Finding and Responding to God (11/22/15)

Posted by on Nov 24, 2015 in Sermons | 0 comments

As we enter the holiday season, we get Busy.  We celebrate the gifts and presence of God… but do we see Him?  and when we see Him… what is our reaction?

The sermon on Nov. 22, 2015 was given by Andy Johns, a PUMC Advanced Lay Servant.

Click the below “Play” button to listen to the recording, then scroll down and follow along…


The scripture was Psalm 19.  Andy read from the New Living Testament (shown below).  Click the drop Down box to read…


Psalm 19

1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.

2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.

3 They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard.

4 Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.

5 It bursts forth like a radiant bridegroom after his wedding. It rejoices like a great athlete eager to run the race.

6 The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat.

7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

8 The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.

9 Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair.

10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.

13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. 


Stuff… Are You Connected to God?

Have you ever had a period in your life when you felt disconnected from God?  Our lives can get so busy.  We can get so filled with activity, responsibilities, and… Stuff!  Gadgets, toys… things.  All of this can get in the way of our ability to see God.  Especially during this holiday season.

ducks-15026__180_400x300Sometimes we can look like a duck.  On the surface of the water we appear to be calm; we’re floating along and we’re looking peaceful and in control.  But under the surface of the water, we’re frantically paddling away.  During this time of the year we’re constantly bombarded with those things that drive the underwater craziness.

During this time of the year… and throughout the year… we need to intentionally take action to fight back against the noise.  Otherwise, our vision and experience of God in our lives will be drowned out by the noise.

When we give Thanks; even in our prayers…

are we truly thankful for Jesus?  Are we thankful for Grace and the love from God?

Or are we superficially thankful for the “stuff” and gadgets that are in our lives?


OK… so how do you go about getting connected or re-connected to God?  What do you do if you’re disconnected?

We don’t have the answers.  But- God’s Word does!


Find God in His Creation…

Psalm 19 verses 1-6 is the first of three sections of this Psalm.  It reminds us that the Heavens declare God’s glory.  One way of connecting to God is to “listen” to His creation…

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.

Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.  There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.  Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber…

Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Psalm 19:1-6

There’s something powerfully special about worshiping God in the outdoors.  There’s  something about His creation that breathes fresh life into our spirits.  Sitting on a beach and gazing at the distant horizon inspires us to consider the greatness of God.  Sitting by a campfire outside of a lakeside cabin reminds us of the warmth of God’s love and tender provision.  The sounds and smells just speak to our souls.

But we need to listen.  We often have the tendency to miss this opportunities to connect with God.  Our natural tendency is to limit our vision to the immediate physical circumstances.  We complain that it’s too cold,  or too hot.  We complain about the ice on the tree limbs, or the leaves cluttering our lawn.  Instead of complaining, take a moment and stop.  Listen to what the “Heavens” are telling you about the glory of God!

We can use nature to look for God and to connect to Him in a special way.

When you think of leaves, do you think of this…

TrainTracksWestJerseyAve- Leaves _JMaz_400x300

or this…


It’s a choice. You can wonder at the creative power of God who uses leaves and the multitude of colors to frame elements of our surroundings… even railroad tracks.

We can see our surroundings and meditate on God’s creation, or we can see an obstacle and become trapped by our own sense of order.

To see God we have to take advantage of any opportunity to worship and to focus on Him instead of on our immediate human concerns.  We need to be tuned into God (see Pastor Jim’s 7/13/14 sermon).



Find God in His Word…

David:  He connected with God by gazing at the wonder of creation, by singing, by dancing.  And he  also restored his connecting with God by pondering God’s Word.  The Law, the inspired oral traditions, and every attribute of God drew David’s attention.  He described the Law- the things of God- as being “Sweeter than honey”…

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 19:7-11


Maybe you can’t find God in the great outdoors; maybe that’s not “your thing.”  Your idea of roughing it might be the Red Roof Inn!  God connects with us in different ways.  David found God in His Word.Bible - Dusty Shelf _0637

In our day and age, The Word primarily comes to us through the Holy Bible.  We need to know the Bible, but there’s a danger in knowing only about the Bible, and not knowing the Word in the Bible.  We can debate points of theology.  We can spend a lifetime learning about different translations, or creeds, or the history about the Bible.  To connect with God, we can’t just “know about the word.”  We have to connect with the “Living Word.”

If we are to “delight in the Word,” we need to READ The Word.  Follow the instructions from Deuteronomy 11:18-20…

Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. 

Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night.

Inscribe them on the doorposts and gates of your cities.

(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.)


Place on your hearts… Teach to your children… Talk wherever you are.  Get them deep inside.

