Guide for Worship
July 12th, 2020


“[Christians] need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” – C.S. Lewis


Hallelujah – Jethro Libutan

Romans 8:1-11

Youth Girl’s Small Group

Song of Testimony

Blessed Assurance – Nyssa Collins and Anna Moxley

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine;
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest;
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Response Through Giving

Christ the Cornerstone – Nyssa Collins

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Danny Steis

Watch the sermon using the player above, or click this summary to read the complete text. An archive of this and other sermons is found on the Yates sermon page.


Several years ago, when I was with the youth at Passport Camp—our kind of annual, mission week experience—I had a youth make a poor choice and I had to confront them on their behavior. And their response to me, kind of their justification of their actions, was so striking that I remember it verbatim to this day. I went to meet with them and talk to them about what they had done and their defense to me—this is a direct quote—was, “Danny, you never told me I couldn’t throw my mattress out the window.”

Now in their defense, they were correct, I did not literally say those exact words. And this student wasn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last; teenagers kind of justify their actions by claiming “you didn’t tell me not to do that so it’s not my fault.” We’ve had many students do that over the years and their legacy kind of lives on. Every time we go on a youth trip like Cheerio or Passport or anything where we’re together for an extended period of time, I give some spiel about behavior expectations. And what I don’t do is list off every possible prohibited behavior or action and then every allowable action; that would be impossible, for starters. But more importantly, we don’t want students behaving because they’ll get in trouble if the don’t obey a certain rule or we don’t want them blindly obeying a list. We want them to understand the reasoning behind their choices and more importantly to act, to behave, to live as God would have them live.

Usually I give some spiel about how we’re a family, we’re friends, we love each other. Friends don’t need rules on how to be friends. If you live by kindness and love most decisions are kind of already made for you. And that’s kind of the way we go with behavior.

Now Paul, in our letter to Romans today, is kind of facing a similar issue. The church at Rome was like many of Paul’s churches—a split between Gentile and Jewish converts. And each culture had their own understanding about cultural norms and rules and religious behaviors and which rules should be followed and how strictly they should be followed. So this caused conflict and division. Paul writes to kind of fix the issue.

In Romans, he writes about this issue very eloquently and very poetically compared to the issue in other churches that he wrote to. Rome did not have as strict a division or as unethical behavior as some of Paul’s other churches. We know this in the gentleness in the way he writes and also the fact that he only had to write one letter to the church at Rome.

Other churches required more intervention, as the great theologian put it. That’s why we have “Two Corinthians.”

So Paul is dealing with this division over behavior and the Romans want him to settle it. Rather than giving them a list of prohibitive behaviors, what they can’t do and a list of behaviors that they can do, Paul instead applies this logic of Spirit versus letter. That we are not led by a list of rules, we are led by the spirit.

Essentially, he doesn’t answer their question, he doesn’t give them a list of what they can and can’t do but he advises them to be led by the spirit. This is in keeping with the way that Jesus taught. Whenever Jesus had to settle a conflict or even defend himself, or speak about God in any way, he told a story. And stories don’t answer questions. If anything, stories raise more questions. If you’ve ever asked someone a simple question and they’ve responded, “Well, let me tell you a story,” you know how frustrating that can be.

But that was Jesus’ tactic and if the person who knew more about God than anyone and anyone ever will chose not to answer questions with lists but chose to instead tell stories, that should tell us something about the nature of faith.

Unfortunately, this approach of Jesus and this issue that Paul is dealing with in Romans is something that is still a temptation for Christians today. One of my pet peeves comes from, I think, well-meaning Christians and well-meaning ministers but I’ve heard many Christians hold their Bibles up and say, “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it,” implying that the Bible is to be read like an instruction manual. It’s not to be read like a story, it’s black and white, it’s very simple. I know that that’s not the way that I read scripture and that’s certainly not the way the Jesus taught and that’s not the way that Paul settled arguments and disputes.

As a benediction today, I want us to consult something that the youth have been doing for a few weeks. Rather that exploring black and white stories which we know doesn’t work with youth, we’ve been exploring stories of the Christian faith throughout church history So if you to go there’s a collection of stories there from throughout the history of the church. I would encourage you to pick one, read through it on your own. If you’re with others, read through it and discuss it together.

For we know that we are not saved by the letter but we are saved by the spirit. We encounter the spirit not in lists but in stories, just as Jesus taught. So with that, pick a story, read together and enjoy. Amen.


Stories from the Church

“[Christians] need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” – C.S. Lewis

It it our hope that as you read one of the stories from the church ( you are reminded of a spiritual truth and given an example of life in the Spirit.


An archive of this and other sermons is found on the Yates sermon page.

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