Extending the boundary 1. The war - we do not fight against flesh and blood
Key text:Ephesians 6:10-18
I am often amazed how when people are pushed they can do things that they never thought that they could do. Running long distance is one of those realities; when you start running it seems like your legs are going to disown you from about the first km. However, you push yourself beyond that and all of a sudden after a few weeks the first km is a breeze. Your legs still hurt; but now you know you can handle the pain and can push yourself further.
I wonder how we often fall short of what God wants to do in us and through us because we are not willing to trust Him more to take us through that uncomfortable starting phase.
So to challenge us together to push our limits and see where God can take us we are starting a 5 part series called extending the boundary; looking at somethings that could be holding back and others which could be pushing us towards the next thing that God wants to take us to.
This was birthed from a reflecting and praying and asking God what is keeping our church from growing? In this I believe God gave me a thought that this church has a boundary of influence over it that He wants to extend but together we need to be getting along God’s agenda so that He can establish greater boundaries of influence for this church.
However as I was preparing I realised that this message cannot only apply to the church but must first apply to us the congregants before it applies to the church.
So for the next few weeks we will be looking at these two realities; extending the personal boundaries of influence as well as the corporate boundaries of this church’s influence.
So we have to start by asking ourselves what is keeping us from growing; both personally as well as corporately? What is keeping us from being more used by God? Well the first reality that we will be addressing is the fact that we have an enemy and we are at war!
Ephesians 6:10-18 speaks of this so let’s read together;
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Satan our enemy will stop at nothing to make us ineffective and unproductive for the kingdom of God. He does not want us to discover what God can do through us and he does not want us extending our own personal boundaries of influences (especially when it comes to the gospel) as well as the influence the church has. In fact he would rather we are weak and ineffectual. So church the first charge is to…
Be strong and take a stand
If you stand for nothing you fall for everything is the old statement. But we as believers need to take our stand! And what do we stand on? The grace of the Lord Jesus through the gospel!
We stand for that; willing to lay down our very lives for the sake of the gospel!
God desires for us to reach more and do more for Him; but the terror of this keeps us from seeing what he can do through; it is terrifying to stand and do for Him, but if we want to see our boundaries extended we have to climb out of our comfort and step up (suck it up) and stand firm.
I am always amazed how we are terrified of doing something until we have done it. There is a great video online of a young boy going down a giant ski ramp for the first time. And it starts with him talking to himself saying how scary it is and how he doesn’t want to do this, it’s too big! His dad encourages him and he goes, on the way down you hear his screams of delight and at the end he ends his ride by saying, “that was great, I must do it again, it really scary at the top but great once you get going!”
This is such a display of extending our boundaries, when we start it’s scary but once we get going and see God working through us and doing exceedingly more than we can ever hope for or dream of; we too will say it was scary when we started, but wow that was great!
The thing is we need to stand with His power; this is not a self-help guide to the best you, this is a standing firm on His truth and who He is; for it is Him doing through us what we could not do in our own strength.
So we must
Stand firm with:
Paul calls us to stand firm with the belt of truth. In the world we live with this will become increasingly more difficult; as people become more and more about my truth you need to tolerate my life choices; those who stand for the truth will become increasingly side-lined and hated. We have to be a people and a church that stands firm in God’s truth; we will be a people who stands firm on the authority of Scripture and the truth of God. If we want our influence to grow; and God to use us in that influence let us be a people who stand firm in His truth.
We must also stand firm in His
I believeGod is calling us to be shining lights in the world that he has called us to and so in our influence is to grow we need to stand firm in His righteousness.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says;
19 Do you not know that your bodies are templesof the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price.Therefore honor God with your bodies.
We are called church to live in the righteousness that God has won for us through the cross; I have discovered more and more that this is only done as we live together loving each other and helping each other grow in the grace and love of Jesus.
We must also stand firm in
This is our power our hope and everything, we stand that there is only one way to be saved and that is through faith in Jesus Christ! In Trusting God to do as he promises to do.
If we want to be a church of influence reaching people with the gospel must be our everything. If you want your boundaries to extend the gospel must be your everything. It is Angus Buchan who says so powerfully we will never see the power of our faith fully until we see the change it causes in the lives of others.
We must also stand firm in
If we want our influence to grow as a church and as people let’s stop offering the world what it has; let us stand firm in faith trusting in God to do what He says he can do!
The world has enough self-focused, entertainment obsessed, this world minded people. What will stand out is a group that to live is Christ and to die is gain; a people who are filled with hope; and strength due to their faith in their Big God! The God who is might to save!
The world might come against us; Satan and His forces might try and stop us; but our trust in the God of heaven and Earth will sustain us even if there is a hail of attack and opposition; because although with man the odds look bad and the battle looks terrifying; with God it is finished and nothing is impossible!
We must also stand firm in
This it to be our guide and our measure. That which sets the boundaries of our life and that which enables us to endure whatever obstacle that might stand in our way!
So I know this might be a lot to take in; but it is not; God is calling us to great things; to be a part of His work in the world both individually as well as corporately! He is inviting us to do more for Him, to see more of His work!
The ask is big, the task is bigger, and the opposition is fiercely against us so let’s stand firm and…
Let’s do this!
I don’t know about you; but I am tired of making excuses; I want to be all in in the things of God; I want my life to matter!
I want to at the end of it all hear those words of Jesus saying “well done my good and faithful servant!”
Yes there is going to opposition; in fact if we commit ourselves to Christ to stand firm tonight with Him; especially against the work of Satan; there will be a war! But we have our armour ready; where know where we stand and I want to invite each and every one of us to do this!
Let’s make this count; let’s see all the wonder of what God can do though us when we say okay God however far you want to take us; no matter how scary I’m in; I trust you, I’m all in!
I believe that God has more for you; He want to do more in you and through you; I believe that God wants to use this church; He wants to do more in us and through us!
The commitment comes from our side where we give up on ourselves; we stop making this about us; and start truly living for Him; in compete abandon I believe that He will extend the boundaries of influence!
We truly can be a church that is indeed more people – more like Jesus!
So I invite you to pray this evening if you are serious about being used by God for Him to expand your influence and for Him to use you more in His things to pray with me and trust with me that He will do in us more than we could ever hope for or dream of!