Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 6)

“Go in Love to Grow Closer to Jesus in Every Season of Life!”

Matthew 22:37-40.
 
Pastor Jerry is going to share from his heart.  The content has already been touched on in his last letter which is below.  He wants to dive deeper as he shares with us and prepares us for his departure on his sabbatical.
 
Pastor Jerry’s 6th Letter:
 

Dear First Baptist Church Family, It is with great expectation of what God is doing in us as members of the Body of Christ, and will do in and through us at FBC, that I send you this letter one week out from departing on my 3-month Sabbatical. The theme word for this time of Sabbath rest is GROW! Over the last year, you have heard me teaching on our mission and vision, our faith and values, our 7 big words and our 7:1 Initiative. All of this has been in preparation for fulfilling the 2020 Vision Initiative and being strategically prepared to enter 2020 on mission for Jesus. As I prepare to leave you for this prolonged time of Sabbath rest, I have no new word or teaching for you because I have already told you everything that is necessary for our fellowship at FBC to mature in Christ and become His Church. I only ask you to do this one thing: GROW! Grow in these areas:

  • Our mission: transforming stories through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Our vision: we desire to see communities thriving to the glory of God!
  • The 7 Big Words designed to unite us on what it means to be His Church: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO!
  • The “7:1 Initiative” to help you grow personally. Research shows that people feel a church is “theirs” when they have 7 people they are in relationship with and have 1 place to serve where they can help make a difference. To that end, I invite you to take part and grow with at least 7 other people and find 1 place to serve. God designed you for this!
  • The four core values: “Loving others as God first loved us” (red); “Developing people for a life of service” (blue); “Living and giving generously” (yellow); and “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life” (green). Walk firm in your faith in all these ways.

I have seen you walk in these ways. Excel even more! Regardless of your season of life, you are called to GROW closer to Jesus! This is all I ask of you over the next 3 months: GROW!

  • GROW in your individual walk with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit!
  • GROW in your vital relationships by giving the love of Jesus Christ!
  • GROW as a Church Family by living as one people to the glory of the Father!

Thank you for the overwhelming support and exceeding joy I have received from you as I prepare to “enter the rest of the Lord” in a unique way. This is a gift from God that I do not deserve, but that I receive with a thankful and humble heart! Thank you, Jesus, for calling me to grow in you through a set apart season of Sabbath rest. As Hebrews 4:9-11a states, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest.”

Growing in Christ with you,
 
 
 
Listen to the message here:
 
 

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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 5)

“Living and Giving Generously!”

2 Corinthians 8:9;  Matthew 6:19-21, 19:21-23; Titus 3:4-7; Philippians 2:5-8, 14-18 & 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
 

Good morning and welcome to your missionary training session. I’m so glad you all decided to come for missionary training. Now, before we begin, does anyone feel like they are in the wrong session? Like being in the wrong class in college or high school – “I didn’t sign up for missionary training.” No? Great, because if you signed up for Heaven with Jesus then you signed up to live eternally today, which means this missionary training is for you.

 

Let’s start out by learning from missionaries who have been in the field. Over the years, I have spent time with numerous cross-cultural missionaries and there is a dominant thread through most of them, though not all of them, and that is a generous lifestyle.

 

Missionaries are people who, in response to God’s grace in their lives, are leaving behind much of what is familiar and expected of them by their home culture so that they can go to others and give what God first gave to them. Their generosity is a lifestyle! It is about giving grace.

 

Many of the missionaries I have talked to in depth have done their work in the foreign mission field by getting to know the people and meeting them where they are. They spend a lot of time on the front porch with their neighbors, working in their neighborhood, and setting up ways that they can be generous to their new community. They are focused on building relationships.

 

Even if missionaries don’t have the financial means to be generous with money, many times they are generous with what they do have to give. They are generous with their time, their skills and talents, their home and vehicles, with their very lives. If they have money, it is simply part of the package and not the dominant part of the conversation of what it means to live and give generously.

I am talking about this because this is the most practical teaching on what a missionary does and how we can live in such a way that we will experience communities thriving to the glory of God.

 

What works for foreign missionaries works here in local missions. Here is the good news: you don’t need to go to language school or have to do the incredibly hard work of learning new cultures and customs. You just have to be willing to be as intentional here as you would be there!

