Pastor Greg: As I've shared before, our church that supports life and is a pro-life church. And we pray for what God is doing in our State to help protect life. But you know what, at the front lines is how we serve people who are in crisis, dealing with life and death issues with their own lives and situations. And a Hope Center is our key partner in supporting people who are in time of need when they're finding unplanned, or we might call crisis pregnancies. And a Hope Center is having Strides of Hope. Strides of Hope is a walkathon every year, and for the past handful of years, it's been in Columbia city. And it's in your bulletin, a little flyer, to know how to participate in that. Jerry and Becky Jones, faithfully attend and participate in that and ask for sponsors. And it's one of their fundraisers, and it's just a great way to come out and join other people who support life and support good things and want to be part of helping people make good choices and also just financially supporting a great ministry here in town. And they can do for many people what the local church or any one particular church could never do by themselves. It is good to work together for the Lord, Jesus Christ.
The bulletin has all kinds of stuff in it as well. In just a little bit, Bray, during the message time actually, before we have the Lord Supper is going to share with us his report, his testimony from his experiences in Brazil as a six week volunteer missionary. And so, I was in the first service and I already put some notes down on mine on the back of the bulletin as a blank area for you to write down thoughts, maybe one thought, maybe a scripture, maybe something that the Lord might be sharing with your heart. It's I always say the weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory. It reminds us of what God is saying to us.
And some of you are digital, you just need to open up a note on your phone and get rid of all your different alerts and everything, because that'll just distract you and take you right out of here. But if you can take your phone on airplane mode and somehow get in there and put notes that way, however you record thoughts of what God is saying to you, I pray that you'll do that, and that you'll use that as a reference this week, as you continue to walk through and pray through what God does this morning in our time of worship. Our connection card obviously is their best way to communicate with one another. And if you have a change of address, a prayer request, as you take your next right step and move forward in your faith, what is God saying to you, put that in the offering box or at the end of, or during the Lord Supper. Come to a person to, for prayer, for encouragement, for strengthening, for resourcing.
John 15 is where we're going to read this morning. John 15, and if you wouldn't mind, please turn there. If you have your Bibles, I'm reading from the Christian Standard Bible version, John chapter 15. And if you would, let's stand together as I read this aloud. "I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. Every branch in me that does not produce fruit He removes and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I've spoken to you; remain in me and I in you. Just as the branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produce as much fruit because you can do nothing without me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire and they're burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in, you ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My father is glorified by this that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples."
Heavenly father right now, as we worship you in song, as we worship you in prayer and hearing the word spoken aloud and hearing the testimony that Bray is about to bring to us, may you be pleased. May the aroma of our worship be enjoyable to you this morning. And as we come fully committed to the Lord's Supper and proclaim your death until you come again, may this indeed also be worthy of worship as we come to you. Change us, make us into more like you. Help us this week to display what it means to be a fully committed follower of Christ because of our time together. May your Holy Spirit come upon us in a fresh way this morning, fill us, change us, and we pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
Bray Snyder: Amen. Good morning. Grab a seat. It's good to see you all. No clapping, no clapping. It is good to see you all for real. So I was gone for those of you who don't know for six weeks. Who am I? Because I see some new faces here, which is amazing. My name is Bray, so I on a normal Sunday would probably be leading worship for us. Clearly, I'm not needed to do that because of how well things went this summertime, right? I was able to check in a little bit; that's what I normally do on Sunday mornings. I work at Purdue, Fort Wayne. I make videos. I do some broadcasting. I love St. Joe and I love being around you guys.
So in January, this past year, I'll give you the quick little story of why I just went to Brazil. Starting out, I went to a conference in January called Cross Con. I'm not a big conference guy. I've shared this with most of you before. I won't rehash all that, but I went into this conference just open, went in to see what it was going to be, hung out with 20 cool college students or college age students. And the Lord opened up some doors through a few conversations that I had with an organization called Reaching and Teaching. So the conference itself was awesome. It was all about missions and sending. But in particular, this organization called Reaching and Teaching that I met through the will of God, just a funny conversation that I had one off; this organization loves and cares about planting churches internationally.
So we know that in the United States, we come from just a culture and a context that has a lot of blessings. One of them is the access to information and education that we have. And I don't know that we think about that very often. Any of you who have traveled overseas, maybe have seen that, but this church organization is just super passionate about planting churches in different countries and helping edify and build up those healthy churches. That's the whole organization. That's all they do. Planting healthy churches, making the mature disciples, equipping the church so that they can continue fulfilling the great commission, so it's an amazing organization.
So I came back from this conference and it was on my heart, but I was just kind of not sure what it looked like this opportunity to work with this organization. So I talked to Greg, I talked to John Moody, talked to my parents, talked to a few of you guys and said, "Hey, this is like a pretty quick turnaround. It'd be this summertime. It'd be going to another country in June," which at that point was like three months away. So you can imagine raising support and preparing to go to another country in that quick turnaround - for six weeks, kind of crazy. And then it's kind of not too.
The Lord worked, the Lord moved. You guys, as my church, blessed me and supported me and sent me. And so, today I just want to share and give a report for you about what the summer was like. And we'll have a great time of it, hope to share some really fun things with you, hope to speak toward each of your lives a little bit in some way this morning. But first let's pray together. Let's come before the Lord and then we'll get started.
Lord, I thank you so much for our time this morning. I thank you that we get to be together in a building with air conditioning in the summertime. But more than that, I pray that each of us who are gathered in this room, our paths are overlapping for a reason this morning and we get to be a part of your church body grow together and be built up together. I pray that you use this time to do just that. And then as we approach you for the Lord's Supper afterward, I pray that you be moving in our lives and making yourselves evident to those of us who know you, Lord, I thank you. It's in your name that I pray, amen.
So Brazil - kind of crazy, right? Have any of you been to Brazil before? Nope. I hadn't neither. Guess what they speak Portuguese in Brazil. We talked about that. I spoke no Portuguese before I went down to Brazil. I didn't know too much about the church in Brazil before I went down to Brazil. I didn't know too much at all before I went down there and I still don't know a lot, but this summertime was amazing for me. First things first, I'm going to jump into real quick, a little bit more about reaching and teaching and some of the preparation and training that we did before we went to Brazil. And then I'll share with you a little bit about our team in Brazil, and then I'll just sort of walk you through what I did for six weeks there, so you can get a little glimpse into what it looked like.
So first of all, getting to know what life means to be a missionary overseas; I don't know what your preconceptions are about that. I know there are even some people in this room who are considering that and considering what it would be like to help build up the church overseas. What does that mean to each of us here? For me that was kind of a foreign concept, something that we're all familiar with, we talk a lot about, but what does it actually mean? What does it look like to be somebody who is sent out from your country and to go to another country and to share the gospel?
One thing that we did is, we first went to Atlanta before we even went to Brazil. Myself, my teammate, Zach, who I'll share with you about in just a second, and 20 other people our age, who are being partnered with this organization, going to different churches around the entire globe: France, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, some closed countries. We just had a team get back from Argentina last night. So I got back about two weeks ago; this team just got back last night. So a whole bunch of different people going to different places, but we all got together in Atlanta for three days and spent time studying the word and being encouraged by some awesome pastors and some awesome organization leaders in RTIM. And one of the big things that we talked about before we even went is the language of calling.
Now, I use that word and that's probably going to bring up different thoughts for each of you, but we talk about calling. What does it mean to be called? What does it mean to be called to the pastorate or to be called to ministry as a missionary? And sometimes those words just get kind of fuzzy, right? We don't know exactly what they mean, and it's hard to describe. It can mean different things to each of us. But one thing that we talked about is the bride of Christ and really putting our focus on the bride of Christ and what it means to love the church.
So the church is the bride of Christ, right? First service, I did a pop quiz. What is the bride of Christ? And they all answered. So I'll just give you that answer now, but we know that that Christ talks about the bride and we know in Ephesians, in the love chapter, when we're talking about husbands and wives, that Paul says, "Husbands, lay down your lives as Christ lay down his life for the church. Love your wives, lay down your lives for your wives as Christ love the church and lay down his life for the church." That applies to all of us. That doesn't apply just to people sent out overseas, that doesn't apply just to people here in this room; that applies to all of us, we're to love the church. And so missions work is an aspect of loving the church, but it's all about loving the church, right? So that's one thing that we talked about before we even went to Brazil for the summertime.
Our church in Brazil was awesome. I'm going to share a little bit with you about that, but before even jumping down there, we talked and we spent time talking about what it means to love the church and love the bride. We just read about the vine and the branches in John 15. What does it mean to be connected to the vine and how are we connected to the vine and how do we grow? Well, one of the best ways to do that is to be in the word and be spending time with the Lord. And that points us to being in community in church.
I know some of you visiting from out of town; this isn't your church, every single week. Each of us though, we have to have a church. We have to be connected to the bride of Christ and we've got to be loving the bride of Christ. And this summertime, not that I haven't seen that here at St. Joe, but this summertime, I saw that so well and so clearly in a different context too, in a language that I learned in six weeks, maybe like that much. I don't know. I got to the point where I was able to speak a little bit with some kids, which is a good sign. Whenever you can have a little bit of a conversation with a kid, so a kid will come running up to you like three years old and be like, "Da, da, da." And you're like, "I don't think I know any words that she just said." You're like, "Eh, [speaking foreign]," you know, you can say things like that. If you can have a little bit of a conversation with a kid, you know you're getting somewhere.
I got there a little bit, but we had so many people in the church who spoke English too, that made it really easy not only for us to see church context in Brazil going through translation; that helped a lot. Being able to see it, but being able to see it and have it communicated to us in English was amazing. For each of you in this room, every single one of you sit in seats right now, what's the Lord's will for your life? For me, this summertime, that's kind of what I was thinking of before I went to Brazil, right? That's what I was considering is the Lord's will for me to move in this way. What's the Lord's will for each of our lives every single day?
This is something that I want us to be thinking about today and every day. But for me, this summertime, it was taking a step of faith. And you as a church sent me and it was amazing and it was a blessing and there's so many good things that came out of this summertime. But I don't want to make it greater than, or more than what it means to be a church here in Fort Wayne, Indiana, or to be in Indianapolis or to be in France or to be in Thailand, wherever you're at the church and loving the bride. This is our calling - going and making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey and observe the commandments that I've given to you. Love the church guys. I saw that this summertime. And I'm back, and I want to continue doing that. And I want to encourage each of you in each of the ways that you know how to do that. And we'll talk a little bit about that. I'll get going here now, but I want to set the theme for what I share with you. This is something that I did in Brazil, but everything, even the stuff that was focused on the church context in Brazil, I want us to apply to our church here in Fort Wayne. Sound good?
So summertime in Brazil - we head out from Atlanta. We spend a bunch of good time talking about what it means to be a missionary, loving God's word, loving God, loving His word, loving His people. We know that all of us are created in the image and likeness of God, right? We know that. But we also know that loving the church and wanting to draw others into the church has to be a huge motivation for us. Loving hospitality and more than just that; loving the fruit of the spirit, and all of that really just pointing us to love of the church. Setting the theme for what we did this summertime.
We get on a plane - I've got a teammate, Zach, that I've talked to a few times on FaceTime and I've got my missionary host, Brian, that I've talked to twice on Zoom, get in a plane and I'm ready to go. I don't know if you guys remember our sendoff service on Sunday for me. Bymans were out of town, we talked plenty of time before they headed out, but I remember being here on Sunday, like I'm leaving in two days. It doesn't feel that crazy. You know, it's like, this is going to be a really big summer, but it was just kind of like, "All right, Lord, this is what's next. Let's do it."
We get to the airport, it's the exact same feeling I have. We're walking into Brazil, there's Portuguese everywhere, hardly any English, and it's just like, all right, let's do this. And we get out of the airport, Zack and I, we got our bags with us, and I see this six foot tall, white dude, shaved head, beard. And I'm like, "That's Brian. All right!" It's the one guy that looks like that here in the airport in Brazil. And we go hop in his car, and immediately, right away, speaking in English was great - that was one of the first release, but immediately right away he's just, "So, how did you guys travel? What did you guys do this past week? Where are you coming from?" We've been communicating with him a little bit. And then immediately we're diving into the word with him on our two hour car ride from Sao Paulo, which is the city, that's like the big city, the economic hub of Brazil, really in the south. And we drive two hour car ride to our city of Campinas, Brazil, which is where I told you I was going.
Campinas is a city of about 1.5 million people, and has some surrounding cities two in particular are Sumare and Valinhos that are small cities of about 200,000. So that's about population of Fort Wayne, right? Somebody help me out with that. Is that about the size? Yeah. Little smaller, yeah. So it's big - their small cities, I mean, they're kind of big, it's surrounding this big city of Campinas. A lot of young people, and a lot of young people coming to this area to study the word. But more than that, there's a lot of universities where people are studying engineering, finances, programming and things like that. And so we get out of the car after this two hour car ride on a Sunday morning, and guess where we go? We go straight to church service.
We just had a 10 hour flight, get in the car for two hours, and we're immediately into church service with this church, this community, this awesome group of people for their Sunday morning prayer gatherings that they do together. Immediately we're right into being with the church and serving the church. And we're just getting to learn, we're getting to spend time with them as they're walking through Matthew, they were in Matthew 8 at the time. And then we go home, get our bags unpacked. Yeah, those were in the car with us whenever we're at church. Unpack our bags, chill for a little bit, and we went back to church service again that Sunday evening. What a great time and a great way to get us right into what we did for the whole summertime.
What this summer was about was about building up and equipping the church for me. What I got to learn and what I got to see was all about building up and equipping the church, something that all of us should be doing wherever we're at. Whatever you're doing, however your own life takes you, whatever job you have during the daytime or whatever seat you sit in here on a Sunday morning or whatever, small group you're in; all of us, all of us all the time, we want to be thinking about how to be drawn near to God through spending time in the word and spending time with His body of believers at our church here.
So we got to do that in Brazil - and let me tell you, Brazilian community is something kind of different. When I say church service, I think some of you might be thinking like today, come here for an hour, hour and a half, have some coffee, go get lunch afterward, head home. Brazil is a warm climate culture, which is what we refer to as cultures and climates that are warm. They spend a lot of time together. Community is really important. A church service in Brazil on a Sunday morning means you get there at eight and you leave at noon. That's four hours, do the quick math on that.
And so they don't show you how much they love you or how much they value you by when they show up to events though, they show you how much they love you and value you by just not leaving. Which for me, the first few times is kind of like my goodness, it's midnight and we're having dinner right now on a Sunday morning after four hours of church in the morning and four hours of church in the evening. And I loving being around you, but again, this is my first day in Brazil so I kind of want to go sleep. The whole summertime though, that is what life is like in Brazil - a little bit different here. Next time that Greg gives a sermon that's 50 minutes long or 55 minutes long and you're checking your watch, I want you to be convicted about that.
Spend more time here, spend more time, it was great to see, but what we got to see throughout the entire summertime is not just church services on Sundays, but the radical commitment that's shaped by their culture, but the radical commitment to community that the whole church had. And so in our time in Campinas and in Sumare and Valinhos, we spent a whole bunch of time, every single week with believers. Now, part of this, you just got to be thinking in your mind, is this just because we're the Americans coming in? And it's kind of like, "Oh, the Americans are here, everybody wants to hang out with Americans." I asked that question a few times. No, we were treated well. And I loved getting to meet all the people that we got to meet, being an American carries with it just some advantages that I don't think you really think about until you go and you're in a different culture. And sometimes those can be benefits, sometimes those can hurt, but in this case, people just love spending time with us, but it's the church. It's the church.
There was not a single night that we were in Brazil where we didn't get breakfast, lunch or dinner. Sometimes two, sometimes all three, with different people from the church and just spend two hours hanging out and talking. Every single day that we were there, Zach and I, my friend from Tennessee, 19 years old, he's a year older than my younger brother. We got close, just spending time, we being in the same room with each other going through all these different places with each other, but we both really saw, and we talked about this a lot; as Americans seeing the community and seeing how committed the church was to being in community with each other, it was fantastic. So, that kind of shapes everything that we saw.
We get down to Brazil and I'm thinking through all of these things, what does it mean to love the church? How am I going to love the church? How am I going to serve a church in a country with a language that I don't speak? Did any of you pray for me for that while I was gone? You did. Okay, I appreciate that. Thank you for your prayers. It was very impactful. There's a lot of English speaking in Brazil, which is very helpful. Brazil's pretty westernized in the two cities that we were in, were pretty Western, which was great, but there's a lot of poverty too. And so, this picture right here is in Rio. Has anybody been to Rio before? Has anybody watched the movie Rio before? Great. We're counting it. We're counting that.
This is from Cristo Redentor, which is Christ the Redeemer, the big Jesus statue. You guys familiar with that? Like my pose right here! This is overlooking gosh, maybe a quarter of the city. What you see, the way I describe it is, just imagine there's these kind of like rolling hills and mountains and you just sprinkle sand on top of it. And then where the sand falls, those are just houses and buildings everywhere. It's just everywhere is city. So this right here is the bay. To the right of us is the Pacific Ocean here. There's a whole bunch of areas over here and there's a whole bunch more to the left, but the city just sprawls everywhere. And so, this is an example of one of the cities we went to.
There's so much urban development. You get to be in a city for a little bit, but there's also so much poverty. The Favelas, I don't know if you know what the Favelas are, but they're basically self-governing neighborhoods that have their own community police, to put it nicely, which means that drug cartels control the neighborhoods and provide safety for the neighborhoods. And when I'm saying neighborhood, I'm not talking about like 500 people living together; I'm talking about like 200,000 at the biggest. A neighborhood with 200,000 people crammed in stacked in, in an area a few miles wide, right next to sprawling high rises, Copacabana beach, Tijuca beach; there's just a lot mixed in these cities.
