Onaway & Millersburg UMC
Saturday, February 27, 2021
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Sermon

 

ONAWAY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

HOME WORSHIP SERVICE

First Sunday of Lent, February 21st, 2021

Welcome & Invitation to Worship

Call to Worship                          
God said, “I will be your God.”
God has promised. God remembers. God is faithful.
God said, “I will lead you in the paths of truth.”
God has promised. God remembers. God is faithful.
God said, “I will forgive you.”
God has promised. God remembers. God is faithful.
God said, “My kingdom is near.”
God has promised. God remembers. God is faithful.  
Let us worship our faithful and wonderful God together!

Worship in Song        Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days          269

Prayer of Confession
Most merciful and loving God, we declare before You that we have sinned against you, whether we realize it or not. Forgive us for the lack of love in our lives; that we did not love you, the Lord, with all our hearts, with all our being, and with all our minds. Forgive us that we did not love our neighbor as we love ourselves. God, forgive us that even though we did not love and take care of ourselves whom you love. Forgive us and give us more loving spirit and heart in our lives. Amen.

Worship in Response        Create Me a Clean Heart                                           

Words of Assurance

Old Testament Reading                                                  Psalm 25:1-10

Worship with Tithes & Offerings

Prayer of the People

Announcements

New Testament Reading                                                  1 Peter 3:18-22

Message              Lent: Reflection & Preparation #1                 Psalm 51

We are going though the season of Lent, which is a time for not only preparation for Easter but also penitence, solemnity, spiritual focus, self-denial, and repentance. That sounds very boring and heavy; however, it is a really important time for our spiritual journey. God asks us to reflect on ourselves, prepare our hearts, and return to God!

For that the first step, we should do is to reflect on ourselves and confess our sin in order to make our hearts cleaned by Christ as we just praised a hymn. So, for the first of the series sermon during Lent, " Lent: Reflection & Preparation," I would like to discuss confession and repentance.

Psalm 139:23-24 says: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." The psalmist is inviting God, who knows us very well, to continue God's work in God, by searching and knowing our hearts and by exposing "any wicked ways." Also, psalmist asks God to lead us in the way everlasting, which is pleasing God.

Most of us are acutely are aware of God's knowledge of all the things in and about us, and yet we often find ourselves minimizing and trying to hide things from God. That sounds ironic, but sometimes we do that.

During the Lenten season, opportunity is provided to practice allowing God access to all the ways we fail. God knows it anyway, but it's a time to recognize that God knows. This season of repentance invites God to examine our hearts and slows us down enough to hear him to reveal those dark places that need his light.

There is one of the great examples of prayer of confession in the Bible. Let us read that passage together, [Psalm 51]

It is a popular psalm. And, when we talk about confession, this psalm always comes up together. Psalm 51 was written by King David, who was the greatest king in Israel's history. The Bible accounts that he loved, feared and followed God during his life as much as described, "a man after God's own heart."

As we know, he wrote many psalms to praise God and he loved worshiping God. Even though he was really faithful and worshipful person, he was also a human so not perfect. He made terrible, even evil choices in his life - he committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranged the murder of Uriah, who was David's faithful solider and Bathsheba's husband.

After he was confronted by Nathan about his sin against Bathsheba and Uriah, David repented of what he had done and prayed. The psalm has two simple divisions: In the first twelve verses (Psalm 51:1-12) the penitent's confessions and plea for pardon, and then in the last seven (Psalm 51:8-19) his anticipatory gratitude, and the way in which he resolves to display it.

It is the poetry of a person who is keenly aware of his failings and need for God's intervention. It is a psalm that models to the modern believer how repentance sounds. David asks for mercy and forgiveness, not based on his own ability to make it up to God but instead rooted in the character of God. (Psalm 51:1-3). He knows that he is has sinned - not only against his neighbor but against God.

He was a king, not just a king, but a great king, and it was not surprising or sinful that a King has many wives and ordered his solder where to go; however, he knew that it was against God not against the law. He focused more on how God thinks of him not how he looked others. He reflected on himself in God-centered perspective. Thus, he confesses his sin (vv. 4- 5) in front of God.

