A quick Blurp…

If you are taking the time to read this blog, I would first like to thank you for your time. Second, I would like to ask you to keep our ministry in your prayers. God is up to some crazy stuff in our church: new preaching team, new ministry coming on board, and new people interested in the vision being given for the youth ministry. God is bringing His Church together for His glory! I love you all and continually ask that God do a great work in your lives- revealing Himself, His love, and His plan.

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“Going All In” Things to Think About

1)      Read Matthew 9:35-38. Would you say that this passage is truth for us today as well? Why or why not?

2)    Read Romans 12:1-2. What do you think Paul is meaning here?

3)     Would you say that you are “presenting your body as a living sacrifice, holy, and pleasing to God?” Why or why not?

4)   Think on what’ God has been teaching you from the weeks past in the “Going All In” Series.

5)     Read and think on Mark 10:17-24.  Look for things that stand out to you about the story. What do think is going on?

6)     Imagine that you are at the feet of Jesus, the good teacher, and you just asked the question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” What do you think Jesus’ response would be? Do you think that He would ask you to give up something? Are you willing to “Go All In?”

7)     Finish with prayer.  Spend some time thanking God for “looking upon us and loving us.”

Going All In_Living the Life that Shines for the Cause Requires Sacrifice

Introduction

Matthew 9:35-38

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

The harvest is plenty but the workers are few… I think we can all agree on the fact that there is sin in the world and the fact that so many people need to hear the grace story of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Bible tells us that the harvest is plenty- that there are so many hearts ready to receive and follow Christ, but the workers are few- there are not but a few of us that are actually ready and willing to share this grace story to others in a way that they can see, experience, and hear the love of God.

I want to do something very quickly. I want us to stop right here. Stop in the introduction of the sermon and do what the Scripture is saying to do.

God you are our Father and our Master. I ask you right now, as we take the time to stop and do as you ask, please send the workers to the harvest. Please raise up a generation that is willing and able to reach people for you. Father, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. I believe that you are calling us, tonight, to a cause. I believe that you are calling us to join you in this mission of redemption. I believe that you are calling us to be the workers. Why are there not enough workers? Not be cause of anything you have done, or not done, but because we hear Your Word, we read Your Word, and we choose not to listen. Father forgive us for we have sinned against You! Forgive us for our lack of willingness, for our cold hearts, for our lack of submission to You. Now, Father, as I close this prayer, be with us tonight as we look at your Word. I ask that you reveal Truth to our hearts tonight. Do not let the Evil one lead us astray tonight. I pray, Father, that you make this place, this room, a place for Your Holy Spirit to linger. Please Father, as the OT prophets prayed “rain down upon us.” Thank you, Father, for never leaving or forsaking us. I close now, in humble knowledge that you will fulfill the prayer that we have prayed tonight, that You will make Yourself known here tonight and that You will raise us up to be a generation that is willing to fight the decay of this world, a generation that is willing to shine the Light of You to a world that desperately needs it. I love You and thank you for the cross in my life. Amen.

The Reason for This series

Romans 12:1

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship.”

I want us to read this allowed together…

Paul is making a plea to us to “present our bodies as living sacrifices to God, for this is our spiritual act of worship.” This is my heart for this series and where I am personally in my walk with God. “Therefore” Paul states, because of God’s mercies through the cross, “present yourself as a living sacrifice!” Give everything back over to Him. Go all in for His sake, for His purpose, for the sake of others.

For me, this “Going all in” thing seems like something I have accomplished in days past, but for some reason feel as if I’ve yet to give it all over today. I mean this, I’ve taken the steps I am supposed to take, but still feel unfulfilled in the current step God has placed before me. I think we all do this. We go through times in which everything in our lives is devoted to whatever God has asked of us, but one day something comes along that shakes up our world and it seems as if we have learn to trust God all over again.

I have this desire in me to give it all over to God. To trust Him with my finances, to trust Him with my family, to trust Him with everything, but I fall so short, time and time again.

This is where I am. I am learning to trust God all over again. Things are happening all around me that I have no control over. Things are happening in my life that I have never experienced God in before. But God is still here and He is still calling me to Himself- He is still calling me to “present my body as a living sacrifice.”

If you’ve ever thought, “Man, this being a Christian thing is hard.” You would be correct in that thinking. Matt 7:13-14 says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” God tells us that following Him will be hard. The way I look at it, it seems that we are being asked to go against everything the world says is normal. Let me explain: the norm is to smoke, the norm is to have sex, the norm is to cuss, the norm is to get drunk, the norm is to hate your brother, the norm is to be selfish, the norm is to covet, the norm is to do everything wicked. To follow Christ, we really have to “do hard things” to follow Him.