 

This morning I simply want to read to you the gospels of Jesus Christ to make this point because Jesus’ whole lifestyle illustrates the point. Listen to Paul’s summary statement of Jesus’s example from 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

 

How did Jesus make us rich? Listen to Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

 

Jesus accomplished this for us by making Himself poor. As Paul teaches in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

Paul encourages us to have the same attitude as Jesus did: a willingness to empty ourselves for the sake of another. A willingness to sacrifice what we want to help another. A willingness to put aside a comfort to comfort another in the name of Jesus. Why do we do this?

 

The missionary martyr, Jim Elliot from the 1950s, is frequently quoted, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Generosity is very much about perspective. When we realize what we have been given in Christ—heavenly riches, then it becomes easier to give away what we cannot keep—worldly wealth. The more and more we focus on living eternally today, the more and more the value of things upon this earth lose their appeal. Some people argue that we can be so heavenly minded we are of no earthly good, but I would have to disagree. The more eternally minded you are, the greater you bring Heaven to earth for its good!

 

Listen to Jesus express this: In Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

In Matthew 19:21-23, Jesus is responding a man who has asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After the man says that he has kept all the commandments, Jesus demonstrates to him that he has not kept the most important commandment. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

 

Here is the mastery of what Jesus said: when you love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, you will hold nothing back from Him that He asks of you. You know you belong to God when all that you have belongs to God! Generosity begins by knowing that all that you have belongs to God and all that you have is by grace for grace.

 

Does all that you have belong to God? I encourage you to demonstrate this to God in the way you live and give generously to meet the needs of your neighbors! God will give you many an opportunity to demonstrate that you have eternal life by the way you do this. If you are not in the spiritual habit of returning to God what is already His, then you need a new perspective.

Generosity is an outflow of devotion to the God who is our all in all! We are generous to that which we are devoted to… Paul says that we should have a distinct response to Jesus becoming poor for us. Listen to Philippians 2:14-18, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”

 

Allow me to illustrate this in a simple way that works for me in my life. I say that I am willing to die for my wife because I’m that devoted to her. Don’t tell your spouse you are willing to die for them and then not be willing to die in little every day ways; like being polite, doing chores, offering forgiveness, etc. Every time you put yourself first and choose not to serve your spouse, you are demonstrating your true allegiance: to yourself and not to God! Jesus died so that we could be rich! What are the little things you need to die to daily so that you can help others be rich?

 

One last scripture to end today’s message: 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.”

 

One of the best daily disciplines for the generous lifestyle is to take time every day to count your blessings! Why? Because thankful people are generous people! When you know that all that you have is from the Lord and will return to the Lord, then it would be foolish to not use the things to show others the way to Jesus.

 

So, count your blessings! And then go be a blessing. Let your generosity flow out of grace, out of the recognition that all that you have is God’s and from God’s hand. Give it back to God by living and giving generously to meet the needs of your neighbor.

 

Just remember what Christ has done for you… yet while you were still far away from God, God demonstrated His generous love to you by sending His Son Jesus Christ as the gift of all gifts so that through His poverty you could become rich!

 

Live out of the deep well spring of thankfulness for your salvation and you will find eternal life is not only a final destination, it is a way of life! You will reap what you sow in this life and into eternity. Live eternally today!
 
Listen to the message here:
 

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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 4)

“Filled Up to Go Out!” (Continued)

Acts 1:7-8

There are signs in our parking lot as you leave this location that say, “As you leave this place, be the hands and feet of Christ to our community.” This sermon series called, “GO: Living Eternally Today!” is about encouraging you, equipping you, and empowering you to live your life for the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). That means you are being sent from this place to go out and live and give generous to your neighbors.

 

Today, I am going to finish last week’s message with some help from our Dominican Republic Mission Team. If the team could come on up please and stand with me.

We all area called to be a WITNESS for Jesus! This calling comes with your salvation! It is not a second special call. It is part of who you are as a Christian and as part of this calling Jesus insists that you shouldn’t go alone! That is the emphasis of our Scripture lesson for last Sunday and today. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

(DR Team Testimonies)

 

Jesus teaches us that Holy Spirit is our Helper which is why He tells to not go without Him!

