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GIVEN HONOR sermon Ocean View Methodist May 26, 2013 • It’s been a full weekend for me as we celebrated my birthday

yesterday and our 11 year anniversary. • Birthdays are so awesome because it’s a whole day where people really bless you and love on you. • This birthday was honestly my BEST EVER and I’ll tell you why. • I was woken up yesterday by Casey and my two kiddos bringing me breakfast in bed with a candle and singing happy birthday. • Then Casey arranged for KIEREN to give me her own gift. She decorated the bag it was in, and it was all things she would also like and we could do together. Nail polish, hair bands (she loves to do my hair lately), and lip gloss that she has already taken as her own. It was so special to receive a gift from HER and it was VERY THOUGHTFUL. Then Casey had his OWN gift for me and a card filled with beautiful words. BEST. GIFT. EVER. • Casey really got it right yesterday. He made the day special, included the kids, got little things that were thoughtful, and wrote down in words what I mean to him. EXACTLY WHAT I WANTED. • It’s been a full week leading up to yesterday for me, and it hasn’t all been presents and breakfast in bed. • Just one week ago as we left church we learned about the horrific incident Ryan and Reece Yon were involved in that resulted in the death of another boy. • In a moment, the life of the Yon family was changed forever, and two boys that we love and who grew up in this church, now forevermore will have the death of another person deeply embedded in their memory. • I have been seeking God a lot this week. It’s been a heavy week and I have called out to God. Why did this happen? How did this happen? How did WE let this happen GOD?? • God led me to the book of James this week. I want to speak to us very practically. I don’t think any of us are to BLAME for the murder that occurred last week, but I think it’s a wake up call.

 

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• I think God just wants to open our eyes from ourselves to move in action with the world around us. We can’t just sit around anymore and let things happen. It’s not happening to other people. We too are being destroyed by the corruption, perversion, and darkness of this community. • God brought me to the book of James this week, and what I love about this book is that it’s about action. This is the book of the Bible that says, “Faith without works is dead.” This means that if we are just focusing on what we believe but it never works its way out into our world then we have a problem. Then God isn’t really alive in us. • It’s not about what happens in this church, what really matters is how it affects the world out there. And to be honest, I don’t think it’s affecting the world out there enough. • I think God brought me to this scripture this week because I became enraged on Wednesday night at our community meeting about the LACK of action and deeds happening in Ocean View. • As an aside, I want to say thank you for those of you who attended the meeting on Wednesday for our community. We were one of TWO churches represented and had a huge crowd. Well done for being involved. • So during this meeting the man who was in charge of social services for our entire city was saying that Ocean View needs more statistics saying people are being abused, raped, and neglected. He was saying we weren’t doing our job and that we needed to get people to report crimes more often. It was almost as if he didn’t believe what is going on in this community, like it must not be as bad as we are making it out to be. • I couldn’t take it. I don’t like to be the white lady that talks in those meetings because who really cares what I think, I am the white outsider, but I couldn’t take it. My hand went STRAIGHT up and finally I shared. • I said we needed protection over our community. We need more police. We need safe houses. We need more resources and stronger networks. Drug and crimes are running rampant and people are too scared to report, they are too intimidated to come out of the shadows. • And I will tell you that the city DID listen to us on Wednesday and have promised to bring more services and resources here. But it’s still not enough. Something must be done. • The next night, on Thursday night with my women, we were again discussing some of the issues in our community. We were talking about Ryan and Reece and how incidents like this are happening more and more.

 

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We were talking about the drugs and anger and violence and darkness in Ocean View. • In talking about these tragedies, my friend Bernadette shared a story about how she was leaving the day hospital here in Ocean View one day and saw two young men fighting. It got pretty heated and then they walked away. But a few minutes later one of them came back with an AX and was shouting and looking for the other one. So Bernadette was suddenly filled with bravery and went and spoke to the man. She just tried to calm him and said he didn’t want to make a mistake and do something like this. And you know what happened? He chopped her arm off!! No just kidding, he could have, obviously it’s a scary situation, but he calmed down and put down the ax. And then he actually said to her, “Thanks Auntie, I really didn’t want to do that.” And he walked home. • I was so moved by her story. But immediately I thought. WHY DIDN’T WE DO THAT EARLIER WITH THE BOYS FROM OUR OWN CHURCH?? It was a Sunday morning when it happened; surely people were around, why didn’t anyone stop the fight? Later when boys were beating up Reece, why did Darion have to be the one to break it up? Why didn’t anyone step in? • Okay, so maybe you think I’m crazy and we probably shouldn’t step into a knife fight. You are probably right. But what about the day before. Or the week before? Evidently this battle between these boys was going on for a week? Why didn’t anyone intervene? Or even earlier, why didn’t I spend more time with Reece when he was in youth? Why didn’t we reach out more to Ryan when we knew he was getting into Rastafarianism? Why did we stay away? How could we have let this happen to them?? • The book of James is asking the same question. Listen to this: James 4:1-6 What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. 4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?
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6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble.” • This scripture is pretty intense, but it’s very appropriate even for us on this Sunday morning. James is not a letter to the gangsters or the prostitutes. This is a letter to the CHURCH. • So this is addressed to people who love God, but often are living in a way that is opposite from what they should. They have faith but no works, and so what comes out is really dead. • Let me break this down for you so you understand it. There are two problems that James is addressing that I think he is addressing in us too. First he is saying that anything we ask for and seek is only for our own pleasure. Then he is saying we love the things of the world more than we love God. These things go hand in hand. We want for ourselves and we want what we think will PLEASE ourselves. • We may be praying ‘thy will be done,’ but what we really mean is, ‘MY WILL BE DONE.” • We are constantly being driven by our own passions, our own desires, our own lust, our own longing to possess more, our desire for prestige and greatness, what is deep within us that seeks out what WE NEED and WE DESERVE • The prayer of our heart is really, “God, PLEASE MY WILL BE DONE!” My dreams be fulfilled! My success be realized! My way of thinking be proved right! Give me what I want God! • I honestly can relate to this so much. My first year of marriage was not at all like it is today at 11 years. I was constantly frustrated with Casey. We fought all the time. We didn’t understand each other at all. I remember thinking, how could this guy who claims he is a man of God treat me so poorly and so obviously overlook how he is supposed to take care of me? • Pretty harsh accusations right? Well the problem was that I was totally focused on how he needed to serve and cater me, and never looked at my own faults and problems and how I needed to serve and love HIM. • This actually happens often. We are in a relationship with someone and we ‘KNOW’ that it should go two ways, but we really we are just thinking about our own needs. We often are focused on ourselves and our own way of doing life. This was me our first year of marriage. It was all about what I needed, what I wasn’t getting, who Casey needed to be for ME.

