Good morning my Name is Phil Human and I’m the lead pastor here at Journey Church. It’s an exciting morning for us here at Journey and if this is your first time here today I’m glad you can be a part of it. Wherever you might find yourself on your spiritual journey – there is a place for you here. Seated around you are some people who have been following Jesus most of their lives. There are others in here who are just beginning. Still others are restarting after a long hiatus.
There are also those of you here who perhaps aren’t sure God exists. Or you aren’t sure Jesus is who he says he is. Or… you have been burned by a church in the past and you are very wary – right? You are on high alert. You are here but you just keep waiting for the shoe to drop and to discover that Journey is just like the church that injured you last time…
We get that. We understand. We know that for many people there are genuine barriers to faith. And so to be very clear – we want to convince you that Jesus is the son of God. that he really died on a cross. And that on that cross he carried on himself all the sins of mankind. And that he was really buried and three days later he rose again. And we believe it. And if it’s true, then the deal is that you should believe everything Jesus taught as well.
We want you to believe that but we invite you to proceed at a comfortable pace. You need not pretend here. We practice the indiscriminate acceptance of all people here – and we know that God changes us as we are ready to be changed.
I want to start this morning by talking about this story I came across this week about this old wrecked fortress in Israel. It was left over from the crusade period and sat abandoned for 800 years – like some kind of tourist attraction – well, a couple of years ago someone was digging in the dirt around here and they came across this jar – broken jar – and it looked like it was filled with sand – until they started to sift through the sand and they discovered that the jar was filled with gold coins. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of gold coins – sitting in this broken old jar.
For 800 years, there has been this treasure in this broken jar – waiting to be found.
Can you imagine finding a buried treasure in your yard? I mean I get excited when I find a dollar bill in the dryer! I get all Golum! I look around to see if anyone sees it! My precious! I found a dollar! Finders keepers! I’m so happy!
Did you know that the Bible says that this picture is really a picture of you? The Bible says that you and I – or I should clarify – all who have made that decision to become followers of Jesus – the Bible says in the book of 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (NIV)
What is the jar of clay that Paul is talking about? It’s our bodies. But we are far more than our bodies, right? The real treasure lies inside of us. The real you is invisible. You are so much more than the body. Thank goodness. Because the body is frail – it’s like a clay jar. It might look great but it can be easily damaged. All it takes is a sneeze to bring it down. All it takes is pollen and your body goes to pieces.
The body is like a clay jar – but it’s not unimportant. It houses the real you – the soul.
Now I’m reaching back a few months ago to our series on soul keeping, but if you need a refresher – you have a soul. It is made up of parts. Your soul has a will. The will chooses things. It says yes or no. But the will is weak and is often bullied by the other parts of the soul. For instance, you have the mind. The mind is comprised of thoughts and feelings. And sometiems they act like an angry mob that demands attention and wants it’s way. We also have a body and the body is part of the soul. And we said that the body is like a caveman – me want me take! So you soul – your will, your mind, your body – together as a unit, that’s the real you. And here’s why I bring this up – We are in our last week of a four week series we are calling Far More – based on the verse we read in Ephesians 3:20 that says God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or even imagine. And we’ve been applying it to our church.
Three weeks ago we talked about the fact that God loves our community. And that God wants to do Far More in our community through our church. God’s chosen instrument to demonstrate his love for a community is his church. And so we’ve celebrated how God has used Journey to be a blessing to our community and we are excited about the possibility of Journey being a blessing to Gretna for many generations to come.
Two weeks ago we talked about the fact that God loves the world. And that God wants to do Far More in our world through Journey Church. God’s chosen instrument to demonstrate his love for all nations has always been his chosen people. In the Old Testament that was Israel. IN the New Testament his chosen people is his church. And we have a role to play in bringing the Hope of Jesus to the nations.
And we talked about our role being called to care for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the needy, overlooked, forgotten – and specifically we are doing that in the countries of Mali and Haiti. And we look forward to working with these countries for generations to come.
Last week we talked about the fact that God loves your family. And that God wants to do Far More in your family through Journey Church.
Many of you are here today because of your kids. You wanted your kids to have some religious training. You did not know at the time that God was using your kids to get to you. But you know now, right? So as we talk about a future building for Journey to move into – we keep the family in mind. Not just our families who are already here. But the families who are not yet in church but maybe this week will be the week they decide to include God in their kids life. We want God to do Far More in the lives of families in our community for generations to come.
Today I want to bring this down to as personal a level as I can. I want to remind you that God wants to do Far More in you. You are a work in progress. You are not perfect and you will not ever be this side of eternity – However – God is working in you and changing you. And we believe God wants to do far more in and through you yet.
So let’s go back to 2 Corinthians and back up a few verses, back to chapter 3. And let’s work through this passage today keeping in mind that God wants to do far more in you.