 

Listen to Jesus teachings on the Holy Spirit:

 

  • John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
  • John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
  • John 15:26-27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
  • John 16:7-8, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
  • John 16:13-15, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

 

Honestly, Jesus knows that we can’t answer His call as a witness without a Helper. That is why He gives us the image of getting in His yoke! So that we are connected to Him because it is through our relationship with Him that we are filled with the Holy Spirit—the Helper, and not just once at the time of our conversion when we are sealed for the day of judgment, but we are to be daily refreshed with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Mission Field, even in your own local community, is like going on a backcountry fishing trip. You don’t always know where the best fishing hole is and which bait to use on different fish. The Holy Spirit is like a fishing guide who knows the lay of land, where the fish are, how and when to fish for them, what bait works best, etc. Who would hire a fishing guide to take them into the backcountry of the wilderness where there are chains of lakes just waiting to be fished, and then not listen to what they say? A good guide takes a novice and helps them be successful in why they went in the first place: to catch fish! The guide is key—the guide teaches and then reminds of what He has already taught as he guides you into action! Don’t go alone!

 

I use the fishing imagery because Jesus used it first. In Mark 1:17, Jesus invites and promises, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

 

Why did Jesus promise you the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8?  TO MAKE YOU BECOME…  It is the promised work of the Holy Spirit to fulfill in and through us the promise of Jesus Christ to all who follow Him! This is what Paul meant when he stated in Philippians 2:13, It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

 

This is why Paul can say to us in Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Because Paul knows that to be a Christian is to have the Holy Spirit and it is through the filling of the Holy Spirit that God brings us to completion, one day at a time. It is a process that you cannot go at alone! We each must go on the journey God calls us to, in the yoke of Jesus!

 

As Paul rebuked the early church followers who thought they could do the Christian life apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. From Galatians 3:3, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” We can’t abandon the Helper once He gets us to the right fishing hole.

 

Paul says in Ephesians 5:17-18, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Listen to a pastor clearly explain what this means:

 

To be filled with the Spirit means to have the Spirit pervading, saturating, and infiltrating us with His holy and glorious presence in every chamber and corner of your being, leading and influencing every purpose, every affection, every thought, every action, every utterance. That’s what being filled means. The tense of the verb is the present, which indicates that the process of being filled must be continuous and constant. So another way of saying what Paul is saying is this, “Be continually getting filled.” In other words yesterday’s filling will not do for today. We must be like a cup that is kept full of water by being kept constantly under an ever-flowing faucet. Notice the word “with.” If we literally translated the passage it would read, “be filled in the Spirit.” The thought is that every part of the believer’s life is “in the Spirit.” If we are believers in Christ we are “in the Spirit.” That means the Holy Spirit surrounds us and rests upon us with His glorious and holy presence. Paul’s thought is to let this water of life to flow in and through us to expel and push out everything else until we are completely full of the Holy Spirit.[1]

 

You have been chosen and saved by God’s grace and it is that same grace of God that is working in you that empowers you to live as a witness of God to our world, starting in our communities. The question is not whether or not you are called to be a missionary—if you have been saved, you have been called! The question is are you being filled up to go out? It is the Holy Spirit of God within us that compels us to go and guides us along the way.

 

Don’t go alone! Don’t leave this place without being filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

How? By asking God! Jesus taught us this in Matthew 7:7, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

 

Ask God to immerse you with His presence and His power in every part of your life; hold nothing back; surrender it all and come to Jesus with all your weariness and all of your burdens.

 

You can teach people what you know, but you can only replicate what you are! Are you immersed?
 
Listen to the Message here:
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] Pastor Tom Preble’s 2019 sermon, “Devotion to the Essentials Gives Birth to Revival Families”.


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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 3)

“Filled Up to Go Out!”

Acts 1:7-8

When you are going to drive your car out of town on a journey, what are two things that you need to do to make sure your car will make it to the destination? You need to fill it up with gas AND you need to know where you are going! This is even more true when you live the Great Commission life. You need to fill up to go out. You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

The Holy Spirit is both your power source and your guide along the way. As I teach this to you this morning, I really want you to think about the yoke imagery of Jesus Christ from our REST series, based on Matthew 11:28-30. During that series we learned that we are to get in the yoke with Jesus and learn from Him and become like Him. In doing that, we find that His yoke is well-suited (“easy”) because it is uniquely fitted and the burden is light. It is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to do the work Jesus is guiding us in as we submit to the direction and guidance of the senior ox, Jesus, in our oxen team. Learning to walk in the Spirit is learning to submit to the easy yoke of Jesus! We are called to live our whole lives in rhythm with Jesus, in His yoke and under the power of His Spirit. Jesus taught us this will give rest to our soul!

