July 30, 2023 - Home Worship

For the week of July 23 to August 5 – 9th Sunday after Pentecost

Morning Prayer O God, teach us not to despise small things. Remind us that the kingdom of heaven is like a tiny mustard seed. Turn our attention to the small things that bless others. You have planted seeds of great potential in our souls. O God, You have entrusted us with gifts and graces that can bless many people. Help us not to overlook the smallest ability. Turn our attention to the small things that this congregation can do to make a tremendous difference in human lives. Amen.  (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #514 Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

  1. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross;

Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss.

From victory unto victory His army shall He lead,

till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

  1. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the trumpet call obey;

Forth to the mighty conflict, in this His glorious day.

Ye that are brave now serve Him against unnumbered foes;

Let courage rise with danger, and strength to strength oppose. 

  1. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, stand in His strength alone;

The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.

Put on the gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer;

Where duty calls or danger, be never wanting there.

  1. Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long;

This day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song.

To those who vanquish evil a crown of life shall be;

They with the King of Glory shall reign eternally.

Psalm 105:1-5, 7, 45b

O give thanks to the LORD, call on His name, make known His deeds among the peoples.

Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of all His wonderful works.

Glory in His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.

Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His presence continually.

Remember the wonderful works He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered,

He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth. Praise the LORD!

Children’s Time 1 Kings 3:5-12

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to Your servant my father David, because he walked before You in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward You; and You have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of the people whom You have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this Your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

Children’s Message

We remember King Solomon as wise, because that is what God called Solomon. He chose wisely, because of all the things Solomon could have asked God for, Solomon asked for an understanding mind and the ability to see the difference between good and evil.

Solomon asked for a gift that would benefit others so in return Solomon could be a blessing to others. He thought of others before he thought of himself. Now, that isn’t to say Solomon didn’t benefit from his gifts personally, he did. Leaders from around the region would come to Solomon for his advice and pay him with gold and harvests.

Solomon wanted to be a good king for Israel and for God.

What kinds of gifts should we ask God for? We can look to the fruits of the Spirit: goodness, kindness, patience, gentleness, love, joy, peace, faithfulness, and self-control. These are dual purpose gifts, just like Solomon’s wisdom. They benefit those around us and they benefit us. They help us to follow Jesus and to treat people and the world the way God desires for them to be treated. This is the very definition of our witness, to point people to God and God’s love for the world shown in his son, Jesus.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us, not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen. 

Offering spotlight: Today, July 30, has been designated by the United Nations as a day of awareness against trafficking in persons. Human trafficking is a scrouge, which is one of the reasons Lightstreet United Methodist supports the Women’s Center of Bloomsburg and Dwell Orphan Care.  The Women’s Center provides counseling and shelter for those who have been exploited.  Dwell supports foster families, giving children a support system who would not otherwise have it.  Get involved in your neighborhoods to support those who need it.  Prayerfully give your offering to this church and to these organizations. As we prayed in today’s opening prayer, “Turn our attention to the small things that this congregation can do to make a tremendous difference in human lives.”

Offering prayer: God of all blessings, Jesus inspired us through His teaching to see Your kingdom as a place where small things can have a mighty impact: a tiny mustard seed planted, or a bit of yeast mixed into the flour. We ask You this day to bless the gifts we offer, so that they may have a powerful impact when used according to Your purposes. Bless us that we might see glimpses of Your kingdom through our giving and grow in generosity in the process. In name of Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, we pray. Amen.  (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn: #540 I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord

  1. I love Thy kingdom, Lord, the house of Thine abode,
    the church our blest Redeemer saved with His own precious blood.
  2. I love Thy church, O God! Her walls before Thee stand
    dear as the apple of Thine eye, and graven on Thy hand.
  3. For her my tears shall fall, for her my prayers ascend,
    to her my cares and toils be given, till toils and cares shall end.
  4. Beyond my highest joy I prize her heavenly ways,
    her sweet communion, solemn vows, her hymns of love and praise.
  5. Sure as Thy truth shall last, to Zion shall be given
    the brightest glories earth can yield, and brighter bliss of heaven.

