If this is your first week here we are very thankful to see you and hope that you experience something helpful and encouraging to you on your own spiritual journey – wherever you might be on it. Some in here are just starting their journey with God. Some of you are long time followers of Jesus. Some of you aren’t sure God exists. It’s all good. Wherever you are – Proceed at your own pace.
We believe that Jesus is the savior of the world – the son of God – the only hope for mankind. And so just so you know where we stand – we believe Jesus was telling us the truth all the time – and he said that he was the way the truth and the life. So we want you to place your faith in Jesus – but we will not coerce or manipulate you and we will not judge you.
We’ve always found that people who don’t believe in God or Jesus have good reasons why they don’t – and so even if we aren’t completely on the same page you will be treated with respect and dignity here by the people seated around you – the church.
This morning we are in our second week of a series we are calling “Far More”. And it’s based on a great verse that we read about in one of the letters in the New Testament that says quite simply that
God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could ever ask or even imagine. Eph. 3:20
Now this verse is straight up wonderful. I mean this verse would be great if it said simply that God is Able. But then Paul kicks it up a notch. Ever eat wings and there is a chart for the hotness of the wings? Paul starts with the comfortable heat. e.
But then Paul kicks it up a notch. God is able to do all we could ask.
But then Paul goes from hot to sizzlin…. he kicks it up another notch… God is able to do beyond all we can ask. Whatever it is your are asking for? God is able to do it – able to do more than that even.
And now Paul bumps it up again to the blazing category God is able to do abundantly beyond all we could ask. Way more. Far more. He doubles the heat index. He can do far more, far more, then you can ask for.
And then Paul kicks it up by a factor of three…. He’s in the atomic hotness portion now! If these were wings they’d make you sign a waiver- God is able to do Exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we could ask for AND THEN! He adds the final kicking it up a notch.
God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond, all we could ask or even imagine. Eph 3:20
If you could put that verse in your mouth it would melt your mouth right off your face. it would just be a puddle on the floor. What else could Paul write or add to this description to get the point across?
Do you believe this? Right now in your life? Do you believe that God is able to do more than you can imagine? This verse was written to a group of believers who were questioning God’s plan for their lives. Paul was in prison when he wrote this. So maybe Paul’s prayer wasn’t to be freed from prison. Paul’s prayer was beyond a comfortable life. It was that God would be exhalted. That God would be made famous.
That people’s would come to know the goodness of God’s plan even in the middle of difficult times. And I don’t know what you are going through right now. Maybe you are enduring battles that are difficult.
The encouragement to you is that you might know that God is able – he really is – he is able to do more than you can imagine – he really is.
When we started Journey six years ago we prayed that God would do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we could imagine. And he has come through. Sitting in this room today are people all around whose lives are in the process of being transformed. Changed. And it’s truly wonderful to see God shaping and challenging and changing you. He really is able to do far more than we can imagine.
And this is our prayer for Journey church today. We continue to pray – Lord, please do far more in and through our church.
Last week we talked about God doing far more in our community through our church. We learned that God loves our community and his primary method of loving a community is to love it through his church.
Did you know that one time someone asked Jesus – Jesus this book here, it’s filled with a bunch of rules and commandments – which of all of these commandments is most important? This is from Matthew 22.
And Jesus said, I can summarize all of the Bible into two sentences. Five words. 1. Love God. Love your God with everything you’ve got. Don’t hold anything back. Love God full throttle. That’s the most important commandment. The second? Love your neighbor the same way. Who’s my neighbor?
Whoever you are close to… right now your neighbor is the person sitting in your row. When home, love the people who live closest to you. At work? Love the people you run into. On the road – love the person in the car behind you or in front of you. Yes even them!
We’ve been talking quite a bit this year about transformation. What is it exactly that God wants to transform us into? He wants to make us the most loving you that you can be.
The one defining characteristic of a follower of Jesus – according to Jesus – is love. A follower of Jesus is a loving person. John 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Love is the defining mark of a follower of Jesus. Love for God – love for people. Love for your neighbor – your spouse, your children, your parents. Love for the poor and the orphan and the hurting and the oppressed. Love for that person who annoys you, love for the one who hates you. Love for the one who curses you. Love for the one who hates you.
What should be the end goal for you here at Journey Church? Journey should be helping you become the most loving you that you can be. Because God loves this messed up world – and the way God expresses His love for this world is through his people – his church.
So in this series – this series is really about the church. And it’s about the church being agents of love in a love starved world.
Last week we discovered that God loves our community, and that the primary way that God expresses his love for a community is through his church. This week we are going to be talking about how God loves the world – and that the primary way that God loves our world is through the church. His people.
God loves the world. God So loves the world. And he always has. And he has always loved the world, through his chosen people.
In the Old Testament – His chosen people were the Israelites…
For you are a holy people, who belong to the LORD your God. Of all the people on earth, the LORD your God has chosen you to be his own special treasure.