And so in our time in Brazil, we saw and spoke to people who were very well educated, who knew the scriptures had been to seminary, spoke good English. And then we spoke to people who didn't speak English at all and were very new to the faith and didn't have much familiarity with how to study the word, just getting to know scripture. We saw a lot of different types of people and a few different types of churches, but the big church that we spent most of our time with was called IBJM. It means Minnesota Garden Baptist Church. And so, go ahead and go to the next slide for me Lynette. This right here is a picture of me not smiling; as we go through, I'll start smiling more and more, I promise.
So these guys right here in particular are amazing. So let's go right to left, reverse for you guys. Right beside me is Brian. That guy looks American, right? He and his wife, his wife was born in Brazil. She was born to American missionaries, but she was born in Brazil, speaks Portuguese fluently and like a native, they met in the States and they're back in Brazil right now. And they've been there for about five years, sent through this organization, reaching and teaching where they are building and edifying and helping a church grow. Flip to the other side. The guy in the polo, or I guess this side is Alex, Alex Dyer. And he is a Brazilian who went to university, went to a small seminary in Brazil and realized, "Oh, I want more than this." Transferred to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, learned English, is very good in English. He speaks Portuguese, but he's very good in English. And then came back down to the States and lead a revitalization effort at this church that they are currently at. When he got there about five years ago the church had maybe 15 members. There was a lot of mess caused by sin, that had just caused this church slowly over years to be very hurt and to be very unhealthy. And Alex came in along with Brian. Brian came about a year and a half later. But Alex came in and just lead a charge, focused on two big things; one, creating culture and two, focusing on explicit discipleship in the church. And so for the past five years, that's what they've been doing.
Sunday mornings, they get together for Sunday school, about two, three hours of hang out and talking after Sunday school. Sunday evenings they have worship services together where Alex will preach. Thursday nights they have prayer meeting with each other, go for about 30 minutes to an hour and a half somewhere in there where they'll do some preaching of the word and then praying for each other as a church, and then praying for all of the members of the church as well. And then throughout the entire week, they're just doing community with each other.
Now, proof of their discipleship is these two guys in the middle in the black shirts. The guy above is Kaiki. Kaiki is 27 and he's a worship leader. He's a sound guy, he's a tech guy. He loves soccer, Fucci ball, but he's not really known as any of those things. What he's known as is just a man of the Lord and a man who loves the church, sacrifices for the church and disciples others in the church. The guy right underneath him, his name is Douglas. Douglas has a heart for young people. He was a very good athlete, was playing some - from what I was able to understand some minor league soccer in Brazil. I don't know if you know this, Brazil takes soccer very seriously. So if you're playing minor league soccer in Brazil, you're doing something right. He ends up being radically committed to the church and he just loves serving and loves teaching young kids.
This group right here, and there are a few other key people in this church, but this group right here took in Zach and I. So Zach's the guy in the middle with a white shirt. Again, 19 years old, Tennessee, going into his sophomore year he wants to be a pastor. He has a heart for the nations as well. It was really cool getting to know him. So this church took us in, and every day we're with Brian living in his house with his family. He has two young kids, a nine year old and a four year old. I grew up with a younger brother and two younger sisters, so I remember the crazy days, but I got to see them again. Nine year old bouncing off the walls like crazy, four year old is a quiet kid until he's singing the Avengers theme song at the top of his lungs for 30 minutes or the Imperial March.
These kids are homeschooled, they're around each other all the time, but their family - ah, their family's amazing. Their family was such a blessing to us, and showed us what it means to live overseas in a culture and in a context that isn't yours, but not visit - to get to know the culture and dive in and commit to planting in the culture so that you can effectively serve and grow the church. Such a blessing this summertime.
Go ahead and go to the next slide for me Lynette. So this right here is the inside of IBJM, this is on a prayer night. So this is about 30 or 40 people on a Thursday night, able to take time out from work and come. Zach and I gave our testimonies on the first prayer meeting night that we were able to go to. And then Zach gave a devotional out of Galatians and we had some other pastors come in and do some teaching times in these prayer meetings. This was just a great time of being able to be together with each other. This happened every week that we were in Campinas for four cities. And we did some traveling that I'll get to in just a second, but this was our home base. This is a church that is not perfect. Be under no illusions that any church is perfect.
Greg, what do you say - when you find a perfect church run from it, because it's not perfect or something like that? Say it better for me. Do you guys anybody remember how he...? Yeah, there we go. Don't join the perfect church or you'll mess it up. It's very factual. I was just so encouraged and so impressed by this church culture, and seeing just the simple commitment to doing ministry in attractive ways and in unattractive ways, just boring ways. Just loving each other and spending time with each other, holding each other accountable and being in the word almost daily with each other. We talk about being in the word weekly and being in the word in your quiet times, a church that it's just routine to meet with each other throughout the week, each week, and spend time hanging out, talking about life and spending time in the word.
Go to the next slide for me Lynette. So this right here, see, I start smiling, goofy smiles. This is the leadership team and the families of the leadership teams here. So there's too many people for me to name all by names. Zach's on the left side. There we go, I'm getting it down. Kaiki, Brian, Douglas you see at the bottom with his wife, we have a visiting pastor from a rural area of Brazil named Edson and his wife, Gabby, who spent about two weeks with us or three weeks with us. And this is the families of men who are in the church, in the pastoral internship training program that this church does. Where again, education in Brazil just isn't as widely available. And so this church as a natural part of being a church, is committed every year to spending a year taking four or five or one or two men who are mature and have a passion for the church and maybe have eldership or pastoring a church in the future laid on their hearts. They spend a year just walking through what that means practically.
And this church, one of the awesome things about it, a church with its problems, but one of the awesome things about it is that it wasn't just the pastor's responsibility to disciple. It wasn't just the youth pastors responsibility to work with the youth. There were about 30 people my age, which is amazing. I mean, it's awesome. A church of maybe about 120, 150 or so members, more than that on a Sunday morning, but so many young people who are committed and desire to be under people who are older and wiser in the faith. So encouraging! And people who want to do that for them, people who want to spend time discipling them, people who are radically committed to what it means to serve the church. It's just so encouraging. So, we had a great time with them.
This was at [Ashoka, Ashoka32:07] is, and my pronunciation will be terrible having been gone for two weeks from Brazil. It was terrible when I was there; imagine two weeks removed from that. So if anybody who speaks Portuguese ever hears this they'll laugh, but that's okay, you won't know. Ashoka is a cookout. Anybody do any 4th of July cookouts? Anything like that? Anything around there? Yeah, I missed those myself a little bit until we had this. Okay, so imagine you've got an oven open fire and just really good steak and chicken and sausage, and you just throw it on top of the fire, roll it around for a little bit, take it out and you're just eating that for like an hour and a half, and community's just happening the whole time. They've got a really cool meat called picanha. If you watch Blue, again, everybody, you can add this to your reading or your movie watch list, go watch the animated movie Blue. They're at this little steakhouse and this guy comes in with a big knife and goes, "Ah, picanha." It's the steak that they have. Slide off steak is so good.
These people though, it's all about community and it's all about being together and growing together, and it's super encouraging. Be praying for them as a church - I should have shared this at the last service, but be praying for them as a church as they're working right now, planning out, launching small groups for the first time, intentional small groups for the first time. That's something that we've done for a while. I don't know how long we've done that as a church; for them, it's going to be something that's new. Their culture and their context is already super specific about doing that with each other, but just be praying for them as they go into that season.
So next up Lynette, this right here is the first place that we went on the road. This is a city called Lucas do Rio Verde, which just means Lucas Green River. And this is a group of about 40, 45 pastors in Brazil, without access to seminary who faithfully serve their church. Some churches are smaller, some churches are a little bit bigger, 100, 120, 150, the number isn't what matters - just to give you an idea of the size of church that some of these men are coming from. And RTIM, specifically, Brian, who's right above my head there I think; yeah, that's him. They get together and they put on these training conferences about three or four times a year, and they go through modules together. It's kind of like a class, but it's not formal. It's just getting together in a church sanctuary. It's very similar to this and just spending a weekend, three, four days together being in community.
We woke up, it's 90 degrees where we were at in this particular city, wake up coffee with each other, spend 30 minutes drinking coffee tea with each other, go into the sanctuary, be in the word for about four hours. Come back out, somebody in the church would prepare lunch for us. We would all eat lunch together., Go back in, do it again for another four or five hours, come back out, have dinner, go home, come back to it the next day. This was a teaching trip that was phenomenal for me. I feel vastly under qualified to speak and to preach and to share to men, especially men who are older than me like this, but the Lord used this time to build up and edify these pastors, and also just to speak into my life to show me what it looks like to be radically sold out and radically committed to building up the church, which was amazing.
And we had one funny conversation - go to the next slide for me Lynette. There's a guy named Marcos, Marcos at IBJM who has a son who does Brazilian jujitsu. I don't do Brazilian jujitsu. I didn't try it while I was there; probably would've died if I had tried it. But this guy right here, is named Gabrielle, and Marcos told me something that Gabrielle ended up telling me again later, just reminding me of how lucky we are and how humbled we should be to be born into the situation that we are in America and just to have the blessings of education around us because we go to this, this right here, this is a English class. These are about, I can't remember, about 50 or so young people. I mean maybe up until the age of like 25 or so, right around my age, who are just learning English. Not tied to a church context.
So we go in and this guy, Gabrielle goes to the church that we were at. This guy is 18 years old, speaks five languages, wants to be a diplomat someday, loves the Lord. I was kind of impressed being around him. His English was maybe better than my English. Like, he was really good. Seriously! We get invited to this time of sharing with unchurched people. Most of our church was focused on building up the church and growing the church. But we get to spend time for about three hours speaking to people, people who have some who have some church familiarity and some who came from very, very, very different worldviews. And we just used the in of English and teaching English and having fun. My exercise was with about 15 of them. I got to be a waiter and we got to walk through ordering food in English, which is hilarious - because you know we do that in Spanish class? And it's like, oh, I don't get the exercise. And then I'm doing it in English. I was like, oh, I see what's going on here, okay. We get to use the time to speak into some of these people's lives and get them connected with a few churches, some who had gotten disconnected from churches. It was just a great time.
Go to the next one for me Lynette. This right here is Pastor Mauricio and his wife Hosanne. When we left Lucas do Rio Verde, we came back to our home base for a few weeks. This is about the middle time of our time in the summer, the first week and a half or so was in Campinas, and then we went to Lucas do Rio Verde, which I just showed you for about four or five days. We met way more amazing men than I could list right now. I'd run out of time if we stayed here till two. We go to Rio after we get back. Rio's amazing. I just have the big skyline picture of Rio in there that I took on my iPhone. Rio's amazing. It's a cool city. There's a lot of hurt. There's a lot of wealth. It's a mixed city, but it's a very fun city to be in. But this couple right here and the church that they have faithfully pastored for the past 27 years was such an encouragement.
Pastor Mauricio is a very well read guy. He's a guy who's English might be better than my English. Seriously! People who learn and speak multiple languages, sometimes there's just something different that happens where they really understand everything that's going on. Do any of you know Andrew Peterson? I think that he wrote "How he loves" and that few other songs. So he also writes some kids books. I haven't read them. Pastor Mauricio is the guy responsible for translating them to Portuguese. I don't know how big the books are, but translating a well-published author's books into another language, like that's a cool gig, right?
These guys took us into their home and we spent time at their church. If you go to the next slide for me Lynette; this church seats about a hundred at max capacity and they don't necessarily have the same fire code that we do, you might be able to squeeze more in, but this church was packed and is tiny. I mean, to give you an idea, maybe wall to wall from the stage to maybe Joel and Abby and Jenay where you're sitting. I mean, it's a tiny room and this is a church that's been here for 27 years. This is right downtown in the middle of Rio. The church is here, and then you walk around the block and the pastor's family, Pastor Mauricio and his wife live right around the corner. They've been invested and planted in this community for 27 years, faithfully serving and faithfully growing over the long haul. Reminds me of another couple, another family that's been doing that here in Fort Wayne, the Byman, who again, if I think I got the math right, have been here for 19 years, doing this at least for 19 years, coming up on the 20th soon.
There's something to be said about the testament that comes from being radically committed over the long haul. It's easy to go do something for six weeks. I'll be honest with you. I enjoyed it. We got to talk sometimes about what you're good at, what other people tell you you're good at, what you enjoyed doing and what the church needs. If you've got those four things and those are intersecting; for each of you in your lives, I don't know what that might be. I can give you a few examples of somebody who likes and enjoys and can bless the church by running [unclear39:47] for you guys every single Sunday, which is the thing that puts these slides up on the screen. That'd be Lynette and Cathy and Beth, Claire. I mean, there's so many of you who help out with this - Isaac upstairs doing audio today, doing the live stream. Intersections of what you can do, what you enjoy doing, what you're good at doing, what blesses the church; a pastor that does that is special.
It's easy to do in the short term and to leave when things get hard. It's much more difficult to love the church for 20 years, 27 years - for decades. One thing that we talked to a pastor who was in his sixties, I believe; he gave us some practical tips for young men and for the young guys in the room, I want to give you this, but then also for everybody here. Just seven practical tips from a pastor and no particular order for loving the church and for loving the Lord, which is, one, to know the word. Know your word. You can't fake it. You can't fake it. You can't be in the word once a year and see the growth the Lord wants to see in your life. Know the word and love the word. Live a life of prayer. Learn under older and wiser men and women. For the young guys in the room, really talking to myself, speak less and listen more. Speak less, listen more. Love the church. And how do you love the church? You can promote a culture of peace in the church, but love the church and love the church's problems.
You know what's hard to do for 27 years? Loving the church. You know why? because loving the church comes with loving her problems. Again, what's the bride of Christ. I didn't hear, sorry. Just let me know, let me know that you're awake. The church, yes. Thank you. I don't think we're excited about the church this morning. No, I'm kidding. Loving the church. Husbands love your wives. Husbands love your wives. And I'm again, waiting into territory that I'm going to be careful about because I don't have a ring on my finger. I have no experience in this matter so that's my blanket for this whole thing. I didn't get in trouble for saying this last service, so I'm going to say it carefully again and bite my head off later if I do. Loving the church comes alongside loving her problems just as loving your bride comes alongside loving her problems.
It goes both ways, but if you love the church and you run from the church's problems; that's not loving the church. What I saw this summertime is in a different context; loving the church and men and women who are committed to spending their whole lives doing something that in the eyes of others might be boring. Staying in a place in a city, loving people and helping the church grow over the long haul. I don't know what was going on in your life this morning, most of you - I don't know what's on the horizon in your life this morning. For me, in January, Brazil was not on my horizon for July and June. It's a pretty quick turnaround, right? I know some people have some pretty big life changes coming up in these next few weeks. What is the Lord's will for your life and what is his purpose for your life? Loving the church if you're a believer, I can tell you that.
If you want a word from the Lord maybe pray that it comes to you in a dream like it did to Solomon. I'm not going to give you that this morning. I can't give you that this morning. What I can speak into your life is scripture and saying that whatever step you're at in your life right now, young or old, experienced or inexperienced, love the church and grow together with the church and the body of believers, because we all need each other. We all need each other. For those of you who live here, for those of you who don't, for those of you who are here every week, for those of you who aren't, for those of you who travel a lot, for those of you who never travel, for those of you who are in school right now, for those of you, who've been out of school for five decades; love the church wherever you're at. I want to encourage you with that this morning.
And practically, what does that mean for each of you? I don't know specifically necessarily. I know that we have some needs in the church right now. For example, we got a block party coming up. Did we mention that this morning? Yeah, basically seeing if you guys actually listen this morning. We got a block party coming up in two weeks. I know that we still have some needs and some ways that we could use some help for that block party. We've got always, we could be using extra help on Sunday mornings, helping with our tech team, helping with worship team; we need help with kids and nursery volunteers. We need help with refreshments and greeters. There's so many ways to serve and love the church, and it doesn't have to be going to Brazil, or going to Mexico, or going to Ecuador, or going to Germany.
There's so many different ways in our daily lives that we can love the Lord. And I think that it all comes back to really being in the word and being convinced that there's no higher calling for any of your lives than loving the church and loving the bride. If you're feeling a calling in a direction that takes you away from that, I would caution you carefully if that's coming from the Lord. Now people move, you know, we move, we bounce around; life takes you in different directions, but for us as believers, be tethered to the community. That's what I saw the summertime in such an encouraging way. And Lynette go to that next picture for me. This is just a picture of Brian preaching, a man who's so encouraging to meet; so many fun conversations, again, watching Rio with his kids who watch Pirates of the Caribbean, Pirates of the Caribbean one and two.
We went and watched Thor. I'll show you a picture about that in just a second. Yeah, mixed. Talk to me after about that if you want. Spending time with him and with Pastor Alex, having so many good deep, serious conversations and so many just simple encouragement conversations was so good this summertime, and seeing how to love the church very practically overseas in a different context. Lynette, go to that next one for me. So I'll just show you real quick. This is just an example of community, going around the table to myself, smiling, Pastor Alex and his wife, Patricia, [unclear45:34]. And then we have Christa, Brian, Zach, and then we have Edson and Gabby who are from Northern Brazil, who are with us for a short time. And go to the next one. This is myself, Mathios, a really smart guy. He works for Disney. If you've ever gone to Disneyland or Disney world, he's responsible for programming the app on your phone that you use. Yeah, it's pretty cool, isn't it?
We've got Caleb in the Thor hat right at the bottom. That's Brian's oldest kid. Like me in a lot of ways when I was a kid, such a fun kid and difficult because I know I was a difficult kid. Yeah, that's basically what I'm saying. No, their family's awesome. And then Zach and Alex Montero in the Captain America shirt. Just two guys, and I think this was Friday night. This was our last week here. We went to a movie theater mall, hung out with these guys, talked about what we liked and didn't like about Thor for like 20 minutes. And then over McDonald's and some sparkling water just talked about the Lord's doing in our lives and encouraging each other. Such a fun summertime.