 

Last week, we learned that the Holy Spirit empowers real people to have a real faith to make a difference in real history! Jesus calls each of us to “real-life” missions. In the same way that He sent those first seventy followers on a real-life training mission, so Jesus is sending you out to make a real impact! While some people use a passport to get to their mission field, a passport is in no way a prerequisite to live on mission for Jesus! What is a prerequisite for you to bear fruit for Jesus Christ on the mission field is the filling of the Holy Spirit!

 

In the Scripture lesson for today Jesus tells His followers to fill up to go out: Acts 1:7-8 narrates, “[Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

Jesus is calling us to go be His disciples in real tangible ways with real people in a very real community that needs hope. We are not called to be doomsdayers, but hope-bearers!

 

According to Acts 1:7-8, there are no boundaries to sharing the gospel: We are not to worry about times or seasons of history, whether culture is friendly and accepting of our message or hostile and denying it! Whether those in authority are for us or against us and regardless of whether the laws of the land forbid or permit. Also, we are not to let nation-state boundaries or imperial policies prevent us from living as citizens of Heaven here on earth. In short, as the sermon series title says, we “Go: Live Eternally Today!” In the New Heavens and New Earth there will be no closed gates as all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life will enter and dwell in the House of the Lord forever (Revelation 21:25-27; Psalm 23:6; John 14:1-6).

 

Don’t close out people that God won’t close out! We are to be a witness to all people!

 

Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20) and Jesus’ promise of Acts 1:7-8 directs and empowers us to go to every corner of the earth sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed, starting where you are and as you go along the way. Your mission field begins in your Jerusalem! The “Jerusalem” of Acts 1:8 is your current location. Real-life discipleship happens in real-life mission opportunities every day where you are. You grow in  Christ by being faithful here. Faithfulness is not for some far-away place. Faithfulness begins at home, but it doesn’t end there—Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth!

 

The mission of God begins around your kitchen table, but it must leave the front door of your home and go to work with you, go to the store with you, go to school with you, go on vacation with you, go on work trips with you… As you go, live out the Great Commission by making disciples, immersing them in the presence and power of the Trinitarian fellowship, and teach them in word and deed all that Jesus has given us to find abundant life and rest for our souls.

 

Are you willing to go? How can you look for everyday life opportunities to go? Maybe you are already going and didn’t realize it…maybe you could start this week!

 

Before you leave today and go into the mission field of our communities, I want you to know something important: Jesus insists that you shouldn’t go alone! In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

Don’t go out alone! As you go today into the real-life discipleship of being on mission as you go where ever you go, you are not to go alone or in your own strength. Jesus has given you His Holy Spirit to go with you. Some of you may remember this image that I have shared with you in a previous teaching on the Holy Spirit:

 

Jesus teaches us that Holy Spirit is our Helper which is why He tells to not go without Him![1] Honestly, Jesus knows that we can’t get to this destination without both a full gas tank and a Helper to get us there. That is why He gives us the image of getting in easy yoke! So that we are connected to Him because it is through our relationship with Him that we are filled with the Holy Spirit—the Helper, and not just once at the time of our conversion when we are sealed for the day of judgment, but we are to be daily refreshed with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

The Mission Field, even in your own local community, is like going on a backcountry fishing trip. You don’t always know where the best fishing hole is and which bait to use on different fish. The Holy Spirit is like a fishing guide who knows the lay of land, where the fish are, how and when to fish for them, what bait works best, etc. Who would hire a fishing guide to take them into the backcountry of the wilderness where there are chains of lakes just waiting to be fished, and then not listen to what they say? A good guide takes a novice and helps them be successful in why they went in the first place: to catch fish! The guide is key—the guide teaches and then reminds of what He has already taught as he guides you into action! Don’t go alone!

 

I use the fishing imagery because Jesus used it first. In Mark 1:17, Jesus invites and promises, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

 

Why did Jesus promise you the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8?  TO MAKE YOU BECOME…  It is the promised work of the Holy Spirit to fulfill in and through us the promise of Jesus Christ to all who follow Him! This is what Paul meant when he stated in Philippians 2:13, It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

 

This is why Paul can say to us in Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Because Paul knows that to be a Christian is to have the Holy Spirit and it is through the filling of the Holy Spirit that God brings us to completion, one day at a time. It is a process that you cannot go at alone! We each must go on the journey God calls us to, in the yoke of Jesus!

 

As Paul rebuked the early church followers who thought they could do the Christian life apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. From Galatians 3:3, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” We can’t abandon the Helper once He gets us to the right fishing hole.

