How blessed I was to deliver this message at my church!
Laity Sunday Message Oct 16
“Keep going deeper in the Word and the Word will go deeper within you! 🙂 “
To know deep, lasting joy, we have to truly know Christ. 1 John 1:1-4
Psalm 19:14 “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
What a thrill it is to be able to share GOD’S WORD with you this morning – a thrill! A joy!!!!
I was humbled but tickled when our Lay Leader asked me to share today – to speak about how we together are Laity – HOW WE ARE THE CHURCH – as Pastor reminds us.
We all have a role in God’s plan
I find such JOY in sharing God’s WORD because I know firsthand the amazing transforming powers of His guidance.
So let me start this morning by sharing a passage of JOY – Psalm 95
“Come, let us sing for JOY to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for HE is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,”
Laity Sunday is a wonderful opportunity for us to take stock of how we are “the people of his pasture” – God’s flock under HIS care
- Worship IS God’s GIFT to us – We are to look to HIM and draw upon HIS strength – to be moved by the HOLY SPIRIT – and to look for the JOY that comes from devotion. We worship God because God LOVES us!
In the Methodist tradition, I have been asked to share four specific scriptures which demonstrate how we are called to actively worship:
1) worship with love 2) worship humbly seeking justice
3) worship with discipline
4) worship by living and sharing the GOOD NEWS!
And WHY? It’s because – as you all know – we are in this TOGETHER…1 Corinthians 12:27 “You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.”
Worship as LOVE
Matthew 22: 36 to 39
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
To worship actively living God’s WORD we are called to LOVE…
Worship Is Loving God – it is a loop… God loves us – sends Jesus to teach us how to love – and Jesus brings us to God for eternal life
We can love God by loving his people. – putting ourselves last, by our praise for Him and only Him – then sharing that love with others.
we may put in hard work as volunteers in love-based activities – perhaps you would like to join some of these activities here or in the world – running youth group – volunteering at Vacation Bible School – reaching out visiting the homebound – like our shared Meal Ministry for the homeless where they are invited once a month for a hot meatloaf dinner and spicy conversation – reaching out to prisoners and their families with letters – perhaps inviting a lonely neighbor to our Christmas Band Concert … seemingly endless ways to LOVE inside the building and especially out…
We love because we are loved – we forgive because we are forgiven – this can be tough sometimes but knowing that our Lord has forgiven us, we are called to show compassion for all, even the fringes of society… even our enemies…. YUP… even our enemies…
There are so many more are active ways we can worship God BY LOVING HIM AND LOVING HIS FLOCK
Worship as justice
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
Our scripture speaks of seeking justice as a form of worship… But justice for Jesus’s mission of love and mercy, but NOT for our own gain…
We as a church are called to social action, to act for justice, to do what we can do to improve the lives of ALL of God’s people, including us –
For example there is a great UMC Social principles book which helps direct our efforts…
we must count our own blessings and act upon larger issues
At church, our organist often plays the classic hymn: “Let there be peace on Earth – and Let it Begin with Me” – I get to sing this song as well each month with Joe, my nursing home friend at our monthly communion service.
To walk humbly means we must listen to the directions – be eager to hear God’s WORD and obey… To walk humbly with God requires us to walk and not rest idle.
When God gives us eternal life it is like He hit a homerun for us, we have scored a free Grace trip to Heaven BUT we cannot rest on our laurels and return to our regularly scheduled life – WE MUST WALK THE BASES… we must walk humbly with God and worship him by serving him, listening to him and being as Christ-like as we can…
Worship as discipline
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
The words discipline and disciples are linked – God wants our discipline and when we devote ourselves to worshiping HIM
To work together as a church we best first work on ourselves – worship personally with discipline and reconcile OUR OWN-SELVES to God’s will.
2nd timothy – Paul says: 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you….. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline….