 

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• And you know where that gets us? Not far. It either gets us one of two places. Either we get where we want to go but we are completely alone. You know those people. The completely selfish and rich and successful but ALONE people. All they worried was about themselves, and they got there, but no one was there with them. • OR we are focused on ourselves, but still somehow surrounded by people. And guess how that looks. It’s pretty messy. If we are constantly focused on our own needs and on being right, then the people around us can never be right and so we are constantly fighting with them. • That was Casey and I. We were in relationship because we didn’t want to just run away, but we were constantly fighting because we were both totally focused on our own way and desperately trying to prove it to the other person. • Seeking your own way will always end in you being alone or in you fighting to prove you are right. • God sees all this, and He is not satisfied with our lives. • We may be sitting in church, we may put on Christian songs when people come around, we may forward a Christian email, but in our hearts we are really in love with the world. We want what the world has, we want it the way other people have it, and we want other people to make those dreams our reality. We are really in love with ourselves; we are really in love with our way. • The problem with that is that f we are seeking ourselves, if we are even praying or worshipping God out of a selfish heart that seeks for our own desires, then we can NEVER TRULY SEE AND EXPERIENCE GOD. • We may be saying words to God, we may be singing here on a Sunday morning, we may even agree with God’s word or a sermon being preached, but we will never really see God without giving up self and saying THY WILL BE DONE • It’s not just that it doesn’t honor God, but is separates us from truly seeing God, and even more it separates us from other people. We either end up alone or at odds. • I think of the story in the Old Testament of Jacob and his brothers. His brothers lived for themselves. They were jealous, they were selfish, they were scheming. They tried to kill him, steal his glory, hide him away forever. But Jacob wasn’t like them. Jacob not only worshipped God with his words but with his heart. Jacob was struck down but never destroyed.

 

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Jacob was persecuted but never without hope. Jacob understood the principle of James 4. Let me read on. James 4:7-10 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. • Jacob’s reality was that he faced ultimate persecution and hardship, but he always did life God’s way. He always humbled himself and resisted temptation and the devil. He didn’t have an affair with a woman throwing himself at her, he didn’t despair when lies and persecution were thrown at him, he didn’t try to get revenge on those who had hurt him before. • In Jacob’s world, and definitely ours too, the devil was a real force that threatened him at every side. In our world today, Satan is powerful, but he is not invincible. With the power of the blood of Jesus Christ, he HAS to flee us when we come up against him with the armor of God. • Just like Jacob who completely humbled himself before God, we must do the same, and God will lift us up in HIS time. • Jacob didn’t seek his own ways. Jacob didn’t try to convince everyone to see the world through his eyes. Jacob wasn’t more in love with the world than God. Jacob trusted God and humbled his will to allow God’s will to be done. He served God and others first and eventually God lifted him up. • You see God doesn’t want you to just give up everything so you can lie in a ditch miserable. He wants to bless you and prosper you. He wants to help you and give you hope. He wants to lift you up and give you honor. But it doesn’t happy your way, it happens GOD’S WAY. • God’s way is that we must become less. We must bow down. We must humble ourselves like our example, Jesus Christ. • Then GOD will lift us up. • But this isn’t a magic formula. It happens when we submit to God. Humble ourselves. Pray THY KINGDOM COME. • In our world today, we are definitely in need of some kingdom coming. Two beloved members of our church are in prison today, their future’s

 

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threatened. And I think we all missed an opportunity to step in and live out faith like James is talking about. For me, I knew Reece was struggling. I should have talked to him more. I should have visited. I should have tried to relate to him more. I should have shown him more love. I’m not saying it’s my fault or it’s your fault, but to me it’s a wake up call. What is happening in our homes and on our streets is not okay. When are we going to stop blaming the government and the police and STAND UP and LIVE the kingdom out in the streets. We worship a living God and we PRAY that his kingdom would come, but then we walk on by while people are literally killing one another. I want to be like Bernadette and walk out and stop someone before doing something they regret. I don’t want any more Reece’s and Ryan’s. I want God to lift us up. I want God to give the Yon family honor. I want the kingdom to come in Ocean View. I am tired of just feeling it in here. I want to see it OUT THERE. But the way that happens is by laying down myself and looking to serve others. Whose life can you step into. Who can you love better? Who needs you to enter in and speak about Jesus? Who are you quarreling with? Who do you need to forgive? In your relationships, are you seeking your own way and just for your own needs to be met? How can you lay down your needs and will to serve and love the other person. UNITY BRINGS BLESSING. We need blessing. WE need Jesus. We need action. We need you and me. “God not MY kingdom come, but THY kingdom come.” Humble me Lord and use me.

 

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