 

Paul says in Ephesians 5:17-18, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Listen to a pastor clearly explain what this means:

 

To be filled with the Spirit means to have the Spirit pervading, saturating, and infiltrating us with His holy and glorious presence in every chamber and corner of your being, leading and influencing every purpose, every affection, every thought, every action, every utterance. That’s what being filled means. The tense of the verb is the present, which indicates that the process of being filled must be continuous and constant. So another way of saying what Paul is saying is this, “Be continually getting filled.” In other words yesterday’s filling will not do for today. We must be like a cup that is kept full of water by being kept constantly under an ever-flowing faucet. Notice the word “with.” If we literally translated the passage it would read, “be filled in the Spirit.” The thought is that every part of the believer’s life is “in the Spirit.” If we are believers in Christ we are “in the Spirit.” That means the Holy Spirit surrounds us and rests upon us with His glorious and holy presence. Paul’s thought is to let this water of life to flow in and through us to expel and push out everything else until we are completely full of the Holy Spirit.[2]

 

You have been chosen and saved by God’s grace and it is that same grace of God that is working in you that empowers you to live as a witness of God to our world, starting in our communities. The question is not whether or not you are called to be a missionary—if you have been saved, you have been called! The question is are you being filled up to go out? It is the Holy Spirit of God within us that compels us to go and guides us along the way.

 

Don’t go alone! Don’t leave this place without being filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

How? By asking God! Jesus taught us this in Matthew 7:7, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

 

Ask God to immerse you with His presence and His power in every part of your life; hold nothing back; surrender it all and come to Jesus with all your weariness and all of your burdens.

 

You can teach people what you know, but you can only replicate what you are! Are you immersed?
 
Listen to the message here:
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

        [1] John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 15:26-27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” John 16:7-8, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:13-15, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

[2] Pastor Tom Preble’s 2019 sermon, “Devotion to the Essentials Gives Birth to Revival Families”.


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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 2)

“Real Life Discipleship!”

Luke 10:1-24

I love to backpack! Whether it is a short hike around Westwood Lake or a longer backcountry trip, it is my favorite outdoors activity. In 1 month, I will be spending a week on the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I can’t wait! But your first hike shouldn’t be a week-long backcountry trip. For numerous reasons: breaking in your hiking boots so you don’t get blisters and hot spots, fitting your backpack so it doesn’t rub your hips raw, learning the right amount of food and water to pack, knowing what to pack and how to pack your backpack for a long hike. Those are logistics, then there is fitness and preparation. When I hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon, I trained and planned. When I summitted Half Dome in Yosemite, my wife and I trained and made sure we had the correct gear. When Daniel, Brandon, and I do sections of the AT each year, we trip plan looking at mileage and elevation, water resupply, and other essential aspects of backcountry hiking. You can read about this, you can study it, but honestly there is only one way to learn how to thrive in the backcountry and that is doing it—training. You have to go and hit the trail and make mistakes along the way.

 

This six-week series is focused on equipping you to “Go” into your everyday life to live out the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20. Last week we focused on who Jesus is sending out and why. Starting today, we will take the rest of the series to talk about the what’s and the how’s of living and giving generously. Like getting ready for a big backcountry trip, you have to know some things and prepare, but mostly you have to go out and train.

 

Before Jesus ever gave His disciples the Great Commission, He would send them out on real-life training missions. Just like Regan is doing an internship with Kevin this summer before she returns to IWU, so Jesus would send out His disciples as part of their training and growth. There was no graduation or ordination to wait for, there was just today—today is the day of salvation! Let’s look at an example of this from the life of Jesus as He trains up His followers.

 

Turn with me to Luke 10 and we are going to read through this historical account of Jesus and His disciples found in verses 1-24. Read Luke 10:1-24 from NASB.

 

This is not the first time Jesus sends out His disciples on mission (cf. Luke 9). In fact, following Jesus comes with a lifestyle of living and giving generously! Jesus does not save us for eternity tomorrow, but to live eternally today! You are not to spend your whole life studying Heaven in preparation to go their one day, you are to bring heaven to earth in little ways every day. Just like the best way to prepare for a big hike is by walking around your own neighborhood first.

 

Responding to Jesus in faith comes with the call to living on mission—the Mission of Jesus Christ as He describes in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

 

And again in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” We join in His work to transform stories through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Glory of the Father!

