Sunday, February 15, 2015

DTR on Revival Ch.6 "Persevering to the End"

DTR on Revival Ch.6 “Persevering to the End”
PK here: I offer the following sermon by my friend, the Rev. David Ryan, pastor at Pastor David and I are simultaneously preaching a series based on Adam Hamilton’s book Revival. Here is what Pastor David has to say:

I love that old hymn – standing on the promises!
We probably should have sung that this morning.
I love the promises of God
I have counted them
I have believed in them
I have staked my ministry and yes, even my life on them.
I hold them dear to my heart
And have always found them to be true!

But here is one, I wish He had not given:
We find it in John 16:33.
The promise is this:
“In the world, you will have trouble!”.

How true is that!
And not just every day kinds of troubles.
But troubles that come to us because of our faith.

Adam Hamilton, in his book Revival says this:
“When you have vision, some will oppose it.
When you challenge the status quo, you’ll ruffle feathers.
When you are passionate, others will be skeptical.
When you see a measure of success, some will find you threathening.
When you seek to change things, you’ll encounter resistence”.

In this world…and even in the church sometimes….”you will
Have trouble”.
Now…praise be to God..that is not the end of the promise given.
The full promise says…
“In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world”.

And what that means is that if we are on the side of Christ…
Then we share in that overcoming!

That’s why we must not give up
At the first sign of trouble.
Indeed…we need to expect trouble
And be ready for it.
And if we never have trouble…well….maybe we are
Not really being bold enough in our faith.

The Wesleys – John and Charles
Knew all about trouble.
Of course, in following Christ, they brought it on
Themselves…but maybe that’s our calling too.

Wesley…was not the most diplomatic preacher!
He was a lot more bold that I usually am.

In his sermon “Scriptural Christianity”…
Wesley ended up saying this:

“You are a generation of triflers!
Triflers with God
With one another
And with your own souls!
How few of you spend, from one week to ather
A single hour in private prayer?
How few of you have any thought of God in the general tenor of your conversation?

In the name of the Lord God Almight, I ask,
What religion are you of?
Even the talk of Chrstianity you ye cannot, will not bear.

And guess what…he preached this sermon to a chapel full of

I guess he was not worried about offending folk…
Maybe we should not be so worried either…

Welsey believed that God expected more of us
Than just trying to be better than the bad people.
We are called to love, to faithfulness
To works of mercy that we talked about last week.

But his preaching of that brought him trouble!
His fellow preachers thought he meddled to much!
Oh that we might so meddle!
But you know what they did?
Those fellow preachers?
They hired thugs and rabble-rousers
To try to break up his meetings.

Through out his life,
Wesley, when he preached was booed.
More than booed – rotten vegetables were thrown at him
Sometimes manure…and worse yet, rocks.
But Wesley never let that get him down.
If it did get him down…literally, he got back up again.

And I would have to think
That the only way that was possible
Was because he was sure he was speaking not his words
Or his thoughts alone, but Gods.
And not to offend people…but to help them
To call them to a new way.

Welsey was not alone.
I’ve been trying to be faithful about reading
Through the scriptures.
Not long ago I read in the book of Numbers
About a time that Moses was having trouble.

The people he was trying to lead were moaning and groaning.
They were asking..why did you bring us out here in the wilderness
To die?
We were better off when we were slaves, at least we had
Cucumbers to eat!
They would trade their freedom and their calling to follow God
For Cucumbers?

You know what Moses said?
We find this in Numbers 11.
He says..
God just kill me now!
I don’t want to do this anymore.
I want to give up.

But of course, he did not give up.
He persevered, and continued leading God’s people.

Wesley didn’t give up, despite the opposition he faced.

Adam Hamilton shares a story of Martin Luther King.
Late one night, in January of 1956
King received a threatening phone call.
It wasn't the first he had received, but that night
Feeling exhausted and drained, both physically and emotionally
That phone call hit him hard.

It discouraged him – and he seriously considered giving up.
But instead of giving up, he gave it up to God in prayers.
And King says that that night, sitting at his kitchen table
He experienced God’s presence as he never had before.
He heard God’s voice telling him to keep standing up
For truth and righteousness.
That experience strengthened him for the rest of his service to God.
Imagine..if he had given up.

Adam Hamilton, who is pastor of our largest UM Church, shares
That after a particularly discouraging time, he said to his wife
I think I am just going to give up.
He said…his wife asked him…is God calling you to quit…or are you just giving up”?  Adam did not quit. And the church under
His leadership continued to do great things.
Ministry is hard.
And I am not just talking about the work of the clergy.
The ministry we are all called to is hard.
Sometimes it might make us unpopular.

Wesley was influenced by Proverbs 31:8-9
Which says…
“Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of
All the destitute, Speak out , judge righteously,
Defend the rights of the poor and needy”.

