Today is our 7 year anniversary! Happy Birthday Journey Church! Seven years ago we met for our first official service at Thomas Elementary. We looked at our attendance for that first week and saw we had 120 people at our very first service. And things went so well that the next week, we had 106 people there!
Last week we had a little more than 500 people here at Journey. Which means basically that every week we add one more person to our church. So if this is your first time here today congratulations. You’re it. And you can never leave! At the current rate of growth we are predicting that by the year 175,000ad, Every person on earth will call Journey Church their home church. So we have that going for us.
Of course, the funny thing about churches is that it’s very difficult to measure the impact of a church. You can’t measure whether a church is effective just by counting people who walk in.
And really, the impact of a church ought to be measured by how many lives are being changed – transformed – reshaped and restarted. And how do you measure the inward change of a person’s life? How do you measure whether someone is 20% more loving. More kind. Less angry?
You really can’t. So we leave those kinds of things up to God, and instead I am left with telling you more people are in the room than seven years ago. And it really doesn’t matter one bit unless you are being challenged and changed from the inside out. And we pray that is the case for you.
In two weeks we are going to have a baptism here in the service. Two weeks – if you would like to be baptized, then mark your card – and baptism is something we do when we want the world to know that, in fact he has changed me – I am different because of my faith, and I want to let others know. And so if you have never been baptized as an adult – I’d encourage you to be baptized.
Well I was as a child. Well, so was I. I was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church. And it was a very special moment for my parents. And that was the last time I saw the inside of a church until I started going to church as a middle schooler with my mom.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and made a deal with God that if she got out of the hospital alive she would go to church. And she was true to her word and I tagged along and never left, because I discovered the real Jesus. And He made sense of my existence. And then as a high school senior I was baptized by a little old man who had the dickens of a time getting me up out of the pool. I was like, feels like I’ve been down here for a while… but eventually I resurfaced!
Clean and smiling and the church was laughing and it was all good because it was a celebration. From a life of deadness to a life of life. I was a new creation.
A word of thanks through prayer…
Okay, Today we are wrapping up a series we began in January. We started by seeing God as God wants us to see him. And in case you missed that part of it – I’ll catch you up. Feel free to read what you missed.
How we view God is important. And then we shifted to asking, how does God see us? Can we see ourselves, the way God sees us? And so two weeks ago Jan Thompson taught us that God sees us as beloved. And then last week we discussed that God sees us as new. And we looked at a passage in 2 Corinthians 5. And we are going to return back to that passage again today.
And 2 Corinthians, is the second letter that Paul wrote to followers of Christ who lived in Corinth. So we find it in the New Testament, which, if you were to open up a bible, you’d see it’s broken up into two sections. The Old Testament is God’s dealing with humankind before Jesus was born, and he dealt with us primarily through the nation of Israel.
The New Testament is the record of God dealing with humanity from the birth of Jesus to today.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
We are ambassadors of Jesus. That’s how God views us. We who have decided to trust Jesus with everything we’ve got, become in turn, His Ambassadors.
When I was a kid we had a television and a remote control. Now this is a picture of what your remote control might look like today. Very complex.
Now let me show you a picture of the remote control in my house when I was a kid. Let me show you a picture of the remote control. That’s right kids. I was the remote control.
Which wasn’t too bad a deal, because we only had two channels. Philip – see what’s on channel 6. Or see what’s on channel 3. NBC and CBS. And we had to walk a mile uphill both ways to change it. Coincidentally, since we didn’t have a DVR what would happen was my mom would say, call me when my show was on.
My mom had one show and the world had to stop when it came on – and my job at the tender preschool age was to let her know when it came on. And I knew it was on when I saw and heard this…. (Days of our Lives hour glass and sand)
This morning I want to talk about the days of your life. Like sand through an hour glass, so are the days of your life.
And with all of my heart, I want you to know that the days of your life matter. Your life is important. You were created to count.
You are an ambassador of the King of the Universe. Which means that wherever you are in your life today – whatever role you are playing, wherever God has asked you to live your life – it is more than what you think. You are an ambassador -God has sent you there because he needs you there, until the time comes when the King says, now I need you over here.
Wherever you are, in whatever role you are playing, at work, in your neighborhood, – in your family – you are there because God loves the people in your world so much, that he sent his one and only you, into that world, in order for people to simply be around you, as a representative of Jesus himself.
God so loved the world, that he sent you to your work, into your family, into your neighborhood – God so loved your world that he sent you to be there as an ambassador of the King.
Your life counts. The days of your life count for far more than you think. You are not trading in your hours for money to buy food. That’s a byproduct of the true purpose of your life. Which is to be an ambassador of the most loving, most compassionate, most respectful and dignified, being in the universe.
He has chosen you. The days of your life count. You are an ambassador of Jesus.