 

This is the pattern of Jesus and we have been teaching this through the 7 Big Words: Jesus GATHERS [Big Word #1] His followers out of the world and to Himself to learn to live like He lived, teaching them to FOLLOW [Big Word #2] Him and to focus their lives on Him and to learn how to be like Him so that they can find REST [Big Word #3] in their life. Jesus models the mission to His followers as they go along the way and teaches them to BELONG [Big Word #4] to His new family, the Church. Jesus called us (His Church) out of the world to send us back into the world to LOVE [Big Word #5] people as He first loved us and to SERVE [Big Word #6] people as He set the example for us to be servants. Finally, Jesus tells His disciples to GO [Big Word #7] in His authority to do what He does under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. As we see this in Matthew 10:1 at the calling of the Twelve, “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” “Living and Giving Generously” is the way of Jesus to live eternally today! Living eternally today is not only a lifestyle choice, but it is a means of grace where God works through you to declare His love for the world. We are able to live a generous life because our hope lies in Christ, and we are not preoccupied with the things of the world. Living and giving generously is the proclamation of our rescue from slavery to the world!

 

Living and giving generously is a revolution against Satan who Jesus saw falling from Heaven (Luke 10:18) when this first group of disciples (still incomplete in their fellowship and imperfect in their faith) walked in the authority of Jesus throughout their communities. And Jesus told them very clearly to not rejoice at what they did, but rejoice in their relationship with the Father through the Son. We rejoice in whose family we belong to—we are children of God!

 

We are image bearers of God, we are to live a certain way because of the status we have from our Father. We have authority because we are under His authority!

 

Our doing flows out of our being—out of our redeemed status as sons and daughters of God! The fruit on our branches comes from abiding in the vine! We reap what we sow and we are called to sow a faith relationship with Jesus and reap the works that flow from faith!

 

Relationship is the essential aspect of the sending of the 70 that we often miss and to our detriment as the people of God. Jesus sends those who are in relationship with Him (the 70) to walk in the authority of His Name—the banner over the 70 is His love! Apart from His love, the 70 can do nothing! The same is true for us…

 

We live out our relationship with Jesus in real life every day!

 

Missional living—Great Commission obedience—is grounded in the authority that can only come from being in union with Christ. Only one who is immersed in the trinitarian fellowship of God can baptize anyone in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Only one who has learned to obey the commandments of Jesus by finding rest for their soul in the easy yoke of Jesus Christ can replicate an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

You can teach people what you know, but you can only replicate what you are. Ultimately, we are to rejoice in this—in people; people are the only works we leave behind. Not our name, but His name! The greatest legacy you can leave your family is not a large bank account or a building that will fall down, but a faith passed on. I love taking my kids on hikes. My son and I trail run and hike together. My daughters enjoy hiking and we love to do this as a family. We do small hikes, day hikes, overnight camping trips, and one day we will backcountry together. I am passing on my love of hiking by doing it with them.

 

We are called to bring thriving to our communities to the glory of God today and every day that is called today is a day to bring witness to the transformation of your own soul to the glory of God. We are called to go and replicate what we are in Christ. To pass Him on.

 

Making disciples starts with you having a relationship with Jesus that transforms your story first!

 

The Holy Spirit uses real people with real faith to make a difference in real history!

 

Jesus calls us to “real-life” discipleship. In the same way that He sent those first seventy followers on a real-life training mission, so Jesus is sending you out of service every Sunday on real-life training missions! While some people use a passport to get to their mission field, a passport is in no way a prerequisite to live on mission for Jesus!

 

Jesus is calling us to go be His disciples in real tangible ways with real people in a very real culture that needs messengers of hope.

 

Where is Jesus sending you? To whom is Jesus sending you? What are you replicating?

 

Jesus promised we would have help as we do on these real-life training missions. From Acts 1:7-8, “[Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

We will unpack this more next week, but for now I simply want you to hear this: as you go today into the real-life discipleship of being on mission as you go where ever you go, that you do not go alone. Jesus has given you His Holy Spirit to go with you.

 

Your community is your Jerusalem! This is where real-life discipleship happens in real-life mission opportunities every day. Revival is coming! Where will it begin?

 

The mission of God begins around your kitchen table, but it must leave the front door of your home and go to work with you, go to the store with you, go to school with you… As you go, make disciples immersing them in the presence and power of the Trinitarian fellowship and teach them in word and deed all that Jesus has given us to find abundant life and rest for our souls.

