Worship Service – September 4, 2022

Scriptures; Luke 14:25-35, James 4:1-12 and Psalm 139:1-6 23-24

Message; “Searching for your Identity?”

Luke 14:25-35

The Cost of Being a Disciple

(25) Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: (26) “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. (27) And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
(28) “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? (29) For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, (30) saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
(31) “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (32) If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. (33) In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (34) “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? (35) It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

James 4:1-12

Submit Yourselves to God

(1) What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? (2) You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. (3) When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
(4) You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (5) Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? (6) But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
(7) Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (8) Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (9) Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. (10) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
(11) Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. (12) There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbor?

Psalm 139

(1) O Lord , you have searched me and you know me.
(2) You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
(3) You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
(4) Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord .
(5) You hem me in-behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.
(6) Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
(24) See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

This is the word of God for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

I want to begin by asking you a question. Who is sitting in your seat? Now I know you think I’ve lost my mind, because you probably just said to yourself “I am.” Well, let me ask you a follow-up question: Which “you” is sitting in your seat? You may say, “What do you mean?” Well, there are actually three people in your seat. There is the person that you think you are, there is the person others think you are, and there is the person God knows you are.
In Luke 14:25-27 crowds were following Jesus looking to be identified with Him and He tells them the a harsh truth: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Say what! He tells us to hate! It seems like such a harsh word. We are to hate our mothers and fathers! But the truth is if we are searching for an identity in Christ, we need to deal with some harsh realities.
The word “Hate” is not primarily a feeling word in the Aramaic language, the language Jesus spoke. It is primarily a priority word. It means to abandon or to leave aside; the way a sailor needs to abandon a sinking ship or the way a general needs to leave aside distracting things to win his battle.
In James 4:8-10 James was also writing to those searching to be identified with God. He was saying to them, if you are,“Searching for your Identity”, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” They also seemed like harsh words.
We read in Psalm 139:23-24, that David was searching for his identity. He writes: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Eugene Petersen’s The Message translates it this way:”Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; see for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—then guide me on the road to eternal life.”
These verses represent a prayer of David in which he is searching to be sure of his identity with God. Wanting to know if he is truly loved by God and if he truly loves God. He asks God to do four things for him that would reveal any sin and cleanse any stain in his life that would keep him from being identified as a child of God.
Today let me start by telling you a little story, to help in our understanding of today’s scriptures.
An older couple was driving down the road on a Sunday afternoon. She was leaning against the door on her side and he was driving. They were eager to get where they were going, but were slowed down dramatically by a young couple, who were cuddling in the car in front of them. In the car in front of them, the young woman was almost sitting in the lap of the driver, rubbing his face, and now and then kissing him on the cheek, and ever now and then even though it was dangerous, he would turn around and kiss her. They were in no hurry at all. That is, in no hurry as far as moving the car along.
Finding it impossible to pass, the older couple finally began to strike up a conversation. The woman looked across at her husband, then looked ahead to the young couple, and she asked her husband, “why don’t we sit together like that anymore?”
Quick as a flash he responded, “I haven’t moved”.
The story stimulates all sorts of suggestive thoughts. Relationships may grow cold over the years. There may be someone you love, a husband, a wife, a child, a parent, someone with whom your relationship has grown cold. You may be the blame. They may be. In either case, you can do something about it. Think about your relationship with God, has it grown cold? That’s the point of telling this story.
If you remember last week the Hebrew’s writer reminded us that: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He hasn’t moved.
In the scriptures we read today, was the crowd, the readers of James and The prayer of David not unlike the wife searching to be identified with her husband, but searching to be identified with God? Risking to hear the hard truth when God says, “I haven’t moved”.
So today are you, “Searching for your Identity?”
Today let’s, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. I want us to think of the possibility, not as a one-time event, but as a lifestyle, a daily experience to: “Draw near to God”. By praying to God and asking God, as David did, 4 things that would reveal any sin and cleanse any stain in our lives that would keep us from being identified as disciples of God. And then daily make it a habit, in your life to ask God to do these same 4 things for you.
If you are truly searching for your identity in God, start by praying:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart.”