I want to ask a question tonight: Why does our life sometimes feel so insignificant? Let me put it another way: Why does our life sometimes feel as if it has no purpose?

Let’s take a look at Romans 12:2…

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”

Let’s stop right here for a second.

God is telling us that for us to find purpose in life- to find life as He said in verse 1, is to no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. What does he mean when He says to no longer be conformed?

The Amplified Bibles says that “to not be conformed to” means “to not be fashioned after and adapted to it’s external, superficial customs.”

We are being challenged not to be fashioned to the norm of our society. We being told that the first step in transformation, is no more conformity to the world. We are to turn from the world. To walk a completely different path. To look so different from the world that there is no possible way that we could be compared to, or be fashioned after, or be adapted to. It means that we understand truly look like Jesus’ prayer in the garden, to be in the world, but NOT of it!

So, why does life sometimes seem meaningless, or without purpose? I think it is because we are “adapted to” or “fashioned after” a meaningless worldly system, when God is calling us to a different heavenly system for a different norm.

I think that we as the younger generation, are longing for this. I think that our hearts desire is to be so different, so radical. I mean, who wants to look back at there life in 30 years and think, “Man, I’ve wasted it”? I believe with all of my heart that our deepest longing, our deepest passion is to join God on the great cause. And only then will our lives truly have purpose. Only then will the meaningless things of this world not be at the forefronts of our minds. Only then will the Church look as it was intended to!

God is calling us to Go All In.

Over the past several weeks I think that God has been teaching us what it looks like to Go All In. The 1st week I believe God showed us, from the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that in order to Go All In, we must be willing to walk with God in every decision and every moment of life. I believe that God showed us that He has a greater cause for our lives and that cause is fleshed out in the moments that really make a difference in the world. For the trio, they were not willing to stand down, to worship a statue that was not God. They were willing to loose there lives for what they believed in, not because it was the right thing to do, but because they trusted God in every situation. They understood that their bodies, their lives, this world is not for them.

Week 2, God taught us that the cause He called us to is not only a big moment by big moment kind of living, but a way of life. We looked at the passage in Matthew where Jesus was calling us to be both salt and light in this world. To be the salt that prevents the decay of this world and to be the light that shows this world a better way to live. I believe that as Christians, we too many times are ok with being the salt. For standing up for truth, for telling people about their sin, but we struggle so many times with being the light. Being the light that shows people a better way to live. And the better way of living is not a list of rules and regulations but freedom from the sins in life that way us down. We also learned that Satan, the Evil one, is out to destroy that. He is out to blind the unbelievers from seeing the light of Christ and out to distract us and lead away from the pure devotion to Christ alone. He misplaces our priorities and tricks us into this kind of Christian Survival Living, where life is too hard to live and Christ is merely the salt and light in our lives, when He has called us to be the salt and light to others.

Tonight we are going to look at a man who so deeply desired to Go All In for God, but there was something else in his life that was competing with the affection of his heart. Something else that was more important to him than the call that God had placed on his life.

YouTube

Have you guys ever heard of this website on the internet, it’s called YouTube? It’s a website that allows you to put videos on the internet for everyone to see. Let me tell you about this website. The website was started by 3 young business men that used to work for the online payment service- PayPal. Have you heard of PayPal? If you’ve ever bought anything from EBay you’ve had to use PayPal in order to pay for your product. Well, back to these 3 guys…. They used to work for PayPal. For whatever reason, they decided to leave PayPal and start a small online business for themselves. The premises of the business would be to create a website for people to post videos of themselves on the internet. This would be a worldwide access website for anyone in the world to access and use. Well, these guys hit pay dirt a few years ago. The corporation Google bought the rights to YouTube for around 2 million dollars. So these 3 guys who started a small business in there garage called YouTube are now rolling in the dough! Imagine it for a second… what would you do with all that cash? Pay for school? Buy a really rad car? Give it to some charity?

