Tuesday, February 3, 2009
The Value Of Winning
1. The Missional Heart of God
Leaving The 99
Jesus told stories for church people…
Why does the record show so much attention given to interaction with the Pharisees? Over 100 references to them… What can these people teach me about holiness? Jesus wanted to ingrain in our minds His thoughts about the subtle and unseen dangers of being good!
The Pharisees were good people!
There were the most balanced religious group of their day
• The Pharisees became prominent during the time of the Macabees – 160 –60 BC. There two greatest rabbis were Hillel and Shammai. They had a growing group of scholars who were men of the book. They were determined to get back to the Bible. The synagogue was known as the ‘house of study’ and Bible studies were being pumped out on every aspect of life.
• They held to traditional values and protested the corruption of religion and resisted the humanism of the day, the influence of the Greek culture, literature and entertainment.
• They revered, studied and memorized Scripture. John 5:39 states that they diligently studied the Scriptures. They heard good preaching in the synagogue.
• They would sign our doctrinal statements, Christ endorsed their teaching, calling us to obey them and do everything they do. Matthew 23:2.
• They were excellent givers, they prayed and fasted regularily. They knew all the fundamentals of prayer, adoration, confession, thanksgiving and petitions.
• They were active in evangelism, travelling over land and sea to win a single person. Matthew 23:15
• The very name ‘Pharisee’ meant separated ones, they hated sin and actively pursued holiness.
The Pharisees’ had a disciplined life bible memory would win them any quizzing contest, their evangelistic zeal would make them prime recruits for an outreach team. Their faithfulness in giving and being good stewards, second to none. They were extremely bent on being righteous and they would sign our pledge cards.
However as we will see it was their essential goodness that was part of their problem they had with Jesus and He with them. The Pharisees were so close to the kingdom, but they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It is often those who are closest to the kingdom of God who are the farthest from it. Why? Let’s look at the passage.
The Pharisees show us how misguided people can be morally good. The truth is a good religion doesn’t necessarily produce good people and neither does a bad religion necessarily produce bad people.
And so Jesus told ‘missional’ stories for Pharisees like us!
Rejoice with me, I have found my lost sheep! V6
This is a beautiful picture of our Father God who actively seeks out sinners and brings them home. My question is also about those “99” who are in the fold? Are they really in the fold, the only way into the fold is through God pursuing all of us. We all need to repent, make the 180 degree turn. Ultimately it is not us that find Jesus, God like the song. The truth of the matter is that we love God because He first loved us. We have a seeking God who takes the initiative. This was a revolutionary lesson for the religious people, the rabbis, who only saw God as one who welcomes a penitent sinner. 1 John 4:19 We can’t be righteous apart from him. The Pharisees thought they were in the fold. The question we are left with here is are we in the fold?
The second discovery is that we should never be satisfied with the status quo. There are lost sheep out there that need to be found and we must never get to the place where we are happy with the way things are. God wants to work through us.
Finding the lost is a joyful experience, it is what we are all about and it is the most amazing race, adventure out there. We carry our friends to Jesus like the friends who cut the roof open
The joy in heaven is not that we are all safe and protected in the fold, no, it is rejoicing over taking risks to get out there and there and reach out. It is a dangerous mission to go out there, out of the safety of our church walls and be a true expression of Jesus. We might get a bad rap, others may question your motives, call you names.
The shepherd carries the sheep on his shoulders, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders.v5 we carry each other’s burdens and we bring them home!!
Jesus strategy of evangelism is all about pursuit and celebration
Jesus strategy was to ‘lose’ the ‘found’ and find the lost! There is a huge difference between being religious and finding God. To those who really understood the extent of their spiritual sickness, He was their caring doctor. What made Jesus so attractive to the irreligious. He took the initiative, he gravitated to the soul sick. He genuinely loved the people others couldn’t stand. Unfortunately for the Pharisees they saw contamination coming from contact with sinners.
To those who took pride in their goodness, He did whatever it took to put His finger on their sin. He has no interest in us living with our the fake-security of human righteousness.
Matthew 11: 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions
Jesus went after the lost, He went to where they were and He spent time with the spiritually seeking.
Why does the church need to change?
Because there is a growing trend of the marginalization of church in culture. People aren’t seeing the difference.
Because 95% of people in our churches never bring another person with them.
BECAUSE THERE IS NOT ENOUGH PURSUIT AND CELEBRATION!!
Years ago when Howard Schultz bought the Starbucks franchise and began to dream about bringing the European café culture to America, countless sceptics and critics scoffed. No American will ever pay more than a dollar for a cup of coffee! He proved them massively wrong. And now Starbucks is all too familiar.
In his book, Pour Your Heart Into It, he operates on the following four principles as a coffee evangelist.
Care more than others think wise
Risk more than other think safe
Dream more than other think practical
Expect more than other think possible.
Our message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ is worth so much more than a cup of coffee. Let’s learn the lesson of change and throw some creativity and passion into our relationships and ministry here at Southside.
It starts when we leave the safety of the 99 and begin pursuing the 1, we need to start with the one God is laying on our heart and reach out to them with the loving arms of Jesus.