David goes to the heart of the problem because usually it’s the problem of the heart. When you pray this prayer to the Lord, you are asking God to put you under His spiritual CAT scan. You are asking Him to do open-heart surgery on you. Now I find it interesting that David asks God to search him and know him. Because in v.1 David says God had searched him, and God did know him. Then why did he pray that the Lord would search him and know him in this verse?
So first off, we need to recognize that there’s a difference between relationship and fellowship. Our relationship with God is permanent, but our fellowship with God is not. God can only fellowship with a person who has a pure heart. Who is searching to be identified with Him.
David is wanting God to bring to light what he would normally hide from everyone else. His heart. We all know that the heart is not only the engine that keeps us alive, it is the very core of our being and the very center of who we are. Solomon, David’s son, said in Prov. 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” It’s true, in many senses that you are what you think.
Example. A woman went to see a psychiatrist and said, “Doctor, you’ve got to help my husband. He thinks he’s a race horse. He wants to live in a stable. He walks on all fours all the time and he even eats hay.”
The doctor said, “Well, I’m sure I can cure him, but I want you to know that it will take a very long time and it will cost you a tremendous amount of money.” The lady said, “Oh, money is no object. He’s already won two races.”
Remember that when the Bible speaks of the heart, it is the heart that serves as our spiritual core. It is only through the heart that a man can be saved and know God. Rom. 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
So why does David ask God to search his heart. Shouldn’t David know his own heart? The answer is no, and neither do you. Jeremiah 17:9 tells us: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” But then listen to what v.10 says, “I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”
You see, you need to allow God to look at you, and to see in you, what no one else can, including yourself. Think about this. Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror? Now if you answered “yes” you’re wrong. You have never looked at yourself in a mirror. You see, I did not ask you if you had looked at your image, or your reflection in the mirror. I asked you if you had looked at yourself.
So if you gave the wrong answer don’t feel bad, because that’s the way we normally talk. When we look in the mirror are we suddenly changed from three dimensions into two dimensions and then crawl into the mirror? Is that really you in there? It looks like you, but it’s just my mirror image. All you see in the mirror is a flat two dimensional reflection; the same thing you find in a photograph. No mirror can show you your heart. That is something only God can do. No matter what kind of a facade you put up on the outside, it is your heart that determines whether or not you are truly right with God, and even truly right with yourself.
So we should also pray:”Try me, and know my anxieties “.
David goes from the heart to the mind. David is saying to the Lord, show me any thoughts that carry me away from fellowship with you.
Jesus said the greatest commandment of all was to “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind.” So there’s nothing wrong with a one-track mind if that track is fixed on God.
I think all of us know that the mind is more powerful than the body in determining the quality of the life that you live? You can be sick in your body, but if you’ve got a healthy mind you can live a productive life.
We don’t always like to reveal what is on our minds, especially if it’s negative, or if it’s embarrassing. Sometimes God will bring tests into our life to try us; to show us where our anxieties and fears are, that we might put our trust in Him, even when it’s hard to admit.
I heard about a man who came home from work one afternoon and his wife was sitting in the chair in a funk of depression. He said, “Honey, what’s wrong?” She said, “I’m having car trouble; it has water in the carburetor.” He said, “Water in the carburetor, that’s ridiculous.” She said, “I’m telling you the car has water in the carburetor.” He said, “You don’t even know what a carburetor is. Where is the car?” She said, “In the swimming pool.”
We don’t need to hide our fears, our anxieties, or our worries. We need to let God expose them, reveal them, that He might deal with them and therefore fix our faith and focus back on Him. That’s why the Bible says in 1 Pet. 5:7, “Cast all of your cares (or anxieties) on Me, for I care for you.”
With that in mind we also need to pray:”See if there is any offensive way in me.” Or as Eugene Peterson puts it: “see for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong”
David wanted to leave no stone unturned. He wants no, ”attitude or action” that we talked about last week, to be present in his life that would cause pain to his Lord or grief to other people.
It’s so very unusual in this day and age in which we live to see the kind of attitude David has here. To see a man stand up and say, “I want God to reveal anything in me that is harmful; anything that is wicked; anything that is hurtful because I want to be right before Him and before others.”
Today, if you talk about sinful ways or wicked ways, people just roll their eyes. We don’t talk about wickedness, we talk about weakness. We don’t call an adulterous relationship sinful, we call it inappropriate. We don’t talk about transgressions, we talk about problems.
I think, we are living in a society that finally thinks it has figured out a way to eliminate right and wrong. First, you do away with God. When you do away with God you do away with sin. When you do away with sin you do away with guilt. When you do away with guilt you do away with responsibility. When you do away with responsibility you do away with punishment. Sound familiar?
David in his search for his, identity in God, was crying out to God saying, “Lord, if there is a wicked way in me, I don’t want to run from it, hide it, excuse it, or justify it—I want to know it and get rid of it.
Why do you think, David wanted God to do this to him? It is not that God might know the results, but that David himself might know what God had discovered.
When you go to a doctor and he operates on you, he doesn’t operate on you for his sake, he operates on you for your sake. You don’t want him just to know the result of the surgery, you want to know the result of the surgery. That is exactly what David is saying. He is saying, operate on me, pull out of me anything that is wrong, show it to me and remind me of how wicked it is that I might get away from it and live for you.
And finally we need to pray: “ Lead me in the way everlasting”.
There is a right way and a wrong way in life. There is a high road and a low road in life. Proverbs 15:24 says, “ The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave.“ Well, David wanted to get on that path of life. David was determined that his life was going to count for something besides life itself. David was searching for his identity in God. Are you?
Are you, “Searching for your Identity?” It’s not how you live on the outside, but how you live on the inside. We ought to live in such a way, that when someone looks at us, they see Jesus.
Are you, “Searching for your Identity?” Who is sitting in your seat? Today and every day start by praying; “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220904
Listen To Audio: Service 09042022
As we enter worship, we ask God to look on us with grace; watch over us with love; and surround us with peace.
Call to Worship:L:  Come, all who labor and are weighed down with responsibility, uncertainty, and worry.P:  We come, because the load we carry is heavier than we can bear alone.

