r12 Journey – 7. Celebration Service
Prayer of Thanksgiving – “Father, thank You so much. We praise and applaud and thank You and worship You. It has been an awesome 6 weeks. It's been a great journey and we want to stop and celebrate. Your word encourages us to stop, to reflect, to look back. Lord, when your people came through the Red Sea they wrote a song and they celebrated and they sang, and Lord, when we meet You in Heaven we're going to celebrate and have a meal. Would You help us to remember deeply who You are and what You've done? God, give us the grace to take what's happened inside of us and some of the things that have happened through us, and would You allow us to understand what it means to give You glory, to make You the focus? So Lord, we offer this service to You. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.” We've spent the last six 6 talking about what it looks like if Christians actually lived like Christians. One of life’s big questions is “what does God really want from us?” We learned that He wants surrender. He wants all that I am and all that I have. The next question was “how do you get the very best from God?” You live a life that's separate from the world's values. Then it was “how do you come to grips with the real you, where you don't have to pretend or impress or act?” It's a sober self-assessment. Then what about authentic community? How do you find the kind of friendships and relationships where they're from the heart, where you can really be you, where you care for one another and it's serving in love? Then last week, we dropped a lot of rocks. You let go of the past and some pain where you were betrayed and hurt. We learned that when evil is aimed at you, you can choose to give good in exchange for evil, and that God will do amazing things. But you can only do this by God’s grace. Today - something a little different. I want us to look back to remember what God has done. Then to look up to give God the glory. Then to look forward and ask what’s the calling of God on this church. What needs to happen in the days ahead to fulfil the mission and the vision that He's given us? Purpose – front of bulletin. 1. Look Back – Remember What God Has Done Psalm 103: 1 – 5 - Remembering is really important. Remember and do not forget - because forgetfulness and faithlessness go together. When we forget what God's done in the past, we start looking at all the things we don't have instead of all the things that we do have. God calls us to remember and build monuments and stones and to tell one generation to another, this is what God did. When you remember what God has done in the past, it empowers you to trust him for still greater things in the future. I don't ever want to forget that God does supernatural, radical things, because that helps me trust Him for the future. 2. Look Up – Give God the Glory Means to enhance His reputation. Psalm 115: 1. Isaiah 42: 8 - "I am the Lord, that is My name, I will not give My glory to another." It's something that God covets - very important. It’s been wonderful to go through this r12 experience with many people in small groups. But if you're not careful you can start thinking – wow this r12 is a neat formula. We're human - start thinking “well, if I just do this or I do that or I think it was that song, or maybe it was that one message, or maybe it's my small group leader” - we start putting the emphasis in the wrong place. The word glory, literally in Hebrew means "weight." The weight, the emphasis, begins to shift on people or it shifts onto an organisation instead of on God. We make the invisible God visible when we show off His grace, His love, His holiness, His justice and His compassion. So giving glory to God is about sharing and telling and exhibiting by the way we live that God's really real. It's when you forgive someone that everyone thinks you should never forgive. When you choose to forgive the glory of God begins to radiate out from you. When you make a break with something that was an addiction or something you knew was wrong and painful and hurtful to you, you shine God's glory. So what God really is looking for is that we actually allow the life of Christ to live out through us. Being an r12 Christian is nothing more or nothing less than allowing the life of Christ to be seen in how you speak, in how you think, in how you live, in how you give, in how you forgive, in how you work, in all that you are and all that you have. In our day, our greatest need ever is to live that way. How do you do it? How do you give Him glory? It's by declaring by life and word who He is and what He's done. In other words, we're PR agents for God. We're agents to display the portfolio of his character and his love and his holiness to all the world. Psalm 145: 1 -4 - What we want to do rather than say, okay r12 was great, here's the next thing – let’s remember the amazing acts of God. As we do, your view of God will be enlarged. I pray when you walk out of here you'll realise He's more loving than you thought, He's more holy than you thought, He's more caring than you thought, He's more compassionate than you thought and He's more willing to change and help you than you ever dreamed. Stand - "Glory to God, glory to God, glory to God forever." 3. Look Ahead – What is it Going to Look Like? What's it going to look like to produce, to grow r12 Christians here, there and everywhere? This is what I've heard - "I want to thank you and the church for the wonderful path, the teaching in r12. It is helping me in becoming what I always thought it meant to be a Christian, but I didn't know how to do it." This is a process and becoming familiar with the word of God is the fuel we need to continue when we feel that we’re taking 1 step forward and sometimes 2 steps backward. This isn't some magic formula where I read Romans 12 or even memorise the chapter and I'm in a small group for 6 weeks, and every problem I've ever had goes away and everything is brand new. Now there have been major, major steps, but it really initiates a process. All we have really done is get into the starting blocks, we now have a clear target and we've come out of the blocks and we're now making progress. Now the question is - how do we run the race? How do we over time really live this out? We don't want to have one of those mountaintop experiences with r12 - a week later you can't remember - 3 months later it's like there's no difference at all. So how do we preserve the fruit of what God has done? I want to provide a biblical basis - where we go from here. Proverbs 3: 1 – 6 - it's not about external rules, it's not religion, it's not trying hard. It's faith, it's truth, it's trusting, it's being in community, it's being honest. What you will discover is a God who's compassionate, who's understanding, who's holy, who will cleanse, who will forgive, who will pick you up and who will renew your mind. He will often use the community of people that you're doing life with to help you in this journey. Then notice that it's a lifestyle. This isn't some event that occurs once a week. In all your ways – in all your ways, in all your work, in all your relationships, acknowledge Him. In other words, you're going to live before the face of God. Notice the promise – "He will make straight" – literally - He'll direct your path. He'll direct a single person into the right person for the future. He'll direct your career, He'll direct your marriage, He'll direct you with your children, He'll direct you with school, He'll direct you with your finances. Trust in the Lord and walk by faith. It's important because spiritual opposition and spiritual atrophy are both going to be your enemies now. Many people have taken very significant steps of faith. Do you think the enemy of your soul is going to just lean back and call the demonic spirits in our area and say, "You know what? This church is really making progress, and they seem to have a heart for people and they really want to live this out. Why don't we, like, give them a 2 or 3 year break?" Some of you don't know much about spiritual warfare and you're going to have some experiences where your emotions are going to confuse you. You are going to think “Now wait a second, God. I stepped out in faith, I've aligned my priorities, I've forgiven some people that actually I hated until 10 days ago.” Your unconscious thought is that life's really going to get better. Actually, it may get more difficult in the next few weeks. But what God'll show you from His word and the community of God's people is how to deal with that and how to break through that and how to live outside of that. Some of you have flexed some spiritual muscles that were honestly pretty flabby. Some of you got back in the Bible for the first time in a while. We created structure for you. You're getting together with a group of people, talking about the life of Christ. You're in community. So, how can you turn your r12 experience into an r12 lifestyle? Some suggestions - very practical for you, very practical for your small group and our church. A. Take personal responsibility for your spiritual health and development. Let me make this simple - you're thinking “what book should I read or what should I do?” Let's keep it very simple, very relational, and very grace-oriented. 3 letters: B-I-O, bio - means life. Here's how to continue - 3 values - when you're going to do this, what you're going to do, who you're going to do it with. 1. Come “before” God daily. Live in his presence. "My son, don't let these teachings get away from you. Put them around your neck." You need to decide to read in the Bible. You need to live before God. You need to renew your mind. So where are you going to read? How much are you going to read? Maybe you need to get better acquainted with who Jesus is and read through the gospels. I really don't understand about some of the issues and problems in life. I'm going to read 1 Corinthians. I don't know where you need to read. Maybe some of you have never read the Old Testament. But you've got to live before God. 2. Do life “in” community. In our small groups we're going to ask you to take a break. No one can live at the level of revs we have the last 6 weeks. It's great in the short-term, it sets the bar, but you have to decide - who am I going to do life with? Let me give you a warning. There are lots of demands on you - if you're not careful - 6 weeks from now you'll realise you don't do life with people anymore. You can't do this alone. No one can. We need one another. So you take responsibility for living before God, in His word and talking from your heart to Him honestly, and then do life in community. 3. Be “on” mission. You are an ambassador for Jesus Christ. You actually represent the God of the universe, so we don't have to wait for a missions trip or another community project. How do you build bridges? How do you build relationship? God always looks for men and women who say, "I trust you so much, I'm all in. I want Your way, not mine. I believe that Your plans and Your wisdom are better than mine. I am willing to live by faith." There will be hard days ahead. It’s a fallen world. The flesh is working against you, the enemy is working against you, the world's systems are working against you. Baptism - like the first command Jesus gave - put on your uniform - let the world know. You can find yourself getting wet, declaring publicly your faith, because Jesus asked us to. For some - “I'm floating.” You need to land somewhere and become a part of a local body - church. We will have a membership class that talks about where we're going, what we're doing and this is what it looks like. Join the team. So have you got it? Individually - B-I-O - Live before God, do life in community, be on mission. Where does He want you to serve and plug in? B. Small Groups - take a little break but take responsibility for the future. We had everyone study the same thing. I don't know what your group needs, but you as a group need to come together, pray together and say what do we need to study so we can be the group God wants us to be? Are you getting the idea? For organic, supernatural, exponential growth to occur, you can't be spoon-fed and told, "Do this, do that." The spirit of God lives in you. The spirit of God will lead your group, and your group needs to discover what's the next step to become the Christian God wants you to be. We will help you in the process as we worship, learn and fellowship together on Sundays. We want to empower you to reach out to those that you care about and also get you to think through issues. You need to love God not just with all your heart but with your mind. So are you ready to go for it? Let's go.