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Sermon of the Week 
Tuesday, March 21 2023

*.......He Chose a Towel Over a Title ...

When the Holy Spirit woke me up with this, it was evident that He wants us to take a look at how well we have done at serving Him, one another, and those who think the world is full of grabbers and users. Perhaps our roll is to change the thinking of the world by our willingness to choose the towel instead of a title.... 

*........Matthew 20:28 “For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many..”

Jesus chose a donkey on Triumphant Sunday over a stallion.

He chose fishermen over scribes, pharisees, and people of position.

He chose a humble home and humble parents over king’s palaces.

He could have chosen a lawyer, to get him off, but instead, he chose to be nailed to a rugged cross....They didn’t take His life, He chose to give it... It was His choice....

Jesus taught His followers that the last shall be first and the first shall be last. He told them to choose the lower seat and wait to be invited to come up higher. He made sinners and common folks his choice to be around, instead of religious folks and the self-important. 

So as one of His final acts before being tried, beaten and crucified, He girded Himself with a towel and wash the disciples feet.

*.......When I was a child, growing up, we attended various churches. For a while we went to the church of God, where foot washing was considered a sacrament, and was a monthly observance just like communion. Now a lot of folks would be sure to clip their nails, and clean their feet for the service, but my Grandpa would not wash his feet for a week before foot washing service, and he was a farmer, so his feet were not a welcome sight to whoever drew his number. He said he wanted to give a double blessing to whoever washed his feet!

I believe foot washing is a wonderful way of making a statement that we honor one another, and we’re there to support and stand by one another. One church went out to a homeless area and washed the feet of the homeless folks while they prayed for them, which was a great testimony. Wives and husbands should wash one another’s feet, our children should wash one another’s feet, a church foot washing now and then might be a good thing, but I don’t think we will make it a sacrament of the church. (somebodylike my grandpa may show up!!!) But what a wonderful way to teach our kids from their early years to serve each other and honor each other.... 

*.......John 13:12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his outer garment and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”.

In the time of Jesus, folks wore sandals or usually no shoes at all. Their feet got pretty dirty, so, before entering the house, they would wash off the dirt, or they would have a servant do it for them. 

It was not the foot washing act itself that Jesus was telling them they were to observe, after He was gone...                                                                       *.......It was the act of servanthood which was to be a signature trait, by which all Christians were to be known. It was about caring about one another’s well being, about feeding the hungry, about serving those who are shut in, those in prison, those who are homeless or unable to help themselves. It was about acts of loving kindness which preach louder than any sermon in any pulpit. It was about walking out the love we preach about. It was about, “you don’t really know me until you’ve walked a while in my shoes.”

Too many Christians are putting people down more than we are lifting them up. John Wesley provides the most convicting analysis on what it *.......means to be a true servant: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can.”

*........Mark 12:30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

God’s favor and blessing, will run after and overtake all those who give to those who cannot give back to them...When He was finished serving them, Jesus even pronounced a special blessing on those who would serve one another.... 

*.......He said in John 13:17 “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed (“makários” Highly favored and provided for) if you do them”.                                                                         We will be held accountable for what we know to do if we do it not. So, Jesus is holding every follower accountable, by saying “Now that you know these things”, but He is also pronouncing a special blessing when we do them.

*........This guy Joe Hill, built a ramp for this dad, Tony Bentinand his daughter and paid for the materials, when he saw the man struggling to lift Almay up the steps to get her in the house. And he didn’t even know the man, but he parked his truck and asked her dad if he could build them a ramp. While she was at school and her dad was at work, Joe finished the ramp and had it ready when she got off the bus. Joe asked for nothing in return, but when it hit the news, his business was flooded with business, because everyone wanted an honest contractor. Jesus said that the servant would be doubly blessed! Amen?

*.......Paul says this about that....Romans 12:1 “So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to Him—an offering that is pleasing unto him. Considering what He has done for you, it is only right that you should worship Him in this way, by serving one another”.

I dare you to try to outgive God.... You can’t do it!                                                                                      *.......It has been well said, folks don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care....

When people are dying, they don’t ask for trophies they have won, the degrees they have earned, or the gold watch they got when they retired, no, they want to be surrounded by the people they love and those who loved and cared for them. It’s all about relationships. 

*.......What really blows my mind here is that Jesus washed the feet of the very person who had already betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver! What a lesson in forgiveness! Jesus served the man who handed him over to his crucifiers. So, this special blessing, is to those who are willing to forgive, and who refuse to allow what others do, to rule their emotions and their actions. He didn’t wait till everything settled, He forgave even while He was being betrayed. 

