caring for with what he’s buying? Well, I sure hope there are some vegetables wrapped up in that plastic, but the little thing you see ahead of there, those are peanut butter cheese and crackers. Children need better than that, assuming he has some children to feed. It’s so easy for our personal judgment to come out as we look at other people, as we are tired, as we are standing in line, as we are feeling inside ourselves, the unrest, the feeling these days of being unsafe because of people not practicing safety precautions in the grocery store or somewhere else. But can you pray here? Yes, you can.

And, in this place, you can be like Jesus, but you’ll need to turn your eyes away from all the temptations, to imagine yourself on your knees in this place and ask yourself a very good question. What would Jesus do if he was standing in a grocery store line? What would Jesus do if he was standing here? Because if I know what Jesus would do, then I can choose, to the best of my ability, to be like Jesus.

Let’s take a poll. What would Jesus do? If you look through the scripture, pretty much what he would do is he would pray. He would pray for the people. He would pray for the hurts and the needs of the people in that day and in that place. What would Jesus do? Well, he’d probably pray. You could pray too.

There might be something else Jesus would do. Are you ever tempted to pay for the groceries of the person in front of you? You ever find yourself coming up on that line in the McDonald’s drive thru and feel yourself tempted to pay for the person behind you? Have you ever looked across the restaurant at a family that looks like they’re financially struggling and felt the temptation to pay for their meal? What would Jesus do? Maybe we should give in to that temptation because that’s what it would be like to be like Jesus.

I want to add something too, because not only is it what would Jesus do, sometimes Jesus would say something that would change a person’s life. And you might have an opportunity to say something. That’s what Jesus would do. And as it says in multiple places in the scriptures, he says to the disciples, “Don’t worry about how you’ll explain. Don’t worry about how you’ll defend yourself when you’re accused. Don’t worry about how you will speak when you’re dragged into court and being persecuted. What you will say will be given you in that hour.” And sometimes what we say out there in the real world can make a tremendous difference in someone’s life, even if it’s just to wish them well.

What would Jesus do? What would Jesus say? If we allow ourselves to follow through on whatever we are given, in that moment, we will do what Jesus asks us to do, we will say what Jesus asks us to say. And, in that moment, and in that time, and in that place, we will be the blessing of what it is for us to be like Jesus because that’s what the world needs. And, friends, it’s what we need also. It is enough to be like Jesus.

Lord Jesus, we don’t always know what to say, but, Lord, in that moment, help us to listen to you and be guided by what you say to us. Lord, we don’t always know what to do, but, in that moment, Lord, help us to be guided to do what you would have us to do. And more often than not, Lord, we realize that we have done something that you do not want us to do. And sometimes the thing that shows your presence, and your living within us, is for us to do and for us to say that thing which is so hard which is simply to say that we’re sorry. But, Lord, when we need to apologize, help us to apologize. When we need to do something good, help us to do something good. When we need to say something that brings a blessing, Lord, help us to say something. But, in all things, Lord, we ask that you would help us to be like Jesus because that is enough. 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.
 

Posted in Attend "Worship at Home" | 2 Comments

Sermon 08/30/20: Tiny Prayers (Pentecost XIII)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 08/30/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

HYMN The Statler Brothers – Official Video for ‘Til the Storm Passes By [Live]’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6JA6LPgNN0

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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 Lynda Randle – His Eye Is On the Sparrow [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMtoYD4NhkE

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: Tiny Prayers 
Text: Mat 22:35-40, Luke 16:10, 1 Timothy 2:1-6
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.

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SERMON NOTES

Mat 22:35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” 

Luke 16:10 He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. 

1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way. 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. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.

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HYMN Bill & Gloria Gaither – Down to the River to Pray [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7wcNcmyoXE

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

Sixty years ago this coming February, 60 years ago in the stadium at Florida University, Billy Graham conducted a very powerful revival. This fall in many stadiums across the country, there will be no football season. The stadiums will be empty. We are living in a different time, and we’re not able to do what we have always done before as universities, as a nation, as churches.