2 Corinthians 3:14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.
Paul explains that all of us were born with a veil covering God from our sight. A veil that covered up the true understanding of who God is and what he is like.
See, you and I got a raw deal when we were born. We got a bum deal. See, we were born into a kingdom by default. When we were born we were automatically placed into the Kingdom of this world. It’s also known as the kingdom of darkness.
This world is the world we live in gang. It’s the kingdom of Dog eat Dog. The kingdom of every man for himself. The kingdom of survival of the fittest – eat or be eaten, lookout for numero uno. It’s the I did it My way Kingdom.
And here’s the deal – it’s possible to live your entire life in this kingdom and not know there is an alternative Kingdom available. It’s even possible to live in this kingdom and know that there is a Jesus and know that he talked about an alternative kingdom and yet – if you are firmly entrenched in the kingdom of this world, it makes no sense to you.
There may be some in here who not long ago thought to yourself I will never be a christian. I could never be a follower of Jesus. It’s because the truth was covered with a veil. It didn’t make sense to you. But then God started working on you – drawing you in. And you got to the point where you were ready to place your trust in Jesus – ou believed in Him and took that step across the line of faith. What happened? Paul describes that next.
16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
So into this kingdom of darkness strolls Jesus. God with flesh on. And He announces in John 18 that there is an alternative Kingdom. The Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of Heaven. There is a different kingdom and Jesus announces that he has come to make this kingdom available to all.
Entrance into the kingdom of heaven was not made on the basis of how good you were – it was made available on the basis of how good God was – and so Jesus throws open the gates to this right now kingdom and says – whosoever will, may come. Paul says – once you begin to trust Jesus to run your life – you will begin tos ee things – not just differently – but the way they really are! For instance – you realize that within the kingdom of heaven I don’t need to fend for myself. He will take care of me. He will lead and direct me. And even when I walk through the valley of death – God is with me all along and he is leading. And I can trust him. And once we realize that we have no reason to fear anything anymore – not even death itself – well now we have freedom.
See – this is an important distinction – many people don’t want to become a follower of Jesus because they think Jesus brings restrictions. He’ll cramp my style. But the reality is that in the kingdom of Heaven there is freedom.
18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
This is an incredibly important verse. It is the goal of our faith journey. When we say that God wants to do Far More in you – this is what we are talking about. Transformation is the goal of our walk with Jesus. God is radically transforming us – he is restoring radical goodness to our soul. What does that look like? Right now I want to give you the freedom right now to begin to imagine what your transformed life might look like. Do you have a vision for what your life would look like as it is being changed more and more into His glorious image? What would it look like for God to transform the way you think?
What if, when you let your mind wander where it wants to go – it wanders to things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Imagine if your thoughts would naturally and easily think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure and lovely. Imagine God transforming your thinking so much that when your head pops off the pillow at 3am you are thinking about how since God is your shepherd you really lack nothing – that since God knows what he is doing I have no need to worry or fear and then you smile and go back to sleep. Imagine your thought life so transformed into the mind of Jesus that you don’t daydream about how great it would be to get back at that person who wronged you – or how to make her pay! Or how to exact revenge. We don’t daydream about what we’d really like to say to so and so. See most of us spend so much energy entertaining these fantasy segments in our heads – and then I’d say Oh yeah, well blankety blank blank – and then he’ll say, well your stupid, and then I’d say your momma and everyone in the office will say Oh Snap! You just got busted! And then they would laugh put me on their shoulders…
Imagine our mind so transformed that – it’s not just that we recognize and force ourselves to stop thinking that way – rather our thinking is transformed to the point where such thoughts are just foreign to us.
Imagine God transforming your feelings. Many live as complete slaves to their feelings. Many people believe in their heart of hearts that their feelings must be satisfied. Imagine Jesus so transforming your feelings that you no longer need to let your feelings have their way with you. Your feelings do not need to be fulfilled. Imagine God transforming us to the point where our feelings are not hurt so easily. We have grown to the point where we no longer pout when we don’t get our way. It’s time to grow out of the pout. A person whose feelings are in control – they mope. Imagine God transforming us to the point where we realize that it’s okay that I not get my way. I don’t need to turn into a four year old on the inside. I can live a life that is undisturbed when I don’t get my own way.
Imagine God changing us to the point where our trust in God is strong enough that our lives are not buffeted by unfavorable circumstances. Our boat is not easily rocked because we know that the Lord is my shepherd and I lack nothing. Imagine our thoughts and feelings being so fixed on God that we no longer are derailed by the opinions of others. We are no longer consumed with the thought, “I wonder what they think of me.” Instead we are freed from all of that nonsense. We are freed to become us.
Imagine being changed on the inside so much that I no longer desire to promote myself, to protect or managing my image.
Imagine being transformed in our thinking to the point where the thought of lusting after another person is uninteresting and even ridiculous.