What’s an ambassador? A representative, right? And one of their primary jobs is speaking on behalf of the other person.
And so here’s the outline for our talk this morning, for those of you keeping track at home. We are first going to ask – what is the message we deliver on behalf of Jesus? And we see there are two parts to the message.
Then we are going to ask How should we go about delivering this message?
So let’s jump into – what is the message from Jesus that we are supposed to be delivering to others? This is hugely important to get right. What is the message Jesus wants us to tell people?
Because it’s NOT this – it’s not – behave or else! Be good! Be nice! That is NOT the message that Jesus has given us to tell others. It’s NOT even- go to church. Although followers of Jesus will want to be part of a church. It’s not even – Obey the ten commandments.
What is the good news we are to share? It’s not – pray a prayer and your sins will be forgiven and when you die God will not be able to keep you out of heaven. And in the meantime, good luck in this life – being marooned until death and what not. That’s not the message.
Eternal life is part of the message but eternal life starts now. Jesus came to bring us life, abundant life, life that starts today. If you have placed your faith in Jesus then your eternal life has already started. Congratulations!
So then, what is this message that we carry with us? I’ll break it into two sections.
The first section? Our fundamental message is this – God is willing to run (not ruin) your life.
God is willing to run your life for you. Not a church, by the way. Don’t ever let a church run your life. If you let a church run your life it’s likely to ruin it. But not God. Let God run it. Why? Because he knows best how it ought to run. So let him run it.
God is extending an invitation to us – he will gladly, cheerfully, joyfully and effectively govern/superintend/administrate/operate any willing person’s life.
You ever have a friend who is really good at something that you aren’t so good at? Jody has this uncle – Greg – who loves to paint. Loves to paint. And he’s great at it. And so – if we are painting inside of our house, and we don’t let Greg know about it – He would genuinely feel like, you guys know I love to do this stuff, right? Why wouldn’t you let me do this for you?
What a friend right? Well God’s that kind of friend. Except he is the expert on taking people lives and giving them purpose and meaning and significance. He’s awesome at taking people and making sense out of their life, and folding them into the drama of the universe today.
Jesus came to announce that God’s rule is wildly available to all. Whosoever will may come to Jesus. And be reconciled to God. What is reconciliation? It is the restoration of friendly relations. We are bringing people back into a relationship with God.
He is totally willing at any time to come alongside you as a friend and take over the governing of the days of your life.
And maybe that sounds scary, but you have to remember what kind of person God is… All loving. All powerful. And always nearby – in times of trouble and times of plenty. This all good, and all loving God promises to never leave us.
And this invitation is extended to you right now. God will be your good shepherd. God wants to be your good shepherd. It delights him to fend for you. To care for you. To love on you. He loves it.
But he will not force himself on anyone. The invitation is open to people everywhere.
Now can I tell you that there are people in your workplace, neighborhood, family and friend circles that do not know this message?
Most people know the message that Jesus died on the cross. And further, many people know that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins. Not enough understand that Jesus died on the cross for even more than that… He came to bring us life right now – Abundant, joyful and purposeful life. He came to make sense of the days of our life.
This is the message that we ambassadors are to be sharing. Jesus came to make sense of our life. He came to bring meaning and purpose and to give us a significant life.
See when we allow God to run our lives he folds us into the ongoing drama of life within the universe we currently live in. He gives us a speaking role in the production that we call life on earth.
Jesus extends an invitation – when we are ready, he will gladly run, not ruin, our lives. He wants us to trust him with all we’ve got. – our family, our finances, or future, our fears – give them all to him and he will, in turn, run our life with purpose and grace.
And the days of our lives will count in ways we never imagined possible.
God’s rule is available to all. And this is part of the message that we ambassador’s are sharing.
The other half of the message is God’s righteousness is available to all who want it. What is God’s righteousness? It’s God’s rightness. The right way that Jesus lived his life, that kind of life is available to us. Jesus lived his life right. And that rightness is available to us.
Jesus was an amazing individual. He loved people effortlessly. He forgave people naturally. He was patient and kind. He knew when to make a stand. He stood against injustice. He stood up for those being oppressed. But he always displayed grace under pressure.
He was the kind of person who knew when to make a big deal of something and when to just let it go. He lived flowed with love and goodness and godliness.
Through faith, the right kind of life is available to us, right now.
One of the hardest things in life is changing the kind of person we are. God is able to change the inside of you – to transform us into being able to live the same kind of life Jesus led.
Right now and for some time there have been theme meme’s that start Keep Calm and… and you can fill it in however you’d like. I think the original was “Keep Calm and Carry on.” But then the internet began to morph it into things like, Keep Calm and eat a donut. and there’s the most awesome- Keep calm and get to the Choppa. Of course the internet has a way of turning things a little darker. Keep calm and cry quietly in the shower – or Keep calm and pretend everything is okay.