Scripture:  Matthew 13:31-33, 44-46

He (Jesus) put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Message:              Pastor Becky Cuddeback

Jesus is attempting to give us something to hang on to, to give us something to relate to in describing the Kingdom of Heaven. We have no first-hand experience; we only have Jesus who literally is the embodiment of the Kingdom of Heaven and He is trying to explain to us in terms we will understand.

In the gospel of Matthew the term Kingdom of heaven is used 32 times. This term is synonymous with the Kingdom of God. Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience and saying God’s name is prohibited, citing the commandment to not use the Lord’s name in vain. It is a broad hedge to keep them from sinning. So, Matthew uses the term Kingdom of heaven meaning where God’s will is done. It is the Kingdom of God’s reign. We pray these words together every Sunday and are part of our personal daily devotions in the Lord’s prayer. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. The Kingdom in two parts, the duality of the Kingdom beginning here and transcending into the eternal. We know it starts here as Jesus proclaims the Kingdom has been brought near and in the ending of His parables, He discusses the end of the age, which ushers in the complete reign of God. There is the kingdom now and later.

What is the Kingdom of heaven supposed to look like? How do we live into it and recognize it when we experience it? We will examine four of the parables to hear what Jesus is saying it is.

Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of seeds. It grows as a bush, yet it aspires to be a tree. When it is unconfined it does take on the attributes of a tree. It becomes an oasis, offering protection from the wind, rain, and sun. It offers food and the birds and small animals can make it a home. They are renewed and refreshed there. It calls all of creation to become a community, great and small.

Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast. Are you a successful bread baker? I am not. I bake quick breads, because I either boil yeast to death or freeze it to death. In my hands it cannot do its work, yet this tiny additive to flour causes growth and it uplifts. When fully risen, this lump of wet flour becomes a loaf which can feed more than its ingredients can on their own. Yeast is a living organism that brings life.

Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven is like a hidden treasure or a pearl. What would you sell or trade everything for? What is deserving of all you possess? That is a big question, maybe we can examine it this way-

Imagine when you have felt the most secure, loved, and at peace? Maybe it was the first time you saw your spouse, or held a new baby, or standing outside at midnight catching the first flakes of snow of the season. For each of us, this moment will be different and none of them are wrong or unimportant. If you could experience this moment again, would you? And what would you offer for it? We say things like “I’d give anything for just … ,” and we fill in the blank. I would give anything for just 5 more minutes with my grandfather.

Now that you possess that moment, that feeling and can recall it, what do you do with it? Does recalling it center you, bring you hope, focus you, could it become a lens for the present and the future?

Jesus is offering us something outside ourselves as a means of God’s will, surrounded by God’s grace. And we know it is grace because it is a salve to us, it heals us. When we live into it, not in large, broad strokes, but small detailed, deliberate measures others will experience the Kingdom because it is sustainable. We can offer space for others to be uplifted and feel the generosity of God. One small act at a time, so we are living into God’s will and bringing the Kingdom here.

Hymn: #522 Leave it There

  1. If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,

And you have to get along with meager fare,

Just remember in His Word how He feeds the little bird,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

Refrain: Leave it there, (leave it there) leave it there, (leave it there)

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there. (leave it there)

If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out;

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.  (leave it there)

  1. If your body suffers pain, and our health you can’t regain,

And your soul is almost sinking in despair,

Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.  Refrain:

  1. When your enemies assail, and your heart begins to fail,

Don’t forget that God in heaven answers prayer;

He will make a way for you, and will lead you safely through,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.  Refrain:

  1. When your youthful days are done, and old age is stealing on,

And your body bends beneath the weight of care,

He will never leave you then, He’ll go with you to the end,

Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.  Refrain:

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.