14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
20 Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
When God drew me close, it wasn’t because I was perfect, it was because I was so very flawed – so broken in so many ways that God wanted to work on –
I was broken – I am broken – we are all broken – but who is the one who came to the rescue? JESUS…
Jesus holds our brokenness together and makes us whole… I can feel him holding my heart in his hands squeezing it together…
Before accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior almost 2 years ago now – I see where I was and now I see where I still need to go…
As continuous sinners, God knows we seriously needed discipline…. I needed to listen and discern and I needed Jesus to lift me from my from my many denials – I even denied that Jesus existed as the Son of God…. I was so content in life without knowing HIM in me – I heard and taught all the stories but I didn’t feel Him – – I was ignorant and ignoring Him – and I was NOT feeding Him the LOVE He was giving me… I needed discipline and now I strive to worship with discipline…
Discipline means recognizing the SPIRIT placed in you, feeding and guarding the SPIRIT… there is no greater discipline to follow than to spend time in the WORD – read the bible and absorb the bible teachings – to immerse yourselves in trusting the path Jesus sets out for you…
See the beauty of my situation was that I was already in the network of ALL OF YOU – the church – you were already tending to God’s net, feeding His sheep, repairing the net, setting up new networks – and when God said “It’s time” – being with all of you truly allowed me to reach out for stability because God said: “watch this – let’s make Debbie’s head spin” … if I were Spider-Man, it’s like I sent out my own stabilizing web when I realized what God was asking me to do – I shot it out – stabilizing my web to the people I knew in the church – a dozen pastors – hundreds of laity… here in the church and those outside, BUT – even though I sent out that stabilizing web – I had to do what Spiderman is called to do – in order to follow God’s will – I had to let go – I had to swing on my own – I had to get off the wall – no more lukewarm believing in Jesus – I had to let go – swing like Spiderman – and know that Jesus was going to catch me – and He did – He caught me with the biggest open arms ever –
We all have long roads to travel still – and it is narrow – but it is sure… and we can worship with discipline
As I became devoted and compelled to spending time in god’s word, and reconciling it with my life –
God made me write it out – HE still does – nearly 500 BLOGS
God cut my excuses – He moved the mountain that was me!!!! He started healing me – told me to treat my body as a temple for God – enabled me to drop 65lbs – NOT for my own glorification, but in order for me to show that HE is my Lord!
He is the one who gives me HOPE – He is the one who focuses me…. we can all worship by finding that focus, by being disciplined disciples.
He has blessed me with discipline to learn how to sing when I wasn’t singer in order to sing HIS PRAISES – I have to listen in order to sing – to stay in tune – in music and in life I must LISTEN and be disciplined
And God placed me with the most amazing support system of Christians who understand me – who understand how earth-shattering my awakening has been to me – all these things are beyond my wildest dreams…
And now He is disciplining me to learn how to go out into the world to tell of His good works …
Who does that? God does that – why? Because God loves us – God loves me – God loves you too!!!!
Am I done? – FAR FROM IT – God pushes us out of our comfort zones and He always will – Even Paul acknowledged in the Bible that he also was STILL WORKING ON THIS!!! Philippians 3: 12-14 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
We, the whole church, are to worship as disciples
from Titus 2
“…our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
I urge us all to be like Spiderman – and get off that wall.
This brings me to my last example of active worship:
Worship as Sharing the Good News…
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We worship God by walking humbly, loving others and spreading justice and being disciples – we remember that living the bible is God’s desire for us… we are called to make disciples and share and especially to remember that God is with us always…
To share that message with our actions inside and out –
Our friend Wayne shared great advice he received: “Most people will never pick up a bible – it’s our actions are the only bible they will ever read” That’s the great commission – living the bible… We don’t have to freak people out, no need to sell it to people, just LIVE and LOVE knowing the grace and forgiveness gifted to you, AND THEN extend God’s gift of grace and forgiveness to all you meet….-
So to feed the world on the HOPE – is to be a witness – is to share how you have been blessed – share the immense blessing of PEACE …
It our duty and our privilege as laity – as the church – to participate in God’s plan- to worship and actively love God by being the church, by being the salt, to work on our sections of God’s net – to network and take every opportunity to “feed God’s sheep”…
Let me close with how Jesus gives us direction to share the good news – instruction by Jesus Himself to beloved but very flawed disciple Peter to reconcile him after denying Jesus three times – See God had a plan for Peter like he has a plan for us: From John 21: 15-17
….Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said,“Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time,“Do you love me?”He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said,“Feed my sheep.”