2. The contagious heart of God
In order to connect people to their God-given family, we need to be contagious people, contagious with love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control against such things there is no law and it is all good, the good fruit of the Holy Spirit
It is a Spirit thing and as we learned last week when we began our series on discovering that the church, it is all about the Spirit of God moving in us and through us to testify to the things we have seen and heard.
I want to look at a passage of Scripture that tells the story of a serious roof problem, a roof that was leaking with a body! It is the story of the paralyzed man in Mark 2.
On the scene comes these four guys bringing their friend who is paralyzed. There is part of me that wonders how did this guy who couldn’t move get four friends to begin with! Maybe he was a funny guy, an intriguing person, a great personality. It doesn’t say. Maybe it was that these guys were involved in an accident together with their friend doing some kind of crazy stunt together because the stunt they were about to pull off shows they were not your typical group of friends.
The first thing we discover here that there are often obstacles that keep our friends from Jesus. v1,2
The place was a packed house and the guys’ friend was paralyzed. They could have easily given up right there, right then. This can wait, we’ll get it another day. We like to give ourselves excuses. I don’t feel ready to share, I don’t feel ready to act in love, but these guys knew all about going out of your way.
Because going out of your way is on your way as was shared by Lucie’s mom about the way that her mother was.
The second thing we discover is that these friends realized what was at stake v4
They knew that Jesus was the only hope, He had a ministry of healing and they knew that Jesus gravitated towards the soul sick. They didn’t have all the answers, but they took Him to the one who did. Jesus had come back to his hometown and they knew he had a huge following. This might be the closest they would ever get.
Their friend was paralyzed and today many people are paralyzed by fear, lonliness, anger at God and it keeps them from coming to Him. Our friends are spiritually paralyzed and what are we doing about it? The god of this age has blinded their eyes to the light of the glorious gospel.
The third thing we see is that they real friends have authentic faith
They came up with a plan, a very unorthodox plan to get their friend to Jesus, they made an opening in the roof
Ripping open someone’s roof could call for a lawsuit, but they went for it and Jesus is incredible. Someone was asking me where is the contagious laughter in the Bible. I have to believe that Jesus had to be smiling with a laugh watching this happen. He doesn’t focus on the hole in the roof or even the interruption in the meeting. His focus becomes crystal clear and He sees the eternal, the spiritual responsiveness and responds to not just the paralyzed man, but to all of them…. He saw their faith!! Mark 2:5
We spend time with good friends
Eating together (where there’s two or three gathered. . . there’s food)
Sharing experiences together
Spending time together
That’s quite a list. And what would it mean to our congregation if we began redefining our church and ministry by using what we listed above? Would things start looking any different?
If we take a look around today, we can see that our society is in a relationship famine. We crave relationships., “Four persons in 10 say they have been lonely for a long period of time.” People are finding relationships in a multitude of ways. We participate in different activities, organizations, clubs, and gatherings so we can belong. We’ve often replaced our family or neighborhood with other relational groups. I’d like for you to take a minute or two, turn to your neighbor, and identify a few of the places people look for relationships.
Chat rooms on the Web
Here’s where we’re going with this today. What if the church recaptured its place in filling this relationship void? What if we decided to evaluate our ministries using this friendship filter, and intentionally turned everything we do into opportunities to build friendships? What if we took the initiative to provide people a place to belong before they believed?
Thom and Joanie Shultz of group publishing talk about a friendship filter at church. Here are a few points to consider on this.
The Friendship Filter
Which option will best induce and enhance relationships—with others and with Jesus?
If you were trying to grow a warm, human relationship using one of these options, which one would you choose?
Now remember, we just read a story about doing something that goes against what is proper protocol
What are the boundaries that we have set up and maybe unintentionally that keep people from forming friendships with Jesus or with us…. Maybe it’s time cut a hole in the roof.
If someone new walked into our church, what is the first thing they see?
I’ve been studying the ethos of a church and have realized that most people make their decision about whether to be a part of a local church community within minutes of arriving. Every church leaks and it is contagious…
The UGLY can leak…
Especially if it is negative, negative gossip spreads like wildfire and cantankerous comments grow like cancer like it did with the Pharisees. All they could see was a theological debate, not an act of faith. Often it goes unconscious and unintentional, but it happens.
But the good can leak too! We had 7 people in our 101 class and 7 different stories of how they were connected!
What are we willing to do to get our friends into the presence of Jesus?
I believe with all my heart that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him, when God see our faith it will be rewarded
Being a friend to the soul sick may get you into trouble v13-17
We may say, “Unbelievable. I can’t believe the Pharisees would say that to Jesus. We would never do that.”
1. A winning attitude must begin in our church with each of us and we need to be open to the leading of the Spirit and when we are, it will be contagious.
2. A winning attitude must engage its community. We must be missional.
Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
We need to start listening to our unchurched friends. Nothing is more simple, more accurate than to understand where they are coming from. There is a lot of brokenness and openness. People are asking questions now and do we have answers when they ask what is the hope for this world? Do we have hope? Are we ready to be open to the Spirit leading us to speak to what God has given us?