Focal Passage:

Tonight we are going to talk about another rich young businessman in the Bible. Turn to Mark 10:17-24:

“As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. ‘Good teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good- except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ‘Teacher,’ he declared, ‘all these I have kept since I was a boy.’ Jesus looked at him and love him. ‘One thing you lack,’ he said. ‘Go, sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’ The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’”

This story is recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels. In all three instances we can notice 3 specific things about the man who came to Jesus. 1)He was rich: Vs. 7 seven tells us that he had great wealth. So this guy had a lot of money, a great 401k plan, the best health insurance money could buy, a silver Aston Martin- just like the one off of 007 Casino Royal. This guy didn’t have to worry about money. 2)He was young. In this culture, it was unusual for a young man to be rich. In order to have these great riches, this dude had to make a very good name for himself. Chances are, he was very talented, good looking, and intelligent. 3)He was a ruler. So this young guy, who had lots of money, was also a ruler- meaning he had a lot of power and “say so.” Many scholars suggest that he was in government. The Gospel of Luke actually tells us that he was one of the rulers in the Synagogue. So this guy was probably pretty religious as well. So ladies, this guy was rich, good looking, smart, probably had a good sense of humor, and had a good moral background- the kind of guy any girl would want. The kind of guy most fathers would want for their daughters. The kind of guy most men desire to be.

So Jesus was walking along teaching and this rich young ruler came up to him. One of the 1st things we notice in the story is how this dude came up to Jesus. He came running up to Jesus. In the Jewish culture, rich people did not run. Only the poor folk ran. You would never catch some rich guy running in the streets; they had better sense than that. Then the dude bowed at Jesus’ feet. This is another thing you would never catch a rich guy doing in this day in time.

I believe this tells us something about him. Apparently this guy heard Jesus speaking in another town, in the local coffee shop, or heard from a friend about all the amazing things Jesus was doing and the amazing things Jesus was teaching. Apparently whatever he heard or saw stirred his heart so much that he was willing to run to Jesus and bow at His feet- this guy was seriously moved!

At the Feet

Now, while at Jesus’ feet he asks a question and got a pretty weird response from Jesus. The guy asked, “Good teacher, how can I receive eternal life?” Jesus being the great teacher as he was, answered the question with a question. Jesus responded with, “Why do you call me good? No one is good- except God!” Now, Jesus was not saying He was not God or that He was not good; He was playing a little trick on the guy. Let’s see what Jesus says next: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.” The young ruler told Jesus that he has followed all of the Law. Everything that he was taught, he followed. He was very religious.

Jesus had compassion

The next thing that we see Jesus do was amazing! Mark tells us “Jesus looked at him and loved him…” I am so glad that Jesus looked at me and loved me. When we come to God in our sin, He looks at us and has compassion on us. This guy had done everything that he was told to do while growing up in church. He was a very moral person, a good business man, nice to people- this guy did everything that he was “supposed” to do to be a good citizen. And the Bible tells us that He looked and him and loved him. Why did Jesus need to have compassion on this guy?

The Rich Young Ruler’s Problem

But Jesus noticed that he had a problem. The young ruler had one thing standing in the way of him following Christ- from “Going All In!”

Jesus said, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Jesus saw that this man had one thing that stood between him and following the Christ. Jesus noticed that this man had a love for money.

Scripture talks more about a love for money than it does about anything else! Jesus saw that this man’s love of money, for material things, was standing in the way of him giving all over to God.

The Rich Young Ruler’s face

At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’”

Can you imagine what this young man felt? He ran to Jesus, he didn’t care what people thought about him, and Jesus asked him to “sell everything and give it to the poor.” Was the man’s offering not enough? Did Jesus not know that this man was crying out to Him for salvation?

The man’s left sad because he didn’t want to sell his possessions.

Now, let’s imagine what Jesus must have felt. A man came to His feet pleading for eternal life. And Jesus asked but one thing of him- sell your possessions. “Go All In” for Me! Trust Me! Give everything over to Me, so that I can lead you! Imagine what went through Christ’ mind as he watch this man walk away, not willing to give everything over to God. Imagine the sorrow that must have come over Christ. Jesus watched this man that was so close to taking the step of faith, choose to keep his possessions over life in Christ.

What are you holding back? What is the one thing that is stopping you from “Going All In” to Christ? Is there anything that is more important to you than Jesus? Jesus is pleading with us tonight- Give everything up for Me! Trust Me! Go All In for Me! I love you!

No money may not be your problem…

There were other men in Scripture who came to Christ, they had great wealth as well. For some, Jesus only told them to sell half of their belonging. For others, Jesus never asked them to give anything up.

Now, some of you are thinking, “Whew! I thought I was going to have to give up my Xbox or I’m going to have to give up my cell phone.” But I’m not letting you out of it that easy!

Jesus knew this Rich Young Ruler’s heart. He knew what stood in the way of true fellowship with him. Jesus knows your heart as well. If there is anything that is standing in the way of you coming to Jesus, let it go! Please! There is life abundant in Christ! He loves you! He desires to have an intimate relationship with you!