How do we live our faith? How do we practice our faith in this new day? Well, friends, when you can’t go that way, take a look, God may let you go this other way. When God won’t let you go over, maybe you’ll find that the way is open for you to go under. Let’s let God find us a way, and let’s ask the question, “How can we practice our faith in these days?”

Well, the main difference I see is the great big things that we’ve always done as a church to bring everybody together for worship, to bring everybody together for a potluck, to bring everybody together for a fundraiser, to bring everybody together for a party, to bring everybody together for a Bible study. Maybe we can’t do those things like we used to do them, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t study the Bible, that doesn’t mean that you can’t worship, that doesn’t mean that you can’t do what Christians do. You just may need to do it in a tiny way these days.

But the Bible is accustomed to tiny ways. Luke Chapter 16:10, Jesus says it very plainly, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much. And he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.” Little things, done for God, count. And God sees them. And little things done by little people begin to have a very major effect. If we can’t do big things in the church today, we may need to adjust to do little things.

Now, I know … if you’d been there to hear Billy Graham preach, if you’d been there to hear the choir directed by Cliff Barrows to sing, a choir of hundreds of voices, if you’d been there to hear George Beverly Shea sing, you would really be able to worship. It’s very easy for us to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength when we’re there in the cathedral with a crowd of our friends and everything is so beautiful.

But you know something? You can love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength when you’re here, standing in line at a grocery store checkout. And I’ve recommended to you my tiny habit, which I’m trying to train myself to do. I find that I’m doing it in my heart, but it’s hard for me to do it literally. And that’s when I come into a new place, I say, “Jesus is Lord.” Now, if you come into the grocery store line, maybe you don’t want to say that really loud because what matters is not how loud you say it. But that you say it. Even if you say it only in your heart. But to come to that grocery store line and say, “Jesus is Lord over this time and this place.”

Now, why do I pick a grocery store line? Friends, if you’re like me, you get frustrated when the line doesn’t move. And when you and I are frustrated, that’s when we most need to declare, “Jesus is Lord here,” even if I’m frustrated with that guy in front of me. Have you ever found yourself in a grocery store line looking at what other people are buying and just kind of shaking your head? Apparently that guy needs not one but two kinds of beer. Have you ever found yourself just kind of shaking your head and feeling just a little critical of someone else, just maybe a tiny little bit judgmental?

In the old days when people had food stamps, they actually had to pull something out of their pocket and pay with pieces of paper. And everyone in line could see that they were on welfare. I have to tell you the truth. When I would see that happening with the person in front of me, I’d look over what they were buying, and I would say to myself, “Honey, you should buy the cheap macaroni and cheese.” I would judge what they were buying. Jesus was not the Lord over me that day in that place. But I need to learn how to love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. Not just in the church building. But when I’m out there in the world. Jesus is Lord.

And the second part in that is for me to realize that I can pray in this place in this grocery line just as effectively and just as powerfully and just as meaningfully as I can pray when I’m in the church sanctuary. Might be a little more distracting, but every distraction is probably something or someone that needs my prayers.

Missionary to China, Rosalind Rinker, taught people how to pray out loud. We had a sermon series on that once. I’m sure you remember every single word I said several years ago! Well, it’s possible.

But what she taught in prayer is four simple, basic phrases. And the first one was this, “We begin to pray when we realize Jesus is here.” And that grocery line, any place else you might find yourself, Jesus is here. And to be honest, that’s the same thing as we’re praying when we say, “Jesus is Lord.” Jesus is Lord. Jesus is here. Can you pray here? Not as easily, but– yes, you can.