See one of the misconceptions about God is that in the Old Testament God loved Israel – and only Israel. And then in the new testament God changed his mind and started telling his people to love all the nations of the world.
But chosen for what? Well we learn all the way back in Genesis – the first book of the bible –Genesis 18:18
For Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him.
See there is a misconception that God loved Israel and only Israel – but no – God has always loved the nations and his primary mode of blessing the nations was through his chosen people – and in the Old Testament that meant the Israelites.
So throughout the Old Testament we see that all the nations of the earth were in God’s sight all along. Check out the Psalms – The Psalms are filled with dozens of songs like this one expressing God’s desire to be known and worshipped by all nations…
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
So in the Old Testament we find God saying to Israel – you are my blessed people – you are my chosen people – you are my special envoys through which he intends to bless all the nations.
This is why, for instance, when Solomon built the temple – we find a place set within the temple that was built to accommodate God fearing people from all the nations with a place where they can worship.
And so when Solomon dedicates the Temple in Jerusalem – he prays for the non-jewish worshipper – 2 Chron 6
32 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands when they hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, 33 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do.
Solomon is asking God to be good to the nations – to all people who would come to worship the one true God. And indeed – we hear through the prophet Isaiah that he does indeed love the nations and desires to bless them through his people Israel and through the temple in Jerusalem.
People from all over the world travel to Jerusalem to worship God. They naturally go to the temple to pray. And built into the design there of the temple is an area where non-jewish people were allowed to worship – it was called the outer gates. It became known as the court of the gentiles. (Gentiles being anyone who was not Jewish)
They are only allowed into the outer gates. That’s their place to worship.
But by the time of Jesus – when Jesus goes to the temple in Matthew 21 this area had been turned into a market place where you could buy animals to sacrifice. It would be like trying to worship in here while people walk up and down the aisle shouting – “Peanuts! Get your peanuts here!” Popcorn. Get it while it’s hot!
So Jesus takes drives the people out of the temple. Why? Because they had stolen the only place where all the nations could worship God. And Jesus quotes a verse from Isaiah 56. My temple will be called a house of prayer – you’ve turned it into a den of thieves.
God has always loved the nations through his chosen people. In the Old Testament – his chosen people were the Jews. In the New Testament, it changes. God now loves the world through the Church.
1 Peter 2:9 NLT
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Well these words sound familiar, don’t they? Whereas Israel were the chosen people, now the chosen ones are all who will place their faith in Jesus. Collectively we are the church – that Jesus said he would build. And together we are God’s chosen people to demonstrate the love of God to a hurting world.
Now check this out – I want to show you how smart God is.
Because God set up this deal in the Old Testament where God fearing people from all nations came to Jerusalem for festivals to worship – this is what it meant. When Jesus was crucified? There were thousands and thousands of non-jewish people in the city celebrating Passover.
What happens at the end of passover? They go home. And what do they talk about? All that they saw and heard – including Jesus.
Can I show you a cool verse in the book of Acts? Acts 19: 1 Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers. 2“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them.
“No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
Now what does this mean? There were people in Ephesus that heard about Jesus and placed their faith in Jesus – before the Holy Spirit was received by the disciples in Acts 2. That means that most likely, a person from Ephesus was in Jerusalem to worship God – came across Jesus and his teaching and went back to Ephesus and people were believing in Jesus – before the official start of the church in Pentecost.
God had arranged that people from all the nations would travel to Jerusalem in order to hear the good news of Jesus. Who died in Jerusalem during the largest feast of the year.
Now another large feast was the feast of weeks – called Pentecost. It was the celebration of Moses receiving the ten commandments. It was 50 days after Passover. Again – people from all nations travel to Jerusalem – and this time, the Holy Spirit arrives and gives power to the 120 followers of Jesus at that time to be able to tell the good news to these people – and the miracle was that they heard it being preached to them in their native language.
The Holy Spirit enabled the believers to speak a different language – the language of those in the crowd. And this time it says thousands believed. And many went back to their home towns as followers of Jesus.
Check out this map – in Acts 2 it says that people from all of these nations heard the good news spoken to them in their native language.
Listen – there is a reason that christianity grew like crazy crazy fast – God had arranged it so that all the nations could hear and believe.
And so these christians – who are filled with the love of God – begin traveling. God’s chosen people – they are carrying with them two important things. Truth and Love. The Truth of Jesus – his work and word and wisdom – and they are carrying the love of God with them and they change the world. Because God loves the world.
And we are his chosen people – his chosen instruments of love and truth.
And so now two thousand years later the message of Jesus has traveled across the world and has at some point landed in your ears. And when we believe in Jesus we are folded into the alternative kingdom – the kingdom of love and grace. And we carry on the massage of love.
Six years ago when we started Journey Church we asked ourselves what role we will play in God’s ongoing work to bring the message and love of Jesus to all nations. And we started praying for partners – and we started asking God to give us the countries in which to work.
And we were very specific. We prayed that God would send us to the countries that were in the worst shape. We wanted to be a church that reached into the hellholes of the world.