I want to read this illustration to you from the Jesus Freak book:

“A Christian is Chosen by Jesus Christ”

“Men choose a religion, but a Christian is chosen by Jesus Christ. To be a Christian means to belong to Christ. Jesus asked me to renounce even my life, to follow Him faithfully, not to fear the world even if my body must perish. I prefer to know that God, the Almighty, is with me, even if it means that the whole world is against me.”

“I am in God’s hands. For 45 years I have walked with the God of miracles, and His goodness is for me a shadow that protects me in His love.”

“The God of Daniel, who protected his friends, protected me during my nine years in prison, and all torments changed to my good, so that I have fullness of love and gratitude.”

“Of all the prophets, Jesus alone was resurrected from the dead, and He remains our living Mediator forever. I gave my life into His hands. For me, life is an opportunity to serve Him, and death is the privilege of getting to be with Him.”

Pastor Mehdi Dibaji of Iran was on trial for his life, and these words were the defense he gave in court. An upper-class Muslim, he and his family converted to Christianity. He had dared to translate Christian radio programs and books into the Farsi language. He was arrested in 1985 and accused of apostasy, denying the Muslim faith. For this, he faced the death penalty.

In Iran, social political pressure is sometimes used to force Christians to recant their new-found faith in Jesus Christ. Some are even tortured. Didaj was imprisoned alone for 2 years alone in a cramped hole with no room to stretch his legs. While he was in prison, his wife, Azizeh, left Dibaj and was forced to marry a Muslim.

When Didaj steadfastly refused to deny his faith, the court condemned him to death. But after one month he was set free because of international attention that had been brought to his case. Soon after this, however, he was found dead in a park. It is believed by some that Islamic leaders had called for his execution.

Despite losing their father, his four children remain faithful to Jesus Christ.

As he faced the court that would sentence him to death, Pastor Didaj said, “I prefer to know that God, the Almighty, is with me, even if it means that the whole world is against me.” He had learned the secret of being able to stand alone among men- standing with God.

Prayer

Thank You Father, for not placing us in this culture, but forgive us for our laziness in our faith. Forgive us for not standing up for You, when only our popularity is as stake, or when our job is as stake, or when our friends are at stake, or when our school is at stake. Forgive us for not placing You first in our lives!

Conclusion

I want to leave you with one simple thought:

Jesus is calling us to a cause. My desire is for us to hear the calling and respond. The cause is the Advancing of the Kingdom. What’s your response?

“Going All In”_Things to think about

1)      The Barna Group poll taken in 2006 states that 2 out of 5 people in the US have little or no respect for Christians. The same poll states that 1 out of 3 people believe that the Church has a negative impact on society. When asked the question, “What are Christians best known for?” 91% said Anti-homosexual, 87% said Judgmental, and 85% said Hypocritical. Think about any experience you may have had with someone holding to the same opinions as the people in 2006.

2)     2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “In their case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Questions: 1) What does this verse say? 2) How do you think Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers?

3)      2 Corinthians 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by His cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from the sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” How does Satan deceive us believers?

4)     Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” This may be a tough question to answer: Could you say that your good works are giving more glory to your Father in Heaven or to yourself? Why or why not?

5)     Matthew 5:13-16 says that we are to be salt and light in this world. Salt prevents decay (speak truth) and light shows a better way to live (sharing unconditional love). We Christians are supposed to represent both salt and light. Would you say that your life represents more “saltiness,” more “shininess,” or good balance of the two? Why or why not?

Going All In_ Week 2 “Living Life that Shines for a Cause”

Salutation

God has given your life purpose and, if you are a believer, has called you to a cause. Last week, we look at several stories of people who “went all in” for a cause. We looked at the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and how they chose to stand up and “Go all in” for their believe in God. I hope that God has moved in your hearts, as He has mine over the past two weeks.

Mary’s Illustration

About two years ago I was an intern at a small church. One Sunday morning I was teaching a lesson (I have no idea the topic), but God made an impression on a little girls heart in the youth group. I had been serving at the church for about 3 months so far and had developed a nice friendship with this particular girl, we shall call her Mary (not her name of course). Well, that Sunday morning after I had finished teaching, she came to me and asked if she could talk to me about something after the AM service… “Sure thing, I said!” After the service we meet together in the youth pastor’s office, she sat on the large comfy couch and I on the small plastic child’s chair. She proceeded to tell me about something that totally surprised me! Now, this is one of the sweetest and girls you will ever meet, but little did I know she had done some things and been through some things that I never expected. She told me that about 9 months earlier, she had gotten pregnant and her boyfriend left her. She felt guilty for the sex and went to her Christian parents; she wanted to do what was right and confess her sin to her parents. In turn, her parents dragged her to the local abortion clinic and forced her to have an abortion. Now she is scared for life, babyless, and has huge issues with her parents. She told me that she felt like God would never forgive her for what she did and that all she was looking for from her parents was their support and unconditional love. What she got was a “we got to fix this right now” response. Now that everything is fixed and “like is should be” she is left feeling empty and hated by God. I wish I could say that we talked and everything turned out ok for her in the end, but I can’t. We talked and to my knowledge still battles with the same issues.