Jesus is here, and we are able to pray, and we’re able to look around and ask ourselves, “Well, Jesus is here. Who else is here?” Because you see, every single person you see from the guy buying, not one but two kinds of beer– guess what? He’s your neighbor. In the grocery line– yeah, but he’s your neighbor. And the cashier, is she having a good day? Can you tell? The person at customer service, way in the back, I don’t know if you can see your face. She’s smiling. She’s either having a great day or really good at faking it. But these people are your neighbors. And God has instructions for us about our neighbors. The problem is that we are so often totally focused on ourselves that we don’t notice our neighbors, but we can pray here.
There’s the book by Rosalind Rinker– that’s a long quote. You’ll be able to look at it and read it on the slides, but she talks about how this whole system of learning how to pray came about. Today, we’re going to remind ourselves of two parts of that. The first one is that Jesus is here. And when we realize that Jesus is here, we can love him and appreciate what he’s doing and be thankful for what God is doing, right there, in the grocery store line or wherever else we might be. Jesus is here, but other people are also here. And Rosalind Rinker says we need to get used to this prayer, “Help me, Lord,” because you’re supposed to love your neighbor, but you’re supposed to love your neighbor as yourself. And when you notice your neighbor, you use one of her other phrases, “Help my brother. Help my sister, whoever they might be.” But those are the two parts. Jesus is here. “Thank you, Lord. My neighbor’s here. Lord help my neighbor. Help my neighbor.”
In 1 Timothy 2:1 you find these words– first of all, Paul says to Timothy, “I urge that supplications, pleading, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” Not just the people we like, not just the people we admire, but all people who need prayer. We can say these tiny prayers, and when God answers those tiny prayers, there will be major blessings that will come to pass. But Paul doesn’t ask us to be choosy. Paul doesn’t ask us to discriminate. Paul says, “Pray for all people.”

“This is good,” he says in verse 3, “And it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” Why? Take a look at verse 4. “Our Savior desires all people to be saved. Our Savior desires for all people to come to the knowledge of the truth about Jesus Christ.

So you and I, wherever we are, Jesus is Lord, Jesus is here and I can pray tiny prayers that will bless tiny people whom God wants to come to him. So you can pray here. Lord, help my neighbor. Help him to buy better groceries. Help him, Lord, to not root for the wrong baseball team. Help him, Lord, with all his problems and Lord, help me with all of mine. You can pray here if you let yourself notice the people around you. Because all too often it’s very clear, they’re not having a good day. And there’s something there that you can pray for. It may just be a tiny prayer. The tiny prayers make big differences. You can pray here. You see, that grocery store line, that’s part of your neighborhood.

Here’s a list of the other neighborhoods we’re a part of. There is a neighborhood of your family and friends. It’s a neighborhood. But you know what makes it a neighborhood? There are neighbors living in it. And when they’re hurting, please pray for them. When everything’s going well, please give thanks.
You also see people where you have common interests. You like to quilt. That means that you have neighbors that quilt with you. Pray for those neighbors. Every place you have a hobby and interest unless it’s something that you do all by yourself. If it brings you into connection with other people, pray for them.

There was a day a couple of years ago, we went prayer walking and people went here and there through town and they reported back great and amazing blessings. When they prayed for people they encountered just going on a walk. You see, they’re going on a walk through their neighborhood. You know if you don’t even get out of the house but you’re in that place where you say your prayers in the morning, you can mentally go walking in these four neighborhoods. You can mentally look down the list of your family and friends, you can think of the people you know through activities. You can pray for people in those neighborhoods without even leaving your home.

There are the neighbors that you have from where you work, or if you’re retired, where you used to work, or where you volunteer. They need your prayers too. They’re your neighbors.

It’s so silly, we forget about this. There are actually the people that live in the real-life physical neighborhood up and down the street. If you live in a big town, like in a suburb of St. Louis, like I did for nine years, it’s very possible: you may not even know your neighbors’ names, because people don’t really feel safe in those bigger towns.

But it’s not the case in a little town or out in the country, you probably know your neighbors’ names. And given life the way it is you probably know the problems your neighbors are dealing with. You can pray there and your tiny prayers can make a big difference because they unleash the power of God to work in the lives of your neighbors and in your life.