I want to leave you with this the church prepared to move into Lord Supper. I am so grateful and I'm so thankful that you sent me this summertime because for those of you who did pray and who helped support me to go this summertime, it happened because of you, it happened because of you, and I'm so thankful. For all the prayer support and preparation for me going and while I was there and please continue as I'm adjusting - mostly adjusted. I mean, it was pretty easy for me to be honest with you. I loved it so much, but it was easy getting back. I want you all to know that it was a very big summer for me, and it was also a mundane summer. I'm telling you Brazil was mundane. You know why? Because it wasn't a vacation. It was living regular life with a whole bunch of people for six weeks in a different place.
And I don't know if I was good at it or not. I had a lot of good conversations and people encouraged me that I was encouraging to them, which is good to hear. But seeing and experiencing what it's like to be overseas, and for me at least in particular, knowing that I was able to go because of you church and because of the time in my life that the Lord has put me in, able to walk with open hands for a season and looking forward to whatever the next seasons of life are like for me and for you and your lives, I just want to say thank you. This has been fun and I'm glad to be back and we've got a big fall ahead. So, I'll be looking forward to what we have going on and we can talk after. I'll be out in foyer a little bit.
I made some videos while I was there. Nothing that's really good. Just kind of some fun. Here's what we did today videos, but I basically just gave you the long and the short of it. Yeah, so blessed by you guys. Thank you. I want to pray for our time real quick as we get ready to move into a time of being quiet and approaching the Lord for communion together. So let's pray together real fast and then Greg will come up and we'll walk into that.
Lord, thank you so much for your grace and for your goodness and for your providence. Thank you for how you speak into each of our lives. Every single person in this room, every single person; where can we run, or where can we hide that we're not known by you? I thank you the Lord for what you did and for me this summertime in Brazil and the opportunity that I was given and that I was able to move into because of this church that loves and supports you, Lord. And I thank you that they were trusting of me to do just a little bit of that work this summertime. And I, I pray specifically for IBJM and PB and Rio de Janeiro and some of the other churches that we saw that you would just continue to bless them through the work of the godly men and women who are serving your churches there, that you would build them up and strengthen them. And for us here in St Joe, Lord, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, I just pray that you be with us today and that you write our hearts for those of us who know you and believe in you and trust you with our lives and have received the Holy Spirit. And for any who haven't today, Lord, I pray that you'd be using us as witnesses to speak into their lives to share the good news and the hope of Christ that we have in you, Lord. I thank you. It's in your name that I pray for us this morning, amen. Thanks guys.
July 24, 2022
St. Joe Community Church
Let’s Attempt Great Things for the Lord
1 Chronicles 29:1-20
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
“The world has yet to see what God can do with a church fully consecrated to him.”
“What could God do through St. Joe Community Church?”
1 Chronicles 29:1-20
1. God Inspires GREAT Tasks! (v.1)
“the task is great” – v.1
“because the building will not be built for a human but ‘for the LORD God’.”
Great tasks are tasks “for the Lord” – it’s not about you and me, but about HIM. It’s not for me, for our church, for our city or country – but “for the Lord”
Great tasks often begin in our imaginations – they begin as great dreams
David had time to stop and dream…he is thinking about the Lord and begins to wonder…
2 Samuel 7:1-3
After the king was settled in his palace and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2 he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent." And Nathan said to David, "Do all that is in your heart, for God is with you."
The writer of Chronicles lists the building materials David collected:
-----------------When God’s people come together - they can do GREAT THINGS…
All of God’s people are present, but 2 groups specifically named:
First in verse 1
“My son Solomon, God has chosen him alone, is young and inexperienced”
2. God calls young and inexperienced people to accomplish GREAT tasks
Common Theme in the Bible:
Technically - Adam & Eve – Rule over the whole earth
Joseph – 2nd youngest
Gideon (Judges 6) – “The Lord is with you, mighty man of valor!” – “I’m the least in my family”
David – youngest and smallest of brothers
Jeremiah – “I’m just a kid!” Don’t say that – go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you (Jeremiah 1:5-8)
Mary – a teenager
Timothy – “Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth”
Why does God use so many young and inexperienced people?
Perhaps you are better dreamers?
Perhaps you are better risk takers – also known as people who step out in faith?
Perhaps their perspective is better – and they see the needs more clearly (Gideon/David vs. Goliath)
Perhaps your youth and inexperience will force you to trust more in him.
When David issues his challenge for God’s people to do something GREAT – we see another group of people step up. It’s those who might be classified as “older and more experienced.” The leadership.
3. God is glorified when the older, more experienced people set the pace.
Verse 5 - Who will consecrate himself?
Consecrate is a priestly term – used to describe the function of a priest who stands before the people offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. Who will “step up and actually do something for the community?”
In this case, stepping up is giving their material possession
11 times – made provision; give, give over and above; gave, gave, had given, give; provided; willingly given; giving joyfully and willingly
This is the definition of being fully invested.
Why is it that the older more experienced people are so invested and can serve so whole-heartedly?
Because their age & experience has taught them WHO it is that is actually accomplishing GREAT things.
They know God – not just know about God.
(Young and inexperienced people don’t yet have this.)
David again reflects this
READ vs. 11-12
Notice 3 things:
a. David is searching for words….There’s no language that can fully grasp just how awesome God is
b. God is the Standard
c. God owns, controls and is above everything
What happens when the older more experienced people are really invested in the ministry?
READ v. 9
9 Then the people rejoiced because of their leaders’ willingness to give, for they had given to the LORD wholeheartedly.
What can we practically to do to accomplish something GREAT?
1. Start dreaming.
2. Expect a call.
3. Invest Fully.
4. Strive to know God better.
The scripture that Bill read earlier, "Now to him who is able," it says right at the end of that passage; 'Now to him who is able to do a measurably more than all we ask or imagined, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, amen." That passage is familiar. And one of the things that we gloss over is it says that God is not only able to do more than we imagine. Think about that for a minute. The passage does not say God can do more than we can imagine. It says immeasurably more than we can imagine. And I don't know about you, but I can imagine some pretty amazing things. And that passage says, I think in the CSVs, it's exceedingly abundantly, more than we can think.
Just let that stew for a minute in your minds, because my hope this morning is to stimulate your imagination a little bit is to maybe get you to dream a little bit. What could we as a church do? What could we as a church do; this body of believers in Fort Wayne, in Indiana, and in the world? What could we do for God? DL Moody was quoted as saying back in the 1800s, "The world is yet to see what God can do with a man who's fully consecrated to Him." The world has yet to see what God can do through the man who's fully consecrated him. And Moody used this as his life verse. And he said, I'm going to be that man by God's grace. And that quote has inspired thousands of men and women throughout history, I believe, to do great things for God. What if we changed one word in there, and instead of the world has yet to see what God can do through a man, but through the church. Because in the New Testament we see it's through the church, the body of Christ; it's not just one of us who is like a superstar in the Christian faith. It's all of us.
That was something I had to learn as I was serving God and after college, I wanted to just be God's man, be the next Billy Graham. And it dawned on me as I was reading through the scriptures, the more and more I read, the more I read, realized that it's the church. God gifts each one of us in some different, unique ways so that together we can become the body of Christ here in this world. And it's amazing thing. So what could God do through the church that's fully consecrated to Him? Well, I just wanted to kind of get you thinking that way. Maybe God is going to speak to you in the next few minutes, maybe in the next few days or next few months. But to help prime your imagination pump, I wanted to look at one passage in 1 Chronicles.
If you have a Bible, 1 Chronicles is in the Old Testament. Turn there. If you find Samuel, you'll see Kings come after that, and then Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 29 is where we're going to look. 1 Chronicles 29 - I'm going to read the first 20 verses of that. So it's a bit of a stretch, I'll gives you a chance to look it up on your phone if you don't have a Bible or look on with somebody else. 1 Chronicles 29:1 "King David said to all the assembly, my son, Solomon, God has chosen him alone, is young and inexperienced. The task is great because the building will not be built for a human, but for the Lord God. So to the best of my ability, I've made provision for the house of my God, gold for the gold article, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron, and wood for the wood, as well as Onyx stones for mounting, antimony stones of various colors, all kinds of precious stones and a great quantity of marble. Moreover, because of my delight in the house of my God, I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the house of my God over and above all that I've provided for the holy house. 100 tons of gold, gold of Ohpir, 250 tons of refined silver for overlaying the walls of the buildings, the gold for the gold work and the silver for all the silver work to be done by the craftsman." Now, who will volunteer to consecrate himself to the Lord today.
Verse six, 'Then the leaders of the households, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the King's work gave willingly. For the service of God's house, they gave 185 tons of gold, 10,000 gold coins, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bran, and 4,000 tons of iron. Whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the Lord's house under the care of Jehiel the Gershonite, then the people rejoiced because of their leaders willingness to give and they had given to the Lord wholeheartedly, King David also rejoiced.
Verse 10, "Then David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said, 'May you be blessed, Lord, God, of our father Israel from eternity to eternity, yours, Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory, and the splendor and the majesty for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours Lord, is the kingdom and you are exalted as head overall. Riches and honor come from you and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it's in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now, therefore our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name, but who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this. For everything comes from you and we've given you only what comes from your own hand. For we are aliens and temporary residents in your presence as were all of our ancestors, our days on earth are like a shadow without hope. Lord, our God, all this wealth that we've provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand. Everything belongs to you. I know my God that you test the heart and that you are pleased with what is right. I have willingly given all these things with an upright heart. And now I've seen your people who are present here, giving joyfully and willingly to you. Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors keep this desire forever in the thoughts of the hearts of your people and confirm their hearts toward you. Give my son Solomon an undivided heart to keep and to carry out all your commands, your decrees and your statutes, and to build the building for which I have made provision. Then David said to the whole assembly, blessed it be the Lord, your God. So the whole assembly praised the Lord, God of their ancestors. They knelt low and paid homage to the Lord and to the king.'" And here ends the reading of God's word.
Before I talk about the setting of what's going on here, you may have picked it up already; I wanted you to see something in verse one, and mainly is that God inspires great tasks. God inspires great tasks. David is talking and one of the first things he says is the task is great. The task before you is great. And the definition of a great task he tells us there, because this is not for man. This is not going to be something that mankind is going to take a lot of pride in. It's not going to point to us, it's for God. That's what the Bible defines as a great task. Something for God, himself. It's for the Lord, and great tasks for the Lord begin in our imaginations. At least that's what it did for David.
If we were to go back into the scriptures you would see the time is back when the wars had kind of ceased, he was sitting around this beautiful palace that he had built for himself. And he's got nothing else to do. He's sort of just sitting there reflecting. How much reflection time do you have in your life these days? I don't know how much. We don't really do that much anymore. But maybe today, later on, get out, get some lemonade or do something, go under a tree and just don't think about much, except, "God, I just want to appreciate what's around me." David's doing this. He's in his home and he's seeing all these nice things he has - probably his granite countertops and his new cabinets, maybe. And you know, the nice stuff that he's put in and he is going, "You know, this is a really nice house, but while I'm sitting here in this house, the Arc of the Covenant is in a tent."
And in 2 Samuel the scripture tells us, "He settled in his palace and God had given him rest," and that's exactly what he's doing. He's looking around and he sees that he's got it pretty good, but God's House is kind of a tent, that's probably wearing out a little bit. So this idea comes to him, "I'm going to build God a house. I'm going to build the temple." And God in 1 Kings, even as he hears about this idea, he tells David, "You did well in your heart to plan this. This is something that I'm blessing." So, God encourages and blesses, inspires great tasks. To give you an idea of how great David's imagination is, the writer of Chronicles actually puts down the supply list for the house. It's like a grocery list. Go into Lowe's or Home Depot, by the way, go pick up some gold, pick up some silver - it is not quite that practical, but you see, and I like the CSV because it kind of converts the units they used back then to our units today. So if you look down at verse four, you'll see David is giving - he's not only giving a bunch of stuff from the community, he's also giving out of his own wealth, 100 tons of gold, 250 tons of silver.
He skipped down a little bit more, and he talks about what the people are giving in verse seven for the service of God's House. They gave 185 tons of gold and 10,000 gold coins, 375 tons of silver, 675 tons of bronze and so on. That's a lot. I think what this Chronicle is trying to tell us, this was a lot of stuff. Now, if you somehow could convert this into today's money, how much would it be? Well, gold is $1,810 an ounce. At least it was about a week ago. I don't know what it is this morning. Silver's $20.59 an ounce. So if you converted that much, just the gold and silver into today's money, David's portion would be $5.9 billion. David is giving $5.9 billion worth of gold and silver to build God's house. The people see this and they decide also we're going to give some money too.
Well, they give 185 tons of gold, 375, tons of silver, $11.8 billion the people give. Combined, I did the math, I used my calculator, it's $16.8 billion worth of gold and silver. Now, what does that compare to today? What can you build for $16.8 billion today? Well, the highest building in the world is called the Burj Khalifa, and it's in Dubai. There's a commercial with a stewardess standing, I think she's with Emirates airlines or something. And she's standing on the top of this building, that building 160 stories, tall cost, 1.5 billion. You could build 11 Burj Khalifa for the amount of money that they gave for this temple. And now, this temple is four or five stories tall. It's footprint is less than a football field. It's about half of a football field, so you have to imagine this building was magnificent.
It must have just been - it's not one of the greatest wonders of the world because it probably wasn't there when they decided, which were the seven great wonders of the world, but it was amazing. The people who built... the temple got destroyed and then Hezekiah came and built another temple. The people who laid the foundation for that temple, those who had seen the original temple were in tears because it didn't do justice. This new one didn't do it justice. David had this imagination that he wanted to do something great for God because God inspires great things. God inspires great things.
Now, there's kind of three groups of people, but really two specifically who are mentioned in this passage. There's the assembly, there's everybody together. But you see, David names a couple of different groups of people. The first one is in verse one, it says; "Then King David said to the assembly, 'My son, Solomon, God has chosen him alone is young and inexperienced.'" Solomon the one whom God has chosen is young and inexperienced. Does that make sense to you? Because it says in God's word in multiple places, not just here; God calls young and inexperienced people to accomplish great tasks. God calls the young and inexperienced.
Let that sink in because that's exactly opposite of our world, right? You're going for a job interview, if you've written a resume; I want to put the best stuff on there. "I was president of this company; I did so much of this. I did that. I did that," and my resume is 17 pages long. Probably not a good idea, but you want to put down everything, all your experience. You want to let them know, I know what I'm doing. God chooses young and inexperienced. So you're having the job interview with God, and if you bring in the long resume, you're not going to get it. Okay. He's looking for young and inexperienced people. And it's not just in this passage. If you go back in the scriptures, you find Joseph in the Old Testament; he was the second youngest brother. God used him to kind of orchestrate the events in that family.
Gideon, Judges 6, young boy, he's threshing wheat. And the angel comes to him and says, "Oh, a mighty man of valor." And Gideon's like, "I'm just a boy." He said, "That's right. God has chosen you." David, he's the youngest of his brothers. When the call goes out that we're going to choose a new leader, David's brothers all get assembled by Jesse's dad. David's not there. "Well, where's David?" "Who cares about him? He's young and inexperienced. He's out in the field right now. He's not a leader. He is just a boy." Who's the one God chose?
Jeremiah, the Prophet Jeremiah - angel comes to him and says God has chosen you. And Jeremiah's first words are, "I'm just a child. I'm just a baby. I can't do this." And the angel says, "Just do whatever God tells you to do. Go where he tells you to go. Just do it." Mary, New Testament, Jesus' mother, how old was she? We don't know her exact age, but many believe she was a teenager. Timothy - what did Paul tell Timothy? Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young. God chooses young and inexperienced people to do great tasks.
I don't know where you're at this morning, but there's a bunch of younger people here, I just want to talk to you for a minute. God chooses you guys. You are so valuable to the kingdom of God. God sees great worth in you. You might think I'm just a kid, I can't do anything. God sees that so differently. He may be choosing you. He may have already chosen you. Thankfully, I loved Bill's introduction. We have a great church. There's some young people - we've had some younger families come in, younger people come in and we've got some old people here like me, and so it's sort of nice to see that blend. But the young families come in and they're not really sure. Well, I'm new, I'm young and I'm not experienced here. Or maybe you're younger in the faith. Maybe it's a spiritual thing. I've just become a Christian; I'm an old person, but I just became a Christian, I'm not really sure what to do. Rejoice, God calls young in and experienced people.
I told Isaac and Claire and now Megan, that I wouldn't calling them from the front because those aren't their real names. Well, actually they are. But I mean, they're just an example. Brandon's up doing the sound. I mean, there's younger people who hear that voice and get involved and God calls you to that. Why, why does God use young and inexperienced people? That would be a good question. Perhaps they're better dreamers. Perhaps they can come up with stuff. Their imaginations are still fresh. You know, I'm getting older, I don't really imagine much anymore except maybe lying down later today. I can imagine that. But younger people seem to have an ability to just have a great imagination. They can think about these things and what might God do? They're better risk takers, I think. I think they're willing to take a risk.
We were on vacation a few years ago and there's a big rock in this lake that we were going to. And my son-in-law challenged everybody in the boat to go off and jump off this rock into the lake. There was no voice in me that said get up and go. Absolutely none! I was pretending I didn't hear him. I was just off to the side, but both of my grandsons in the water, up on the rock, boom, they're better risk takers. We call that in the Christian world, steps of faith. They live by faith. They're willing to take the risk. Maybe their perspective is better. I don't know. Maybe they see things differently. Maybe they see it just a little bit newer or fresher eyes. David and Goliath, right? David comes out while Goliath is there; the whole army just sitting there going like, "Man, this guy's really bugging us." And David's like, "Why are you letting him bug you?" He's got a whole new perspective. And there's the whole David Goliath encounter.
Perhaps God uses young and inexperienced people because they don't rely on their youth or their experience, because they don't have any experience. They don't have many years of living. They have to trust something else. They have to trust in God, himself. God loves that without faith it's impossible to please God. God loves it. Weakness is an advantage in the Christian faith. I hope you know that. Weakness is an advantage.
