Three Simple Rules: Attend Upon the Ordinances of God (2018-1118)

. 5 min read

Nov 2018, Christ Mountain Top, with discipleship responses
the Psalm, NONE – prayer of St Augustine
Matthew 25.1-13, 10 virgins
Mark 4.1-26 (parable of the soils – pay attention to what you hear)
simple rules are what John Wesley described as a way to build a “form of
godliness” while seeking its power (2 Timothy 3.5). The United Societies were
company of men having the
form and
seeking the
power of
      Context of community
rule, “Do no harm.” Key word: NO
rule, “Do all the good you can.” Key word: ALL
rule, “Attend upon the ordinances of God.”
      Key word: ATTEND
Job rephrases, “Stay in love with God.”
      True, but not (in my opinion) adequate to
express the rule
By attending upon all the ordinances of God; such
public worship of God.
ministry of the Word, either read or expounded.
Supper of the Lord.
and private prayer.
the Scriptures.
or abstinence.
rule places a premium on practices.
Practices are things we do intentionally and repeatedly. We practice dance. We
practice soccer. We practice clarinet. We practice washing dishes. We practice
walking the dog. The more you do it, the better you get at it. The more you do
it, the more the act of doing it forms and changes you. By practice, you become a dancer or soccer player or
clarinetist or dish washer or dog walker.
      Yes, these practices that Wesley outlines help
us become lovers of God. Stay in love with God. John Wesley understood, however,
that we become lovers of God as we practice worship, the Lord’s table, prayer,
reading and reflecting on Scripture. So, his focus is on the practices.
      It is too easy today for us to hear “Stay
in love with God” and think about a relationship with God in the same kinds of
terms as romance. Falling in love might be like getting caught in a rainstorm,
but staying in love is much more like turning on the shower. Not quite as
spectacular – if we are only looking at the actions – but pretty impressive
when you practice them for a lifetime. Those practices of the greeting and
departure kiss, holding hands, and eating together, when practiced with one
person over a lifetime, are among the most powerful things we can do. Those are
ways that we “attend” to each other, ways we pay attention to each other, ways
we are present with each other.

upon the ordinances of God.
was the problem with those five foolish bridesmaids: They planned to “attend”
the wedding, but their “attention span” was too short. They were not prepared
and perhaps unwilling to “attend” vigorously, to “attend” with discipline, to
“attend” methodically. (It was the practices, the methods, that gave us
“Methodists” our name.)
      That is the difference between good soils
and bad soils – the attention given to cultivation. Next door neighbors with
the same topsoil can have dramatically different results in their gardens. You
have to attend the garden, to tend the garden, to lavish attention on the
garden, if you are to have a superlative crop. It takes time, quite a bit of
it, and daily drudgery, to pull weeds, remove stones, loosen packed dirt. The
daily tasks are nothing more than routine, but the results are idyllic. “Let
anyone who has ears to hear pay
upon the ordinances of God.
HAS THE type of arm that can lead to assumptions. When he was a kid, he entered
a summer football camp wearing a baseball hat turned backward. Adam Cook, the
camp’s quarterbacks coach and later Patrick’s head coach at Whitehouse High and
now one of his best friends, decided to test him. He had heard of Patrick’s arm
strength and low release point — coaches tend to see a three-quarter release
as the knee-steering of throwing motions, careless and too cool — and thought
most kids with that resume were spoiled know-it-alls. Cook approached him and
said, “Hey, turn your hat around so I can talk to you.”
turned around his hat, no questions asked. … At heart he’s … grounded and eager
to work. “Dad, I just want to be coached,” he would tell [his father].
you are ready to be coached, then you will be committed to practice. If you
practice, you will become a lover of God.
 For Ezra had set his
heart to study the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach the statutes and
ordinances in Israel.
Timothy 4:12-16
 Let no one despise
your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in
faith, in purity.  13 Until I
arrive, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhorting, to
teaching.  14 Do not neglect
the gift that is in you, which was given to you through prophecy with the
laying on of hands by the council of elders. 
15 Put these things into practice, devote yourself to them,
so that all may see your progress.  16
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things,
for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.
you are ready to be coached, then you will be committed to practice. If you
practice, you will become a lover of God.
upon the ordinances of God.
response form:
·       Two
copies, one to return, one to keep.
·       Pencils
available from ushers.
get excited about this day. These very practical steps have an immense impact
on our souls AND on our world.
·       More
persons sharing the YouVersion Bible app with me
·       More
grudges released
·       More
generosity and hospitality released into the world
·       More
thank you notes (not just Jimmy Fallon’s)
·       More
growing in the grace of giving
·       If
you are a guest here, please give consideration to this in relation to your
home congregation or some other mission.
·       If
you are in a family of four and you give $2000 and it is your tithe (10%),
first … thank you for doing what the apostle Paul describes: “their abundant
joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity” (2
Corinthians 8.2). And second, that means that you are living below the federal
poverty guidelines. As your pastor, I want to know that so that we can walk
together with you and your family and be supportive of you.
·       Wherever
you are on your generosity journey, whether just starting out or giving
extravagantly, I urge you to consider how you can grow. Only you know the unique answer to the call of God in your