Imagine a life so trusting in God’s presence and goodness that worry and anxiety is foreign and silly.
Imagine God doing far more in you as he transforms and frees us from the inside out.
2 Cor 4 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.
Our souls rest in the knowledge that God knows what he is doing. And so we don’t give up. We don’t rely on underhanded methods to get our way. We are authentic and honest and live without pretense. We are not duplicitious. We are not two faced. We are not hypocrites. We are not pretenders. We are who we are in Jesus.
5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.
We serve people willingly and with joy – not out of compulsion – not begrudgingly – but joyfully for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
And the result of this transformation is that we become light in a world full of darkness. We reflect the light of Jesus.
7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
God wants to do far more in us. Far more in us than we can even ask or imagine. Exceedingly abundantly beyond… And he is able.
Now this brings me to this point. The last three weeks I’ve ben asking you to pray and discuss and think about what your family can do to help us prepare to move out of this building and into a permanent home of our own. And you might be asking – Phil – How can a church building help me personally become transformed into the image of God? And the answer is – probably not much. God doesn’t need a building to transform you. We need a building though, if we are going to continue to proclaim the message as a church. We cannot stay in a school forever. The school has told us that. And they are patient. But we need to prepare.
But this is important and I want you to hear it. The building itself is just a jar. It’s just a vessel. The treasure is the people inside it. You are the treasure. You are the church. You are God’s treasured possession. The treasure is Jesus inside of you – that’s the hope of glory. So each of you are a treasure carrying inside of you a treasure. You are treasure squared. The point is that the building is not the treasure. The building is a fragile clay pot. You will always be Journey Church. Not some building in a corn field.
And so even as we embark on this exciting journey of raising money for a future home – I want us to make sure we remember that the building is just a building. It’s a vessel to help us continue to fulfill our mission of reaching people who right now today are home and who have not given God a second of their thoughts in years – but listen – God can’t get them off his mind.
And so we are doing this building project – not for the comfort of Journey Church attenders. We are doing this so that our friends and family and co-workers who think that God might as well be dead – will someday have the opportunity to hear about an alternative kingdom – the kingdom of light – the kingdom of love – the kingdom of heaven. Now by now you’ve seen that we’ve placed some cards in your bulletin. And I have to be honest – I think that we might have used too small a font. I only say that because I can’t read a single thing on this card.
I think what the card says is – how much over the next three years do you think you might be able to pledge to help move our project forward. All you need to know is this – if you can put your name on it – and if you are ready and willing to participate in this endeavor – will you put a number on it. If you don’t want to fill out anything else – do those two things.
Now I want you to stop for a moment and listen to every word that is flowing from my ruby red lips.
- This is not for our guests. If you are new to Journey, please know this is for our regular attenders.
- There is no obligation this is not a contract this is not a bill this is not a contest – none of this will be made public or made available. We will not be chasing you down to ask you about it.
- So what is this? Quite simply it helps us plan. It helps us to keep our plans within the realm of reality. It’s a pace setter – helps us know whether or not we are on track.
- Now let me say that the number I care about most is NOT the total amount – the number I care about most is how many of our regular attending families are participating. How many are buying into the future of our church.
Now here’s the deal – sometimes families say well, since we aren’t planning on giving a large amount let’s not pledge anything and whatever we give will be bonus to their plans right?
Well, please don’t do that. I really want you to participate – and I don’t care of the number is great or small. The truth of the matter is that there are some who will be able to give large amounts – but projects like these are carried across the finish line by large amounts of regular gifts. Your pledge counts. Even is it’s a number you wish could be larger. Jody and I filled one of these out already – and I will be honest I wished so much that it could be larger than it was. But we looked at our budget and what we thought would be a responsible number based on our budget. And I hope you are doing the same thing.
So this is a no judgment zone. If all you can write is $5 write that number down and participate. Now what I’d ask you to do is to fill that card out and as you leave the service today – you can drop the card into one of the offering baskets – and we will tally it all up and we will get the word out on Facebook and our website – the plan is to have it all out there by Tuesday at the latest –
And now I want to share some news that should be a huge encouragement – see the goal that we have is to raise $750,000 over the course of the next three years. Well I’ve met with some of our key leaders, our elders, our staff and I asked them if they wouldn’t mind pledging a little early in order to be an encouragement to us today. Others knew they were not going to be able to be here today but they wanted to be included and so they mailed in their pledges early knowing they wouldn’t be able to be here today. And so here’s the deal – so far already – we’ve had $575,000 of the project pledged. Isn’t that encouraging. We are on our way. And anything you can help with will get us there more quickly. And if it happens that we g over this amount we will put it right into the fund that will put a box on top of the land.
So that’s cool stuff. Let’s pray – let’s worship. ON the way out your can do whatever God has led you to do – and we will celebrate whatever it is God is doing. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all we can ask or imagine!