All right. Well, hey guys, welcome across all of our church and all of our campuses, man. We're excited to have you this weekend. It's a great time to be new.
Before we dive into our sermon for today, I'm going to give us one kind of quick announcement. And this is cool. All right.
There are two things that are going on at Mercy Hill right now and they're sort of colliding into the fall. They're both really good. All right. The first one is, man, we've just been running high this year, running hot all summer.
Okay. It's been incredible. We have a church who loves numbers because numbers represent people, people represent stories and stories matter to God. He's very near to us.
He knows every single one of our stories. And guys, the truth is, man, we've been running probably 500 more people this summer than we were last summer, which is really awesome across all of our church. But when you mix that with the fact that this is the weekend that our awesome college students kind of begin to show up. Hey, church, all across our campuses, can we praise God and welcome our college students? Some of you guys are freshmen. I'm going to tell you what God does in your life over the next four years is going to shape who you are. I want you to think about the next four years of your life, not just for a future income, but a right now impact that God has for you to make in this world.
And friends that you meet, maybe even this week, the church that you connect to might make all the difference. So, but guys, we have these two realities. Okay.
We got, man, we're running hot, which is good. College students are coming back, which is good, but there's absolutely no room. For the regional campus to absorb any more people, which is bad.
Okay. And so what we want to do is we want to make a real big push right now across the whole church for us to make room at the regional campus in the morning, not just for this weekend. But guys, if our historical trends kind of hold, there will be three or four weeks over the next six weeks where we just will not be able to fit people that are coming in.
And what a tragedy would be to pray for somebody for months or years and then finally have them because God's shaken up something in their life. They want to come and we have to tell them, hey, we want you to go sit in an overflow seating, or maybe there's just literally no room for them. Guys, a campus is out of room when a family of five can't walk in and sit down together. Okay.
So you might look around at regional if you're here right now and you might say, well, there's room there. It's like, man, there's a message that gets sent that just says there's no room for you here. We don't want to send that message. So before we dive into the sermon, let me just say this.
All right. If you're driving past one of our awesome campuses to come to regional, we really want you to think about going to the campus that is closest to your house, especially for this fall. We say this all the time at Mercy Hills, serve where you live. Man, be a missionary in that community. So we want you to do that. And then, of course, for those of us that are attending the regional campus, if you're coming here on Sunday mornings, we just got to say, hey, can you think about doing one or two things, right? The first thing would be, can you jump to a Thursday night service or a Sunday night service? All right. Man, our Thursday night service is my favorite service. Of the whole weekend. Okay.
It's vibrant. Things go down. All right.
People are prayed over. God's doing stuff. It's awesome. Man, I would say, man, jump in on a Thursday night. But I know some of you are like our family, our kids. We just can't. We can't make that. Okay. Well, then, if you're here at regional, I'm going to tell you to move over a mile down the road and attend a regional north campus for this fall, maybe even commit to be there until the ridge campus launches where both of regional regional north can come together.
So would you would you consider doing that, giving your seat up for the sake of somebody else? I met a family in our church just this week. A woman and her daughter coming in. They've been coming for months. They've been self-professed, bouncing around church, trying to figure out what to do. And they finally kind of found a community at Mercy Hill.
What if the first time they showed up, there was no room for them? Young guy with two kids going through one of the hardest things in his whole life. He's sitting down one night. He sees somebody pull up to the house, pull up where he was, and they had a Mercy Hill sticker on the back of their car. He felt compelled to ask them what that's about. They shared with him. He jumped online, started listening to sermons, showed up at our church about a month ago.
What happens if there was no room for him when he showed up? Right. So let's take this seriously, man. Let's teach our kids what it looks like to be missional, to be uncomfortable. Let's go over to regional north if you can, or make some room by going to your campus. And hey, when you get there, man, don't just go. Let's let's attend and serve.
All right. Especially the regional campuses now needs two teams to pull off everything that we do. On the weekend, think about that.