One of the things the pandemic I think is going to teach us, especially those who are pastors and church leaders and bishops and such, is we’re going to learn that we need to stop trying to fix the institutional church. To focus in a tiny world where we’re limited in what we can do is going to mean to shift from big things like what the church can do to little things like what each individual Christian can do. And especially if we can help each individual Christian begin to love their neighbor.

And where do we start with that? The simplest way to love your neighbor is to notice them and to begin to pray for them. But if we can’t fix the church, and if people become better Christians … we are going to live in a better world where God’s will be done on earth just as it is in heaven. You can pray for them. You can pray here because, all around you, there are people not getting along. It’s obvious these two in the picture are sisters. I find this hard to believe – that sisters are not always friendly to each other. I never had a sister. All I had were brothers and I knew that brothers tend to not always get along.
But if you look around you, you’re going to see obvious things where your prayers are needed. And if you’re in the line at the grocery store or wherever it might be, I strongly encourage you when you get home, when you’re praying, when you’re reading in your Bible make a little note in your notebook. Two sisters were obviously not getting along and I prayed for them. Because you know next week maybe you’ll see them. Maybe you’ll see that God has changed things. Maybe you’ll see that God has answered your prayer and it will encourage you to keep on praying little prayers because they make big differences in little people’s lives. You can pray here and not only that, you can keep on praying if you see them the next week and the next week and the next week because they’re still going to need God’s help. They’re still going to need your tiny prayers.

You’ve seen this slide before because I’ve recommended it to you now since 2014. There is a beautiful way to respond to a person who is whining and complaining and that’s to understand that their gripe, their complaint whether it’s said in a very sweet and kind voice or whether they’re very angry and bitter … for you to understand that their complaint, whatever it is, is a request for God’s help. That they’re complete. Whatever it is is an opportunity for you to be prayerful. So I have recommended these words to you. When somebody complains about anything, “My cat ran away,” here’s something you could do. Looked them right in the eye and say, “I go to a church that prays for people whose cat has run away. Will it be okay if we pray for you?”
Doesn’t matter how ridiculous the need is, something they’re feeling in their heart, we can offer to pray. But you know something, the very next conversation you have with that person it’s going to be all about whether God answered your prayer. It’s going to be about the Lord’s ability to answer prayer. It’s going to be about why it’s a good thing for people to pray for each other and from tiny prayers like this for an upset stomach, for a cold, for a cat that’s run away, for my daughter who’s ill and can’t go to work, whatever it might be open a door for God to work in that other person’s life.

Tiny prayers that you can pray can make a huge difference because when we pray out there and we can pray there, we see God’s work happen right before our eyes.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, the next time we’re tempted to be critical of the person in the grocery store line in front of us because we know what they should have bought instead of what was in their cart… The next time, Lord, we’re frustrated because the person we’re talking to wants to talk about their problems instead of talking about us… Help us to understand that their complaint is a request for prayer. And whether we say anything to them or not, we can say a tiny prayer to turn loose your love and your Holy Spirit to live and work in their life. And address their problem and help them find their way through it, and to solve whatever it might be that they struggle with. Help us, Lord, to see these opportunities around us to pray tiny prayers. 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.
 

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Sermon 08/23/20: Solid Habits Make Good Anchors (Pentecost XI)

WORSHIP AT HOME for 08/23/20. If illness or travel prevented you from joining us for worship Sunday, or if you would like to experience the worship again, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to play each hymn or the sermon in a new tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Please recommit your life to follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with the words of 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.

THE FIRST HYMN: The Haven of Rest [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU4HgK-R6C4

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

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.

THE SECOND HYMN
Bill & Gloria Gaither – Rock of Ages [Live] ft. Vestal Goodman, The Martins
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2W7Elmao3c

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: Solid Habits Make Good Anchors
Text: Hebrews 6:19-20, Luke 16:10, 6:48-49
Series: Tiny Habits for Growing Christians
Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Sermon audio at Wesley Church – a different version of the same sermon.

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SERMON NOTES

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Hebrews 6:19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz’edek.

