Message Recap - 07/29/11 - The Church

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sometimes when you look around at the world, it's easy to see the problems everywhere. It seems so overwhelming!
And then you see Christians doing things like protesting at soldier's funerals (which is, by the way, misguided and a total wrong response). It doesn't accomplish anything good.
Sometimes Pastor Dan looks around at the problems of the world and his own ministry and impact, and wonders how he can accomplish change. On his own, he's not strong enough. The problems of the world seem insurmountable. How can we even begin to make progress with all these issues?
For many people, when facing these questions we end up lowering our goals to something easily attainable.
So where does the church fit into all of this? What does God say and do about all these problems going on in the world?
There is no trite answer for those questions.
But, Ephesians 1:19-23 sheds a bit of light on the role of the church in the world.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.
What is the incredibly great power that Paul talks about in this verse? It is working through us, the church! Just as we have to use our physical bodies to accomplish things, God uses the church to accomplish his goals.
Our brain can't run a marathon or write a book on its own, it has to utilize the body.
When Jesus sees starving children, people suffering and without hope, He uses the church to make a difference!
This is why Jesus left after He rose again. He could have continued his ministry on earth. But He didn't; because on earth He was limited by His physical body, but from heaven He could work through His spiritual body - you, the church!
When you see suffering and pain in the world and wonder, "Why doesn't God do something about that!" The answer is: He's trying. But there's a disconnect between the brain and the body. He's trying to send the message to his body to act, to make a difference. But the message isn't getting through.
He sees what's going on, but his body doesn't respond!
There are more Christians on the earth now than in all the rest of history combined. The church is rapidly expanding and the ability of the church to help the poor, to make a difference in the world is growing.
Jesus wants to do the same things today through His spiritual body as he did 2000 years ago through His physical body!
Check out 1 Corinthians 12:12-21: The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

What does all that stuff about ears and eyes mean? It can be easy to look at others and wish you were just like them. But God has created you to fill a purpose in the body of Christ! Your role is just as important as anyone else's in the church.
Maybe you help with Generation Church or help clean up the church after a service. It can feel like something insignificant, but when you stop doing your role, the whole body suffers. You need to be plugged in at church.
The power mentioned in Ephesians 1 doesn't come from the church, but from God - just as an electrical outlet is not the source of power, but an access point.
Our ability to fully be what God has called us to be can be limited if we are not fully plugged in to a church!
The power of God working through you and the church can make amazing things happen in the world.
The power to make great things happen comes from being plugged into the body of Christ, with the power of God flowing through you and the rest of the church.
The book of Acts tells us about a man named Stephen. No, not Steve Wolford. Anyway, he gladly helped distribute food to poor widows -- not a glamorous position, but a critical one in the church. Yet he still performed amazing miracles! When he was willing to plug in where needed, God gave him the power to perform miracles!
Find a need and fill it and God will give you the power to do what you need to do.
Psalm 92:12-13:
But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
You need to be planted in your church. When you do that, you will flourish. You will continually produce something significant in your life when you are planted in your church.
Colossians 1:15 - we are, as a part of Christ's body, a visible image of an invisible God. We are His hands, His feet, His mouth.
Get plugged in at your church and help bring change to the world!

Message Recap – 7/22/11 – Live Up

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When you get in survivor mode, all you care about is survival. A great example of this is Aron Ralston, the hiker who became trapped in a canyon and had to cut his own arm off in order to save his life. He wasn't concerned about how weird he'd look with just one arm when the time came to choose between life or keeping his arm.

Starving children in Africa are not too concerned about the carb content of their food, global warming or gay marriage. Not that it's wrong to be concerned about those things, but once you're in survivor mode, those less important things drop away and you just care about staying alive.

There are times when survivor mode is necessary; when you need to let some important things go for the sake of survival. But once that point of danger passes you can't continue to live in survivor mode. It can be easy to get trapped in survivor mode by pessimistic predictions, bad news, and hopelessness. We can get stuck in unnecessary survivor mode because of the constant negativity that surrounds us. We can start to think that the only thing that matters is making it to the next day.

When you're in unnecessary survivor mode you give up things that are important; you live lower instead of higher.

Ephesians 4:1 says: Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

We need to live higher because we are called higher! You are not called to just survive.
Check out what Jeremiah 29:11 says: For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
Do you know who God was speaking to through Jeremiah in this scripture? People in slavery, people who were displaced. They were much worse off than you are now. They had a much bigger reason to give up than you do. Newsflash: You do not have it that bad.
Here's a little perspective to prove that point: Most of the world's population lives on about $1 a day. If you have any money at all
– even change in a jar on your dresser – you are richer than 86% of the world.
What is the calling Paul mentions in Ephesians? It is bigger than you can ask for, higher than you can imagine.
But so often we live in unnecessary survivor mode. Carrying around our pocket knife, ready to cut off our own limbs at a moments notice. In survivor mode we cut short our list of priorities, including serving God.
Live a life worthy of your calling.
What's the point pf living up? Why try, when so many others have given up, and they seem to be fine?
The point is that you are called, you have a destiny and there is something great that God has called you to.
When you are called to something higher, you have to leave what's lower.
If you could look into the future and knew that one day you would be president, how would that change how you live now? What if you knew that you would one day be a professional athlete, how would that change what you eat and how you workout today?
God's calling for you is bigger than either of those two things, because what God has called you to is the very best for you. He has a purpose and a plan for exactly what He has called you to, whether it be lawyer, pastor, athlete, president or something else entirely.
People are doing stuff all around you that is not worthy of your calling. All around you are people who have given up, people who are living lower than the call of God on their lives. They've pulled out the multitool and (figuratively) cut off their arm when it was totally unnecessary.
If you get stuck in survivor mode, you can lose your sense of destiny and purpose, and you will live lower rather than higher. You will live according to the circumstances around you instead of up to the calling God has for you.
God has a plan for your life! It's a great plan, a high plan! Live worthy of that high plan; live up to it! Live as if you had already stepping into that plan. Don't slouch down to smoking pot or watching TV all day. Live better, live higher! God has a plan, a hope and a future for you!
We are living significant lives; it's not hopeless, it's not meaningless! Live a life worthy of the calling that God has for you.