Twice the worship, twice the production, twice the kids teams. Okay, so we need help in those areas. And I pray that you will jump in with us there. All right, let's dive in brand new sermon series. First Thessalonians chapter one today. And if you are new with us across all of our locations, let me just tell you, you picked a great weekend because we're all going to be new together. None of us have been studying this passage.
We're going to study here together for the next couple of months. And I'm really excited about going through this book with y'all. Let me give you the tagline for the series. Okay, this is not for our sermon today.
It's really just for the whole series. I think a good tagline for First Thessalonians is this. Wait well without wasting time.
All right, wait well. The book of First Thessalonians is all about sort of correcting the theology of what it looks like to anchor your hope in a future kingdom that is coming. But when we anchor our hope in that future kingdom, that Jesus is going to come, he's going to bring a kingdom.
With no tears, no sorrow. But when we anchor our hope there, it doesn't create a passivity here. It doesn't create a sitting on our hands. It doesn't create a twiddling the thumbs, looking to the skies to see when Jesus is going to come back. It creates a radical, generous life filled with mission and movement. And that's what we want to push our church to see throughout this series. Here's what I want you to see this weekend. Part of waiting well is taking joy and making other disciples.
Big idea. Disciples take joy in making other disciples. Y'all, we thank God. This is what we're going to see from Paul today. He thanks God that he gets a chance to see his disciples flourishing. And that's what I want you to see.
I want us all to experience this joy. If we're living a Christian life that is sort of all about me, and it's sort of all about what God can do for me, and I think we're not experiencing the joy of the true Christian life, which is the understanding that we have been called to make disciples, and we have a mission, and it looks a thousand different ways, and it looks totally according to your gifting, but we all have a hand that we can play in this. Parents do this all the time. Why do parents ask their kids all the time what they're going to do in the future? What kind of sports are you going to play next year? What school do you really want to go to? What are you going to do with your life? We're always asking them this. I mean, eight years old, asking them, what are you going to do with your life?
I know it to be a preacher without blinking. He said, no way. I would be too scared. I would make a mistake.
Everyone would laugh, and I would become a blooper on YouTube. I was like, really? You've thought about that. And then I thought, wait, maybe I should be thinking about that. No, I don't want the fear to get in my heart, right? But I just think about why we're doing that.
Ask an eight-year-old. Here's why. Because we know what type of joy, and some of us understand what type of heartbreak it's going to be to see them one day, maybe not walking in the right way, or the joy that is going to come from seeing them walk in the right way. We understand the joy of that with our kids, a great analogy. Actually, the Apostle John picks this up in 3 John chapter 1, when he says, I take great joy, no greater joy, than to see my children walking in the truth. He wasn't talking about his biological kids.
Okay, some of us are single, some of us are past that age, some of us are maybe married, but don't have kids. Paul, John wasn't talking about his kids. He was talking about his spiritual kids, the joy that comes from knowing that they are walking in the truth. That joy is out there for every single one of us, and it is part of a life that waits well for the next kingdom to come. And I see it all over our church. Man, I see musicians who pour their life out, and production people who pour their life out every single week.
Why? Because every single week and every single campus, man, people are having breakthroughs in worship. God's speaking to them. They're learning things.
They're pouring it out. That's not what we're talking about all the time. It's having a hand in moving the needle in someone else's life. If you're around the regional campus, you probably know a woman named Miss Linda. A lot of the kids may not even know her at this church.
But I'll tell you this, for 10 years, she's never seen a baptism of one of these kids, and she didn't cry because of how much she is pouring out for them behind the scenes, and people don't know. You know, I think about people that are going on mission trips, people that are selflessly opening their homes to lead community groups. It may not look like the one-on-one, who exactly is your disciple, it's every one of us having an opportunity to play a major part in what God is doing in his church and bringing disciples to maturity. And we get a chance to take joy in that, just like Paul did.