And this is actually how many people live – life feels out of control for them. They are having a difficult time making sense of their existence. But Jesus brings purpose and meaning to the days of our lives. And he brings the ability to change us on the inside so we can deal with the difficulties of life.
Did you know that Jesus actually is able to help us remain calm in life’s most difficult situations? Jesus actually is able to bring about the internal change needed inside of us to become the kind of person who
does not need to resort to worry,
who doesn’t explode in anger if we don’t get our way.
He can make us thankful, joyful people even in the midst of hardship and difficulty?
He can make us the kind of person through which, love flows. Through which healing comes to others. We become the kind of people that God can use as ambassadors – little Christ’s.
That’s what the term Christian means, by the way. It was first used as a derogatory put down. Look at all these little Jesus’ running around here. All these little Christs. Loving on people. Treating everyone as if they are important and worth loving.
And this brings us back to the issue of the significance of your life in Christ. You were saved for a purpose. You were called to be a blessing to others. And so – do you know what is the same about your life and all the other lives in this room?
You are living your life surrounded by people. It doesn’t matter if you work in an office or a lumber yard. It doesn’t matter if you live in a home in Gretna or you live in a hut in Mali, Africa. Wherever you are, there are people in your life.
And those people count to God. Those people matter to him. Yes even that guy that is difficult to love. And God in his wisdom, has looked into that place where you live and work, and long ago he said, whom shall I send into that family, workplace, neighborhood, in order that there might be someone representing God.
And God looked down and said, your it. God created you, and placed you in this time and place in the universe, with the purpose of being a source of Godly love and compassion. The Days of Your Life – they count for far more than you imagine.
Your life, the manner in which you respond to adversity, the way that you don’t return evil for evil, in the way you use your words to build up instead of tearing down, your life matters. Right where you are.
And it just might be that the day comes when you actually get to verbalize to another human being the reason for you being you. You might actually get the opportunity to share with someone else the importance of your faith in Jesus. And if that day comes, How are we going to share this message of Jesus?
We’ve covered What the message is. God’s rule and righteousness are available to all through faith in Jesus.
How are we going to verbalize it? The Bible encourages us to think about how we’d respond. 1 Peter 3:15 And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
So how do we talk about our faith? Can I implore you to talk about your faith as normal and natural as possible?
See most people have a freak radar. It’s scanning the room looking for the weirdos. Especailly religious weirdos. You don’t want to turn into some television evangelist. Let me tell you the holy Ghost has come into my heart and I’m new, Praise Jesus.
Unless that’s how you normally talk, don’t slip into weird religious person. You be you.
And it’s okay to say something about church – see at least here in America church isn’t a weird concept. Many people have some kind of experience with a church. It’s okay to say something like, You know what, I’ve been going to this church recently that I am really enjoying. (It’s okay to lie if you have to)
Now you and I know that God is the one making the changes in you. You and I know it’s not about going to church. But if you say to someone – I’ve been going to church recently – not unusual – you aren’t a freak yet. No one will be shocked by that statement. – But when you say – and I really enjoy it? Well now that might intrigue some people.
I go to a church for people who don’t like church and it’s kind of restarted me in my faith.
I can’t tell you how many times I told people that we started a church for people who don’t like church and the immediate response is – I’d go to that church. Great. We meet at the middle school. Come with me – I think you’ll like it.
What have you done? You are opening a door with your friend and they can open it as far as they want.
See – here’s the deal. God is working on the hearts of every person you know. God is always at work in every person you meet. And sometimes there is within someone a desire to seek and know God. People are spiritual – and many people are ready right now to begin their own spiritual journey.
Do you know what keeps them from taking that step? Often times it’s churches.
Churches are scary. What’s on the other side of those doors? What’s going on in there? Do you remember the first time you visited Journey? What am I walking into?
You might be a long time follower of Jesus and it’s awkward walking into a church for the first time. Imagine how awkward it feels to walk into church perhaps for the very first time as an adult.
So when you share that you attend a kind of church for people who don’t like church – and your friend says I’d go to that church – you can say – great. We started it for you, I’d love to hear your impressions. If you don’t like it, I’d love to learn why.
Again, it’s not about church, it’s about Jesus. And you know, it’s a good idea to be able to know how to share what you believe about your faith. But make it natural and normal. we are not trying to indoctrinate someone. We are simply sharing what God is doing in us.
We are ambassadors of Jesus. And we have a message to share about Jesus. And the message is that the rule and righteousness of Jesus is available to all – available upon request.
For God so loved your world, that he sent his one and only you, as His ambassador. His representative. His salt and light. The days of our life – are more than sand in an hourglass. We have a divine purpose and plan. We were built to count.