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Worship Preview 7.14.24 "What Do You Live For?"

First United Methodist Church         


This Sunday: 10:30am – “What Do You Live For?” Rev. Christopher Eshelman preaching. Scriptures: James 3:1-18, Philippians 1:1-11, Mark 8, 31-38


We continue our series exploring some of the “Questions Jesus Asks.” This week we draw from the midpoint of Mark’s Gospel – it’s a chapter with two deeply provocative questions from our Savior. This week we focus on the latter. Author Maguey DeVega paraphrases it “What do you live for?” Jesus has just told the disciples that he will be rejected, beaten, crucified… and he calls them to follow. To “take up your cross.” In doing so, he asks where our focus is. In the NIV, Mark: 8:36 reads: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Peter is told he is “focusing on human things, not divine things.” 


To help us unpack this difficult passage, we will hear a joyful thanksgiving from Paul in his letter to the Philippians, with his report that even his imprisonment is being used for good and the promise that he is “confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” God is not done with us yet. The Spirit is working on us and within us – individually and collectively!


And we will begin with the letter of James and its caution about how we use our speech. I said last week that my preaching is often aimed first at me. That was true last week and is especially true this week. I didn’t intend to create my own sermon illustration, but this week I fell short. I typed out my frustrations with a business (not a local one) in a way that quickly proved unhelpful. My frustration was and is valid, but the way I chose to express it made things worse, not better. My short-term gain of feeling vengeful and self-righteous interfered with my long-term goal of actually solving the issue and, more importantly, of bearing good fruit as a Christian. I think there is a lesson here, for myself and others, about how we follow Jesus and how we seek the Kingdom, and how we forgive others and ourselves, enabling us to move forward. In James, the image of the tongue (how we communicate) is compared with the rudder of a ship. The ships built to sail the chaotic seas (see Psalm 104 from last week!) have large hulls and impressive sails, yet they are steered with a comparatively small rudder. That’s even more true in both John Wesley’s time and in our own – our means of travel and of communication have gotten larger and more complex, but they are still steered by small things. I failed to keep my “tongue” in check, I failed to view my frustrations through the lens of “taking up my cross” and I quickly find myself off the path I intended to travel. What did I gain? What did I lose?


And yet, I am reminded that I have strayed and stumbled before, and that I have hope, indeed confidence, that “God will complete the good work begun.” Grace surrounds us. Jesus asks again “What are you looking for?” “Why are you anxious?” and “What do you live for?” Join us Sunday to continue to explore these questions in my life and yours, 10:30am Sunday at 301 S. National, then join us afterward at Gunn Park for our Potluck. It is my privilege to explore Jesus’ questions and walk the journey of faith with you here in Fort Scott. ~ Pastor Christopher Eshelman.


Upcoming Events: 

Sunday, July 14th Potluck in the Park Bring an entree, side, or dessert and join us at 12:30pm in Gunn Park Shelter number 7 - we will gather there after worship at the church to share food, fellowship and games. Invite a friend!


Wednesday, July 17th 5:30–6:30pm: Feeding Families in His Name resumes after a week of rest – this free meal is available to everyone without obligation. A “to-go” meal is distributed under the portico at 301 S. National. A reminder: Please do not block nearby driveways while waiting. Thank you. If you would like to support this ministry, you can make donations online at


Friday, July 26th, 1-4pm  Aging Forward / Adventures in Learning

The national Shepherd’s Centers of America that we are affiliated with has rebranded as Aging Forward! Same local programming will continue the fourth Friday of each month through September. Join us on Friday, July 26thfrom 1-4pm in First United Methodists Fellowship Hall (3rd Street Entrance, downstairs) for local speakers on a variety of interesting topics. This month we will have Austin Bollinger, Tri-Valley’s Horticultural Specialist and Matt Matt Chaplin from Landmark Bank on avoiding scams, and a third presenter TBD.

Intended for retired adults to encourage fellowship and lifelong learning, Fort Scott’s Aging Forward! Adventures in Learning programs are free and open to anyone who would like to attend. Refreshments provided. Mark your calendar for August 23, and September 27th as well! – and invite a friend! 



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