All right? And I want to call you to that today. Look what it says in 1 Thessalonians. For our God and Father, your work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope, faith, love, and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.
Okay, wait a minute. We thank God because we see evidence in your life. We know God has chosen you.
Why? Because our gospel came to you, not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among us. For your sake. Now, the very first thing that I want to do is I want to draw our attention to this awesome greeting that he has in the first couple of verses here. I mean, Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, to the church of Thessalonia, you know, Thessalonica, God, you know, the Thessalonians, God, the Father, Lord Jesus Christ, grace and peace. We thank God.
One of the things I think we should realize just quickly here is how much better greetings were a couple thousand years ago. Okay. I mean, most, most of the time you got a friend, they call you and they just say the word, yo. Okay. Or I got one friend that always says, what it do, homie.
I don't know why he does that. All right. But I think about, I think about some of the greetings that we have and I think about the greeting they have here. But of course, the bigger point is what is in this greeting and what's in this greeting, verse two. Listen, it sets the trajectory for everything we're going to talk about today. If you miss this, the rest of it's going to be hard to understand. Verse two says this.
We give thanks to God for all of you. Now, my question for you is this. He's talking about a church that he planted. We can read about that in Acts chapter 17.
He's talking about disciples that were made under his ministry. Here's my question to you. If you were to say to God, God, I thank you. I mean, I make mention of you all of this thing, always in my prayers.
God, I thank you constantly over this thing. Wouldn't that thing be a pretty big blessing in your life? I mean, one of the things that you constantly thank God over, your health, man, your family, your kids, your financial situation, your stability, man, your church, your friends, your community group. I don't know what it would be in your life. But anything in our life that we are constantly thanking God for and making mention of in our prayers, isn't it a safe bet to say that that thing is a pretty big blessing to us? See, here's what, this underlines and kind of undergirds the whole message today.
There is a great blessing and joy that Paul says right from the beginning for seeing our children walk in the truth, spiritual children walk in the truth, for seeing disciples made, and we can all have a hand in it. You know, I used the example of parents earlier. Let me use the example of teachers. Hey, are there any teachers at any of our campuses? If you work in the school system, can you just raise your hand right now? Raise your hand right now. All right.
Hey, can we praise God for them church across all of our church? Hey, we know what kind of labor that is. And we know why you do it. And I've known enough teachers to know that probably why you do it is a little bit wrapped up in what I'm talking about here. It's not necessarily the pay.
It's not necessarily the schedule. You love, at the end of the year, getting those test scores back and knowing that from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, you had a massive impact. You could see how the needle was moved in their life. In the same way, that's what Paul is talking about here for every one of us with little disciples, whether they're old, young, physical age, little disciples, all right, that have just become believers or have never been really matured in the faith, seeing them mature and walk in the faith. We get that same sense of, God, you're using me to impact them.
And it's an exciting thing in our life. Now, the whole idea here, and when I get all the way to the end, it's going to be all about you take joy in disciple making, okay? But the first, I think to get there, the first thing we really got to wrestle with, really the thing we're going to wrestle with the whole time, is, okay, joy in disciple making, but what is a disciple? What is a Christian? Okay, you can say, a couple of things.
A couple of different ways, all right? What is that person who is following Jesus? Well, that's what we're going to see for, I really think the most of our time here today, is a disciple is someone who has experienced salvation, imitation, and proclamation, all right? They have been saved, they are growing in imitation of Jesus, and now their life is ringing out to the world. And that's what we're going to say. So let's take it in turn, all right? Number one, disciples are saved people.
Now, in the South, we say this a lot of different ways. Did they ask Jesus in their heart? Did they, you know, did they get saved? Did they get born again? Did they step over the line?
I don't know how you want to say it. They weren't a Christian, now they are. They weren't a follower of Christ, an apprentice of Christ, and now they are, okay? The Spirit was not in their heart, and now the Spirit is in their heart.