Connecting with God through His Word isn’t just about “studying the Bible.”  Marvin Guice, a former PUMC pastor said:

“It’s not how many times you go through the Bible.
It’s how many times the Bible goes through you.”



David tells us today that we need to:

  • Read scripture Out Loud!  Read it to our kids (use an age appropriate translation).
  • Talk about scripture.  Tell the stories of Jesus.  Tell how the Bible affects you.
  • Be Receptive!  Scripture affects people in different ways.
  • Share.  Join with a small group.  Gather around Jesus.
  • Listen!  Each person brings their own experiences and perspective… learn from them.
  • Pray!  In your sharing, pray together.

The Bible has a way of speaking to us at just the right time with just the right words.  Really!  Try it sometime!  Get into the habit of reading (really reading) the Bible every day (consider a daily Bible reading plan).  You’ll be amazed at how it has a way of speaking to your current situation.

For the past weeks I’ve been working on this sermon and trying to identify the message I should give. Is is a coincidence that my daily email devotional this Thursday happened to be on Psalm 19?!?

Allowing the Bible to go through you isn’t a ouija board method where you randomly select a verse and expect it to answer your pressing need of the moment.  Ths Bible isn’t a once in a while thing;  we’re supposed to read it every day.  Allowing the Bible to go through you requires an intentional habit of opening yourself up to the Word and listening for those “coincidences” and the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit.


Found Him!  Now What?

But connecting with God doesn’t stop there.  Reflecting on a sunset or meditating on scripture can help you find God.  But David gives us a third point:  We have to Respond to God…

Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.

Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:12-14


David is pouring out his soul.  He’s repenting of his sins- the ones he knows about and the ones he doesn’t know about.

In his life, David did a lot of bad things.  We immediately think of his affair with Bathsheba and how he had her husband killed (2 Samuel11).  But he did a lot of good things too… a LOT of good things (like writing this Psalm).  Even with the lapses, David led a life of worship.  God called David “a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:21)

So how did he grow into that kind of relationship?  How did David become so connected with God?

David tells us in verses 12-14 that it’s not enough to see and hear God;  we need to do something about it.  We must receive God and then change our lives.

Change?  How?  Change “to what?”  When the lawyers of the day asked Jesus what the most important thing to do in this life is, Jesus replied (Matthew 22:37-39… and expanding on Deuteronomy 11:13)…

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 

This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   NIV


James (the brother of Jesus) says the same thing (James 1:22-25)…

 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror  and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.    NIV

Do we fully understand what the implications of these two truths are?

Allow the Word of God to change you!  God calls us through His creation and His Word.  but we must look and listen.  We must respond if we are going to connect with God.  There’s no such thing as a “Passive Christian.”  We must respond.  God calls us to do something with our faith.  Like the many people who God used in a mighty and everlasting way, we to must Go and Do.

We all remember Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus chapters 3 and 4).  But if he never left his comfort zone and went to Pharoah and told him to “Let my people Go!” we’d never have heard of Moses or his miraculous encounter with God.  God would have found someone else.

And yet, Moses was reluctant at first.  He grumbled.  He even argued with God.  He pleaded that God find someone else.

But God was calling him.  He went and did… and he connected with God.

We all remember Jonah and the the big fish that swallowed him (Jonah chapter 1).  But if he didn’t change his mind; step out of his comfort zone to obey God and warn Ninevah, we’d never have heard of Jonah or his miraculous encounter with God.  God would have found someone else.

But God was calling him.  He went and did… and he connected with God.

And what about Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father)?  His fiancee was “found to be with child.”  It was a disgrace!  Obviously Mary had been running around and cheating on Joseph.   (Matthew 1:18-25).  Joseph was wronged and it was his right (even obligation) to have this cheating woman stoned to death.  Joseph was going to divorce Mary.

But God called Joseph in a dream and Joseph responded.  He stepped out of his comfort zone.  But if he didn’t change his mind,  God would have found someone else.

But God was calling him.  He went and did… and he connected with God.


Cross Emmaus

Christ is counting on you

What is God calling  you to do? We live in a relatively safe and quiet small  town of Pitman.  But only 18 miles down the road is Camden; a place that looks much different from Pitman. Camden is a place with many needs… what are we doing about it?

God is saying to each of us “I need you!”  He may not be calling you do go to Africa or to preach a sermon.  But maybe He’s calling you to serve in the kitchen.  Maybe it’s to join with a small group.  Maybe it’s to usher. We need to respond.

If we don’t feel connected to God it could be because He found someone else.  Each of us needs to respond to the call that God has placed on our hearts.

We connect with God by meditating on His glory and by absorbing His Word.  But when we feel that connection, it will fade away unless we respond.  We not only need to look and listen.  We need to love.

Where is God calling us?  Let us get up and do it!



 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…



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