Luke 16:10 He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.

Luke 6:47 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.”

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THE THIRD HYMN
Ben Speer, Wesley Pritchard, Terry Blackwood – I’m Standing On the Solid Rock [Live]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdoECkNgENE

BENEDICTION: Let us dedicate ourselves to the service of Jesus by joining in the Prayer of Saint 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
Amen

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

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!

TRANSCRIPT

I’ll ask you a question and ask you to ponder it. What percentage, would you think, of your day, do you spend those hours living as if you were an atheist?

Now, I’m not implying that you want to be an atheist. I’m not implying that that’s your intention. I’m implying how much of the day goes by where what you do … it doesn’t matter if God is alive or not. What part of your day goes by where the Lord is no part of that day? Now, I understand you’re busy driving the tractor, you’re busy washing the dishes, you’re busy doing whatever it is that you have to do. But what part of the day is God with you while you’re doing that?

That’s the whole idea behind the first tiny habit that I talked about last week, and it seemed to make so much sense to me that we ought to talk about it again today. Because in Proverbs 3 it says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” How would you add that to your life as a habit to in every way acknowledge him?

Well, one way could just be that if every time you came into a new place, you declared, “Jesus Christ is Lord over this place!” – that’s the tiny habit – you would make yourself aware that God is there and Jesus Christ is in charge. In all your ways, acknowledge him. We can take a scripture and turn it into a habit so that we are living by it. And we’re talking about how we could do that.

And the first part of tiny habits is what B.J. Fogg calls an anchor because anything that God tells you to do, you can make it into a tiny habit. But you’re going to start with an anchor.

Now, this is an anchor. See the really heavy part? It drags along the bottom of the ocean. But the little part that’s like the cross part that sticks out that is resting on, sooner or later, it will catch on some irregularity in the surface underneath the water, and it’s going to start to cause that anchor to tip to a different position.

And here’s the picture of that position. It’s going to cause that hook to turn, so that it begins to dig itself in. All of a sudden, now, you will have your anchor in the solid ground, and it will hold you steady even in a storm. Now that’s an anchor but you know what does the same thing? This thing (a mooring post embedded in concrete on the dock), it’s kind of an anchor, too, because if you tie what you want to live to something that is solid and immovable as that, it’s not going to move. You can tie up what you do, what you think, how you pray. You can tie it to something that is solid and immovable and Jesus says very plainly that leads directly to a blessing.

In Hebrews, we find the actual term anchor used. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. A hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf… Jesus goes into the holy of holies in heaven to pray for you and me. He is our anchor, he is our haven of rest, and he himself talked about tying up to something solid.

This is from Luke. Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like. He is like a man building a house who dug deep and lay the foundation upon rock, tied the building to the rock and when a flood arose, when the storm came, when the stream broke against that house – friends there are always going to be storms – those storms could not shake it because it had been well built, it had been secured, and fastened to the rock. Which Jesus says is what he tells us to do.

Now here’s the opposite. This is a boat where the anchor failed. You know why the anchor failed? It was actually a hurricane. But when a boat loses its connection to something that is immovable, the rock, it becomes adrift and the storm just carries it along its way. But he who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation fastened to nothing against which the stream broke and immediately it fell and the ruin of that house was great. An anchor will hold you in place.

In Tiny Habits, there’s three steps A, B, C. And the first step, A, is to find an anchor. Because the new thing that you want to do, the new behavior, the way of living that’s different than what you’ve always done before, the way that’s more in accord with what Jesus said but it’s different from you’ve always done before. It’s very, very helpful if you tie that boat up to a solid rock, to an anchor, which will hold the new habit in place by connecting it with an old habit.

We have many routines, don’t we? Do you ever find yourself driving and you’re not thinking and instead of turning to go toward the grocery store, you turn on the road to go home because you’re driving on automatic pilot? Do you know what that is? You have a habit. You have a routine and if you’re not paying attention, your routines take over. So when you want to change something that you do, look at your routines for an anchor. For something you automatically do.