Why did is just tell you this story? You’re probably thinking, “We are supposed to be talking about going all in and you just shared a story about doing the opposite…”

The reason I share this with you is because I am disappointed in the way that her Christ-proclaiming parents handled the situation. Because of their embarrassment and hatred for the “wrong” things in life they have forever scared their little girl. Now because of their actions, she feels that God no longer loves her. Because of their cover-up, she is now left feeling like she will never be loved by another human being. She feels dirty and used.

Now this is not an uncommon story, there are probably hundreds of young girls across America who have experienced a very similar situation.

When I think about Mary’s story, I can’t help but think about all of the others like her in the world who are absolutely petrified of Christians and of the Church.

The Pole…

There was this poll taken in 1996 that found that Americans in general held a favorable impression on Christians. Another pole said that most people (85%) believe that Christians play a positive role in society. A decade later, another pole held by the same group, in 2006, revealed that our reputation as Christians has suffered somewhat of a major setback. In the pole, the people were questioned on their opinions on church, Christ, and most importantly us- Christians. 2 0ut of 5 people said that they have very little or no respect for Christians. 1/3 of those polled believed that Christians actually have a negative impact on society. What are we best known for? 91% said anti-homo, 87% said judgmental, 85% said hypocritical… and in this group poled, it’s not as if these people had no experience with Christians at all. On the contrary, these people polled a majority of them said they actually had attended a church at some point in their life. 9 out of 10 said that they had friends or are friends with those who call themselves Christians.

What does this pole tell us? The sad reality is that it tells us that we are known more for what we stand against than what we live for! In society, we are more known for the things that we hate, than for the satisfied life that we live!

Positive vs. Negative

We looked at a book a couple of months back called “They like Jesus, but not the Church.” How said is that? The church is the bride of Christ! The Church is the vehicle that God has left to share the light of Christ to the world.

I hope for the day that when talking to people at Starbucks about what they believe about Christians, I hear “I’m so sick of Christians, because they are always helping people, they always helping the poor; they are always trying to create peace…”

Could there be a day that we are not just known for what we stand against but actually what we live for?

Ok… maybe some of you are thinking… “Well, it’s not my responsibility if people are far from God. So what if they have negative impressions of the church, it’s not my problem, I’m a good person. It’s not my responsibility that people don’t choose Him. I mean the Bible says that the truth will be offensive, right?”

2 Cor. 4:4 says, “In their case the god (Satan) of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

This passage is telling us that Satan has blinded the world from seeing the light of Christ, who is God! That his ways are more cunning than we realize. The author of confusion!

I wonder if unbelievers can lose sight of Jesus, is it possible that Satan could destroy Christian’s efforts to live for Christ in this world?

2 Cor. 11:3 says, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

What’s the problem with the world? Why all the negativity? Satan’s the problem! He’s at work way more than we realize. I believe that Satan not only works in the big sins of the world, but he also works in the hearts of Christians too. I think he creates confusions in our life when it comes to our commitment to Christ. I think he messes with our priorities. And I think his greatest tool against us Christians is this complacency… “Everything’s good… I’m alright… there’s nothing wrong.”

That we’ve got something that no one else has, and we can keep on going without realizing that there is more going on than just our lives. If Satan can get us bogged down with what is going on in our lives, and frustrated, and keep you from moving on to something else other than yourself, than He wins!

Focal Passage:

Jesus is talking about what it means to be a Christians.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus is telling us that we have a responsibility in this world. The world is like this rotting meat and we are to be its salt. The world is like this dark room and we are to be the light that illuminates the darkness.

Jesus says that Christians are supposed to give taste and flavor to the world and keep the world from decay. While at the same time being city set upon the hill, the lamp stand in the dark room, shining light for all to see with- to show the world a better way.

But there’s a problem! John Stott, a popular pastor in England, says that “we as Christians use the salt and light for our own benefit. We are content to keep our own world fresh and to keep our own path lit.”

For too many Christians, survival becomes the purpose of our life. We get too content in trying to fend for ourselves from the rest or the world, that we lose sight of the fact that we were placed in this world to better it!