And in February of 2010 there was a terrible earthquake in Port au Prince Haiti and more than 160 thousand people died. And as soon as they allowed relief workers into the Country Jim Warren was on a plane working with a relief agency on our behalf.
And it was there that Jim met the great people from Much Ministries – who were doing amazing work among the poorest of the poor in a little town called Jubilee. And Journey adopted Haiti and we prayed for Jubilee and some of our people went on trips – more than 60 of our folks went there to care for people – some never came back – Scott Peters is here today preparing to go back and live there and serve and care for the people there…
And the ministries that we support in Jubilee include a school, and medical clinic, an orphanage. We feed the kids at school each day for lunch. We feed the kids in the orphanage all their meals.
Why do we do this? Because God loves the nations and so do we and we want to do out part. We said from the very beginning of Journey that we can never go wrong caring for the poor and the needy and the widow and the orphan. Never go wrong caring for them.
And then we were contacted a year later by Ian Vickers who asked us if we wanted to get involved in this project in Mali Africa – to save the lives of a people were one in 5 were not making it to age five. When we started Journey in 2009 the infant mortality rate was that about 180 out of a thousand children never lived to see their fifth birthday. And now just 6 years later – it’s almost down to 1 in ten. It’s about 105 out of a thousand. That’s significant improvement in that country!
Why is it improving? Well, there are alot factors – but YOU are playing a role in that, you know! Why do we care about the Malians? Why have you supported these medical projects? Because you love them.
Can I share something with you about Journey Church? Would you believe that in the past five years you all have given more than $330,000 to our work in Haiti and Mali alone? Will you give a cheer for that? God is at work in this place. He really is.
God loves Malians and He loves the people of Haiti. And his love flows through the local church. It flows from here out the doors into our community. And it flows out of our community into the most difficult places on earth. God loves the nations – and as long as we are a church we will love Mali and Haiti and anywhere else God decides for us to love. If we feel the Holy Spirit leading us, we will act.
Now let me ask you to do me a favor. Last week we announced that we are beginning a project to raise money to build a church – a permanent home for Journey in our community. We are praying that God will raise up enough money in the next three years to be able to buy enough land to build upon. We think it will take ten acres. We think it will cost $750,000 to buy the land and prepare it to be built on.
And I am asking you to help. And I want you to imagine with me Journey through the years to come being able to do far more in these difficult places on earth. I want you to imagine with me a church that is caring for the poor and the needy for generations to come in this town. A church that is sending young people on missions trips around the world to broaden their vision of the world and to give them a heart for the poor and needy around them.
What can God do in a Journey Church that has established its roots in the community by building it’s own facility. What could Journey do by reaching more people in this town that manifests the love of God around the world?
What can God do through us yet? He’s not done. He’s just beginning you know.
Now listen, I’m going to break this room today into two groups. there are visitors and first time or second time guests and you are in the ‘We are checking this church out” mode. And none of what I am about to say applies to you. Though I hope you listen carefully because if you decide Journey is the place for you then you will want to know how we talk about these things.
The second group is people who call Journey your home. I am speaking to you directly and I am asking you to participate in this building project. At some level. Any level. We completely understand that budgets are tight. But I am asking for one hundred percent participation. I want you to experience the joy the day we walk into a new building – I want you to rejoice and be able to say I did my part. There are no bit parts. All the parts come together.
Would you please participate in this exciting adventure – as God leads you. As God gives you the faith to believe He can provide for you – I am asking you to come to church on May 3rd, ready with a number in mind – a number that says – God willing, we can give this much toward the project. And I’d ask you to consider giving above what you already give.
Why above? Well it doesn’t make sense for us to stop feeding the orphans in order to build a building. Why bother? We must not stop being us. So our greatest fear is that we will be excited about the building and start putting our offerings into a building and then one day we have thousands of dollars in the bank but no money to feed our kids in haiti. We just can’t do that. You don;t want that church and neither do we.
So – I’m just asking you to pray about it – talk it over in your families or with your friends to see what God would lead you to pledge.
I’m telling you I am as excited right now about May 3rd as I was on March 1st 2009 when we had our first official Sunday service. I mean six years ago we weren’t sure – we were asking what if no one shows up?
And there’s a small part of me that fears – what if my church – see I know you guys are a bunch of rebels. Rebels WITH a cause – but I know as soon as I ask you to please put a number on a page you are like, I don’t want no telling me what to do!” I get that – it’s one of the things I love about you – but it makes me afraid that on may 3rd we will collect these cards and we will tally up the totals and it will be like, the grand total is $87.14 and some chewing gum – used.
Don’t mess with me like that people! God’s chosen people – you are. Instruments of God’s love -you are. Caring and giving and generous and a little bit goofy, you are. A whole lot awesome. And I love this church, man. Love it!
Let’s together do our part- cheerfully – not under compulsion, and see what God does for us in the future. You do whatever you can do – and we’ll see how God shows up – remember – he is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or even imagine.