L:  Come, all you who seek to relate work and worship, leisure and service, into a meaningful whole.

P:  We gather for spiritual renewal and practical challenge, for help in making choices and carrying out our commitments.

L:  Come, sinner and saint, with your hatreds and loves, your failures and successes, your sorrows and joys.

P:  We respond to the Spirit’s leading and open ourselves to receive God’s gracious gifts.



Prayer of Confession:   God, help us to admit when we get frustrated by the enormity of discipleship.  Extend grace and mercy toward us.  Wrap us inside of your unconditional love.  And patiently compel us to follow you again.  Amen.



Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to Local Mission.

Social Hour after Sunday Services TODAY.

Greeting cards for signature are in the Community Building.

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Labor Day, September 5th

Presbyterian Women, Thursday, September 8th at 11 A.M.

Men’s Breakfast, Wednesday September 21th at 8:00 A.M.

Session meeting Saturday, September 24, at 9am in the community building.

Please mark your envelope if you are contributing to the snowblower fund.

Ladies… You Are invited to our Advancing Watchwomen Retreat on September 16-18 at the Loft.  Cost $125.00.  Session has agreed to pay $60.00 toward fee for each lady.  Your Cost $65.00.  If someone doesn’t have the money, we have others who want to help out.  See Bonne.  Please Come and Be Blessed!  Fee includes 5 meals, 2 nights lodging (weather you stay overnight or not) 154 Rock Hill Road, Susquehanna, PA 18847 Bedding and towels not included.  Dress Casual.  Registration and Payment Due September 9th, 2022.

Choir practice will be Thursday, at 1 o’clock at the church.  Please consider joining us in singing God’s praises!  We will begin singing during the church service on Sunday, October 2nd.




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