Again, we have a lot of physically younger people, spiritually younger people, and the tendency is to hang back. If you're newer here, you just came to know Christ; your tendency is to say, "I see some things going on here or what if we did this? But I'm new here. I don't want to seem like I'm kind of like talking and telling everybody what to do." Maybe that's God nudging you. And he's saying, "No, share that, share that, get involved," because God calls young and inexperienced people.
The other group of people we see here is in verse six and nine; it says, "The leaders of the households, the leaders of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands of hundreds, the officials in charge." Verse nine, "Then the people rejoice because of their leaders willingness." It talks about the leaders. We call the leaders, people with experience and old - older experienced people. You've got young inexperienced people in this story, and then you've got older experienced leaders who are in this story, and they step up. David talks to the whole assembly, he says, "Who will consecrate themselves to the Lord?" That word consecrate is very interesting. It means who's going to get their hands dirty a little bit. It actually means to fill the hand. It's an idiom in Hebrew that means to fill your hand. Who's going to get their hands dirty? It was used for the priests, so the priests are going to come up before God representing the people. And they're actually going to do the worship service in front of the people. Who is willing to get your hands dirty? And it says all the leaders jump in - "I will, I will. I will." Because God is glorified when the older more experienced people set the pace; God is glorified when older more experienced people set pace.
In this case, they gave in this case, stepping up was giving you. See that 11 times in this passage - give. They gave, they gave, they gave over and above. They gave willingly, they gave joyfully... I'm not here to preach a sermon on giving. This would be a great text for that, but the point is, the older, more experienced people are fully invested. They're fully invested. David is a good example here. It says in the text that David, as the leader of the people set aside some gifts for the temple, he set aside the people's gifts. And then it said, not only did he do that, he took out his own wallet. And he said, "Well, that's what I'm going to do. That's what the people are going to do. I'm the leader I'll decide this. And here's some extra money out of my own personal wallet." Imagine that in the church.
We had a fella in our church back in Illinois, I think he was our church chairman. We lived in a box too just like you guys. For many, many years, we lived out of a trailer. In fact, they still do. 27 years now I think it is, the church has been going and they're living in a trailer. They have boxes, they pull up to the school, all the boxes, come out, sound system, whatever it is. You guys, the older people here know that drill. And so, after a while, it gets a little tiring, right. Week after week after week after week after week, Sunday's always coming, and it's like, here it is again. And occasionally, the leadership would get a little bad attitude. And they'd go, "When are we going to get a church? I thought you were going to get us a church. How come we don't have a church yet?"
They might not say it exactly like that, but it's like, what's taken so long, or how come we... did you look at that property? And the church chairman, his name was Dave; he would hear this kind of grumbling going on. And so at one meeting about two years into the church, he said, "I've got a great idea and we're going to get a church building." Everybody was like, "Yeah, this is great. We've been waiting for this." And they were like, "How are we going to make it happen?" He says, "I figured it all out." He said, "There's about 10 of us here, and we all own our own homes. Let's go refinance our homes and get a hundred thousand dollars each out of our homes and let's donate that money to the church." You could have heard a pin drop.
The comments were like, "You know, it's not so bad being in that trailer. It's kind of got advantages, really, you know," and it never came up again. But that's exactly opposite of what's going on in this text. David says, "No, my imagination's bigger than this for the house of God. I am going to give even more out of my own personal wealth." This is the definition of being fully invested. It says in verse six and nine, that the people gave willingly. But in verse 14, you look down, it's not just that they gave willingly - well, it says in verses nine, it says wholeheartedly. Wholeheartedly is a word in the original language, it's the same root word as they get the word Shalom from. They gave with a Shalom heart, in a sense, is what they said.
It's a heart of peace, a heart of contentment. If you know the meaning of the word Shalom, it's like, that's what their heart was like. It was peaceful. It was content. They wanted to do it. It wasn't under coercion. It wasn't that somebody was making them do this. In fact, look at verse 14, David says, "Who am I and who are my people that we should be able to give as generously as this?" That's his response. They give 11 billion and David's like, "Whoa, this is awesome. This is so great. Who am I that I'm even able to do this?" It wasn't at all like, "Oh gosh, here it is again, a capital campaign. Oh man, hey, let's go walk this way, they're collecting over there, let's go over here." It was like he felt honored, he felt blessed that he could be able to give that much money. He had a heart that was content and at peace, he was invested all in.
Again, let's ask the question. Why? Why are older more experienced people able to invest so much of themselves? Why? Well, I think David reveals that in his prayer. I think it's because they just don't know who God is, they know God. They know God. Look at David's prayer in verse 11 and 12, David begins praying, he says, "Yours Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours Lord is the kingdom, you are exalted as head overall. Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it's in your hand to make great and to give strength to all."
You see older and more experienced; those who walk with God and have a track record of walking with God know that He's faithful. They know that these words are true. David is searching for language here to just tell people or to tell God how awesome He is. He can't find enough adjectives. Yours O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty. He's saying, "God, you are beyond what I can even describe." Notice that God is the standard here too. He doesn't say God, you're powerful; God, you're strong; God, you're majestic - as if there's some other thing that we could compare God to called power. Well, I know what a lot of power looks like; God, you're like that. He doesn't say that. He says yours is the power - you define what power is. There's nothing more powerful than you. We can say that's powerful like God; that would be appropriate. But we can't say there's that God is like anything. He is power. He is majestic. He is beautiful. He's glorious. And it also says he owns and controls everything. He owns and controls everything.
I don't know, I'm a space guy. I was telling people in the first service, James Webb telescope, some of you don't even know what that is. It's a telescope, it's out like a hundred million miles from earth and it's taken pictures of deep space. You might have seen them in the newspaper, and all it's showing are galaxies. It's sort of like a celestial Zillow. You know what Zillow is, right? You're going to look at people's houses. "Well, I want to see the inside too. Or they've only got 17 pictures here. Wait, oh, look at the bathroom, isn't that nice?" And you get a chance to see what houses actually look like on Zillow. You don't just see the outside. This James Webb telescope is like God's Zillow. It's like showing us rooms in God's house that we never saw before. God owns everything. He owns those galaxies light years away. He owns everything. Everything you and I have comes from Him, everything.
What do you have that doesn't come from God? What do you have that you yourself? You know, you just kind of, "God, it's your thing?" Maybe the strength of your arms and the power you have got this for you, right? Deuteronomy would say, that even that God gave you the strength of your hands and abilities to do whatever it is you got, everything comes from God. And I don't know where you were at this morning. Maybe you need riches. Maybe your bank account is a little lower than you hoped it would be at this time. Maybe you've got some repairs in your house. Maybe it's honor you need. Maybe it's like, you don't think you're appreciated enough at work. Or maybe it's, you know, your friends are not treating you as they should. Wealth and honor comes from you; in your hands are strength and power to exalt and gives strength to all. You've come to the right place because I'm here to remind you that God is the one who provides those things. Keep looking up.
We have a lot of older people here. I'm not going to name names like I did for the younger people, but - well, maybe I will. No. But let me just encourage you, we need you. We need me. I'm an older person. We need to set the pace for the younger inexperienced people. We need to not just have our talk be talked. We need to get behind it and remind people by our actions that we do know God is faithful. We do know God is the provider of everything we have. If we're going to do something great - well, verse nine says they rejoiced. When these things happen, the people, the masses just rejoiced, the assembly rejoices because the leadership has just shown them that they're invested.
So how can we do something great? I just wanted to end with four things here. If we want to accomplish something great, I would just encourage you to start dreaming, start dreaming, start using your imagination. If God can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, at least start using your imagination. And then maybe after you do that, you can do immeasurably more. What could God do through St. Joe Community church? What needs to be done in the city of Fort Wayne in this community? Maybe it's the block party. Maybe it's, I just need to think about that block party. I know we've got a blow up house and snow cones, but by my God, if we had a few food trucks here, that'd be even better. I don't know. I don't know what your imagination is, but what is it that God could do through us? Remember, great things are for Him. What could God do? Start dreaming.
Expect a call is number two. Expect a call. God calls young and inexperienced people. Especially if you're young and inexperienced, I won't name names again, but I just do that to wake you up. Expect a call. Maybe you've already been nudged. Maybe that thing that you're thinking about, here's what we really should do here. Or you're telling your parents, "Mom, dad, here's what I think should happen here," maybe that's God nudging you. God calls young and inexperienced people. We need you. Invest fully - if you're older especially and more experienced, invest fully. Invest fully. In other words, fill up the block party list out there. And maybe that's it. Maybe that's what God's calling you to do.
I sort of harped on the snow cone machine earlier in the earlier service and said, nobody sign up for snow cones, and we had a few people sign up for snow cones. But that popcorn thing out there is still blank. So get out there, sign up for the popcorn, but invest, right. And if you're struggling to do that, if you've known Christ for a while and you don't feel like you're engaged, then the last thing and the final thing is strive to get to know God better. Perhaps you need to get to know God better. You need to realize and believe not just in your head, but in your heart, He really does own everything. He really does control everything. Even my boss at work, even my neighbor who shoots off firecrackers a month after 4th of July; He's in control. He's in control of everything. You strive to get to know God better.
One of the best ways to do that I found personally is just to memorize some scripture. Versus 11 and 12 in this passage might be a good start if you've not memorized that yet, "Yours O Lord is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty." And then pray what David prayed for Solomon in verse 18, and he prays for the people, he says, "God, keep these thoughts of their hearts and confirm their hearts towards you." And then he says in verse 19, "Give my son Solomon an undivided heart." He prays that the same word as used there as wholehearted is in the previous passage a few verses earlier, "Give my son Solomon a heart of Shalom. Give my son Solomon, a heart of contentment, give my young and inexperienced son a heart that is not pulled in so many different directions." That would be a great prayer to pray. God, give me an undivided heart. And he goes on to say, "And have him obey you fully. Keep all your commands, decrees and statutes."
You might think that one of the ways that this sermon could end would be, so therefore be like Solomon, right? Because I mean, everything is focused on Solomon. Well, if you know anything about the story and as it unfolds here in Solomon's life, Solomon did not have an undivided heart. He was very much like you and I. He sort of strayed off the path from time to time. David's prayer is answered, but not by his first generation son, but by his great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson, Jesus, who came and had a completely undivided heart. He looked at the father, he says, "Everything I do, everything I say, I always say what He tells me to say. I only do what he tells me to do." He followed his commands and decrees perfectly. He is the perfect son of David. And so it's not to follow Solomon and do what Solomon did, but follow Jesus.
If you want to get to know God better, if you want to strive to get to know God better, the key is Jesus. Jesus has revealed who God is to our world. Strive to get to know Jesus better. That's what Paul said; "I want to know Christ more than anything in the world."
Now, to Him who is able to do a measurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power, His power that is work within us - Saint Joe Community Church, may God give us dreams that only he can fulfill, that Christ would be glorified in Fort Wayne and beyond. Let's pray.
Father, thank you for your word, which doesn't change. So many things are changing in our culture these days. Lord, I thank you for your word that is unchanging and it is a source of complete and absolute truth. Lord, I thank you for just the story of David gathering these supplies to build the temple. Lord, and we thank you that we can know that ultimately Jesus fulfilled all of these things. And so, I pray God that you might help us to get to know him better. Lord Jesus, might you reveal more of yourself to us as we join connection groups, do Bible studies read our scriptures. Might we serve you and invest fully in that, amen.
Christ Followers Pursue Purity
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
July 17, 2022
Thessalonians: A Timeless Letter for Churches
-Timeless principles for living the Christian life
-for Christ followers, not seekers, unbelievers
-reinforces other Bible instructions
-positive and encouraging- not meant to heap guilt or shame
-practical: nothing mysterious or secretive
-1 Thes 4:1: “brothers and sister” we are all equal in Christ
-This is a family discussion among spiritual siblings
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Motivation for Purity
Obey Christ’s commands vs 1, 2, 7
-Paul reinforces what he had previously told them
-many other Bible verses reinforce what Paul is about to say
Live to please God vs 2
-2 Cor 5:15 we owe Christ our lives
-1 Cor 6:20 Jesus paid for our sins- honor God back!
Avoid consequences vs 6
-We will someday face Jesus to account for our lives
-not to enter into eternal life with Jesus (Eph 2:8-9
-we will answer for how we lived for eternity
-immoral choices affect our lives, other people
-freewill is costly when we don’t choose God’s plan
How to Pursue Purity
Trust God’s power within us vs 3
-sanctification- growing in holiness
-Rom 6:19 the Holy Spirit lives within us, empowers us for purity
-Hebrews 12:14 Pursue holiness- - we keep moving forward
Keep away from sexual immorality vs 3
-Thessalonica was like today- common, widespread immorality
-church members struggled to remain pure, similar to today
-pornea- any sexual expression outside the boundaries of
Marriage between a man and woman
-1 Corinthians 5-6 describes sexual immorality in that church
-Father and son shared the same woman sexually
-He didn’t say avoid sexually immoral unbelievers- impossible
-Paul explains that believers are accountable to one another
-we must encourage and instruct (1 Thes 4:2) one another
to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:18) and pursue purity
-Today, most people seeking God or living for God in a local
church have committed some type of sexual immorality
-pornography, fornication, adultery, other behaviors
-EVERYONE may join us in our pursuit of purity
-All sins are forgivable, all of us can be renewed, restored
-TODAY, you and can begin again to obey and please God
Control our bodies vs 4
-Trust God’s facts, not our feelings
-begins with a correct worldview
-God is our Creator- the master designer
-Our vision and values grow out of our worldview
-behavior is our outward expression of inward belief
-We submit to God’s standards to enjoy true freedom
-freedom from guilt and shame, consequences
-freedom to influence future generations towards Jesus
Don’t take what isn’t ours vs 6
-sexual immorality steals intimacy
-our bodies belong to God first
-our bodies belong to our current or future spouse
-Rom 6:15-6 we become “one flesh” during sex, a oneness
And intimacy that only belongs to our marriage partner
How is God’s Spirit telling you to pursue purity today?
Trust Jesus to forgive your sins and give you eternal life
Depend on God’s power to pursue purity
Commit to a lifestyle that is pleasing to God vs 7
Today is Sunday, July 17th, 2022, and welcome to St. Joe Community Church. Today's message is entitled "Christ Followers Pursue Purity" and was delivered by Greg Byman. For more information, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org, click on the sermons tab and find today's broadcast. So now let's open the Bible, get a notepad and pen and prepare to hear from God's word. Here's Pastor Greg Byman.
One of the things that as I've gone through some discipleship training and encouragement in my own life and the past three or four years ago, had someone draw out from me, what is your heart passion? What do you really desire the most to see happen? And one of the things, the themes that has come through in my life in my prayer is that my life might help bring about a generational transformation. In my day in my life, as I move forward and as I am a blessing, may what we do bless beyond ourselves into future generations. It is our children who will carry on the mantle of faith. Not us.
You want to get a little bit sobered about things, about your reference point in history. I wonder if somebody - now, some of you are genealogy crazy good at this, but for the most of us, how many of you can name the middle name of your great great grandmother? Anybody? Okay. Let alone, what was her favorite ice cream? Wait a minute, did they have ice cream back then? I'm kidding. That's awful. That's awful. I mean, we don't know anything about great, great grandparents, very well. I sat on the lap of one. At 105 years old, I was just, you know, tiny. I was short then too. We don't know a lot about that generation, but we have a legacy from that generation that we may not even understand until heaven. The investments they made in prayer, the investments they made in their own lives, in the word of God and living for God in their generation, being faithful to the word of God and to Jesus Christ, so that future generations would have a foundation upon which to live and stand. May the Lord bless you, and a thousand generations from now bless you. But in the meantime, the blessing is that we might be a blessing to God and that we live our lives as a blessing to the future generations.
I love going through one particular book at a time in the Bible because there's a couple of reasons. One, you kind of get an idea of context. You see a letter like this that we're reading through, Thessalonians, it's a letter in its own way to a particular church in a particular time period with timeless truths that are also true for us today. It also forces the pastor to not pick on his favorite message topics; he has to pick on the topic that is coming up, and it doesn't look like the pastor's picking on anybody because it's just happens to be what came up. And so, every passage of scripture is important to us and we ought to read all of it, not just the parts we like, and we all not just harp on the parts we're good at. We are good at that, aren't we?
We men love to talk about the things we're good at, and we don't really talk about the things we're not so good at. We just stay away from those things. They're on our honey do list, and they're on the bottom of our list and on the top of our wives list. Anyway, that's beside the point. And it's the same way in studying the Bible. We study the parts we like, and we kind of ignore the parts we don't like. We're not like trying to be ungodly. We just naturally do that. And so, today we're looking at chapter four because it's after chapter three, so that's kind of why we're doing that. This is a letter, by the way, as I remind us of kind of a little intro to 1 Thessalonians, it's a letter to a church. It's a letter to brothers and sisters.
In fact, it starts out here in chapter four, "Additionally, then brothers and sisters," Paul is talking to fellow Christians. He's not talking to the world outside that doesn't follow Jesus. He's not talking about all the people that we don't like that are doing evil and bad things out there, he's talking to us. He's talking to us, he's talking to the body of Christ. This is a family discussion. And on a Sunday morning like this, it's not unusual that you'd have people come who are looking for God, looking for answers. They're not sure if it's God, they don't know what it is, but they're looking for answers. Then there's people that say, "Yeah, I'm looking for God, and I know you guys have those answers." And then they're looking. And then some people - like today, there's some that are going to enter into our church membership class, they're looking to belong. They're looking to be part of the body of Christ.
And then those of us who are already part of the body of Christ, we're looking to become more like Christ in our maturity. Others are saying, I'm going to become more actively involved in ministry and doing things for the Lord, Jesus Christ. I want to find my place in the body of Christ of how I'm supposed to serve. And then some are right now in the process of saying, "Where am I going to go next for the Lord, Jesus Christ? Where is God sending me to?" And for you, it might for many of us, most of us is going to be sending you right back to the workplace tomorrow or right back to your neighborhood tomorrow, or right back to whatever your sphere of influence is right here in Fort Wayne. And others, it might be that God's stirring in your heart to take you and send you somewhere that you don't even know where it is, or maybe you've had a longing to go somewhere and you don't realize why, and God is empowering you and strengthening you and He's resourcing you for such a day that you'll be sent out by our church to go somewhere for the glory of God, to serve Him and honor Him with your lives.
