Sermon from our Red Deer Church – Daring Faith Pt 5 – Jarrud Gilbert
So I was driving in this morning, praying in my mind and thinking about the message, wondering if God is going to step up like he always does, because we like to wonder about that even though he’s always there and always will be and will never leave or forsake us. And on the radio pop, this little blurb on 90.5, some of you guys might have heard it this morning. I’m not even sure what the ad was for I really wasn’t paying attention, but I did catch a story about this young granddaughter that was doing something and the granddad saw her and he’s like, “No, you can’t do that. Don’t do that.” And she said, “Sorry grandpa.” And so he turned away and no sooner did he turn away and then she did it again, and he turned back, he said, “Sweetheart, don’t do that, you can’t do that.” And so she looked up in his eyes and said, “Sorry grandpa, sorry.” He’s like, “OK.” He turned away, and of course, as soon as he turned away she did it again. And this went on and on, and then she did it one more time and grandpa at this point is human like any of us who’ve encountered children, you pet them and try not to strangle them with the other hand. He says, “I have told you time and again not to do that.” “Sorry grandpa.” “Sorry is not enough,” he says to her. And immediately he was struck by a voice from the Lord that said, “Really? Sorry is not enough?”
How many times does our Lord accept our apologies and just love us into change? So anyway, that was just a realization for me this morning how much grace… you talk about grace, you talk about mercy and you talk about the power that God gives us to change. And part of the power is the freedom that he gives us by just continually loving us. “OK, you’re sorry. OK, I love you.” “Yes, OK you’re sorry. Yes, I love you.” We were singing that song this morning, Break Every Chain – his name has that power. And I’m talking to you this morning about daring faith and daring to commit. So I want to commit to something, but I’m going to have the chains broken off of me. Think of something in this world that has that same dynamic. When you commit to your work, is it a commitment without chains? Is there a binding contract that you’re under? When you enter into holy matrimony is there a contract with that or some sort of chain? You’re committing and you’re chained. Chained maybe sounds like a harsh word because I don’t think of myself as chained to my wife. She might think she’s chained to me sometimes.
But God asks us to commit to him, and then he takes all the chains and he goes pfft. Wow, there’s something I want to commit to. Commit to me and be free, that’s what he’s saying. Your life is shaped by your commitments, we become whatever we are committed to. If we’re committed to nothing, we become nothing. There’s lots of people out in the world that have no commitments to anything, and where is their lives going? Hopefully to serve the kingdom of God, eventually somebody will sow the seed that will bring them there I pray Lord Jesus, please. But many people are afraid of commitment. Why? Why would we be afraid of committing to something? Lots of different reasons, but that fear or that fear of commitment, it causes them to miss out on so many great things. If we don’t give fully to something how do we expect to fully reap out of that. If we sort of halfway say, “I guess I’m going to sort of drive this morning.” You half open the door, one arm on the wheel, the door is open ready to jump out and walk at any moment. I don’t know if that’ll turn out so well. If I have committed to be at my job, I’m supposed to be there in only eight hours a day, five days a week, but I only show up for 20 of those hours, I don’t think I’m going to end up with a job after a short time.
In Romans 6:13 it says, “Give yourselves completely to God every part of you, for you have been back to life and you want to be tools in the hands of God used for his good purposes.” I’m sorry, I just want to pray right now. I forgot to pray at the start. I just want to pray Lord God, I just want to thank you for being here this morning. I want to thank you for your spirit being among us. God, I thank you for opening up our hearts to hear your message this morning. I pray that my lips my tongue, my mind, every part of me would be your instrument this morning God, that your message would not be hindered by my flesh. I thank you and I praise you Lord this morning, and I just thank you Lord for breaking every chain, in Jesus name, amen.
