Today we have the unique opportunity to review as a congregation where we have been and where we are hoping to go as a body of believers. You will be presented with the opportunity to think through what it means to be part of a church family and to evaluate our collective impact in our community and the world. There will be realities that we are faced with that may be uncomfortable to deal with as well as things that are very exciting to hear. In the big picture we have many things to be thankful for and much work to do. Together we can make a difference. My prayer is that this gathering will be a positive and encouraging point for us and that this new year will open the door to many spiritual victories.
God invites us to play an active role in restoring brokenness and bringing stability to the lives of people created in His image and loved deeply by Him. It is up to us to step up and step out in faith to be His ambassadors, demonstrating His love for this hurting world. There is plenty of room on the front lines for those who dare to believe!
What would happen if we truly gave the keys to our future to God and then set out purposefully to find and do His will with the rest of our lives? What if we gave as much of ourselves as we could to as much of God as we can grasp, to live as if we believed totally?
When we take God seriously and personally, many questions will come to the surface. It is best to wrestle with these questions with other Christ followers. It calls for humility and courage, for discipline and accountability, and most of all, trust in a loving God who has a purpose and plan for us that is so much higher than we could even imagine. It is a very difficult and costly journey, but one we can’t afford to miss out on.
When we invite others to join us on the journey to maturity in Christ, transformation is the by-product of the Holy Spirit’s working with the willing. Developing deep trust as the soil for life change calls for intimate relationships. These take time to develop but are vital to accountability. We must be able to lovingly speak truth into one another’s lives.
The biblical message incorporated into all the themes of the Christian life presents a holistic picture of following Christ. The spiritual disciplines, practicing the habits that lead to maturity in Christ and service to others is enhanced when we practice them with each other.
When we do the Lord’s work the Lord’s way, amazing things happen. Jesus invested in a few and changed the world. He invites us into that ministry of transformation.
Last week we were challenged by Scripture, specifically Hebrews 11, to ask some significant questions of ourselves and our willingness to believe God and act on that belief. They included;
* How would we live today if we absolutely believed that God existed and that He loves us completely and has a specific plan to bless us beyond measure?
* Am I truly living my life by a very different set of values and principles than the unbelieving world?
* Is my faith evident to others and is God’s Kingdom being forwarded by my confident obedience in this call on my life?
Today we will investigate the reality of the battle that comes with daring to believe. My hope is that the historical example and the current testimony will encourage us to live boldly and with confidence. We can live in fear and frustration with all that is wrong with our world and simply try to navigate life with as little pain as possible, or we can live in faith, knowing that God is on the throne and is calling us to participate with Him in the work of the kingdom, which includes the transformation of self. We are being challenged to acknowledge there is no other way to live. Take on that giant in the name of the Lord! God loves an underdog.