First United Methodist Church
Plymouth, Indiana

Sermons and Messages

Although I believe that God expected and deserved the faith and trust of Israel, it was not until the incarnation of Christ that humanity really understood what it means to experience God with us. I don’t think the Israelites complained anymore than we do in our everyday lives. The difference is that we aren’t struggling for our survival in the wilderness.
Both lessons this week remind us of God’s generosity and this is one of those times when we have to take a God-view of the world. At this time of the year I often think of the early settlers in Plymouth. With the onset of winter following a poor harvest, I wonder if they looked back on their lives in Europe and forgot about the persecution and poverty they faced there.
In our gospel today, Jesus reminds us that there are no shortcuts when it comes to the Kingdom of God. When Peter asks, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often shall I forgive? As many as seven times?” And Jesus says to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Seventy-seven times? Other translations say seventy times seven. Either way, that’s a lot of forgiveness.

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For the past several months, I have been trying to overcome an injury in my hip that has limited my ability to walk, let alone run. As I have slowly begun to regain strength and can do some normal things like going up and down stairs and walking without a limp, I dream about running and wish that I might be able to start training to race again.
When Paul wrote his letter to Timothy, he was probably expecting to be arrested at any moment – which indeed happened, and he was thereafter martyred. He could have avoided coming to that point, but it would have meant not being faithful to Christ and his work. But he has no complaints. He looks back over his life with first, acceptance.
As we begin our journey toward Commitment Sunday, let’s start with a check-up. Find your heartbeat – you can find it on your wrist, or you can find it on your neck. Did everyone find a pulse? If we checked our spiritual pulse, what would we find? Over the next couple weeks, we will find some ways to check our spiritual health.
The Bible is written in such a way that it is not simply a narrative of past events. It contains stories about God’s people and it reveals God’s presence among us. It is past, present and future, and it becomes personal when you see your life as a continuation of these stories.
In our gospel, Jesus’ parable speaks of this interdependence that Tutu describes in the lives of the rich man and Lazarus. As the rich man enjoys his wealth and abundance, he may not even notice the beggar at the door and, if he does, Lazarus is an inconvenience, standing in the way of enjoying his property, and frankly a blight on the neighborhood.
Today’s scripture is one of the more interesting ones we encounter as we journey through the gospels. As we read through it, did you notice the problem with it? It’s not good advice. Usually Jesus gives us something to work with, but if you are looking for any kind of moral lesson or advice to give your kids, be careful, because you have to look really hard – at least it seems that way.
On August 5, 2010, 33 miners became trapped when Chile's San Jose mine collapsed. Over the next 69 days, the miners battled starvation and hopelessness as the world watched and waited until all were brought to safety. Even though these miners endured an extremely traumatic ordeal, they share something in common with the lost coin and the lost sheep – without outside intervention, they would remain lost.
Do you think the crowds got smaller? Luke shares that at this point of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, large crowds were travelling with him. Perhaps they were attracted to his brashness, or, his confrontational style with the Pharisees. Perhaps they were amazed by his ministry of healing.
Water is life. Since the Neolithic age, humans have utilized cisterns, or reservoirs, or water towers, to hold water from rainfall and runoff. Capturing the water and holding it for later use offers a guarantee and security that the people would survive times of drought.
My friend’s encounter didn’t resolve any major issue that day. But the very fact that he had it has changed him and caused him to think about this particular homeless man a little differently. Dustin has an identity.
I once came across this quote: “Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.” Statements like this can be divisive because there is both truth in these words as well as misconception.
Take a minute and think about what you were doing the last time you experienced joy. For me, I was taking a walk near a pond and I saw a blue heron standing silent and still in the shallow water, waiting for its dinner to swim by.
Quite often pastors find themselves in the role of officiating funeral services. The purpose of these services is to honor and celebrate a person’s life, and in all the services I have been involved in, I have yet to encounter one in which we talk about how many things a person was able to accumulate throughout his or her life.
Have you ever wondered what it looks like when faithfulness springs up from the ground and righteousness gazes down from heaven? This week I came across Psalm 85, and verse 11 said just that, and as I reflected on that image, I imagined that it would be a little like walking into the heart of a forest during late spring or early summer.
In the year 64 AD, there was a fire that destroyed most of Rome. No one knows who started the fire, but Emperor Nero accused the Christians and began persecuting them.
When people first encounter one another, they usually take a moment to assess the other person. Before you develop any kind of relationship with another person, you have to determine how much you want to invest in them.
Candy and I have spoken that last two weeks regarding what it means to live by the grace of God. Candy talked about prevenient grace of God that grace that supports all creation and life that grace that draws us to God and allows us to say “yes” to God.
How many ways can you say, “Saved”? We are talking about Grace, God’s Grace.  Last week Candy shared with you about the Prevenient Grace. Today, we are thinking about God’s Justifying Grace. 
A few years ago, Byron and I took a vacation in Mexico, and on that trip I was able to do something that had been a long-time dream of mine – one of those “bucket list” items - we got to swim with dolphins!  It was SO exciting!  First, we were told to get into the water and just “be still” and let the dolphins get used to us being there.  S
I have been sharing with you regarding Paul’s missionary journeys. I chose to do this because of the three mission trips that the church has planned. The first of the three was just completed this past week to the Midwest Mission Distribution Center.
Have you been called to suffer? Suffering just comes with living. We know that just living one encounters suffering. We don’t think of small life-pains as suffering. It’s the big life-pains that rise to the level of suffering.
We learned from Katie that the Appalachian Trail, the longest pedestrian-only path in the world, winds 2,190 miles through 14 eastern states. The average walking pace once a person gets their trail legs is about three miles an hour. It takes most hikers 5-7 months to complete a thru-hike. I am sharing this with you to give a reference to think about.
Knowing about Jesus is one thing, experiencing Jesus and following him is another. Jesus calls us to many tasks, yet there is one compelling vision. Jesus calls us to a world of peace with all people being at one with God through Jesus’ grace and mercy.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" (John 20:15). Sometimes we forget. We focus so much on the joy and celebration of this day, on the bright flowers and festive music that sometimes we forget. "The first sound heard on that first Easter Sunday was the sound of weeping."