Romans 12:1 says, “Since God has shown us great mercy offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship.” The New Century version, that’s at this point my favorite version, I love them. Picture this, the Olympic Games, Mexico 1968, the marathon is the final event on the program, the Olympic Stadium is packed and there’s excitement as the first athlete, an Ethiopian runner, enters the stadium. The crowd erupts as he crosses the finish line. Way back in the field is another runner, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. He has been eclipsed by the other runners, and after 30 kilometers his head is throbbing, his muscles are aching and he falls to the ground. He has serious leg injuries and the officials want him to retire, but he refuses. With his knees bandaged Akhwari picks himself up and he hobbles the remaining 12 kilometers to the finish line. An hour after the winner has finished Akhwari enters the stadium, all but a few thousands of the crowd have gone home, Akhwari moves around the track at a painstakingly slow pace until finally he collapses over the finish line. It’s one of the most heroic efforts of Olympic history. And afterward when asked by a report why he had not dropped out, Akhwari replied, “My country did not send me to start the race, they sent me to finish.”
There are five commitments that will impact your eternity that I’m going to talk about this morning. The first commitment that I want to talk to you about is a commitment to strengthen your faith, and to strengthen your faith you must unite with others in worship. There’s simply two benefits to uniting with others in worship. Did you guys feel at least one of those benefits this morning after this worship session that we just had? We are so blessed to have the worship team that we do, you guys are very awesome. Worshiping with others renews my strength. In Isaiah chapter 40:31 it says, “Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint.” Give me some of that. The other thing is worshiping with others restores my joy. Psalms 100:2 says, “Worship the Lord with gladness, come before him singing with joy.” Just two benefits to uniting with others in worship.
So, in doing my research for this I came across this song, and I don’t typically do this in a message, but I’d actually like you guys to listen to it, just listen to it. Maybe they’ll put the words up when it’s playing here, but so worth the long song, I mean really, isn’t that the story of each of our hearts? I watched an interview with a gentleman singing there, and you could tell when he’s talking about writing the song, he seems kind of speechless, he doesn’t know how to describe in words how he feels about what God has done, how he’s created this world and how he sent his son here to die for our sins so that we could have the relationship with God that we should have; how overwhelming is that? God could have spoke and you all would have just obeyed. He didn’t do that because he wants us to commit. He wants us to commit. I played that song and sat down there and my wife leaned over and like, “This is my favorite song.” I never actually heard it before. There’s a good reason it’s her favorite song, it should be all of our favorite songs. Again, the reason why Hillsong United can make such amazing songs is because those guys, when they decide to write a song, guess what they do? They commit – “I’m going to write this song.” So the first commitment that will impact your eternity, in order to strengthen your faith you must unite with others in worship.
The second life commitment is to discover my identity and purpose I must connect with others for fellowship. Sorry to all you introverts out there, you have to make connections if you want to discover your identity and purpose because somebody in your fellowship circle, somebody who’s your brother in Christ or sister in Christ, they have something for you from God that will help you figure out what your purpose is. Romans 12:4-5 says, “We are like the various parts of a human body, each part gets its meaning from Christ’s body as a whole (not the other way around), each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body.” But as a chopped off finger or cut off toe, well we wouldn’t amount to much now, would we?
Anytime you have conflict in relationships it affects who you are. That’s why conflict is so painful and miserable, it changes you, it affects who you are. In Ephesians 2:16 it says, “Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The cross got us to embrace and that was the end of hostility.” An amazing verse. A little background – back in the day only Jews were allowed in the outer court of temple. If there was any other race, if you weren’t a pure Jewish person and you were caught in the outer court of the temple, you were killed on the spot. And when Jesus came he tore down that dividing wall between the races. He tore it down, he said, “No more.” There is no distinction from one race to another, we are all God’s children, we all don’t deserve his grace and mercy, but it is a gift from him to all of us. Then even more Jesus tore down the dividing wall, and then he created a brand new thing; he created the church. An all nation, all-encompassing, no matter where you walk, your background comes from, no matter where your history is, no matter what color your blood is, green. God has a heyday with Star Trek, right? “Oh yes, that’s one of my sons. That’s one of my daughters and that’s one of my worms or whatever you want to call them.” what if he watches reruns?