Primarily, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people might know Jesus, but secondarily, whatever tools or the way in which, or whatever method or whatever vehicle that God is sending you to go out, like with this compassion ministry or whether it's discipleship or whatever it might be that you do. But it's primarily, to extend the name of Jesus to the ends of the earth until He comes again. You will be my witnesses here and everywhere Acts 1:8.
So Thessalonians, it's this timeless letter for churches that reinforces other Bible instructions. What we're going to talk about today, Paul mentions in Romans, he mentions in first Corinthians, he mentions in other letters; this is not a new topic to Paul. He touches on it here, unlike other letters where he harps on it because we think, or we sense that there was a problem. We know there was, he identifies it in 1 Corinthians. The Corinthians church was having a big problem with this topic, but this one, he just merely touches on it as something that's practical, there's nothing mysterious or secretive about, it's just this is what you ought to do.
I want to say on the outset that we read from Revelations 22, "Come all who are thirsty," and it echoes Isaiah 55, where it says, "Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the water, and you without silver, come buy and eat. Come buy wine and milk without silver and without cost. Why do you spend silver on what is not food and your wages on what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good and you will enjoy the choices of foods." And isn't it Jesus himself in Revelations 3, where He says, "I stand at the door and I knock, and if you'll just open the door, I will come in and I'll eat with you. We'll have time together." Jesus wants a relationship with us. And there isn't anyone who cannot come to Jesus. Whosoever will, may come. Anybody who wants to taste and see that the Lord is good may come to Jesus.
There isn't any one person who's excluded from that. No matter what they've done, no matter what they've been through, no matter what they've engaged in, in the past; Jesus invites us all to come to Him. And today's message as we talk about it is simply the standards that God sets for His believers, because Christ followers pursue a life of purity as God's word defines it. Not as we think it is, not as we feel it is, but as God's word says it is.
Let me read from us 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, "Additionally, then brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God as you are doing, do this even more. For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus, for this is God's will - your sanctification, that you keep away from sexual immorality, that each of you knows how to control his own body and holiness and honor; not with lustful passions, like the Gentiles who don't know God. And this means one must not transgress against and take advantage of a brother or sister in this manner because the Lord is an avenger of all these offences, as we also have previously told and warned you. For God has not called us to impurity, but to live in holiness. Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who gives us his holy spirit. Christ followers pursue purity as God's word defines purity."
And as I said in the first service, if I had thought about it and spoken the title more often, I would not have said the topic because it's hard to say pursue purity. Say that 10 times fast. But what are the motivations? What is Paul saying here? And as a side note, as we see this, it seems like he's giving a soft touch to a very important topic. As you are already doing it; I gave you instructions, you're doing it. It seems as though this isn't necessarily a problem; he's just reinforcing for the church what they ought to be doing to honor and please God with their lives.
Why do we do this? Well, we do this first of all, to obey the commands of Christ. These are the commands from Jesus - instructions, verse one. Verse two, "For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord, Jesus." And verse eight, "Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but they reject God. He's the one who gave us His Holy Spirit that told us what is right and wrong." This isn't something that Greg Byman thought up. This isn't something St. Joe thought up. This is something that God's word defines as how we ought to live our lives. Paul is reinforcing what he already told them, and what other Bible verses were said about what he's talked about in other letters to other churches.
But you know what, it's not just about obeying Christ's commands. I can remember as a kid not doing what my father told me to do and disappointing my dad or my mom. And it wasn't so much that I was being punished. I didn't like being punished. Who likes being punished? That's not fun. But it's that I disappointed them. And that was more of a punishment than being grounded or being spanked. I didn't want to disappoint. Oh, I'm so sorry that you did that. And you're like, "Oh, just beat me. Don't do that to me."
When you respect somebody and you've let them down, it bothers you more that you let them down. And so, it's not just obeying Christ's commands; it's living to please God, for you know what the commands are we gave you through the Lord, Jesus. We are here to please the Lord with our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:15, it talks about the fact that we owe Christ our lives. He's the one that died and paid for our sins. He's the one that died on the cross that we might be forgiven of our sins, through His shed blood on the cross. And when he died for us, we have that; it's like I owe him my life. I owe him my everything. He gave me all I have that's worth living for. All I have to give him back is myself, and that's what I want to do. And when I don't do it, and I realize I don't do it, I feel like I'm letting God down, and I don't please Him, and it makes me sad.
That's the motivation - not the motivation of I'm going to get struck by lightning bolts. How many had some lightning bolts around your house last night? We had a few; the dog didn't like them at all. And you know, God is not sitting there with a handful of lightning bolts waiting for you to mess up and just scorches the earth behind you or scorches the earth in front of you and then scorches you. He's not here to scorch you. And He's going to correct you if you're in a situation for your own good, but He's not here to blast you. He's here to bless you. And the problem is, we want to live lives that aren't a blessing. We sing God bless America land that I love; are we blessing God back by the way we're living as Americans? That's the question! God bless us, but God, we want to bless you God, with our lives.
We live to please God, we also in real ways, we do want to avoid consequences. We're someday going to face Jesus to give an account for our lives. Now, this is not to enter eternal life. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace that you're saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it's the gift of God; not by works so that no one can boast." I don't receive forgiveness and grace from God by earning it. I don't do anything to get God's favor. That is never the case. The Bible's very clear about that, but the Bible's also clear that believers at the end of our lives, at some point in the end of history, actually, at the end of time, we'll stand before God and give an account for lives, not to get in or out of heaven, but to be a blessing back to Him to say what you gave for me, you gave me gifts, talents, abilities. You gave me opportunity. You gave me influence. You gave me position and power. And whatever you gave me on this earth, I used it for your glory and your honor.
And all of us can say, there are probably times when we've taken all the things I just mentioned in our lives and we've used it for dishonor or we've used it, not necessarily dishonor; we just used it for things that didn't matter in eternity. We didn't invest in God or His word, or invest in helping others find and follow Him. We didn't invest in the things that God would call to be honorable things. And so, it says at the end of the day that there'll be a trial by fire, so to speak. The imagery is that those things that would burn up in a fire will disappear, and those things that would not burn up in a fire like gold and precious metals and jewels, those things which would endure a test of purity will last. And that's what we have to bring the Lord Jesus on that final day to say, this is what I have as an act of worship to you, of how you've allowed me to live in such a way that I live for eternal things.
Paul, in fact said, "You are my crown. You're my glory." He said that - we talked about that earlier, that pastors, we are going to give an account to God for how we were pastors of churches. And how we live out our lives in our calling as pastors will determine whether that day will be a day of rejoicing or a day of, oh, I could have done so much more. And I know I could have done more, and I already think about that, and I want to, even on this day, choose to do more than I've done before to honor, and please Him until I go home to be with the Lord. I want to avoid the consequences because immoral choices affect our lives. It affects other people. Free-will is costly. Free-will is not very free if we're doing things that God does not design for us to do.
So, how do we pursue purity? What are we talking about here? Trusting, first of all, in verse three, we need to pursue purity by trusting the power of God that lies within us. For this is God's will, your sanctification. Sanctification - growing in holiness, growing to become more and more like Jesus. We're redeemed - redemption, the word redemption is a huge word. We were redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Jesus came and redeemed me from a life of sin and hell-bound life, into a life of purpose and meaning and salvation in Christ. But then there's the word sanctification, and that is that ongoing change that happens after we become a Christian. Not in the same way, but in a similar way, you might say that a baby grows up to be an adult, so a Christian who is a baby Christian grows up to be an adult Christian; we continue to mature in our faith, and is a process of growth, and everybody is at a different process.
And don't ever look across the island say, "Well, I guess I'm better than that person," because you might not have ever come from as far as they came from. And they may have actually had stronger and more growth in their life than you have in your growth because maybe they overcame some things you've never even thought about having to overcome. So let's be real careful that we don't start having a pecking order. Paul here says brothers and sisters for a reason. We're all siblings in Jesus, including the pastor. The foot of the cross is level. There's no hierarchy or pecking order. We're all in process. And every one of us - there's a Bible verse that says, "To him that knoweth to do good and doesn't do it, to him, that's sin."
Have you known to do something that's good and didn't do it this week? You're a sinner, repent of it. And when you know to do good the next time and you... then do it, don't put it off. Did I give you an order of which was more important - reading the Bible through in a year or reading one verse. I don't know what your good is that you're supposed to do this, but if God tells you to do something, go do it. Don't wait, and don't let me be the standard for what you ought to do. And don't let me be the lid for how high you ought to go. We all have a standard and it's God's standard. It's God's Holy Spirit working in us and we need to trust God's power to help us.
In fact, Roman 6:19 tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. You know why purity is so important, because when we are living in sexual immorality, we are giving ourselves over to something that actually defiles us as a human body. And God says, "I live inside of you. Don't defile your temple of God. Don't defile where I dwell." I need to represent the temple of God and I need to live in a way that honors and glorifies the God who lives within me. Hebrews 12:14 talks about pursuing holiness to keep moving forward in our faith, so we trust the power of God.
And then he says here, "Keep away from sexual immorality." That word, sexual immorality, is actually coming from the word in Greek porno, where we get the word pornography. The same word that would refer to in throughout the New Testament, in the Greek New Testament; it's all written in Greek, which means anything that is outside the bounds of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife, anything other than between a husband and wife. And even if in that relationship there's a violation or some sort of a perversion of trying to get something that the other person ought not get. I'm not getting that. Come to my premarital class, we'll talk about that. But the boundaries are as we look in Genesis, as we look throughout the Old Testament and the standards that God set for his people, and in the New Testament it just continued all through; "except it be for fornication," Jesus said, that same word. We're talking about anything outside of the bounds of marriage is outside the bounds of Christian living.
And he's not talking to the world, he's not telling the world, "Look at that world out there and see that's what God's standards are." No, he's talking to the body of Christ. He's talking to us. He's saying get the house in order; don't worry about outside the house, get work in inside of the house. Look at your own people, look at us - what we need to do to set a model, an example of how to honor and worship God with our lives with our bodies.
Now, Paul doesn't mention, but it might be inferred that there were church members who were struggling to remain pure. And that would be similar today. In that particular time period, there were cult practices of ritual, worshiping ritually with cult prostitutes. It was a common thing. Homosexuality was common. It was a very common thing. The Roman world was full of doing whatever you want to do. And that was probably one of the reasons why the Christian Church in that time period was so persecuted because they were going against the flow of cultural life. And they were so different that they were looked at as weird or prudish or out touch, and probably say, oh, holier than now. Who do you think you are? And so, we're just following our Lord and savior Jesus. And probably many of the people who were in the Thessalonica church; many of Thessalonians that Paul's writing to, came from a life of sexual immorality - probably so; they didn't know any better.
And they were converted to Christ and they're now living a life of purity, and Paul saying, "Keep going after it just, stay away from that; flee sexual immorality," says to Timothy, who actually was a pastor who came to talk to them for a while and was ministering to them in Thessalonica. He told Timothy to flee youthful lusts, to flee the lifestyle that probably was true for many of the people that were now converted to Christ, to which I would say not much different in America. If we're going to see God do a movement among people who do not know God, who will then trust in God, and dare I say, even in the body of Christ at St. Joe Community Church, we have had our share and all of us in some way, we're either affected by or participated in sexual immorality in some way in our lives. We're in a sexually charged community. We're in a sexually charged world, and I'm not throwing a rock. I'm just saying we live in probably a very similar time period and cultural persuasion as was the case in the first century church. And so, this is as timely a message for us as it was then.
And just as I said earlier, everyone may join in our pursuit of purity. All sins are forgivable. Everybody can be renewed and restored. Everyone can start over and be fresh and pure for God in whatever relationship they pursue next. We are not chained to our past, and we do not have to pursue our past in the power in the name of Jesus. Today you and I can begin again to obey and please God. Maybe you clicked on something you shouldn't have clicked on this week, electronically. It's so easy to get to stuff today. It's so easy to just jump right into a rabbit hole of stuff that doesn't belong in our minds and eyes, exploiting and using somebody else's image for our own gratification. It's so common. Multiple men will come to me and say, "Hey, I got a problem." Multiple men will say, "I need some hedges of protection in my life." I've got accountability on my software, my phone and on my computers. I put hedges of protection around my own life.
I have a friend in Oklahoma that has said to me, oftentimes he said... he said to me just recently; we were talking and lamenting over some heroes of the faith that we found to be not such a hero in the backside of the secrets, part of their lives. There's people that I've listened to on the radio that I thought, "Man, this is an awesome guy." And when he died, all this perversion came out of how he was living his life in an ungodly way and was all hidden and behind the scenes. Because he had the opportunity, nobody was holding him accountable and he had the means. He had more money than you can think of and could have done anything with it. And he used that money and he used that opportunity to go after what he wanted to go after in the flesh.
And this friend said to me in Oklahoma, he says, "You give me the means and opportunity and I'm capable of anything. And I didn't want to admit it at moment, but I will admit it right now. I could probably do the same thing. I'm not saying I'm going to, but I'm telling you what; when someone says to you, "That'll never happen to me," they're on their way to destruction. I've had more than one man say to me, "Well, that'll never happen to me. I'll never do that." And the next thing you know, he's turning in his resignation because of some failure in his life, in the very area that he was pridefully saying, there's no way he'd ever fallen in that area. We need accountability. We need people in our lives, and we pastors need it just as much as anybody else in this room. Keep away from sexual immorality.
And then it says here, control our bodies. Control your bodies, verse four. In other words, we trust God's facts, not our feelings. We trust the word of God, instead of the words of our culture. We derive our worldview and our view of humankind, not based on what culture is telling us about humankind, but based on what God's word says about humankind. We start with God's view, not my view, not what I want to believe, not your truth, my truth; it's God's truth. And we start with his truth as the foundation, and we rise up from that our value system. And what you see above the surface of our lives is our behavior, what we choose to do based on our vision and values that are based upon our worldview. And so if you want to change your life in a behavior, you have to start to think first about what your worldview is.
Where is your source of information? Are you getting it from a bunch of people who have a lot to say about the word of God that haven't really read the word of God? Or are you getting it directly from the word of God? That's why I always say, even for my messages, don't ever take my word for it; go study it for yourself. And if I'm wrong, tell me, don't let me stay wrong. Correct me, because I'm not the final authority; God's word is. We control our bodies. We submit to God's standards to enjoy true freedom; freedom from guilt and shame and consequences, and of freedom to influence future generations towards Jesus Christ. And then finally he says, in verse six, let me read that for you; "This means one must not transgress against and take advantage of a brother or sister in this manner." In other words, don't take what isn't ours.
Sexual immorality steals intimacy from a marriage partner. Now, you and I know this really clearly, adultery. Husband and wife living together, sleeping, being together intimate, and one spouse, whether it be the male or the female, and I've seen both kinds in the 20 years of our church's history. People have come and gone and I've seen it both ways, where at one spouse thinks the grass is a little greener somewhere else. And they start having a conversation which leads to adultery. And sometimes, that adultery also affects somebody who's already married. They're stealing the intimacy that belongs in that marriage, and that person is stealing the intimacy from that person that belongs in this marriage. It's transgressing. And then if it's in the body of Christ, it's two brothers and sisters in Christ, they're defrauding one another in their Christian life with one another.
What does it say in Exodus 20:17? Do not covet your neighbor's wife. In other words, coveting is wanting something that doesn't belong to you. I always say, "Boy, I like that car. I don't want that one. I want to just like it, that somebody else has on a car lot that I can buy for free because I can't afford it." That's not coveting. Look at that car go by. Whoa, that Lamborghini, I want that car. No, I don't want that car. I'm glad he has that car. Old guy with a hat on, it's always, right? If you've got one, God bless you. If you're young, God bless you double. But anyway, it's always a Corvette, guy with a hat. If I had one, I'd be wearing a hat, especially with the top down. Okay, that's just how it is, right? You don't covet someone's car; that means you want his car. You want him not to have it and you want it in your driveway instead.
Well, it's the same way with, I want that wife, I want that husband, I want that person. And if you as a single person are looking at another single person and you're not married, and you're just wanting their body and you don't want them; you're wanting what belongs in a marriage someday. You're taking what don't belong to you. Because in Romans 16, it reminds us what the Bible says in Genesis 1 and 2, that we become one flesh during sex, of oneness and an intimacy that only belongs in a marriage.
So we trust God, we keep away, we flee, we run from sexuality immorality. And when we're by ourselves, we're controlling our bodies. It starts at home with us choosing to replace all the things that we've been doing with the things that God would want us to think about. And we know that ultimately we're going to reserve that, and we're going to reserve ourselves for that which belongs to our spouse or future spouse. How is God's spirit telling you to pursue purity today? What is he saying about your life? All of us have a step to take to become more careful in this area as the body of Christ. And maybe you're not a follower of Christ, you're still figuring out what it means to belong to Him. And for you, it just means that you're saying, "I get what you're saying, Pastor, but I don't have any. I have no gumption. This is all new to me. I want to follow Christ." Well, your first step is to trust in Jesus Christ. Put Him in your life. Let Him be the Lord of your life.
Trust Jesus, to forgive your sins and give you eternal life. I want to follow Jesus. It might be to be baptized. You say, "Well, I don't know what that means. I don't know what it means? You know, in our membership class, and you say, "Well, I can only stay for a little bit." Well, come for the first part because the first part actually explains what it means to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ, and I will go through Bible verses about how to trust in Jesus as your Lord and savior. And I would love for you to come get a free meal. Did I mention - free lunch, and hear what it means to belong to Jesus, and not just know about Him, but have a personal relationship with Him.