They were dead, now they're alive. This is what he says first. And with full conviction.
Now, here's what he's saying. The Gospel didn't just come to you in words, it came to you in power. It came to you in conviction. The Spirit fell in other words.
Now, I don't want you to get messed up here, okay? The Gospel is never less than words, but it is more than that. It is a message that is spoken with words, but it is power. Romans 1 16 tells us this, it is the power of God to salvation. It is the conviction, the Spirit's falling. I know there's been, you know, popular phrase, hey, share Jesus all the time, and if necessary, use words.
That's about like telling me to use, you know, for you to tell me your phone number, and if necessary, use digits, okay? I mean, the Gospel is words. It is a proto-Evangelion, okay? It is a message. It is an assertion. That's what it is. But when we share the Gospel, God moves upon it by his Spirit, and there is power.
See what it said? It says this, because our Gospel, verse five, came to you. It is a Gospel that comes. One preacher said it like this, it's a Gospel that walks. It's a Gospel that has power. Now, what is the Gospel message, okay? What is this Gospel message that has power? Well, it's very simple in a lot of ways. I mean, it's deep enough that we can keep turning the diamond for all eternity, but it's simple enough for a child to understand. The Gospel is this, that God created the world and a paradise for humanity.
To enjoy it and him forever. But rather than do that, we rebelled against God. Sure, our first parents did, but we could throw rocks at them all day, or we could realize that we've joined their rebellion. Man, and in our sin, we're separated from God, and we deserve not to be in his presence. In fact, we deserve to be wiped away. But instead of wiping us all away, what does God do? God steps in, and he sends a promise all the way at the beginning of the Bible that says, one day, I'm gonna send somebody, and he's gonna take away your sin. He's gonna crush the head of the wrath of God.
Crush the serpent who is bearing down upon you. And that happened. Jesus Christ came into the world, and Jesus Christ never sinned one time. Why? So that he could laugh at all of our faces, so that he could show us what it was supposed to be.
No. He never sinned once so that he could become the perfect sacrifice. And then he did the unthinkable.
He stepped in for us. You and I in our sin deserve death. Jesus never deserved death because he never sinned, but he took death on the cross.
The great exchange, we call it. Jesus in my place. The gospel is Jesus in my place. It's this idea of Jesus stood on the cross when it was me that should have been there. And this forgiveness, this grace, it invades my life. I come to the place where I realize my sin debt before God is so grand. I could never outwork it.
I could never get over that chasm. But Jesus has come and done what I couldn't do for myself. And then God gives us the spirit, wakes us up. We become alive together. God spiritually, we start to be able to resist sin.
We begin to change. This is the gospel that he's talking about when he says the gospel comes in power. The Holy Spirit comes with full conviction.
Here's my question for you this weekend across all of our locations. Has that gospel come into your life? And snatch you inside out, and take you from death to life, and save you from hell, and put your feet on the rock, and give you a future in heaven without you knowing it? Man, has this gospel come to you? Are you being drawn?
Listen, some of us on our campuses might feel like this today. You felt like you were coming to Mercy Hill to grasp the gospel, and instead you feel like the gospel is grasping you. You came to investigate it. Instead, it's investigating you.
That's what the Bible does. You're reading it. You're reading it. You're reading it until one day you realize it's reading you.
It's beginning to unveil and peel back the layers of my heart. Maybe that's dawning on some of you today. Maybe some of you today a year ago the gospel was foolishness, but you know what? The gospel is foolishness to us until one day it's not.
And maybe that's happening in your life. It's the moment of understanding. It's the moment of moving from I know about God to I know him.
And I interact with him and I walk with him. Disciples are saved. Number two, disciples are imitators of Jesus. Look what it says in verse three. I want to go from verse three to verse six. I just want to talk to you for a minute about the works in a disciples life. We see the evidence of Christ in their life.
Remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Okay, so they're working, they're laboring, they're steadfast in the midst of persecution and trial and affliction. Look what it says in verse six. I think what he's saying here is one of the ways that we know we are making disciples and that those disciples are authentic disciples is because of the works that we see in their life. Man our works don't save us, but there is no salvation that doesn't bring about works in our life. What does he say in verse six? We knew you were believers because you came to Christ in much affliction with joy. That's the difference in somebody who's faking it to make it versus somebody who actually is what they are saying that they are. That the refining fire is bringing joy and hope and they're steadfast.
That's the difference. We have so many, man we live in the south. Everybody's a Christian. I know a guy, you know, I know a guy doing ministry down in Florida. He wrote a book called The Unsaved Christian. Only in the south can we all go, we kind of understand what that means.
Unsaved Christian, right? There's a lot of people that are faking it to make it. Here's the problem with that, and I've told you this before, alright? You ever go to a basketball court, alright? You go play ball, I go play ball a couple days a week. You go play ball and you see a guy come out there and the guy's got brand new Nikes, okay? Everything's matching. Like the shirt and the pants are matching perfectly. It looks like he did his hair to come play pick up basketball. Do not pick that dude, alright?
Because he is trying to fake it to make it so bad. And there's a lot of us, maybe in the Christian life they're doing the same thing. I'm doing the thing. I'm going to church. I'm adorning myself with works.
I'm trying to teach morality to my kids. I'm doing the stuff. Man, are we the real thing. Because there's a difference in trying to work in order to versus God has changed me.
He's moved me from death to life. And now, see all of that stuff on the outside, it's not going to last through affliction. It's not going to last through the refining fire.
The joy and steadfastness is not going to come out. We are called though because we have been saved to grow in Christ's likeness and become an imitator. Now what does imitate mean? The imagery here, the word that is actually being used is like a coin that's being stamped. There's a mold that it's fitting into. Guys, we live in a culture that tells you to find yourself and the Bible tells you to lose yourself. You fit into the mold.
It's totally counter-cultural. The word imitate, the Greek word actually is kind of like the word mimic, like a mime or somebody who's mimicking your actions. You guys ever played copycat with your kids or something? We love, okay, so if you're new to Mercy Hill, our fourth child, Faith Ann, came to our home through adoption and she's six and a half years old, but you wouldn't know it. You would think she was a little bit younger than that because she has Down syndrome and she's very small. And she's kind of delayed. But what's fun right now, she's in this stage. She doesn't do it all the time. But every once in a while, she'll get in the mood of just wanting to be the mimic and wanting to do copycat. And it's the funnest thing.
You'll see my teenage kids or me and my wife just running around the house marching like little soldiers or playing and she's just doing everything that we're doing and it's a moment of connection. The copycat idea, she's being a little me, right? That's the idea of imitation. The idea of imitation is in a culture where we're pushed to find ourselves, we have committed to lose ourselves.
We have committed to say, no, no, no, I go away. It's like what John the Baptist said, less of me, more of you. I want my life to be stamped in terms of godliness, in terms of the way that Christ and the Spirit is going to work out in my life. Now, it doesn't mean that every single one of us, it doesn't mean we all look the same. It don't mean that we all worship in the same styles. That's not what I mean. What I mean is the fruit of the Spirit should be coming out in our life and we should look like Christ. That's the source of our life.
I shared this last week, guys. I shared one of the reasons for the hope that is within me is because I know who I would be without Christ and God is continuing through community, through His word. Man, for decades now, He has continued to move on those sharp edges, move on a sharp mind that wants to be quick to speak, move on a cutting tongue that wants to have the right zinger and He's moving and He's continuing to move in my life and I bet 10 years from now I'll be in a different place than I am now. This is what I'm talking about.
It is the imitation. It is God moving in our life and many of us, we get, listen, we've all got areas of failure, got areas of failure in my life, but over the course of our life, are we moving in this way? We will be if we're authentically Christian, if we're authentic disciples, you know why? Because the idols have been cast down in our life and the one that we're saying command us to is filling us with the fruit of the Spirit. You know, behavior flows downhill from worship.