2 Corinthians 5:18,19 says, “Now God has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation and the message of reconciliation.” Well, do you think we can use this little message of reconciliation today? How many wars do you think there are in the world today right now, this very minute? 50? With the crisis in Gaza, the rise of Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, and the international standoff going on in Ukraine can sometimes feel like the whole world is at war. Experts believe that this is a reality, almost universally the case according to a think-tank which produces one of the world’s leading measures of global peacefulness, and things are only going to get worse. It may make for bleak reading, but of the 162 countries covered by the Institute for Economics and Peace’s latest study, just 11 were not involved in conflict of one kind or another. The United Kingdom as an example is relatively free from an internal conflict, making it easy to fall into thinking that it exists in the state of peace. But recent involvement in foreign fighting in the likes of Afghanistan as well as a fairly high state of militarization means Britain actually scores quite poorly on the 2014 Global Peace Index, coming 47th overall. Then there are countries which are involved in no actual foreign wars involving deaths whatsoever, like North Korea, but which are fraught with the most divisive and entrenched internal conflicts. The IE peace findings mean that choices are slim if you want to live in a completely peaceful country. The only ones to achieve the lowest score for all forms of conflict were Switzerland, Japan, Qatar, Mauritius, Uruguay, Chile, Botswana, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Panama and Brazil. It’s pretty serious world we live in, so I think that we need a message of risk reconciliation. We need to get together, we need to talk about Christ amongst ourselves and amongst the people that we meet.
Third life commitment – to develop my potential I must learn from others in order to grow. There are some things that you just can’t learn on your own, trust me. If I think I can learn it I will try it on my own, I’m an independent guy who refuses to use the resources that Jesus has provided for me. And I get spanked for it often. There are some things that you just can’t learn on your own. Only learn them in community – love, I can’t learn that on my own, kindness, sympathy, unselfishness, loyalty, forgiveness, graciousness, faithfulness – starting to sound like some qualities that we’ve read somewhere in the Bible. We can’t learn them on our own. I can’t learn to be faithful to myself. Ephesians 4:16, “Christ’s body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow.” God wired us to need each other. Just imagine all the stories you’ve heard about normal people who started growing in amazing ways. When they stepped out in faith they committed their lives, time, talent and treasure to God; think about it. You guys have met them, you might even look at the mirror at them once in a while. Think about the changes that you’ve seen in people’s lives, not when they went, “Aah, I guess I’ll go to church.” “Hmm, I guess I’ll give Jesus my life for half the day.” Think about the people that have fully committed everything they have, and think about the things that they’ve done.
What does Jesus say? Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you. So, what is the kingdom of God? What is God’s kingdom? Romans 14:17 says, “God’s kingdom isn’t about eating and drinking, it’s about pleasing God, living in peace and experiencing true happiness.” And all of this comes by the Holy Spirit. That’s why I love Sundays, not that the Holy Spirit doesn’t arrive in other places and stuff, but man we gather together like this, we stand up and we sing songs, our hearts go out to God and we’re like, “Man, I love you.” And God goes, “Yeah, whoosh.” And then the Spirit comes and we all go, “Oooh.” Of course, then tears start leaking down my face and whatever. I love it though. I love it I would never want that to be different.
Where’s God’s kingdom? Wherever Jesus is, wherever. He’s here, it’s kingdom; he’s there, it’s kingdom. You fly across the world and you meet someone who knows Jesus, it’s a kingdom. You go across skipping down a couple countries and you walk into the dirtiest hut you’ve ever seen in your life and there’s a cross on the wall, hey, God’s kingdom, sweet. There are places that’s not God’s kingdom, but daring faith is about building God’s kingdom here on earth. We have work to do. It’s not 100% finished, we don’t get to sit back and go, “Mhmm.” We need to commit to building his kingdom on earth.
Fourth life commitment – to experience significance I must serve others in ministry. Love God, love others, and serve; got to do it, have to commit to doing it. Significance doesn’t come from status, salary, sex. Where does significance come from? Service 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace.” We have been shaped for significance. God says each of us are special, that he has a plan perfected and laid out for each of us. It is a plan for significance for each of us. I didn’t say a plan for glory, although that is part of serving God in his kingdom. God’s glory comes upon us, we inherit Jesus’s glory, that’s a promise. But the significance that he’s talking about is the significance that we gain when we serve. We are shaped for significance, and ministry is a way to gain that significance to serve. And I’m not talking about standing up here and giving a message. If that’s what your calling is, great, come take my place. I’m talking about just serving.
