Trusting God (Part 1) – Overcoming Ourselves
June 5, 2024 Creekwood United Methodist Church

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Trusting God (Part 1)

“Overcoming Ourselves”

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4 NRSV

At the gathering this week of our North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, John 6 was an oft referred to passage of scripture. Bishop Ruben Saenz reminded us of how Jesus fed the 5,000 with just 5 loaves and 2 fishes, when the disciple Philip thought it would be impossible.

Later, Rev. Stan Copeland from Lovers Lane UMC preached the memorial service, and highlighted a later part of John 6, including vs. 60:

“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”

I ruminated on the fact that if we’re honest, we’ve probably echoed the disciples’ sentiments in our heads 1,000 times too. They/We have seen Jesus come through again and again. They/We have known over and over that following Jesus is the best way. And even then, we find it too difficult to trust in God’s way in our next moment.

Just look at the scripture I started with from Philippians 2. Who amongst us really buys into this teaching 100%. Yes, we like to be charitable. Yes, we like to be kind. But how difficult is it to fully buy in to the actions of sacrificial love and generosity. How troubling is it to think that I should not just give some of my time to others, but my life should be a constant gift to the world around me – lifting up others instead of myself, because that’s what Jesus did (does) and we have been adopted into the Spirit of Christ Jesus through our faith.

Maybe you’re still thinking it doesn’t sound that hard, but what if I asked you to give 20% more than you are currently giving so that we could help rebuild a sanctuary in Royce City destroyed by fire?

What if I asked you to forget about your own kids’ soccer game in order to host a soccer league for kids whose parents have to work nights, weekends, and everything in between?

What if I asked you to choose to pay every employee in the company a wage that allows their kids to attend college, knowing you will have to give up some luxuries along the way?

What if I simply asked you to give up one Sunday morning hour a year (or even a month) to lead our kids into the deep love of Jesus through Sunday school?

If I asked you your opinion on the music in worship, would your first response be, “I know someone else who is so inspired by it?”

If I asked you what your #1 priority for your church experience, would your first response be the people who are lonely and isolated in our community or those who need hope?

When Easter comes around, will we naturally think to park further away if we are physically able so that those who come once a year (or for the first time) feel the deepest honor and have the best experience?

Philippians is an interesting letter, because Paul is writing to the people he’s not upset with or who aren’t dealing with a crisis of theology of community disruption. They are the people who sent him gifts to help him in prison. Epaphroditus even left the community of Philippi to go attend to Paul in prison. Paul is pretty consistent across his letters, but the Philippians seem to get a little more trust…because they exhibit more trust.

They are willing to live the fullness of the way, truth, and life of Jesus without reservation, and in doing so, they find themselves fully blessed beyond any of their own control.

It’s the odd community that follows Jesus, and realizes that true happiness doesn’t come with getting our own way, but giving ourselves away – giving ourselves to God.

During the month of June, we will be thinking through what it means to “trust in God.” This goes along with the main theme of VBS, and our sermon series and deep thoughts will hopefully challenge us to at least explore the idea of what level of trust we are on. We will not shame anyone, because we are all exploring and growing, and the moment we believe we are better at trusting God than someone else, we’ve elevated ourselves to the judgment seat and stopped relying on God’s justice and judgment.

That’s the tricky thing about trust – it takes us out of the control seat. But, honestly, isn’t that a better place for God than us anyways?

Trust Exercise #1

Pray Outside of Ourselves

In the Leadership Board update the Linda Judd and I sent out, we updated you that the Board voted to become a Covenant Partner with The Gathering, a United Methodist Church plant in Anna, pastored by Pastor Dallen Morgan, who you can meet below.

https://oh5dfbuab.cc.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001Ww9284mn-CWgpYvh-EIoKQfz7lGCrlQiIvpiD440dV07LNUPV-7ILoATL87zg8KhKzJTTlCqr8SP0nym6XP_fRnBxx8K18Col5VLTcPw6O_9bPoxJB1ICpUjiHfmrRUIvoeVHkaK1t-eAAcv_EVd_MxjSZ4gEF37&c=B4i2-T-aKdIbhTZYYb6WZo2lGdtXI57U2hF885JKZfjviPhJb-NDnQ==&ch=o-pNEMEfRAAAP-FAIc44VDlgNBLhqAlD8_6VO9A4HySvhpZVYyoiPw==

Becoming a Covenant Church means (at the moment) that we will commit to pray for The Gathering regularly in worship and our small groups, that we will take at least 2 special offerings from them annually, and that we will commit to rallying volunteers for their events 2-3 times a year. It also means they are going to pray for us, support us when they can, and Pastor Dallen has offered to come teach/guest preach when needed.

It’s a start.

In all transparency, the Board took this on in faith AND strategy.

Faith that God is doing something amazing in Anna, one of the fastest growing cities in Texas, after Anna UMC burned down a few years ago. The Gathering is growing and already reaching people with Christ through AA, Men’s Group, and more.

But also Strategy, because we felt like it was time for Creekwood to stop only focusing on our needs post-COVID, post-land sale, etc. Creekwood was a church plant itself only 22-23 years ago, because other trusting people were willing to look outside of their own needs to the needs of others, looking out for the spiritual interests of those in our area – and look where we are today because of their trust in God!

Our first challenge in trusting God is to look to the needs and interests of others, which always, always, always starts with prayer. Prayer for them, and prayer for our hearts to be centered in the mind and vision of Christ and not our own sight, which is limited and often self-centered.

I hope you’ll join me in praying each day in the month of June for The Gathering in Anna, as we overcome ourselves to best serve Jesus.

Peace,

David Lessner

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