Salt and light must keep their saltiness and their glamour, but if that is all there is to it, that is survival. Salt and light are not to just be different from the world, but to have a powerful impact that changes the world.

The salt is to be rubbed into the meat to prevent the rot and the light is to be shown into the darkness so that it prevails and that darkness is illuminated!

Why did Jesus command this? Well, because God is light!

Psalm 36:9 says, “For with you is the fountain of life; and your light do we see light.”

John 1:4-5 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 8:12 says, “Again Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

How does this apply to us?

1 John 1:5-7 “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Back to our focal passage: Jesus says that “you are a city on a hill, your light cannot be hidden, let your light shine that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Jesus doesn’t say that they will appreciate you for what you have done, but praise your Father! That they may see Jesus Christ in your life and be changed because of it.

Application

This applies at school, to your time in the cafeteria, to what you watch on TV, to what you place on the internet, to how you interact with people, to how you drive, to how you talk to your parents, to Friday night with your friends, etc… it applies to every aspect of your life.

Jesus says that we are the light of the world, and to shine your light so that the darkness flees!

The poll that I mention a few moments ago suggests that the world response to Jesus Christ is directly related to the way that you and I live our lives. If the world perceptions of Christ are poor than, I think there may be a problem: actually 2

1)       Satan is at work! Do not forget this… the Bible says that he is out to “steal, kill, and destroy”

2)     A problem with you and me. A problem with the way that we live our lives.

If there is a problem, what are we going to do about it?

Sweet Spot

This is a bat… a very cheap bat, but a bat. I’m not sure how many of you have ever played baseball, but I did when I was smaller. I played center field, and got the opportunity to bat on occasion. Just to let you know, I was horrible at batting. To be honest I was horrible at baseball… just not a sport I was good at. But on a particular day, during practice I might add, I hit a home run. I wish it could say I hit one during a game, but like I said, baseball was just not my sport. The one time I hit a home run, it was not because of any skill on my part. It was by sheer luck. I swung the bat, made contact, and line drived the ball over the fence. Luck be it, when I swung the bat, the ball hit the sweet spot on the bat and was propelled way farther that I could have ever hit the ball under my own strength.

I say this because, like this bat, I believe that our lives have a sweet spot. Our lives, when lived the right way, will project the Christ’s light to others in such a way that they will have no other option, but to say there is something different about us. When we live in our sweet spot, our lives look so counter cultural that everything about us is different.

When we find this sweet spot in our lives, just like me hitting the ball over the fence, things start happening in our lives that we have no control over. When we find this sweet spot we will find we will finally be living life to its fullest, that our lives will feel fulfilled, that our lives will start having purpose.

I believe that it is time for us to Go All In with our lives. No more 80% living, no more 90% living, but 100% that shines the light of Christ so that everyone can see it. To go all in, we must recognize that we are to be the light f this world.

God has asked for nothing less, he said that “you must take up your cross and follow me,” “you will have to lose your life to find it,” and “you’ll have to surrender everything if you want to follow me.” You are the light of the world, no go live this way.

A Quick Example

Turn to Acts 6

Very quickly… in the early church apparently a problem had come up about serving the widows of the church food. The early church was comprised of Christians from Greek decent and those from Hebrew decent. Therefore, there where widows of both decent present in the church. The problem that had apparently come up was that one of the two groups of widows were being neglected food. This could have been due to some sort of racism among the early Christians.

Well the church leaders found out the problem and decided to gather 7 men to fix the problem. One of the men was Phillip. And we can learn a few things from Phillip in this situation:

1)       Phillip was willing to respond to the problem. He was willing to step up and give help were needed. He didn’t wait for others to respond but stood up and said yes I will help.

  1. If you do this you are telling God that you are available to God.
  2. What will happen after obedience? Vs. 7 says, “And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”

2)     Going all in, any time and any place.

  1. After God added to their number, persecution broke out. At the end of chapter 7 a guy named Stephen was stoned to death for preaching the story of Jesus Christ. 8:1 says, “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria…”
  2. Now we see Phillip again, being driven from his home, from his family, from his people to the land of Samaria. And, what does he start doing? Vs. 4-5 “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word. Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.”
  3. Phillip’s world had just been completely shaken up, but he rose up to shine the light of Christ in a world that needed to hear it. Phillip lived for Jesus even when things were not comfortable.
  4. I’ve got to stop right here, this is where God has been convicting me over the past several weeks. I hate Lincolnton with a passion. I spent most of my life growing up here and around here, trying everything I can to get away from this place and God decides to bring me back. Phillip was not happy where he was, Jew’s avoided Samaria at all costs, but Phillip went.