“Wow, it’s tough to hear that you weren’t able to make rent this month because your short $100. You know what, here’s $300, go get yourself some groceries too.” “Hey, you’re dragging around four kids in a piece-of-crap vehicle, it’s not really safe. Here, have a vehicle.” “Hey, you’ve been wearing that same outfit for the last 12 Sundays. Come with me, I want to hang out with you, we’re going to go shopping.” And these are material things too, that’s not the only thing I’m talking about either. “Hey, I saw you the other day and you look like you were crying, is there something you want to talk about?” Let’s serve. Let’s be significant to one another, because you know what, if we do that and other people see it and aren’t a part of it, “What’s going on there? I want in on that.” And they’ll come, and you’ll be significant to them and then they’ll learn to be significant to others, and then you’re spreading the gospel and all you’re doing is love and people, amen, hallelujah.
God has a lot to say about serving and ministering together. In Ecclesiastes 4:9 -12 it says, “Two people are always better than one, because by working together, if one falls down the other can help him up. But it is bad for the person who is alone and falls because I fallen and I can’t get up. No one’s there to help. If two lie down together they can share the same blanket and stay warm, but a person alone will not be warm. An enemy might defeat one person, but two people together can defend themselves. And the rope that is woven of three braids is pretty hard to break.” When we work together we maximize our impact, which is what verse 9 is talking about, you get more done. Number two, we minimize our failures, and verse 10, the other guy can help the other guy up. We can pool our resources, share the blanket. Money goes further when you share it. Think about it, one little drop of rain, does that mean the rainfall is over? You see that drop on your windshield, what do you think? There’s more coming. And all it takes is that one drop to start it. Same thing with our resources and our sharing and our building up with one another, one drop, and then think about the floods that we can create. Jesus creates it, we just kind of ride along and squirt our guns into it every once in a while.
With Jesus there is no insignificant ministry; none. If you can think of something, even if it’s not something you’ve ever thought of before and it’s ministering to someone else, if it’s making you significant to someone else, then it is not insignificant, and Jesus goes, “Yes, well done good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:40, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.” I think about that when I’m somewhere and I see a guy shuffling along, and he’s got his bin full of stuff and you know what his life is like, and I think about me and my nice clothes, nice truck, $5 or $10 I got in my pocket because I carry a little cash here and there. Oops, I wasn’t supposed to let you know that. What can I do to help that guy? And some might think, “Well, $5 isn’t going to make a difference in this guy’s life.” No, maybe not, maybe the paper money is not going to make a difference, but you know what will make a difference? You look at him in the eyes and go and, “I hear, I see. Here.” Even if he’s not in a good shape mentally, not in a good shape because he’s under the influence of something, whatever, it doesn’t matter, look him in the eyes and say, “Here, I want to help you.” Even if it’s only for a minute that guy will see significance in you, and that’s a seed, tiny as a mustard seed.
The last thing to make eternal difference – I must join with others in mission. We had a talk about mission last week. You know how excited I am that you guys are taking over, and Mike, you did an amazing job with missions. When I went on a mission with Rich last year I saw his heart probably for the first time since I’ve known him. I’ve known him eight years, something like that, seven years, and I’ve never really… Rich is an interesting fellow. Great sense of humor that catches you off-guard. We used to play this game called Game of Things, so you pick a card out of the box, it gives you a subject and you write a statement about it and you put it all in and then everybody’s got to guess who wrote what. So at the end of it you have the ones that didn’t get guessed, those are the ones that are left. He decides to throw in two for himself. he throws it in, we go through the game, but there’s this extra one left. “Well who wrote this?” He’s over there chuckling away. But I saw his heart, we went on the mission together and I saw his heart in the missions, and I’m excited for this year. I think this year is going to bring some really cool things, not just out of missions either, out of the rest of this church too. I see these faces, I see how excited you guys are too. We must join each other on missions.
