A Desire to be Holy

Scriptures: I Kings 8: 22-30, 41-43 & I Peter 1: 13-16

Pastor Clyde’s August 23, 2015 Sermon

I Kings 8:22-30, 41-43

(22) Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven (23) and said:
“LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. (24) You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.

(25) “Now LORD, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ (26) And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.

(27) “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! (28) Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. (29) May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. (30) Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

(41) “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— (42) for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, (43) then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

I Peter 1: 13-16

(13) Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. (14) As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. (15) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; (16) for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

1. You know, I woke up in a crazy mood and I got up and fixed a great breakfast. I thought, “What the heck; I will take breakfast in bed to my wife, Lela.”

2. I took it to her and I remember the soft, romantic words I spoke to her. I said, “Honey, a simple “Thank you will do.” You do not have to scream, “Who are you and how did you get in my house?”

3. This is the second in a series of sermons on the early Methodist movement and revival. We said that we hope to gain some insight into the early Methodist revival so that we can apply those principles to our time and gain traction for our own revival.

4. Last week we looked at Wesley’s childhood while this week we will look at his years at Oxford which roughly coincide with 17 to 32 years of age.

5. Oxford was a university, and still is, about 140 miles south of Epworth and 60 miles West of London.

6. It is still a beautiful university town today.

7. There were and are many different colleges that make up the university that is Oxford.

8. Wesley went to Christchurch which was one of the most prestigious and largest colleges.

9. It is probably more familiar to you that you can imagine since it was the scene of many of the Harry Potter movies.

10. If you saw Hogwarts on the scene, then you saw Christchurch although the pictures did not have ghosts moving in them.

11. He achieved his BA in 1724 and his MA in 1727.

12. He was ordained a Priest and elected a Fellow at Lincoln College.

13. What it meant to be elected a Fellow was that you were now a professor which was a great honor.

14. He was a Greek and philosophy professor.

15. In addition to teaching, Wesley tutored the students and since he was a priest, he also was expected to be their spiritual director and confessor.

16. Unfortunately, by this time, the spiritual side of their studies had become seriously neglected much as it has at so many of our formerly religious colleges.

17. The thing that I want you to take from this section is that Wesley was a Greek and philosophy professor.

18. He was no dummy. He was no intellectual lightweight.

19. The image that we so often get of early Methodist circuit riders is that they were ignorant but that was not true at all.

20. The early Supervising Pastors who were the forerunners of our District Superintendents kept books in their saddlebags and loaned them to the Circuit Riders.

21. Wesley and the early Methodists insisted that they were working to unite head and heart.

22. Emotion was fine as long as the HS revealed that fruit was being borne. At the same time, the head was honored too.

23. I Peter tells us to “prepare your minds for action.” It is ok to use your intellect; it is ok to wrestle with doubts.

24. The fastest growing segment of our population is atheists and agnostics. We will not win them over with simple “the bible tells me so.” We must be able to give a reason for our faith.

25. The Methodists started hundreds of colleges and universities in the US. Duke, Emory, SMU, Boston University, Kansas State, Vanderbilt, Virginia Wesleyan.

26. The Methodists did their best to capture the fiery emotion and the intellect. It was not uncommon on the frontier for an emotional camp meeting to end with a collection for a college.

27. Our first point, then, is that we should endeavor to unite head and heart.

28. Let me ask you: Are you working to understand your faith better?

29. Are you studying you faith; are you studying theology, world religions, history?

30. Can you give an account of your faith if someone asks you?

31. Can you unite head and heart?

32. For my second point, we have to look at Wesley as a normal 17-21 year-old student.

33. He indulged in frequenting Starbucks, uh coffeehouses; he rowed on the river; played backgammon, billiards, cards and tennis as well as chess.