3)      Imagine what God could do in my life, in our lives if we just opened ourselves up to His power…

  1. Look at Vs. 6 “And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Phillip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. Four unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.”
  2. Maybe, just maybe, if we get out of ourselves, move past this survival Christianity, let God move us, and go all in- being salt and light, then God just may do the miraculous through us… just maybe. And think about what it would be like to look back after 50 years and see all of the great things that God did with your life. To see how many people God used you to lead to the cross. To see how much joy could be brought to a city, by you just being obedient to the call of God on your life.

Conclusion

What would happen in the city of Lincolnton, in your family, with your friends, if the 15 of us would go all in, in any time and place, to let God work in and through us? Could God change this city? Could God change your Family? Could God save your friends? I believe so… let’s see what God is going to do through us, if we let Him!

I want us to end with this simple song from our childhoods: listen to the words of this song…

This little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

Oh, this little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

This little light of mine

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

All around the neighborhood

I’m going to let it shine

All around the neighborhood

I’m going to let it shine

All around the neighborhood

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine

Hide it under a bushel? No!

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine.

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!

I’m going to let it shine

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!

I’m going to let it shine

Don’t let Satan [blow] it out!

I’m going to let it shine

Let it shine, all the time, let it shine

Going All In_ Week 1 “Living Life for a Cause”

Introduction

Meet Catherine Rhor- Founder of “Prison Entrepreneurship Program.” Catherine was making over $200,000 a year in business at age 27 when God called her to do something else. Check out this short video of her telling her story.

Meet Blake Mycoskie- Founder of the “Toms” shoes line that has donate over 400,000 shoes to children in need. In 2006 an American traveler, Blake Mycoskie, befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by caring TOMS customers. Watch this short video about a shoe drop in Argentina.

There is something that both Blake and Catherine have in common; they are living their life for a cause that they just can’t let go! They’ve been moved for a people group and God is using them to help men and women, boys and girls all around the world. They went all in for the cause, willing to give up everything for the cause.

If you are a believer, God has called you to a cause as well. We just finished a series about God’s purpose in creation. Now we are going to look at a few men and women in Scripture who went all in for God.

Tonight’s Purpose

Tonight I hope that God will open your eyes to the great cause that He has placed before you. Our one focus for tonight is this, “What does it mean to go all in?” I believe that the simple answer is to place all your trust in God in the moments that it really counts.

Life is filled with moments, good and bad, but moments to say the least. These moments are the ones that shape the very facet of our lives. These moments change who we are and lead us forward into uncharted territory. Tonight we are going to take the 1st step in finding trust in God when it really matters.

The Book of Daniel

Turn into your Bible to the book of Daniel, chapter 1. We will start here.

Daniel 1: 1-2

“During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The Lord gave him victory over King Jehoiakim of Judah and permitted him to take some of the sacred objects from the Temple of God. So Nebuchadnezzar took them back to the land of Babylonia and place them in the treasure-house of his god.”

God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take over Judah and take the sacred objects from the Temple. Nebuchadnezzar just symbolically took Judah’s God away from them.

Daniel 1:3-5

“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. ‘Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,’ he said. ‘Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.’ The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service.”

The men were taken from their families and placed into a glorified internship program for three years. They received the best food and drink the king had to offer during the preparation stage, before they were given royal service.

Daniel 6-7

“Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen, all from the tribe of Judah. The chief of staff renamed them with these Babylonian names:

Daniel was called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah was called Shadrach.

Mishael was called Meshach.

Azariah was called Abednego.”

Their names were stripped from them. Up to this point things may not seem that bad, they get fed well, chill in the palace, and get to read all day; but let’s not remember that they were taken from their homes, never to return, taken from their families, and stripped of their faith. The King is now stripping them of their given names. Let’s look very quickly at what their names meant.

1) Hananiah meant “The Lord is Gracious.”

Shadrach meant “Under Acu the moon god.”

2) Mishael meant “Who is like God.”

Meshach meant “Who is like Acu the moon god.”

3) Azariah meant “The Lord is my help and strength.”

Abednego meant “The servant of  Nebo” the second god of Babylon.

In the Jewish culture, having your named changed would be like stripping someone of their position in life.

I must stop here for a second…

Many of you have had you identity stolen in a very similar way. Low expectations, cruel people, and cultural norms have taken your Godly position away from you.

David no longer means “loved” but hated, Abigail no longer means “source of joy” but person of sorrow, Nathanial no longer means “given by God” but despised child.