Maybe your next step is that you need to depend on the power of God to pursue purity, and that includes finding others around us to help us. Everyone has a bent somewhere to do wrong; all of us do. All of us do. You're not the only one. If you're in the room going, "Well, I'm the only one with the..." we all have this problem. We're all hypocrites in recovery. We're all moving in some direction forward. We all have a way in which we can take God's design and change it for our own pleasure and pervert it. So, all of us can take a step of moving forward and being more careful in our lives, in whatever area and however way that we are living our lives today, so we need to depend on the power of God to pursue purity. And instead just say, "God, by your strength and by your power, and through the power of others around me and encouraging me, I want to live for you the way you've said I'm supposed to."
And then finally this morning, be verse eight, not verse seven; that we commit to a lifestyle that's pleasing to God. Say God, whatever it is, I just want to please you, God. This isn't about rules and regulations. This isn't about even impressing other people around me. I just want to honor you God, with my life. My body is yours. I was bought with a price. I want to glorify you with my body, whatever that means. For some of you, you're single and you're going, will I ever get married? I'm not a fortune teller. I don't know what God has in store for anybody in this room. I do believe that God gives the desires of our hearts and as we pray and we work together, and I got a few guys on the list and some gals on the list, so if you want to talk to me, I can get - no, no I don't match make. I have mentioned a thing or two about some people and nudged, but that's all I do. I nudge. But honestly, I don't know that answer, but I do know that God will give you the strength and the power to be who God wants you to be, to glorify Him with your lives, right where you are, you can trust him.
And it includes reaching out and asking for encouragement, being a part of the body of Christ, coming and being a part of a community that wants to honor God with their lives. Don't expect to go out six days of the week, living in a culture that has no interest in what we just talked about this morning, and that hope that one hour a week on Sunday will fix everything you thought about during the six. It just doesn't work that way. We need each other. We need each other in small group. We need each other talking to each other. You need some phone calls. You know, I'm on the list of a couple of guys that'll call me at a randomness and say, "I'm about to do something stupid. Will you pray that I don't?" And one or two of them, they might call me back and say, "I did something stupid. Will you pray that I just find forgiveness for that?"
And I got guys in my life that I can do that for, that I can be the stupid one. Okay, that's what I meant, including, you know, talk to my wife - but you got to have people like that in your life. People that are your cheerleaders for good, because there's a bunch of cheerleaders out there to cheer you onto things that God never intended for you to be a part of. If we just stand our feet right now and just take this to the Lord. God, what do you want to do in each of our lives? Show us, God. I pray that someone would have the courage to put on that connection card that they like to talk to somebody. They might not even have the courage to put down what it is they need to talk about, but they know they need to talk to a pastor, they need to talk to, if it's a female, they need to maybe talk to another lady. I don't know what's going on in their lives, in this room. I am not the Holy Spirit and I cannot read minds and hearts, but you can.
And I believe in a room full of people like this, that you're doing a work in this room. You're moving people towards you. There are people that feel unlovable, and for the first time they're getting a glimpse that maybe you do love them. Oh, I know you love them. And I pray that they will just sense and accept and receive your love this morning. And show us as the body of Christ how to love them in your name, so that may not just think of it mystically, that somewhere up there or around here or around them that God loves them, but they know that God loves them because we love them. And so, I pray that anyone in this room that needs to reach out this morning to take whatever next step they need to take, that they will do so before they leave this place today. And I pray this in Jesus name.
Thank you for joining us today here at St. Joe Community church. And please consider this your formal invitation to join us personally each Sunday for morning worship services. We meet every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. The 10:30 service is broadcasted live from the St. Joe homepage, www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Even better, we'd love to have you visit the St. Joe family in person at 2900 North Anthony Boulevard, located just a few blocks south of the Purdue Fort Wayne University Campus on the Northeast side of the city. Thanks again for joining us today and we'll see you next week. By for now.
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Today is Sunday, July 10th, 2022, and welcome to St. Joe Community Church. Today's message is entitled My Last 24 Hours, and was delivered by Pastor Jim Halstead. For more information, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Click on the sermons tab and find today's broadcast. So now let's open the Bible, get a notepad and pen and prepare to hear from God's word. Here's Pastor Jim Halstead.
Good morning. I'm Jim Halstead. I'm founder and pastor of Go & Tell Ministries. I think you have a brochure. I've been a pastor for 35 years. I've retired about two years ago. I pastored three churches, three denominations. I also retired last year. I was a special education teacher for 10 years, and now I work full-time for Go & Tell Ministries. We seek to equip the church to share the gospel and make disciples who can make disciples. And I've realized something after 35 years of pastoring and teaching special education for 10 years, that when Jesus said the purpose of life is to love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and all your strength, and to love your neighbors yourself, that really sums up the purpose of life; it's loving God and it's loving others.
And I think I've realized that even more so when I taught special education. It's funny, three years ago I was teaching at New Haven Junior High. And at the end of the school year, when I was getting done, I told the kids that I was not going to be back there next year. I took a position at an elementary school and I was also a Bible Vocational Pastor, and my junior high special-ed class wrote me a card. I actually have it in the card. And on the outside of the card, it says this, "We just want you to know that we're going to miss you." And you open it up and they wrote their name, and they all wrote your favorite student because I told every student don't tell anyone, but you're my favorite student.
And some of the kids marked out, "No, he never liked you. He likes me." And so again, on the outside of the card, we just want you to know we're going to miss you. You'll open it up, you have all the signatures and in big, bold print it said this, "That doesn't necessarily mean we liked you." Now, if that's not the best junior high card you can get, I don't know what is. And last year I retired from teaching special education at Southwick Elementary. I was a kindergarten and second grade teacher. And that school at Southwick, we had, I don't know if you realize that 50% Burmese students, we had five Burmese translators, two Spanish translators, free breakfast, free lunch, title one school. And I got a student halfway through. He was a kindergarten student and I'm going to call him by the name of Matthew.
I'm going to be telling some students stories, but for confidentiality's sake, I'm changing their names. I got Matthew like in January, that last year I was teaching and he was a Burmese student, child of autism. And he was only going half day when I got him. On a Tuesday, they said he's probably not going to talk to you until he feels comfortable with you. And on Friday, the end of that week, I was literally on my knees, zipping up his jacket to get him on the early bus. And I looked at him face to face, and I said, "Matthew, I just want you to know that I love you." And his first words to me was "Mr. H, I love you." And it was a touching moment. I was on my knees, my knees locked up, I couldn't get up. And so all of a sudden I go, "Matthew, thank you for this moment, but you got to help me up."
And he's pulling to pick me up, the principal walked by and says, "Jim, have you fallen and you can't get up again?" But I realize teaching, that the only thing that matters, it's loving God and it's loving other people that God brought into our life. And the verse we're going to look at today is Galatians 5:6 where says, "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." As I get started, join me in prayer. Father in heaven, I thank you for this body of Christ at St. Joe Community. I asked father, you'd raise up workers for the harvest field from this group. And father, I asked, may the words of my mouth and may the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. Oh Lord, my rock and my Redeemer. Amen.
As we look at this verse, it's going to simply, I'm going to break it up in three points. The first point is this, the only thing that counts; you realize that end of your life or as you get older, things that really matter. I was just at a funeral yesterday of Marge, a faithful servant of God in 95 years. And often when I preach funerals, I always quote from Ecclesiastes 7:2 where it says this, "It's better to go to the house of mourn than a house of feasting, because death is the destiny of everyone and the living should take this to heart." And you realize that those funerals, what is the importance of life?
I want to ask you a question, let's say, somehow you found out today, you only had 24 hours to live. What would you do? You found out you only had 24 hours? I would probably count on that no one would go and play the lottery. What you do is you begin to think of what? Relationships. You begin to think of who do I want to tell them I love them, who maybe I want to reconcile, ask for forgiveness. Who do I want to pray over to give a blessing? Because when you realize when you're into the life, or if you realize that we almost need to live every day as if it's our last, that the only thing that matters is relationships.
You know, when you ask that question, what would you do if you only had 24 hours to live; it's really hard to say what we would do, but I do know someone who knew. And he knew he only had 24 hours to live and I know what he did. It's Jesus. And we know this story in John 13, it says this John 13:1-4, "It was just before the Passover feast; Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave the world and go to His father. And having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love. The evening meal was being served and the devil had already prompted Judas, the Iscariot, son of Simon to betray Jesus. And Jesus knew that the father had put all things under His power and that He had come from God and was returning to God. So he got up from the meal, He took off his outer clothing and he wrapped a towel around his waist. And after that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples feet, drying them with a towel that was wrapped around Him."
Jesus knew He had under 24 hours to live, and what did he do? He washed the disciples feet. You know, later that chapter, He was going to say a new command, "I give you love one another as I have loved you so you must love one another. And by this, all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another." The only thing in that matters is loving God and it's loving others, and Jesus, when He got done and he washes disciples feet, in John 13, 14 to 15, He said, "Now that I, the Lord, your teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."
You know, when we talk about Go & Tell Ministries of equipping the church to share the gospel; most people think that is equipping you to go down to the Three Rivers Festival and stand on a corner and preach. But that's not what I'm thinking at all. I'm thinking of this, that you would bloom where God has planted you, that everyone in this church would begin to pray for the lost by name that God has brought into your life. You'd begin to pray for your family members, your neighbors, your coworkers, the friend that you see at the coffee shop or in your softball league, and begin to faithfully pray for their salvation and minister to them that you would bloom where God has planted you and the spirit of influences that he's given you.
You know, I told you, I taught at the junior high several years ago at New Haven Junior high. And when I first started, I got a student I'm going to call him Adam, again, I'm changing the name. And Adam was an eighth grade student. He was 6'2", 195, probably one of the purest athletes I've ever seen in my life. And he was all excited, came to me the first day. And again, I was a special education teacher. He was a child with an emotional disability and he was, "Oh, Mr. H, the football coach has seen me, he wants me to play on the team." And I was like, "Really?" And I asked him, "Have you ever been on a team?" And he said, no, that he came from a dysfunctional family. His mom was busy, they not only had siblings; he had cousins he had to go home and help. He goes, "No, I never been on a team, but oh, Mr. H, I'd love to be on a team." And that week the football coach asked him every day.
At the end of the week on Friday, he came in one day in my class was all excited, "Mr. H I almost made the team." I go, "What do you mean you almost made the team?" He goes, "My mom said I could be on the team, but I have to have a physical and the free physical has passed and we can't afford it. But Mr. H, I could have been on a team." Well, he left my class, what he didn't know that day, earlier that morning, Coach Mustin was my coach, and through the fellowship of Christian athletes in 1977, I accepted Christ because of Coach Mustin. And I had just found out that he had passed away that day, and I was considering of sending flowers to him for his memorial service. And after Adam left, I thought, you know, Coach Mustin never liked flowers, but I bet you he would like for me to pay for this kid's physical. So I called our athletic director, paid for his physical. Monday came around, Adam came in all excited, "Mr. H, you're not going to believe it. Someone said that they believed in me, they paid for the physical. My mom took me to the doctor on Friday. I'm on the team. I go to practice tomorrow and we have a game on Wednesday." And I'm like, "You got a game on Wednesday? He goes, "Yes."
Well guess who volunteered to be on the chain game on Wednesday? So I'm on the 10 yard marker. Wednesday comes, the visiting coach is right here, visiting team, and they handed off to Adam the first play. He got maybe five yards the second play, he went 70 yards for a touchdown. Well, when he got into the end zone, he only had one practice. They didn't cover what you do when you get in the end zone. So he got in there and he actually looked around, didn't know what to do and he thought, what do I see on the NFL on Sunday? He spiked the ball and began to dance and flags are flying, I'm jumping up and down.
The visiting coach began to yell, "It's like that kid's never played football before." Coach, he hasn't, he's only had one practice, but he came in the next day at school so excited. And I was bragging on him and I was excited with him. And then he said an interesting thing, he goes, "Oh, but Mr. H, I know I had a good game, but I really like basketball." And I'm, "What? And another kid goes, "He's really good at basketball, Mr. H." And I'm like, "Adam, why are you talking about basketball?" And he goes, "Well, Mr. H, they don't hit you like they do in football, at basketball. I'm kind of sore." And what I heard, if you know anything about me, my son played college basketball at Grace College, he's now an assistant coach there.
My son was on travel teams at [unclear11:45]. I called his old travel coach. I said, "Hey, I've got a raw athlete. I'll get him on the team. I'll help get him to practice. I'll help train him. Can he be on your team?" Now for four months, I started working with Adam. Matter of fact, after school, I would take him to another church gym. I worked out with him, gave him training. I'd get him to practice half the time; his mom would take him another half. He got on this travel team, and four months later, after one of my after school workouts, he's sweating because I ran him a lot and he stopped. And he goes, Mr. H, I just got to ask you, "Why are you doing this?" "What do you mean?" He goes, "Why are you doing all this for me?" He goes, "I assume you're doing it because you get me so tired after school when I see you in the morning, I don't actually cause you problems because I'm still tired." You caught me, Adam, you got me. He goes, "No, Mr. H, why are you doing this?" I said, "Adam, there's more to life than basketball and football and school. Life is about having a relationship with God. Do you go to church anywhere?" He said no.
And I said, "Can I ask you spiritual question?" He said, "Sure!" And I ask him if you were to stand before God and say why should I let you into heaven, what would you say? And he kind of gave a good works answer, try hard. And I shared about sin and hell and he admitted to me. He was a sinner, guilty before God going to hell. And I looked at him and go, "Adam, do you know what God's done for you so you don't have to go to hell and you can have a relationship with God right now?" And he said, no. And at that moment, I shared the gospel of Jesus Christ of how Jesus died on a cross for his sins, how He was buried, how He rose from the dead. And in that gym half hour later, we're both on our knees and Adam profess faith in Jesus and repented of his sins.
You see, the purpose of life is having a relationship with others, caring for their needs and sharing the gospel. And when Jesus had 24 hours to live, He wash His disciples feet, He ministered to those in His spirit of influence. But also that night, what did He do? In Luke 22, you know in the garden of Gethsemane He said this, "Jesus withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, the disciples, and knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup for me, yet not my will, but yours be done.'" So not only did Jesus love those that God placed in His life with others; He loved His father and the world was going to learn that He would do whatever the father commanded Him, even if it meant death on the cross.
The past two years with COVID, everything's going on in the world. Many of us have struggled with life. We struggled with health. We struggled with finances. We struggled with everything. There comes a point where we say, Father, not my will, not my will Father, but your will be done. Back when Greg and I was praying regularly, I resigned from a church back in 2006. And when I resigned, my wife had just overcome brain surgery. I had a senior in high school, two elementary aged kids, and I quit with no job, not knowing what I'm going to do in the future. Knowing my wife's a stay at home mom and she can't work. And I preached my last church on a Sunday and the following weekend, my son was playing for [unclear15:03] at a basketball tournament in Maryville. And they said, "Do you want to go?" And I'm like, "Well, I don't have anything else going on that weekend.
And so I went and I, you know, driving the road up to Maryville through Warsaw, and while I'm driving, I actually passed this road just three weeks ago. I'm just praying in the car. You've ever been there? God, I don't know what my future holds. I need a job. I need finances. I don't know what's going on in my life. I got three young kids. I got a wife to take care of - God, help! Help me father. While I'm praying, the Lord nudge me and pressed upon me. I don't know what you call it, but He said look at your son. And I fixed the mirror and I looked at my son in the back seat and the Lord spoke this to my heart. He goes, "Jim," my son's name is Steven, "Steven doesn't know where Maryville is. He doesn't know where the gym is he's playing at. He doesn't know where the team's meeting. He doesn't know where the hotel is. He has no idea about how the meals are going to be provided. He just knows this, his father's going to take care of him."
And the Lord brought to memories Jeremiah 29, "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future." And I was praising God, "God, I don't know where I'm going, but I know you're going before me, and Father, may you be glorified." And then the Lord spoke to my heart or nudged me again, look at your son again. And I looked in the rear view mirror, but this time when I looked at him, he was laughing with joy. And the Lord oppressed upon my heart this truth, "Jim, there's one thing I want you to do, I want you to enjoy the ride. Can you enjoy the ride when you don't know where you're going, when you don't know how you're going to get there, but you know this; the Father's going to complete His work through you."
See, the only purpose of life, the only thing that counts is loving God and loving the father as Jesus modeled it. But the other thing we see in this text is the second point is faith. Faith is the second point. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. And it's just not faith, it's faith in Jesus. There's a lot of people in our culture today that have faith in faith that things are going to work out, but they're desperately wrong. It's not faith in faith. It's in the person of Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. Matter of fact, in Hebrews 11:6 it says this, "And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that he exists, and then rewards those who earnestly seek Him."
Salvation is found and no one else for there's no other name written under heaven given to men that which we must be saved. Christian posted a study last year and they asked not only churchgoers, but churchgoers who claimed to be Christians and they claimed to be born again. Out of the 3,600 people they'd surveyed that claimed to be born again Christians going to church, two thirds of the people said this, "You could believe in Muhammad and Buddha and Jesus, they're all an equal way to get to God." There is only one way to God and it's through the person of Jesus Christ, for there is one God and one mediator between God and man, the man, Christ Jesus. Jesus said that in John 6:28-29, they asked Jesus, "What must we do to do the work God requires? And Jesus answered them, 'The work of God is this, to believe in the one He has sent.'" Salvation in Christ alone. The world desperately needs to hear about Jesus because they don't know.
I literally travel throughout the United States for Go & Tell Ministries. This past year I've been in Des Moines, Boston, Phoenix, Jacksonville, Orlando, Detroit. I was in Boston in October, and after I got done teaching my three hour workshop, they took me on a tour through Boston and we did the patriotic walk, I actually walked by Harvard. And at that moment in Harvard, that month before, you know, Harvard was founded 400 years ago by John Harvard with the focus of what? Truth for Christ and the church, to raise up people to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ; now it's just known for truth, which is an oxymoron in Harvard because they had just announced in October last year, a new head chaplain over all the chaplains. Now at Harvard, they do have a chaplain of Christianity, but they also have a chaplain of Islam, Wicken, Buddhism, all these religions.