34. Somewhere along about 1724 he was encouraged by his parents to become a priest.

35. He did not really feel called; he felt more called by his mother than by God.

36. He had head but not heart.

37. So he began to read devotional works and study the bible more devotionally.

38. Read I Corinthians 10:31: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

39. He read a book by Jeremy Taylor that stressed that anything could be an act of worship.

40. He resolved to dedicate all of his life to God.

41. Next he picked up the book, The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis. He came to understand that it was ok to want to do everything for God as Taylor prescribed but he needed to love God with his whole heart as a Kempis prescribed.

42. Finally, in 1728, he read William Law’s book, A Call to a Devout and Holy Life.

43. From this, Wesley concluded that it was impossible to be ½ a Christian.

44. You either gave God all that you had or you were kidding yourself and God.

45. About this time, he had left Oxford and gone to help his father with his church.

46. His brother, Charles, was enrolled and wrote John that he would be laughed out of Oxford if he tried to be a real Christian.

47. Charles said that most people there said they were Christian but did not take it seriously.

48. It was much like today in America. Over 90% say they are Christian but what does it mean?

49. They seldom go to church. They think Jesus is ok but will not do what is written in bible even if they know what it is.

50. They think it is ok if they are pretty good most of the time.

51. Wesley said that was ½ Christian.

52. Wesley concluded that there was much, much more. You had to be willing to live for God with whole heart, mind, soul.

53. Revival started when you gave yourself over to God and realized there was more to be had.

54. You realize that you must be holy as God is holy.

55. Genesis tells us that the image of God is in us but that image was damaged by our sin.

56. The restoration is God’s work.

57. Revival begins when we allow God, through the HS, to begin that work of restoration in us.

58. We should grow in grace and love. We should become more holy which means to be more loving of God and neighbor.

59. “Disciple ourselves; do not be conformed to the desires of this world. Be holy as I am holy.”

60. We do all for the glory of God.

61. You know Lela loves those programs on HGTV.

62. Some of them are about buying houses that are wrecks and they rehab them and sell them for a huge profit.

63. But when they go in, they always run into problems. They tear away a wall and there are termites or the plumbing is terrible or something always costs thousands more.

64. But, in the end, the house is gorgeous.

65. We are the house “before.”

66. God and the HS and the spiritual disciplines and the church are the workers.

67. We have junk hidden that has to come out. But we will be gorgeous in the end if we allow God to reclaim us.

68. We must do all for the glory of God and to be holy as he is holy.

69. I admit that I preach every sermon to myself as much or more as I do to you.

70. I need revival. I need power; I need to be holy as God is holy.

71. Will you make every act that you do an act of worship?

72. Will you allow God to work to restore his image in you?

73. Finally, Wesley returned to Oxford in 1729 to teach.

74. He was 26 and he found his brother, Charles, there ready to graduate.

75. Charles told him that he had brought together two other students who were working hard to be Christians in the face of harsh opposition.

76. The group wanted John to be their tutor and mentor.

77. They began to meet to discuss the classics, pray, fast twice a week, lift each other up in prayer, have communion weekly.

78. This little group grew slowly but they were made fun of, too. They were called the Holy Club, the Bible Bigots, and, because they were very methodical in their studies and attempts to be holy and close to God—Methodists.

79. Some of the things that they did were especially ridiculed. John refused to pay the money to buy wigs which was the style then.

80. If you did not buy a wig, they you kept your hair cut short. Instead of doing that, John took the money from paying a barber to give to the poor and wore his hair long.

81. The point I am making is that Wesley would have never started Methodism if he had not had a small group to support him.

82. They were already doing many of the things for which Methodism would be known—visiting prisons, helping the poor, frequent communion.

83. They found strength together and Methodists have traditionally done that.

84. Let me ask you—do you have that in your life?

85. Are you meeting in a small group?

86. It could be a Sunday school class or an Emmaus group or a study group.

87. If not, call three friends and start meeting.

88. Those are the three keys to revival this week—Bringing together head and heart; seeking holiness by giving all glory to God; and small groups.