In his late 60s…when he could have been taking it easy,
Wesley began to speak out against slavery.
Many of the members of the Methodist Societies were slave owners. Slaves were crucial to their wealth.
Others were abolitionists.

One time when Wesley was preaching against slavery,
Here’s what happened in the congregation
“The people rushed upon each other
With the utmost violence, the benches were broke
In pieces, and nine-tenths of the congregation appeared
To be struck with the same panic”.

I want to stir folk up sometimes in my preaching…
But…never had any pews broken!
And….really….not sure we need to go there…
BUT….where is our passion?
Are we so afraid of offending another
That we say nothing?

Are we just willing to “live and let live”…
When we should be trying to make a difference?
I don’t know.
I think we could be doing better…maybe not pew breaking..
But not being afraid of a heated discussion!

Wesley also meddled with people’s money.
And you know…that’s another thing that sure can get
People riled up.

I was reading some reports of a couple of churches.
And one of the questions asked was…
Do you preach/encourage tithing?
And they said NO.

Maybe I don’t do that enough.
But let me tell you folks…
We are called to tithing
Starting with a 10% of our income going to the Lord’s work –
Wherever and however he is calling us to support.

Wesley was afraid that money was going to harm
People’s soullife.
And so he taught this…which I think is good….
“Gain all you can. Save all you can. Give all you can:.

Nothing wrong with making money.
Wesley believed that we should earn all we are capable of,
Providing we don’t; hurt others, including ourselves,
In that process.

Then Wesley said, with the money we have gained
We need to save all we can….don't spend our money
In a frivolous way…avoid spending money on nonessentials
Don’t spend your money just to impress other people.

And the reason to earn and save all we can
Is so that we might give all that we can give.

Even as Welsey’s wealth increased,
He didn’t change his lifestyle
He kept it simple.
He began to earn more and more money,
Especially through the books he wrote

Wesley started his life and ministry tithing.
Giving ten percent of his income to God.
Over time he increased this giving
And by the end of his life, it is said
That he was living on 10% and giving away 90%
To the work of God.

That’s kind of staggering isn’t it?
It’s a challenge to me.
Maybe it is to you too.
And maybe you want me to leave you
And your money alone.
But guess what….
I love you too much to do that.

I want to encourage your faithfulness!

All the way to the end of your life.

Wesley lived to be eighty-seven years old.
That was a pretty advanced age in the 1700s.
I don’t know if you will find this gross or not.
I hope not.
But here’s a picture of Wesley’s death mask.
It was a practice in those days,
To put a plaster over a persons face
Just after they died
As a way of remembering them.
This deathmask is housed in the World Methodist Museum
Where I was this fall.

Wesley taught about perseverance in life.
He never gave up…until his body gave out.
But even then, he wanted, he said, to die a holy death.

Wesley had often taught about holy dying
He wanted us to think about how even in our dying
We could be faithful witnesses.

I’ve been with folks as they died.
Some died a holy death…some not so much.
But for those who did…it really was a precious time.
A time when children and grandchildren and friends
Had time to share.
To express love.
To offer forgivness
To be at peace.
To affirm that while this was the end of their life on this earth
It was not the end of them
That because of their faith, they would all be gathered again
At the throne of Christ.

Wesley was surrounded with friends at his death.
It is remembered that Wesley's last words were
“The best is this…God is with us”
He also tried, with his last breaths to sing.

“I’ve praise my maker while I’ve breath
And when my voice is lost in death
Praise Shall employ my nobler powers
My days of praise shall ne’er be past
While life, and thought and being last,
Or immortality endures”….

We are the church we are today, in part at least,
Because Wesley persevered.
He did not give up.
He gave his all to God and to the Church.
He tried to lead a life that was yielded.

And I pray that the same will be said of you
And of me at the time of our deaths.

That we were people who loved God, who grew in knowing God,
Who served God.

Make your life count God
Oh..I know…we don’t do it ourselves.
We have talked of that sanctifying grace.
But let that grace into your life.

Yield daily to him.
Almost every day since November,
I have been literally kneeling before God
And I have been praying the covenant prayer
It’s been changing me.
I encourage you to do likewise.
Or however else God may be leading you –
But find a way, to daily yield to him
To let all things be in his keeping.

Because, you know, when we do that,
All things are well.
No persecution matters.
No storms can truly disturb us.
No want can shock us.
We are his, and he is ours.

Keep on keeping on folks.
To the end…and beyond the end
To that which comes next!

Let’s end this series praying
That covenant prayer together again.

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt
Rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing
But me to suffering
Let me be employed for thee
Or laid aside for thee
Exalted for thee
Or brought low for thee.
Let me be full
Let me be empty
Let me have all things
Let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
To thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed god
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it,
And the covenant which I have made on earth
Let it be ratified in heaven.


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