And in October, in the fall of last year, the head chaplain of Harvard's University, his religious belief was atheism. The head chaplain of Harvard, which was founded for truth for Christ and the church, doesn't even believe in God. How far our nation has fallen? 1 John 3:23, says this, "And this is His command to believe in the name of His son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us." Salvation is only in Jesus. I just want to ask you, as I ask Adam years ago, if you were to stand before God and He would ask you today, why should I let you into heaven, what would you say? Would you say based on good deeds? Would it based on works? Based on your church attendance? Or would it would be based on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Because see, the only thing that counts is faith in Jesus.
And it goes on to say, "It's not only, the only thing that counts is faith in Jesus, but expressed through love." They'll know we are Christians by our love. Paul wrote Titus and said this, "They claim to know God, but deny by their actions." The church today needs to be known for their love for others and their love for God. That doesn't mean you compromise the gospel. My wife often laughs when I do evangelism training, she goes, "I don't know how you do it, but you get people to admit to you that they're lying, [unclear21:05] people at heart, guilty before God, going to hell and they love you." How do you do that - is because I'm broken for them, Hun. I pray for them and I'm broken.
You see, the church was known for its love for others by not only praying and sharing the gospel, but by their deeds; we've forgotten that. Paul - do you know the love chapter 1 Corinthians 13, "If I speak in tongues of man and of evangels but have not loved, I'm only resounding gong or clanging symbol. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and I've had faith that can move mountains but have not loved, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames but have not loved, I gain nothing." Do your friends that where God has planted you, do they know that you love them? Did you pray for them? Would they say that your language is love for God and love for them?
When I was teaching a year and a half ago, I told you about Matthew, where I would pick him up. And as a special-ed teacher, you'd often take students for a half hour in your classroom and work individually with them. And at that moment I took Haime who spoke Spanish and I took Joseph. Now, Haime had emotional disability. Joseph had several palsy and a speech impediment. And Joseph, if you heard him talk, no one here would understand him. But his speech therapist would understand him, his mom would understand him and I did. And so, we're waiting outside Matthew's classroom, he was finishing a test and I'm holding the boy's hands. And Joseph is just a chatter box to me. And I'm listening and I'm talking, then all of a sudden I look at Haime who spoke Spanish. He knew he heard Burmese before and spoke English, and Haime looked at me and goes, "Mr H." "Yeah, Haime." "You understand his language, what was he saying?"
"That's not Spanish, that's not Burmese, that's not English; I don't know what that is, but you can understand his language." And I looked at him and go, "You're absolutely right." Joseph looked at me and goes, "What was he talking about Mr. H?" The kids knew I spoke their language and the world needs to know that we speak the language of what? Of Christ, which is love of brokenness for them. See, Jesus commanded we should be known for that. If we love Jesus, we should live that out. Matter of fact, He gave a warning in Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven." We're going to be asked how well we've loved.
So that last year of teaching, I got a new student. Again, it was a kindergarten and second grade class, a first grade student; I'm going to call by Mike. He was only moved to New Haven just a week before. Mike was living in Michigan with his dad and his stepmom. They abused him. They sold drugs. CPS got involved, his dad and his stepmom went to prison and they moved him to his mom who he hadn't seen for three years. She lived in the oldest trailer park in New Haven and probably the oldest trailer. A week later, I have this first grade student with an emotional disability with all this trauma. And after that first week at the end of the week, I called his mom, I'm going to call Mary. And I called Mary and I said, "Hey, Mary, this is Mr. H. It's a blessing for me to have your son in my class. I love him and I'm honored to have him, but I've got a couple questions for you."
She goes, "Yeah, Mr. H." I said, "I know he gets free breakfast. I know he gets free lunch. I know you're on disability and you just got him a week ago. I pull him in the afternoon and he's always hungry, so what I've done all week is I just share my lunch with him. We have lunch together, his second lunch. My question is this, do you need help with food? I know you're on disability." And she paused and goes, "Yes, Mr. H." I said, "You know, Mary, I also know you just got him a week ago; he's literally worn the same pants, the same socks and the same shirt every day this week, are you needing help with clothes?" She goes, "Well, Mr. H, I didn't think the school helped." I said, "You know, they helped some. I want you to stay on the line when I get done and I'll have you talk to the person. But you know, Mary, I go by not only Mr. H, but I also have another name, title." She goes, "What's that?" "I'm known as Pastor Jim. Matter of fact, I'll tell you what, tomorrow, Saturday, could I come to your house and bring you a couple bags of groceries, couple bags of clothes, and I'm going to start doing that every two weeks. Could I do that?" She goes, "Oh, thank you, Mr. H." And I went to my principal and told her, "By the way, I'm doing this on my own, but I just want you to know." And every two weeks I began to visit the family on the weekends.
It got into be in September, I'm bringing a gallon of milk and some other food, and the refrigerator broke. And if you know my wife, she can find stuff. Later that day, we found a used refrigerator and we delivered it to their house. It got to be in October and I'm sharing the gospel with his mom at her trailer on a Saturday, and I noticed she had a ring that said, Jesus, on it. It was her mom who had passed away a year before. I shared the gospel with Mary, but I could just tell she didn't understand it. But then she looked at me and asked me this, she goes, "Mr. H, I think it'd really help Mike if he went to church, could he go to your church?" And I said, "You know, I'd love to have him go to my church, but matter of fact, it's kind of far away. I know a pastor, literally just down the road from you, Pastor Rick, that we're good friends with. Can he call you?"
And Pastor Rick visited the family, shared the gospel with Mary, asked her to repent and offer to bring them to church. I don't think they ever took him up on it. It got to be November, and Mike is really spiraling out of control with all the trauma. And we had a case conference committee, if you're familiar with special-ed, with an IEP, and we decide on a Tuesday, we need to reduce his day because he couldn't handle a long day. Mom agreed with it, signed the paper or agreed with it. I had to do the paperwork. By the end of the week, Friday, I called Mary and said, "Hey Mary, it's Mr. H, I've got the paperwork done. Could I come to the house afterwards? And if you sign it on Monday, I've got the bus already to pick him up later, to bring him home early. And matter of fact, I got some groceries." She said please come by Mr. H, and she signed the papers, and Monday came.
I think that was the first day Mike missed that day in school. Later in the afternoon, I got called to the principal's office. And I just want to let you know, as a 60 year old man going to the principal's office, you're scared. So I go in, I'm a little nervous, again, this is a public school. The principal was a believer and Ranita looked at me, she goes, "Jim, I should have called you in first today. I'm sorry. Have a seat. I don't know how to tell you this. I've talked to Mike's other teachers. Sit down. I don't know how to tell you this. Mary died yesterday. There's no family involved. CPS is involved. They moved Mike to another county. You're never going to see him again. Are you okay?" "What?" She said the same thing. And then she looked at me and said, "Jim, are you okay?" And I literally said this to my principal. I said, "Ranita, Mike was hungry, I fed him. Mike needed cloth, I cloth him. The refrigerator broke, I got him one. I shared the gospel with Mary; I actually sent another pastor to the house, he shared the gospel with Mary. So I think Ranita when I stand before God on behalf of Mary, I think I'm going to be okay because I don't know what more I could have done to share Jesus with her."
She goes, "Oh my, no other teachers responded that way." I said, "Well, Ranita I just assumed when you asked if I was okay, you meant before God." She goes, "Jim, that's why we like having you as one of our teachers. Go & Tell Ministry exists today because the church is not okay. The church isn't sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and asking people to repent and come to have a saving faith with Jesus. The church isn't caring for the needs of the people.
You are blessed with a pastor who has a heart for evangelism and a heart for the community. I go around throughout the United States and I train churches. Matter of fact, my materials been translated in Swahili and Tanzania, two different Indian languages. And we do one thing; we seek to equip the church to share the gospel and make disciples because the church isn't okay - because we've forgotten the main focal point that we are called to love God and love other people that they would have faith in Jesus and we express it through love. And someday in Matthew 27, as Jesus went on to say Matthew 25, "Then the righteous will answer Him. Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see a stranger and invite you in or needing cloth and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you? And then the king will reply, 'I tell you the truth; whatever you did for one of these least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"
See, the church is called to share the gospel. Praise God if you go to the Three Rivers Festival and share, but that's not my goal. My goal is that you would bloom where God has planted you. That you'd pray for the lost by name of your neighbors, your family member, your coworkers, and you share Jesus and love indeed because we realize the only thing that counts is faith. The only thing that counts at the end is faith expressing itself through love. CT Stud was a famous missionary as a hundred years ago gave up his riches to share the gospel, and CT Stud said this, "Only one life will soon be passed, only what's done for Christ will last." If you only have 24 hours to live, what would you do? You know, as a church, we need to live in a mindset that we only have 24 hours, and loving God and loving others for His glory.
Let me pray. Father, we thank you for your grace shown through Jesus Christ. We thank you for your love for us. Father, may we express that love and express our faith by loving others and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world for the glory of your name. Amen.
Thank you for joining us today here at St. Joe community church. And please consider this your formal invitation to join us personally each Sunday for morning worship services. We meet every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. The 10:30 service is broadcasted live from the St. Joe homepage, www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Even better, we'd love to have you visit the St Joe family in person at 2900 North Anthony Boulevard, located just a few blocks south of the Purdue Fort Wayne University campus on the Northeast side of the city. Thanks again for joining us today and we'll see you next week. Bye for now.
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Church Health Check-up
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
July 3, 2022
Jesus is building His church
Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church”
-Jesus is building his church
-Paul planted the church in Thessalonica under Christ’s
authority (Acts 26:12-18; Rom 1:1; Gal 1:1)
-the church is plan a; there is no plan b!
Acts 1:8 “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-Jesus does not lie, we WILL be and ARE his witnesses
Jesus is the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:2-23)
-Paul reminds the church that we follow Jesus, not men
-1 Pet 5:4 Pastors answer to the Chief Shepherd
-Hebrews 13:17 Pastors will answer to God for their work
A church must continually examine her spiritual health
-Celebrate changed lives- what Christ has already done
-Examine the spiritual health of believers
-Examine how well church is following Christ and His Word
-Pray for the church’s future until Christ returns
Church Health Check-up: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Check-up #1: How well do leaders care for the church?
-Paul cared deeply about their faith- a father’s heart
-He sent Timothy to check on them
-Paul wondered if they had survived persecution
-Real pastors and elders care deeply for the church
-they can control how they serve and what they teach
-they cannot control the final outcome! Just like parenting
-Every church leader must care deeply about the spiritual wellbeing of believers
-Every ministry (preaching, singing, property care, etc)
ultimately aims to build up believers!
-church leaders must never have personal agendas!
Check-up #2: What is the church’s current testimony?
-Timothy reported good news to Paul and his ministry team!
-They still appreciated their church planter
-They stood firm in their newfound faith despite persecution
-Their spiritual growth gave Paul joy and thankfulness
-Who is encouraged by our church’s testimony?
-how have we persevered through opposition and trials?
Check-up #3: A vision for more spiritual growth
-Paul prayed he would be allowed to be with them again
-Paul did return later!
-Believers must continually grow in their love for one another
-John 13:34-35; John 15:17
-Believers must become more blameless and holy
-We answer to God, not ourselves, feelings, the culture
-Believers look forward to Christ’s second coming!
-Every day is spent knowing it may be our last
-We continually confess and forsake sin, and re-surrender
constantly to our Lord and Savior who we will answer to for
What would our church health check-up reveal?
-Do our spiritual leaders really care about every believer?
-Are we growing despite cultural opposition?
-Do we overflow with love for one another?
-Are we becoming more blameless and holy as we await Christ’s return?
How must we grow our love for one another?
-keeping the main thing the main thing, forgiving one another
-serving one another, bearing one another’s burdens, ??
What must we change to become more blameless and holy for Jesus Christ?
-Trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
-Submit to God’s Word to change our attitudes and behaviors
-Live within the accountability of the local church community
-Connection Card, Discovering Church Membership Class
-Seek out our Prayer Team Today- in person or online
Well, we are back in 1 Thessalonian 3 now and continuing on. For some of you, you may have come the last two Sundays and said, who's that guy up there? I'm the pastor of St. Joe Community Church. I have been absent for two Sundays and my son got married the 18th, and we were out that weekend. And then we went straight to church camp with our kids on Monday, and then Friday, we turned everything around, including our laundry. My family did, and we loaded up in Saturday morning, my wife and I, and our kids went to Myrtle Beach to be with my mom and dad and my sisters and their families. So we've been out for this last week, enjoying the sunshine, some rain, but bad weather at the beach is still the beach, so we've had a great, great time.
And I'm just thankful for St. Joe and your support for our family to be able to get away and to do things that we do, and just enjoy family. I say work hard, play hard. And if you don't have time off to refresh and rejuvenate, then you need to find time if you can. Sometimes it's just finding that one day or two a week and try to protect time to just rejuvenate and grow and just rest. Just take lots of naps. I believe in naps. I just think it's great. Just awesome. Anyway, Jesus slept in a boat. I mean, I'm thinking, it was a storm, but He didn't care, He was asleep. Anyway, it was good. And thanks Jacobs Well, they're going to be with us this Sunday, next Sunday, the band, to help us worship while Brae is still on his mission trip in Brazil. And for those of you that are connected with him, I pray you'll continue to pray for him and hear his reports, and as our worship leader, prayerfully considers his future and what God has for him. And just appreciate young people saying, I've got time, I've got energy, I've got ambition, what does God want me to do with my life? Yay, that's the best question you could ask. And when you don't have a lot of responsibilities or newlyweds, like you got, go for it, go do something for God, go do something big.
Some people, they save up a bunch of money and then they take a year off to hike the Appalachian Trail. Bonita has a cousin that did that, and he just raised enough money for himself and went on the Appalachian Trail and did it, the whole thing, found his wife along the way. I mean, he found a girl that he married along the way, sorry, let's say that the correct way. And she was doing the same thing. And so, we quit and we invest to do all kinds of crazy stuff. And I think it's really important for us to invest and think about what does God want me to do and spend time thinking about that, especially you who are younger. And but for us who are whatever age we are, we need to keep thinking about that as well. But I'm thankful for our church. And I believe that as we think about that tomorrow we celebrate the 4th of July, the birth of our nation or the celebration of our independence. Yeah, and we praise God for that. But you know what, the best thing we can do is to be the church that God wants for our nation. That's the best we can be.
We may have voted and everything went south and wrong in whatever we voted in the last 15, 20 years, it doesn't matter. God's in charge and He's building His church. He builds nations. He tears down nations, but He is always, and will it be about until Jesus comes again, building His church. The church is what has stood the test of time. Local churches come and go. Sometimes local churches last a long time. And sometimes churches last a short time, but God, Jesus Christ said, I will build my church, so today is a church health checkup. We're going to talk about in chapter three, how Paul is excited about wondering how they were, he hears the report of how they are, and then he praised for them in their future.
And we're going to use that as kind of a way of thinking about our church, because we, as a church, have much to offer the community of people around us. We have our faith, we have our convictions, we have our beliefs, we have our energy and time and talents. Just recently, and I am celebrating the 4th of July in a fresh way because we now have an opportunity to enact laws that protect the unborn. We as a pro-life church, and we praise God for that, and we celebrate that. We celebrate the fact that we have an opportunity to do something that I wasn't even sure would even be possible in my lifetime to turn the clock back on a culture of death, to maybe pursue a culture of life. However, even as we have made a legal maneuver that I think was strategic and thoughtful, and people were a part of that, and some people voted their conscience in order for that to happen, and I think God worked in all of that in all of those different ways, we have much to pray about as well.
So while we celebrate, we have a lot to pray about. Even one of our local churches was graffiti by pro-choice people. And I'm like, what? And I actually was kind of holding my breath to hear while we were out for two weeks, if somebody might graffiti us because we talk openly about supporting a Hope Center and we talk openly about supporting adoption and supporting pro-life things in our community, and so I wondered, would that happen to us? And I'm grateful it hasn't, I hope and pray it doesn't. I'm not living in fear, don't get me wrong. But there was a church that somebody online from the Gospel Coalition article that they actually had a mob of people come and absolutely smash out every window on the first floor of their building. It's like a block of buildings, and wrote all kinds of horrible [epitas05:52] and graffiti all over their building because they knew that they stood for life. And these people were standing for not life. And it was just a sad moment to realize that people not only do not like when you are pro-life, but some are becoming more hostile.
I'm praying for safety as people continue to pursue life. And I'm also praying that we will be able to in a loving way, help people find and follow Christ and know what the Bible says about that, because our culture's not going to change until the heart changes in the culture. And that means that we need to be about the business of sharing the love and the life of Jesus Christ with our friends, our family, our neighbors, people all around us with our community. We need to be missionaries in our own hometown to share the good news of Jesus. Laws aren't going to change lives. Laws are important, but they don't change hearts. Jesus changes hearts. And so, let's just keep praying for that. So celebrate, but pray.
I'm going to say something much more carefully prayed over and thought out and edited in a way that I would like to say it in this week's newsletter in the eNewsletter, and I hope you'll look at that and prayerfully consider some thoughts that I have when I say that.
1 Thessalonians 3, I just want, as we head into this chapter to remind ourselves that Jesus is building his church. We're not building it, it's not about our budgets and baptisms; it's about what Jesus is doing to change lives. We have a budget, we love to baptize. We're supposed to, the Bible says to. We receive resources so that we can spend those resources to invest in lives, to help people find and follow Christ and to grow in Christ and to go in Christ, but Jesus is the one building His church. It's not my church. How's your church doing, Greg? It's not my church. It's Christ church. How's your church doing, they might ask you. If your neighbor says, how's your church doing? What is your church? Because you're part of this church, but it's really Christ church. It's His church.
He said at Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church," emphatically, and He continues to do that. Acts 1:8, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." The church is going to invade every culture everywhere, the whole world. That wasn't one of those, "Well, you might be my witness." No, you will be my witnesses. You are going to tell about my resurrection and the salvation of me through faith in me because there's no one gets to the father, except through me. Jesus was very emphatic about that. He says, "And you're going to be my witnesses of this fact. You're going to be witnesses that I'm alive, that I came back from death after dying for the sins of the world, and you're going to be telling the whole world about me.