Sometimes, people feel uncomfortable to listen this fact, we are all sinner; "I didn't do any crime or illegal things in my life, I don't know why I am sinner and what to confess and resentence." David's prayer tells us that, our repentance is based on reflecting on ourselves in front of God, who knows us well and who looks at our heart. God knows our hearts - our hatred, anger, selfishness, jealousy, inappropriate lust, pride, judging others, greedy, lack of love, and so on, although you can hide from other people. 

Back to David's prayer, David asked God to remove his sin and cleanse him (vv. 6-10). He asks that God restore in him joy, assurance in his salvation, and tenderness toward the Holy Spirit (vv. 11- 12). He desires to remain in humble obedience and to testify of God's salvation and forgiveness (vv. 13- 19) moving forward.

Repentance, as David shows us, is a deliberate act on our part to be humble, to seek forgiveness, to turn from the sin that we are entangled in, and to live in God's empowerment over sin through the Holy Spirit. Repentance helps us counter our tendency toward unchecked sin and self-righteousness. It should be a common practice of the Christian - not only during Lent but all through the year.

Repentance does not negate earthly consequence - David's sin had devastating consequences - but repentance does free us from the spiritual consequences of our sin. We are brought into right relationship with God again. It can seem that taking a solemn look at our sin is defeatist.

Why is confession good? It’s very uncomfortable for us to confess that we have done anything wrong. This is especially true if no one knows about our wrongdoings. However, confession is good for our soul.

We need to admit this, Confession is not easy. We don't want to see or to be seen our faults, sins, flaws and mistakes; however, it saves our spirit and heart. Also, the important fact we should remember, it is possible because of Jesus Christ, who is our Savior. Through him, we are forgiven. Forgiveness is most powerful when we’ve done nothing to deserve it. Forgiveness is most powerful when we are facing who we are in front of God and we are confessing what we have done against God.

Repentance is the matter of our relationship between God. For that, we must hold together two realities that converge at the cross- our corruption and God's grace. If we divorce the two, then our hearts, we may swell with pride and self-sightedness, or failing to fully enjoy the love, grace, and mercy of God through Jesus Christ. Mercy and forgiveness are found through repentance and are rooted in the goodness of God’s character, not our own ability to do better.

We just started a way to go in this Lenten season. The journey is about seeking a way that is not our own, but following the pathway to God’s heart. You will never experience the abundant life that Christ wants for you until you deal with the thing or things that are holding you back in your relationship with God. And the way we do that is through repentance. I hope that during this lent, you listen to God's call for you and return to God though your repentance in Christ. I hope you can change your life and your heart to be clean in front of God through our confession and repentance. Given with our humble heart, then we can change our direction toward God and experience "the amazing grace" God grants.

First, pray for yourself and confess what you have done against God's will honestly and ask for God's mercy and forgiveness. But, remember repentance cannot be only words and prayers; it must also include action and change rooted in God's goodness and empowerment. I hope this Lent is the time to reflect on ourselves and repent our sins, and return to God with whole ourselves and lives.

I would like to close today's message with Daniel's prayer. In Daniel 9, the prophet prays that God will forgive people because of God’s character, not on the basis of their righteousness. As Christians, we are called to model God’s forgiveness toward others. So, I will close my message with his prayer...

It is a fairly long passage, but please focus on the words of prayer..  [Daniel 9:4-19]

 “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

11 “All Israel has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice. So the curse and the oath written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. 12 He has confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers, by bringing upon us a calamity so great that what has been done against Jerusalem has never before been done under the whole heaven. 13 Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us. We did not entreat the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and reflecting on his fidelity. 14 So the Lord kept watch over this calamity until he brought it upon us. Indeed, the Lord our God is right in all that he has done; for we have disobeyed his voice.

15 “And now, O Lord our God, who brought your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and made your name renowned even to this day—we have sinned, we have done wickedly. 16 O Lord, in view of all your righteous acts, let your anger and wrath, we pray, turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy mountain; because of our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors, Jerusalem and your people have become a disgrace among all our neighbors. 17 Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, and for your own sake, Lord, let your face shine upon your desolated sanctuary. 18 Incline your ear, O my God, and hear. Open your eyes and look at our desolation and the city that bears your name. We do not present our supplication before you on the ground of our righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercies. 19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, listen and act and do not delay! For your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people bear your name!”

 

Worship in Response           The Old Rugged Cross                     504

Prayer of Dismissal & Blessing