So what did Jesus do before he went back to heaven? After he died and he was resurrected, he hung out with the disciples for a bit. So what did he do? He showed them a few things, told them a few things. One of the things he told them was, “Go disciple, go do some work, go on a mission together.” It’s got to be pretty important to stop the guy on his way from rising from the dead to heading off to heaven, “Oh, hang on. I got to do this one thing.” Come talk to the disciples and be like “one mission.” And I don’t mean fly across the world. That’s good, it’s good the place to go. I went to Thailand, I super enjoyed it. I love seeing the people, realized I’m not called to missions. I shouldn’t say that. I’m not called to overseas missions, because I’m called to mission. But I’m called to help people here; that’s my mission. Val and I have been talking, we’re at sort of a nexus or transition or crossroads, whatever you want to call it, starting between ministry. It’s a weird thing because we’ve forever… well, since I’ve met Val her dad was smart enough to recognize something in me and utilize me to the fullest extent that he could, so I’ve been in a lot of the ministries, the children’s ministry, sound ministry, youth ministry, I’ve been up here preaching, I’ve helped out with reading, not consistently but once in a while, so I’ve done a few of the things here. I’ve been a Christian now for 12 years. And it’s still like yesterday when God revealed himself to me.
Ministry is the path to meaning in life Mark 8:35, “If you try to keep your life for yourself you will lose it, but if you give your life for my sake and for the sake of the good news, you will find true life.” That’s those chains we’re talking about breaking off. You want chains broken in your life, you got them there, you don’t seem to be able to do it, try a mission, try giving of yourself to somebody else and watch those chains just go. So before Jesus went back to heaven he gave the disciples a mission, it’s pretty important, must be. We need to do missions, we need to make an eternal difference by joining others on missions. And I’m not talking just overseas, I’m talking mission anywhere; missions are everywhere. So after the service we’re all going to run over and sign up for the missions group, right? Matthew 28:19 – 20, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to do everything that I have commanded you, and surely I will be with you.” That’s what was important for him to come tell them; pretty important.
I got an excerpt here from a speech, it’s a Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, Norwegian, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches on the UN Council, pretty important dude, deals with a lot of churches, a lot of different churches. And he had a speech that he presented at the United Nations Office in Geneva in the council chamber, the palais des nations on Monday the 3rd of June in 2013, and this is just a little piece out of it. He said, “The life of the churches is such that it can help to build those vital bridges between States and peoples, motivating people not simply as individuals, but as members of a wider and potentially more powerful entities, and in doing so contribute transformationally to the life of nations and of the global community.” Do you want to know how we raise that number of 11 peaceful countries up to 162? We go mission, we minister to each other. We minister to people that need ministering. We gain significance to others, we serve them. He goes on to say, “The vision requires of us that we be never content with ourselves, but always go beyond ourselves, reaching out to the other actors in civil society. God does not need religion, we as humanity can however be well served by our religious traditions if they inspire us to honor God by striving for justice and peace for all of humanity and the whole creation. Therefore, we pray God of Life, lead us to justice and peace.” Wow, that man has got a tough job. Have you ever heard of two churches with slightly different theology butting heads? That man deals with every religion on the planet. Maybe we need to just forget about some of our pettiness, get together and solve the problems in this world with Christ’s help.
So the real issue that I’m talking about today is the five commitments that I’ve shared with you. And the question that you need to ask yourself is, “Will I trust God in the big issues of my life?” Will you trust God in the five big issues of your life? Do we really trust God? It’s a serious question you got to pose to yourselves, because how do you commit if you don’t trust? And it all starts with a simple prayer. If you have never accepted Jesus into your heart, there’s an opportunity for you right now. I’d say no pressure, but actually I’m pressured, because it’s serious. It’s probably the most important decision you’ll ever make in your life. It was the most important decision that I made. And for those of you who know me, you probably know a little bit of where I’d be now if I hadn’t. And if you don’t know me, let me assure you I wouldn’t be standing in front of a crowd speaking about Jesus’s word unless you were giving me money to do it. I wouldn’t be free walking around without somebody telling me when to eat, when to go to the bathroom, when to exercise, when to go to sleep, and then closing a barred door on my room. I wouldn’t be here talking, I might be staring up at the bottom side of a coffin. It started with one simple prayer.
If you’ve never accepted Jesus into your heart I’m giving you the opportunity right now. I’m just going to say the prayer, if you want to, follow along or say it with me, awesome; if you want to say it in your mind, awesome. But I ask only that you just say it, not to me, not to your neighbor, not to yourself, but to Jesus. If you are serious and you want him in your heart today, say it to him. Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and you rose from the dead, and right now I decide to turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow you as my Lord and Savior, in your name I pray, amen. Simple, but pretty impactful. Five commitments. I dare you all to have faith, thank you.