*.......We can’t apply the wrong set of rules, and expect the right results. Because they were wrong, doesn’t mean we can do wrong. We do the right thing because it’s right! (that’s what righteousness means) doing the right thing no matter what others are doing.                                                Judge and you shall be judged, Give it and it shall be given unto you. It’s the law of attraction. It’s one thing to know it, it’s entirely another to walk it out, and see the results for yourself. Aren’t you glad, God is a righteous God... He does the right thing no matter what we do!!

*.......Luke 6:44 “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush do they gather grapes. v45  Agood man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. v46 So, why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Look at John’s gospel....for a moment...

*.......John 13:13 “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end”. It is possible to not love enough, but it is impossible to love too much!                                    Someone told Winnie one time, “You’re going to spoil those kids”... Well, that was her goal.... Just spoil them real good with love. Don’t ever let them think for a moment that there is any other way to love, but completely. 

*.......Laura Hammond wrote that Her grandparents played a little game from the time they met each other. The game was to secretly write the word "SHMILY" in a surprise place for the other to later find. They took turns leaving "SHMILY" in unexpected places around the house. As soon it was discovered by one of them, it was the other one’s turn to hide it once more.They traced "SHMILY" with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to be found by the other. They painted it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio. "SHMILY" was imprinted in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, and once, her grandmother unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave "SHMILY" on the very last sheet.

This strange word, "SHMILY" would pop up on post-em notes stuck on dashboards and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. "SHMILY" was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace.

This mysterious word was as much a part of her grandparents' house as the furniture. It took her a long time before she was able to fully appreciate their game. Skepticism had kept her from believing in true love – one that is pure and enduring. However, she never doubted her grandparents' love. They had love down pat. It was a way of life to them. They held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. 

But a dark cloud eventually crept into her grandparents' life, when her grandmother got breast cancer. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He stayed with her when she was too sick to go outside. They still went to church faithfully every Sunday morning. But  grandma grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. Then one day, Grandma was gone. At the funeral,  

"SHMILY" was scribbled all over the casket.

As Grandpa stepped up to the casket, the secret of the mystery word was finally revealed, as he spoke it to her one last time, “S-H-M-I-L-Y” *.......See How Much I Love You.                               

So how long should we love someone... Jesus loved till the end... I’m sure most folks would rather have on their tombstone... “Oh how they did love”... instead of “They got what they deserved”? How much better that they write.. “they served, they cared, they loved”.....

Where your heart is, there’s where your treasure is...If Jesus is your treasure, that’s where you’re heart will be also.                                        Thousands of those who left Egypt, kept looking back, and forgot where they were going, and died in the wilderness. Don’t camp at your disappointment, or you’ll get sour, and you can’t love as you should. Don’t hang around the place of betrayal and injustice too long, or you’ll get bitter and you can’t love as you should. Keep moving towards heaven, keep pressing forward toward the prize that’s waiting for you when you cross the finish line.....

*.......John 13:4 “so Jesus got up from the meal, took off His outer garment, and wrapped a towel around His waist. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, surely, you’re not going to wash my feet?!!” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”                                                                   We need to be careful that we don’t put a “No” where we should say “Lord teach me,” because we don’t understand or my flesh disagrees with the Your word is to us. He already sees the end from the beginning, He sees the outflow before we get the income... He knows the ending before we even start out!

Jesus said it, I believe it, and that settles it! Peter almost missed it because he tried to understand it.... If it’s in the word, then believe it!

*.......King Agrippa missed it because he couldn’t understand it... He said to Paul, “Almost you have persuaded me”...                                                                                      There is no “almost” hand on a watch, either it is or it isn’t.

Some folks will almost get to heaven, but they’ll end up in hell. 

They’ll almost obey what God is telling them, but miss the blessing.                   

You cannot satisfy your hunger by “almost eating.” You cannot succeed in your marriage by being almost faithful. You cannot succeed in addiction recovery by almost stopping. You cannot catch a bus by being almost on time. You cannot pay off your mortgage or car loan by almost having enough money. A boomerang that almost comes back is just a stick....

Don’t be like the guy who said he "always gave 100% at work.

He gave 14% on Monday. 30% on Tuesday. 30% on Wednesday.

24% on Thursday. 2% on Friday." He is now 100% unemployed!!!

Don’t you just love Peter’s response when Jesus said if I don’t wash your feet, you have no part with me....

*........John 13:9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Lay it on me Jesus, give me all you’ve got!

The Lord is looking for some folks that WANT IT ALL! If He has it for me, I want it....The little woman had an issue of blood for 12 years had spent all her money, and grew worse, but when she heard that the leper cleanser, and the dead man raiser, and the blind man healer, and the deaf ear opener was coming, She believed she could have it all!