My name was stripped from me as a child. Chris means “Christ-like.” I fell into the trap of not being very Christ-like when I was your age. I fell into the expectation of sexual immorality. With that, I did not seek the boldness of Christ for truth, but fell deep into self pity and low self-esteem, even though the God of the universe made me and called me by name. I felt worthless and hated by everyone, which in turn caused be to be worthless and not very liked.

God has called you by name and has given your life meaning and purpose! Please hear me when I say this: Do not listen to those people around you who seek to tear you down and belittle you! You are beautiful in the sight of God!

Back to the story…

God protected these four young men… Daniel 1:17

“God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meaning of visions and dreams.”

God protected them from the King’s brainwashing and delivered them into very high ranking in the King’s service. But the story is not over… Let’s jump ahead a couple of pages to chapter 3 starting in verse 1.

“King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”

The King called all of the important, representatives of the kingdom together to worship the golden idol. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have been part of these officials.

Daniel 3:4-7

“Then a herald shouted out, ‘People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! When you hear the sound of the instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.’ So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.”

So the King ordered everyone to worship the golden statue or they would be burned alive. What would you do?

Daniel 8-12

“But some of the astrologers went to the king and informed on the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, ‘Long live the king! You issued a decree requiring all the people to bow down and worship the gold statue when they hear the sound of the instruments. That decree also states that those who refuse to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews- Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- whom you have put in charge of the province of Babylon. They pay no attention to you, your majesty. They refuse to serve your gods and do not worship the gold statue you have set up.’”

Don’t you just hate tattle-tails!? I couldn’t stand those kids in elementary school. They would sit there and look around for someone breaking the rules and run to the teacher to tattle… That exactly what just went down… let’s see what the King’s response is…

Daniel 3:13-15

“Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, Nebuchadnezzar said to them, ‘Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue from my power?’”

The King was really angry! He called the three men into his throne room and interrogated them. By this point the three men are no longer in front of all the people outside worshiping the statue, so no one is there to see them but the King. So the King asks them again to worship the statue or die, but what they did surprised me. I mean, they are not in front of everyone anymore. No one would see them bow to the statue. They made their point to everyone… let’s look at their response to the Kings threats.

Daniel 3: 16-18

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, ‘O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, your majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, your majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.’”

Wow! They stuck it to him, if you ask me. They stood their ground because their faith was real. I noticed something about this passage that I really want to point out. 1st was they said “if we are thrown in” their faith was so strong even to the point of not believing that God would allow them to be thrown into the furnace. But after that they said “but even if he doesn’t [save us], we will never worship your gods…” Wow what a testimony! Their faith stood the challenge! They did not back down! They lived for the Cause! They lived for the moment that changed everything!

Ok, Ok… you may be thinking that nothing like that would happen here to me, but let me remind you of a little girl who died in a school shooting because she wouldn’t back down from her faith. Her faith was so real to her that she was willing to die for it.

The girls name was Rachel Scott and she was a student at Columbine High School. This was one of those moments that changed everything. Not just Rachel’s life but the way we do school in the US.

Rachel was staring down the barrel of a loaded hand gun and asked the question “Are you a believer in Jesus Christ?” She had the choice to back down and denounce her faith. I would have not judged her for it, I don’t believe that her church family would have, I don’t believe her now daughterless father would have, and most of all, I don’t believe that God would have been agree at her; but she held to the belief that Christ was the answer.

Rachel Scott died that day because she refused to reject the name of Jesus Christ in her life. Don’t hesitate to think that what happened to these 3 men in Daniel couldn’t happen to you!

Let’s look back at something before we close. Look back at verses 15 and 17…

Nebuchadnezzar asked a question, “But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?” The men responded with, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us.”

God is able no matter the situation. God works things out for good in all situations. For Catherine and Blake, God blessed them and started a ministry because of their faithfulness. For Rachel Scott, God still blessed her, but called her home because of her faithfulness and because of her story of faith has lead thousands to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Living for a cause will cost you, the road will be hard; but God be the glory! God has placed me here before you tonight to remind you, let you know, that He has made you with a purpose. That He loves you dearly. And that following Him will most definitely cost you something, but the reward that comes from following Him will be like no other. The reward will be great. The reward is Him!

I love you all and have been in deep prayer for revival to break loose, for a movement inspired by God Himself to begin in this city. Movements happen among people but are started by God. For some of you I have attempted to spur you along in the movement for Christ. For some of you, I believe that God has been calling you to something great for a long time and you have not been listening. For some of you I believe you are at the point of “what’s next Jesus?” and desire to run the race. If you are ready to do some Hard things for Christ and rebel against some low expectations then join me in starting a movement in our city! If not don’t get in the way, but be prepare to see God do the impossible!