Since I’ve started taking blood thinner I no longer shave with a razor. I still walk into the bathroom and want to reach for the razor. Why? Because for over 50 years I’ve been reaching for that razor first thing when I walk in as a part of the taking a shower routine in the morning. But if you connect the new thing that you want to do … let’s say flossing one tooth … with a habit that you already do … like shaving … after you shave, it’ll be easy to move on to the new thing, which is the floss one tooth.

You’ve heard what is my habit every morning. If I could connect everything I need to do with drinking coffee, it would happen automatically. The blue cup. It was my father’s and he died in 2003, and I’ve been drinking coffee out of it since a few weeks after that. It feels like it connects me to him. It’s an anchor, and I’ll be honest with you, when I forget and leave it over here I have to drink my coffee at home out of something else … and it’s just not the same. It’s just not right.

There are times I have pulled on some clothes and actually come over here to get the blue cup because it’s the only right way to have coffee and so consequently, you’ve heard me say this before, I do my morning devotions with the coffee in the blue cup, because you start with something that’s an anchor. Start with something that’s a sure thing. Start with something that makes it easy and then you tie the new habit to follow it. I always do that after the first sip of coffee, which is my prayers or reading a chapter in scripture. I do that after the second sip of coffee. Or praying for your neighbors. Well, I do that after the third sip of coffee. But if you start with something that’s already a habit you can add to that habit and the anchor will help you be certain to keep doing the new thing that you want to do.

Last week I mentioned to you that I take my watch off before I take a shower and set it on top of my pillbox. When I get out of the shower it’s automatic: Go put your watch on. Oh, and take your pills. Well, yesterday I didn’t put it on the pillbox and I didn’t take my pills. If you connect the thing that you want to do … If you connect the thing that Jesus Christ wants you to do … to something you’re already doing … You’ll find that because you have an anchor, the new habit will be much easier to become a part of that habit. To where, now, for me reading scripture while I drink coffee out of that blue cup, it’s automatic. And in fact, I could add another tiny behavior, tiny habit, to it because it’s become natural and automatic.

But why? Because I tie the new behavior to an anchor, an existing and powerful habit for my life. And this is my new habit: In every setting, to declare that Jesus is Lord over that place. And the anchor here is the going into that new place. In the mornings, I will walk across the street to the church. I can tie to that behavior that’s automatic this new prayer, which makes Jesus Lord. I’m announcing that Jesus is Lord over this new place.

When I get in the car and go to the store, the store becomes the place where Jesus is Lord. When I get in the car after the store, and I come back home, when I come into my home, Jesus is Lord over this new place, my home. When you connect the habit to an anchor, something you already do, you’re anchoring the new habit into the anchor that is the old habit. So if you want to change something, make it part of your routine. Look for part of your routine that is so strong that you wouldn’t not even think of skipping it, and then connect that new behavior to the old behavior which is automatic.

Little things that we do can add up. And little changes in what we do can create a great difference. If you’re flying an airplane from one side of the country to another, and you make the tiniest little adjustment in your course, when you get to the other side of the country, you’re going to be miles and miles and miles in a different direction. Little tiny things matter. And if we begin to focus on them, we can adjust and change our lives. And of course, in the current time of this pandemic, we are prevented from doing the great big things that are our preference. But we’re still able to do the little things. And I think that can make all the difference.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us to have the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change but the courage to change the things we can. And help us also to understand, Lord, that one of the ways we make something impossible to do, one of the ways we make change impossible, is when we make it this great big task that would take an army, that would take a bulldozer, that is beyond our ability as simple human beings. But help us, Lord, instead, to focus on those little tiny changes which are well within our powers to make. Help us tie them, Lord, to the anchors of current habits. But even more, Lord, help us to tie our tiny little changes to what your scripture asks us to do, so that as we are people who live out your scripture, we might see the blessings of the promises that you make flowering all around us. We ask this in the name of Jesus the 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.

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