He's the new life giver for us today. He’s the demon man deliverer and the victory giver this very hour!

And He’s looking for some folks like Peter, who will go for it, and not settle for less than all He’s got!

Lord here is all of me, so I can have all of you!

*......This isn’t just a foot washing, this is the great Exchange!

2 Corinthians 8:9 “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich”.

The great exchange message is that we must keep moving forward, and never look back. What we are is not what we used to be...

We may be sorry for the things that we have done, but we cannot go back in time and undo them.                                                                                       So, what good is it, to sit around and beat yourself up over the things that you've done? Whom the son sets free is free indeed!                                                                                             If you are really sorry, then pick yourself up, receive the grace that makes us new creations, and do something different with your life.                      There are folks who have served time behind bars for despicable acts, but there's stillabundant life left to live in the great exchange.                                                                                                   You may have gotten into drugs, or premarital sex, or been pulled into the gay lifestyle,but there's still abundant life left to live in the great exchange.

Regardless of what was in the past, what are you going to do about your future?  Stop worrying about things that you cannot change and do what you can to change the things that are still within your power to do something about!                                                                                         Hallelujah, and Hello Mary Lou, The things that were meant to destroy us, drove us to the safest place we could ever hope to be.....Into the presence of the Lord!                                                                                                                                *.......John 10:10 Jesus has told us “the thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; but I have come that you might have life, and life more abundantly”.                                      We've got everything to live for. We now live to please the Lord. We now live to do His will. We now live to give Him praise. We now live to tell somebody else that Jesus Christ is still the same yesterday, and today, and forever; and if he did it for us, with our messed up past, He can do it for anyone and make our tomorrow better than our yesterday.

Peter knew it, all the other disciples knew it, Jacob, Joseph, Daniel and three Hebrews knew it. It’s a theme which runs all through the bible...

*.......Grace will always get there before you do... The power, anointing and authority which He gave you, arrived before you got there... Grace says, “Before you call I will answer, before you cry out I will hear”.

The Lord was waiting for the 3 Hebrews in the fiery furnace. 

God lit the burning bush before Moses arrived. Jonah’s ticket was already punched for Nineveh before he landed in a seaweed suit.

God was waiting for Joseph in Egypt, before he was put in the pitand He already had his dream seat reserved in the throne room. God declared David to be king while he was still out herding sheep in the wilderness... 

And He’s already been where you’re going and everything is all prepared, so, Hurry, don’t drag your feet, it’s all waiting for your arrival!

*.......John 14:3 “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

Restoration is waiting, the breakthrough is waiting, promotion is waiting, the next level of blessing is waiting.... 

*.......This reminds me of what Jesus said when He told Lazarus to come forth from the grip of death, and he walked out of the tomb, still wrapped in grave clothes. He turns to the disciples and said, “Loose him and let him go”.... or Let him become what I’ve called him to be....Help him be all that I’ve raised him up to be!                                                    I declare that those who shall be raised up in the coming months will also be loosed to be all that they are supposed to be. They won’t stop at just coming out of drugs, or prostitution, or alcohol, or pornography, or witchcraft..they’re going to get unwrapped, and this church is going to respond to the call...Loose them and let them go!!!

*......That’s what “SHMILY” is all about... It’s about picking up the towel. I want to show you how much Jesus loves you by how much I LOVE YOU. I love you enough to get you unwrapped and get you to where you’re supposed to be!

Is it worth going out of your way to introduce someone to the Lord and let them become what God called them to be. Is it worth, bringing someone to church with you. Is it worth buying someone a meal, who may not have one if you don’t, and then use the opportunity to introduce them to the one who will love them like no one ever has or will. Is it worth, visiting someone at the hospital and bringing comfort and encouragement and then as you pray, watch Jesus, the healer, do what the doctors can’t? Is it worth volunteering your time in the church, and see children and young people find their purpose in the kingdom and become all they can become?....

I need to hear someone say “It’s worth it”!!!

*.......If you really believe what I’ve been sharing is true, then as we close,and before you leave here today... I want you to find someone, who isn’t family, and plan to get with them this week, for lunch, for breakfast, dinner, or just have coffee and desert together and find out what’s happening in each other’s lives and families, just get together and have a love feast, in the Lord of course!!.

come on....Scripture says, forsake not the fellowship together with those of like precious faith.... (that’s us)

First, we’re going to pray together.... Who needs prayer while we’re in this moment of shared faith and belief in God’s promises? I want you to come and bring your special need, and we’re going to surround you with SHMILY....

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