 

In other words, go in the name of Jesus Christ to transform stories…GO! Live Eternally Today!
 
 
Listen to it here:
 
 

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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 1)

“Incomplete and Imperfect!

(Matthew 28:16-20 & Luke 10:1-24)

Today, we start exploring the 3rd of the 4 core values of First Baptist Church. Each of the core values is connected to one of the 4 colors on our logo and each is being taught and reinforced with a wristband of the same color. Today you have received or will receive on the way out, a yellow wristband that says, “Living and Giving Generously.” Please wear it with me for the next 6 weeks as we focus on this. You may continue to wear your previous wristbands that the leaders and staff of the church have provided for you at their own cost, but at a minimum please don’t throw them away. Keep them somewhere noticeable as a reminder of what we are all about.

Our mission statement at FBC is “We exist to transform stories through the gospel of Jesus Christ” and if this mission is happening in us (it must happen in us if we are following Jesus in an abiding relationship) and through us (as fruit of what He is doing in us and not as our own performance goals; it is the Holy Spirit who bears fruit on our branches!) then we will see our vision unfolding inside our fellowship and outside into the communities we live, work, and play: “We desire to see our communities thriving to the glory of God.” It’s all about relationships!

 

Our faith and values provide us with the guard rails by which we can participate in fulfilling our church’s mission and vision by the power of the Holy Spirit. The four core values are: “Loving others as God first loved us” (red); “Developing people for a life of service” (blue); “Living and giving generously” (yellow); and “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life” (green). Firm in our faith we are to walk in these ways.

 

We are putting up all these banners so that you know who we are and what our mission and vision statements are (in the Gathering Area as you walk in) and what our faith and values are (inside the worship center). We are not investing precious resources for decoration, but to align us (like a car getting its alignment) so that we are all traveling in the same direction on the same mission. Amazing what God can do through a people who are working together and don’t need any credit because their account is already overflowing with God’s grace.

 

For the next 6 weeks we are going to focus on yellow—living and giving generously—and then while I am on sabbatical (August 25 is the final sermon that I will give in this series), we will all focus on green—growing closer to Jesus in every season of life (that 3-month focus culminates on Sunday, November 24, the night I return). We are each in a different season of life, the key is to support one another in our spiritual growth in each and every season of life.

 

This series is also finishing up the 7 big words that we have been learning over the last year: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO! If you missed some of those Sundays, you can watch or listen to any of the sermons and/or read the sermon notes on our ever-improving website at www.newcastlefbc.com. These 7 big words are the building blocks for us being the people of Jesus Christ, committed and submitted to His teachings for His Father’s purposes and glory. Each of these words is an invitation, a promise, and a way of life.

 

The primary way we have been inviting you to experience the promise and way of life of these 7 big words is FBC’s “7:1 Initiative!” It is our hope that each of you will have 7 friends at FBC who you trust and are growing with as the church, people who connect you in the body and people with whom you belong. We also hope you have 1 place of service at FBC where you are impacting others and multiplying what God has given you for His purposes and glory.

 

The “GO: Living Eternally Today!” series will be constantly reinforcing all this 7:1 initiative because you will see that living the Great Commission life is living both a life of community and service. We are better together when we are in Jesus together!

 

The main scripture for this sermon series called “Go: Live Eternally Today!” is Matthew 28:16-20. Listen to the Great Commission:

 

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

This is the Great Commission, not the great suggestion. It is not an optional “opt-in” activity for those who choose it nor an advanced option for those who want to be radical. This is what part of being in the yoke of Jesus, this is God’s will for your life. Like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, if you want the chocolate, you have to take the peanut butter. You can’t just lick off the chocolate and then hand back the peanut butter. Well, you can, but what a mess…

 

We are going to dive into the Great Commission in this series, but today we are simply going to focus on the who: To whom did Jesus give the Great Commission? Matthew 28:16-17 teaches:

 

1) To “the Eleven disciples”: They had an incomplete fellowship! Judas was gone, the fellowship was broken, trust has been shattered, betrayals occurred, disappointments erupted, but here is Jesus still giving this group of followers the Great Commission.

 

2) To “some were doubtful”: They had an imperfect faith! Not only was their fellowship incomplete, but they did not all believe. These were imperfect followers of Jesus entrusted with God’s eternal plan to reach all people with the greatest message ever.