Ephesians 1:23, that He is the head of the church. He is the head of the church. In fact, we know that in 1 Peter 5:4 that pastors, although we are called shepherds, pastors named shepherd in the Greek, that we're just the under shepherds underneath the chief shepherd. Jesus is in charge of this church, not me. Yeah, the elders and myself; at the end of the day, we are responsible for the spiritual wellbeing and where we go up or down, right or left, east or west. We have to finally account to God and to kind of discern. And we, as a congregation must discern together. We are congregationally led, so there's an accountability to the whole body of Christ, but we're underneath the authority and headship of Jesus Christ. He's the one that's building His church, and He's the one that's in charge of His church.
It says, by the way, in Hebrews 13:17, that we are going to answer. Pastors are going to answer for their work. It says, obey your leaders because they're the ones that are going to give an account. It's not like, obey your leaders because they're in charge. No! Just help them do better as leaders because someday they're going to answer to God for their actions. There's accountability to your pastors and elders that is above and beyond the accountability that you'll have to the Lord Jesus Christ for what happens in this church.
It is just like in our political cycles; if you're in charge of a city, a State or a nation, at the end of the day - "Well, yeah, but I can't help what inflation does." Some presidents, they benefit from the great decisions that were made by their predecessor, and then the ones get to not benefit from their predecessor, but who gets blamed? The guy at the top. Well, that's kind of generally true, but you know what? That is true in the church. At the end of the day, I'm the one that has to answer to God for how I served you all and how through my actions, God worked in a way or didn't work. It's up to Him to do the work, but at the end of the day, I have to answer to God for the work as I was responsible as your pastor. It's not what I think it is, it's what does the Bible say we ought to do. What does Jesus think we ought to do? I've made a lot of unpopular - I've made decisions I don't even like to make because it's not what I think, it's not my feelings, it's not my personal preferences; it's what does God think? What does he already said we ought to do? And we have to answer to him for that.
A church must continually examine her spiritual health. We need to celebrate our changed lives, what Christ has already done. We need to examine the spiritual health of believers on an ongoing basis, that's why we believe in small groups, connection groups. Why we believe that even being on a worship team; that's a small group in itself. And we make sure that people are spiritually growing. Examine how well our church is following Christ in His word. And we need to keep praying for our church's future until Christ returns. We're not in a holding pattern. We're not in a holding pattern.
How many here, your flower bed is in a holding pattern? What does it look like if it's in a holding pattern? It's not looking so good. You got to keep tending to it. But what does your car look like if it's in a holding pattern? It's full of junk. You got to clean it out, guys. Come on. What does your garage look like? We don't talk about garages. I don't want to talk about my garage. Anything you don't tend to gets worse. That's a scientific principle, isn't it? Things go from order to chaos, not miraculously from chaos to order. The only crazy thing that happens from chaos to order is when Jesus enters our life and takes our chaos and turns it into order. Amen. That's when life happens. And once He's in our lives, we have to keep tending the spirit, tending ourselves and doing the examination of, are we living up to what God has called us to live up to? Are we investing in His word? Are we growing?
As we look at these three different sections in 1 Thessalonian 3, I want us to think about our own church health checkup. Checkup number one is, how well are leaders caring for the church? 1 Thessalonian 3:1, "Therefore, when we could no longer stand it, we thought it was better to be left alone in Athens. And we sent Timothy our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith so that no one will be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. In fact, when we were with you, we told you in advance that we were going to experience afflictions. And as you know, it happened. For this reason when I could no longer stand it, I also sent him (that was Timothy) to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be for nothing."
This is a more personal moment in Paul's letter to Thessalonians where he is saying, "I really care about your faith. I really want to know how you're doing and I couldn't be with you," as we learned in previous messages, a persecution broke out. Paul had to kind of go in hiding after three weeks of serving and seeing people come to know Jesus as their Lord and savior, including some very prominent women, probably prominent business women in that community. But people got upset with this new movement and started to make false accusations against them.
And they even took them to the authorities and said, "These people have got bad religion, this is bad stuff for our city. It's not helping us at all and you need to get rid of them." And these guys are housing those bad people, and they're wanting to beat him up and they're wanting to imprison them. And literally, the guy that was hosting Paul, he actually paid off - he paid a fine to the authorities so they wouldn't come against them. And Paul disappeared from their midst and went on to the next town to share the gospel, knowing that his presence was not helpful in the building up of that church, it was more of a detriment than a benefit. And so, he had to abandon them right after he had planted the church. And he was really concerned, how are you doing? Are you okay?
"And I sent Timothy," he says, he sent young Timothy; his protégé in the faith was growing up to be a pastor. And he said, "I sent him to go see how you guys are getting along." And so he was caring about them. He wondered if they had even survived the persecution. He was wondering if our labor was in vain. There's pastors that have been called to plant churches, they planted them and then they move on to the next church and they go back and they find that there's a church there, and sometimes they find there's no church there. In Ecuador, it was so clear when we were... and by the way, some of you knew that my daughter and I were praying about going to Ecuador. And that actually disappeared that we're not going to go to Ecuador this week on a mission trip with another church in Evansville. We had talked about doing that and was trying to get Janae to the country. I've taken all my kids there and this opportunity presented itself, we thought, but there's political unrest, there's civil unrest, and so it's not safe for us to go to Ecuador right now so that's on hold.
But I remember being there and we would share the faith and we would start these little churches. We, the teams of people, and I was just part of a little tiny cog and a big wheel of cogs of activity, that we would go in there and we would go up to this mountaintop area and say, is this church even here still? Are they still meeting? Are they still gathering for worship? Are they still following Jesus Christ? And sometimes we'd see them flourishing and sometimes we'd see them struggling. It was kind of a back and forth thing. In one church, they kept abandoning so much that Dave Wilson, the missionary finally said, "Look, you guys are going to have to decide whether you're going to follow Christ or follow culture, your choice. I can't keep coming up here if you're going to just only do things when I'm here and do nothing when I leave." And he said, "There are people that are hungering for us to be in their cities. And if you don't hunger for us to be here to grow the church, I'm going to have to find..." It was a heartbreaking tearful moment when he realized these people really don't want a church; they just want him to show up once in a while.
And it was heartbreaking to see the investment that was made, that there was no spiritual activity to show for it after the fact. Paul didn't know if they were going to survive. In 2003 when we launched St. Joe Community Church, we had no idea what God was going to do. This is like parenting. When you have kids, you raise them up, you help them to find God, you help them to grow in their faith, but at the end of the day, we all have freedom to choose whether we're going to follow God or not follow God. As Grant was getting married to Sarah, I said to my son, "You know, I look..." He says, "Man, thank you, dad." And we were having those moments. I teared up a little bit - a lot, and it's like emotional and it was fun. And it's like, "Oh, it's my second born son getting married. Oh my goodness, what's this all about?"
But I said to him on more than one occasion, and I believe I kind of said it that weekend, or maybe over break this past vacation time, I'll know that I've done my job, if God gives you kids, follow God, because you've passed on the faith that I've given you to them. And maybe even more so, great-grandchildren, if I'm alive then, I probably won't be. But if I am, that they're growing in their faith. But I have no control over that; I have no control over that. And so, you do what you're supposed to do; Paul did what he was supposed to do, plant the church and hope that God did the work. And He did. This church was flourishing. It was happening and He was excited about it. But a good leader cares well for their church.
If you're a leader in our church and all you care about is your little sphere of influence and your budget line item, then you shouldn't be a leader. It's not about having a title. It's about carrying a towel in order to serve people in Jesus name. If I were to stop being a pastor of this church, like that position, the title pastor, would I be diminished as a person or as my identity in Christ, not in my position? That's a hard one for us, pastors, by the way. When you're not a pastor anymore, does that mean you're... What's your status? It's important for us to know that it's not about what we're doing and what our title is or what ministry position is, is that what we're doing as a leader is growing the greater cause, and that is helping people find and follow and grow in Jesus Christ. And if you're in charge of cutting the grass, if you're in charge of singing on a worship team, or you're in charge of something that nobody even knows is going on in the church, but is necessary in order to keep the church functioning well; you're doing it to the honor and the glory of Jesus Christ. That's what a leader does. They care about the people they're serving, not the position they're performing in.
How well do leaders care for the church? That's a church health checkup for all of us, not just for the pastor; although I think about it often, but for all of us who are in leadership in the church. Checkup number two, what's the church's current testimony? Let's read in chapter three verse six, "But now Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news about your faith and love. He reported that you always have good memories of us and that you long to see us as we also long to see you. Therefore brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction, we were encouraged about you through your faith. For now we live if you stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experienced before our God, because of you; as we pray very earnestly night and day to see you face to face and to complete what is lacking in your faith."
What's the current testimony of a local church? Well, Timothy came back and said, "Great things are happening, Paul. This church is flourishing. Good things are happening. They still love Jesus. They're still following God. They love one another." In fact, earlier in the chapters as I talked about it in other sermons, they were an example for other churches of how to be a church. Isn't that the kind of church we ought be that people want to emulate us? They want to say, "I want to be that kind of church. I want to be part of that kind of church family. I want that kind of church to be in my town, in my city, in my community, across town." If we were to start another church, we want one to be sort of like St. Joe, not like St Joe, but sort of like in the way in which we do things that we're spiritually healthy. And that's what Timothy is saying. There's some good things going on. They still appreciated their church planter.
It's enjoyable to go and see people from previous churches I've pastored, and we still have fond memories of our time together. I enjoy that. I still have friendships from people from my very first church. And I'm grateful for that. But I'm more grateful when I see these same people who I'm friends with growing in their faith, not just, "Oh, that was a good time. And did that. Been there. Got a t-shirt. Moving on with life." Is they're actually growing in their faith. They're still involved in church. They're still becoming what Jesus wants them to become in their own local church, beyond my presence as their church planter. These people stood firm in their newfound faith in spite of the persecution.
I imagine, we can only imagine that these prominent people who had come to faith may have lost their jobs. They lost their prominence. They didn't have their social status that they had because they were followers of Christ. And that was not popular. It's still kind of okay to be a follower of Christ in America. It's okay to be a follower of Christ in America. There's a time when it was really popular to be a follower Christ in America. There are places in the world where it is totally unpopular to be a follower of Christ. And you may even be in some work environments where it's unpopular to be the preacher boy or the preacher girl. I don't know. I know that to be true in some personal instances where I hear people talk. And so these people in spite of the cultural opposition to their faith were standing firm.
Is that true of us? Are we standing firm? Not like in some like militant, oh, there we are. No. It's oh, we love Jesus too much to abandon Him. We love the word of God too much to abandon what it says on how we ought to live our lives, and how we ought to practice our faith, and how we ought to be the kind of people we ought to be. And the citizens that we are, and the families that we are, raising our children the way we do, believing in marriage, the way we believe in marriage, believing in all the things that God has put forth in His word, the way God has put forth in his word; boldly standing even when it's unpopular culturally to do so.
What's our current testimony? Collectively, do we represent what God wants to be doing in local churches all over the world? We have our own unique footprint and fingerprints of how we do church and life. But in generally, are we following the New Testament pattern of a local New Testament church? What's the church's current testimony? Who is encouraged by our church's testimony? How have we persevered through our own oppositions and trials as a church family? If we stopped existing tomorrow, how many people outside of our fellowships and friendships would care? Would Fort Wayne notice if we disappeared tomorrow, other than the building's vacant? How little or much are we making a difference in our community for Jesus' sake will determine the answer to that question?
If you disappeared tomorrow from your workplace, from your neighborhood; would Christ's presence be diminished or would it be a non-issue? Nobody knew that you were a follower of Christ. It matters what our testimony is for the Lord. Jesus Christ. It matters that we're making a difference in our time and place until Jesus comes again. And then finally, in this checkup, we need to have a vision for more spiritual growth.
What does it say in verse 11, "Now may our God and father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you." That was a personal request. He wanted to get back to see them again, and he did get to see them again, by the way later. In verse 12, this is the prayer that I believe we ought to pray over our church all the time. "And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone just as we do for you. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints, amen.
Real quickly, as I closed this morning, we need to have a vision for more spiritual growth. We must continually grow in our love for one another. We don't come from the same political landscape from each other. We don't come from the same. We may have had diametrically different ideas within this body of how to handle this current pandemic. We may have all kinds of ideas. Some of you might be conspiracy theorists. Some of you don't believe in any conspiracies at all. I don't think anybody has a bunker, but if you do, you're not supposed to tell anybody. All I'm saying is, we don't sit here and try to figure out how different we are from one another. We're trying to figure out how we're moving together in the name of Jesus Christ together. And love, you know, we have a vision, it says, around our beliefs, we have unity. Our convictions, those core statements, we have core belief statements in our doctrine, doctrinal statement. You can learn that in the new members class that we teach, and it's just basic Christian beliefs. It's based on the word of God. It's our own way of saying what God says. And again, it's pretty common to so many churches and we have unity around that. And if somebody doesn't believe that, well, there might be nuances they may have to maybe attend a different church, but those are our unity unifying statements.
But in those areas where we don't have those unifying statements, those things that we don't openly talk about; they're the absent of conversation about in our convictions, we have agreement to disagree agreeably with one another. We don't all come at it from the same angle. Some people they strategically voted for what happened at the Supreme Court. Some people said, you know what, God's going to do what God's going to do and voted their conscience in a different way than some other people. But at the end of the day, what brings us together is our love for Christ and His word that we are all trying to be Christ-like. And we all going to answer for whatever we did at the ballot box. Not trying to make everybody toe in line exactly what you ought to do what I think you ought to do. I've said many times before; I have opinions nobody's asked me about - may not ever want to.
If you want to know my thoughts, I'll take you to lunch sometime, maybe, but up here, it's God's opinion about His word and how we move together in the spirit and the love of Christ. And we walk together in the spirit of Christ and that spirit of Christ involves loving, increasing in our love. John 13 says that we must love one another. That's how people know we're his disciples, that we love each other. We love each other even sometimes when we don't like each other, because we've got to love each other. And love is practical. It's not like a feeling. We're talking about laying down our lives for one another, caring for one another, truly stepping up to the plate. When you're going through crisis, we want to be there for you. We want to help you grow and go. Through whatever circumstance, we want to be a true body of Christ for one another. We do that best through small groups, by the way, it's hard to do just to know what's going on generally on a Sunday morning, but when your connection group knows what's going on, that's when we can really minister and serve and show God's love in a practical way.
Do we overflow in love for one another? And then finally, we need to be blameless and holy knowing that we are going to finally answer to Jesus who could come at any moment and make us accountable for our lives. We're looking forward to the second return of Jesus Christ. We're looking forward to Him finally finishing and putting a period on the end of the sentence of history in a world. Some people say, "Boy, I'm ready for Jesus to come today." Well, I am too, but you know what? I know a lot of people that aren't and they'll be separated from God forever if Jesus came right now.
Here's another scary thought. Are you ready to face God and be accountable for wherever you're standing right now in him spiritually? If he were to show up right now, have you prayed up? Have you been able to confess up and to recant and to move away from the things you know that He's asked you not to do - He's told you not to do in His word? Are you right with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you harboring bitterness and unforgiveness? How can you go to the throne of God and say, "Oh, I still hate so and so"? That's not going to fly in front of God. Are you ready to meet Jesus? I'm ready for the return of Christ, are you?
Are you blameless and holy in God? Blameless doesn't mean perfect. Blameless like we said earlier, Paul said he was blameless. It meant that he was continually confessing his sins, repenting and turning away from and re-surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his life. Is that where you are right now? You're ready to meet Jesus. Do you have a vision for more spiritual growth in your life? Or do you feel like you've arrived, you got enough of Jesus, now I'm going to get into little more of this, a little more of that, get a little bit of Jesus, move on? Is coming to church just a stop along the way of many things to do or does what we do here affect the rest of what you do during the week?
So, what would our church health checkup reveal? What would it look like? Jesus, you're a consultant. You're the Lord. You're not a consultant. Jesus come down here. What do you think? What do you think our church looks like? What do I look like in front of you, Jesus? Do I really care as the leader of this church the way I ought care for this church? Are we still growing in our faith in spite of the spiritual and cultural opposition that's around us? Are we really growing in spite of the tendency for people not to grow in their faith? Jesus, do we overflow in our love for one another? Or do we find getting along with people in our church a chore, some sort of a legalistic habit that we got to come up with because it's the right thing to do? Do we really love one another? Are we leading blameless lives? Are we hypocrites in real recovery? Christians or sinner, we're just saved as there's bumper stickers. You know, we're not perfect. We're just forgiven.
Well, is that an excuse to do whatever you want because you got free grace? No.
What would our church health checkup reveal? How must we grow in our love for one another in our church? What step do you need to take to be part of the love growth in our church family? What must we change to become more blameless and holy for Jesus Christ? I hope that you'll take this connection card and you'll let us know how to pray for you, how to encourage you that you'll go online and look at the contact information area on our website and get in touch with us so that we know how to help you move forward. It might be this altar. This could become the place where you publicly say something to God in prayer. It might be that you go back in the back and talk to a prayer team that will be waiting to receive you and to pray with you about whatever's going on.
Let's just honor God with whatever decision we make, that might be the example that He wants for us to be here in little old Fort Wayne, Indiana. Father, God help us to step forward in our faith and to honor you with our lives. For someone this morning, it might be for the first time they put their faith in you. And that would be their first step to tell the world that they're a Christian and have the courageous bold step of getting baptized. I pray that they will identify themselves this morning if that be their need. And for all of us who know you, I pray that you'll show us how to take our next right steps. Maybe someone's contemplating their faith and they're still not there; I pray that they would just hang on and keep coming and learning and growing and being around us. Not because we're special by ourselves, but because we follow one who is so special and worthy of our worship and adoration. I pray that our lives will be an example and a testimony that will cause them to want to know you. I pray these things in Christ's name, amen.
B: Bible book