 

Jesus gave His Church the Great Commission when they were an incomplete fellowship with an imperfect faith! 2,000 years later, we are still incomplete and imperfect, but God is still calling us to hear the same word: “Go!” Jesus doesn’t wait for you to be ready for Him to send you on His mission. The key ingredient of Jesus’ calling to live life focused on the Great Commission is not your capability, but your availability and willingness to take His yoke and learn from Him.

 

As many of us have heard before, “God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called!” If we wait until we are ready/complete/equipped to go, then we completely ignore the work of the Holy Spirit to empower us and make us who He wants us to be. His power is made perfect in our weakness. He’s ready to use us right now, where we are!

 

What are some of the ways we disqualify ourselves from living out the Great Commission?

  1. My faith is not strong enough or I don’t know enough…
  2. That is for pastors and missionaries, church workers…
  3. I have sin in my life or I may do/say something that hurts the effort…
  4. I’m too busy…

 

This six-week series is focused on equipping you to “Go” into your everyday life to live out the Great Commission, but today we are focusing on who Jesus is sending out and why. We’ll take the rest of the series to talk about the what’s and the how’s of living and giving generously.

 

Before Jesus ever gave His disciples the Great Commission, He would send them out on real-life training missions. Just like Regan is doing an internship with Kevin this summer before she returns to seminary, so Jesus would send out His disciples as part of their training and growth. There was no graduation or ordination to wait for, there was just today—today is the day of salvation! Let’s look at an example of this from the life of Jesus as He trains up His followers.

 

Turn with me to Luke 10 and we are going to read through this story found in verses 1-24. I will unpack specific details as a I read it…

 

I love this comment from a local church pastor on the Luke 10 passage regarding its application to our lives, “We are not responsible for saving anyone; we are responsible for telling everyone. It’s not their response to our ability; it is their response to His ability, even though it’s our responsibility to tell them.”[1]

 

“Living and Giving Generously” is the way of Jesus to live eternally today! Living eternally today is a means of grace to declare your allegiance to Jesus and not the world. It’s a way to live like Jesus for His Kingdom in a world that is actively opposing Jesus and His Kingdom. Living and giving generously is a revolution against Satan who Jesus saw falling from Heaven (Luke 10:18) when this first group of disciples (still incomplete in their fellowship and imperfect in their faith) walked in the authority of Jesus throughout their communities. And Jesus told them very clearly to not rejoice at what they did, but rejoice in their relationship with the Father through the Son. We rejoice in whose family we belong to—we are children of God!

 

Listen to this insight that further explains the importance of Luke 10:20 combined with the fact that we do not know the names of these 70 people,

 

Since God did not consider it important for us to know the names of the 70 (or 72) disciples He charged with the important task of preparing the way for Jesus, we don’t need to consider it important, either. What Jesus called attention to was not the power He gave them but the fact that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Similarly, while we may get excited about visible miracles and demonstrations of supernatural power, the greatest miracle of all is the fact that unworthy sinners can become righteous children of God (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 1:12). When our focus moves to ourselves and how God is using us, we are headed the wrong direction. It is a good reminder that, since their names are unimportant, ours are, too. It is the name of Jesus Christ alone who deserves all attention and glory (1 Corinthians 1:28–29; Philippians 2:9–11). It is enough that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.[2]

 

Family of God, we don’t have to wait until our fellowship is complete or our faith is perfect to be a part of Jesus’ Great Commission plans for our communities and beyond. We are called to bring thriving to our communities to the glory of God today and every day that is called today. We are called to go and make disciples of all people just like we are called to serve all people and love all people. Making disciples starts with you having a relationship with Jesus that transforms your story first! The Holy Spirit uses real people with real faith to make a difference in real history!

 

“You can teach people what you know, but you will only replicate what you are!”

 

We will learn more of how to do this over the next 5 Sundays, but please know that it begins with you realizing that the Great Commission is for each of us, in all of our imperfections and incompleteness. If you are in Jesus Christ, then you are ready today to be sent out. So as you go today, may the Holy Spirit empower you to live and give generously rejoicing that your names are recorded in Heaven (Luke 10:20).
 
Listen to the teaching here:

 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Jack Wellman, “5 Lessons about Jesus sending out the Seventy-Two” (August 22, 2018, accessed July 17, 2019) https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2018/08/22/5-lessons-about-jesus-sending-out-the-seventy-two/.

[2] “Who were the 70 (or 72) disciples in Luke 10?”, Got Questions Ministries, accessed July 27, 2019, [https://www.gotquestions.org/70-or-72-disciples.html].


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