I've mentioned that to you before and I think it's a good thing to remember here. Look at verse nine for just a second. And how you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
Now, what are we talking about here? How is it that we become different people? Well, the Spirit is empowering us. I understand that, but He's empowering us to fall more and more in love with Christ, to be more and more thankful of what God has done in our life. And as He does that, the idols are removed and the one true God shines. We are worshiping Him and as we do, we are formed into the image of God. Into the image of what we are worshiping.
That's why idols being cast down produces life change in our lives. What's funny about this passage in First Thessalonians 10, and I would encourage you to go back. It's very short. Go back and read Acts chapter 17. Just the first few verses.
Here's what you're going to find. This is kind of an interesting thing about this passage. He tells the people in Thessalonica, you have removed the idols, yet go back and read in Acts 17. You know who the people are that actually got saved?
They were Jews in a synagogue. This ain't like the people in Corinth. When he says idol, he ain't talking about a big statue. We all have idols is the point. We are all idolaters until the Gospel comes in power. And then when the Gospel comes in power, those idols begin to be cast down. Y'all, we all worship. Some of you are brand new today and you're like, man, I don't worship. Yeah, you do.
We all do. Man, we worship. We chase things with our life. Whatever it is that we put as the chief end of our life begins to command us. Man, if the chief end of our life is getting a certain position in business, man, we'll sacrifice our family to do that. If the chief end of our life is to see our kids succeed in their endeavors, then we will hammer them when they fail. See, whatever we're worshiping will dictate our behavior to us.
The thing with the Thessalonians is they have cast down their idols and now who is commanding them, God is commanding them. And what does that life look like? It looks like fruit of the Spirit. Man, it looks like a life of labor with love and marked out with faith and steadfast and persecution. They are evidencing the life changing power of the Gospel. Now, don't get this twisted.
I'm gonna say this, I'm gonna move on. Christian, you work from salvation, not for salvation. When we start talking about works, a lot of times we can get this thing, you know, we can get it all backwards.
We're like, okay, wait a minute. What you're saying is I need to go and do a bunch of things and make my life look different. Labor of love, work out faith, steadfastness, and then if I do those things, God will make me a Christian. That is the exact opposite of the Gospel. What the Gospel says is you need, it's like John 15, you need to be in the vine to bear fruit. You know, if you're in the vine, if the branch is in the vine, the life giving vine, you're the branch, he is the vine, then fruit will pop out over your life. You know, the only other way to do it is to take fruit.
You know, let's say you're playing in the garden and it failed and you were like really embarrassed by it, as I have done many times, okay? And you're like, man, I don't want my kids to see the garden has failed. It's a dead tomato vine.
So what do we do? We go to the store, we buy tomatoes, and then we staple it into the vine. Look kids, tomatoes, right?
You give that about two more days. We can try to staple the works on. It doesn't give life to the vine. Nothing about stapling on the fruit makes you alive. But in the Gospel, we are alive, and if we are alive, we will bear fruit. Faith will no more fail to produce works than the sun to produce light. That's what Martin Luther said.
Another way to say it is like this. If you know Jesus, you will know change. If there's no Jesus, there will be no real, authentic, lasting change in your life. Thirdly and finally, what is a disciple?
They are proclaimers. So that you become an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, became an example. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth, I love that, from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turn to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
Salvation, imitation, and proclamation. God not only saved you, salvation, he's changing you, imitation, and now he is allowing your life to become a sounding gong. It is sounding forth. It is resounding. It is ringing through the proclamation of the Gospel.
Now, there's debate here. Man, is this the people that are sending missionaries out, or are they just living their Christian life and it's sounding forth? Either way, what God has done here among these believers is making its way everywhere, and that should be the normal expectation for a believer. The bell is ringing out. You know, Anna's got a little bell on our porch, like a little dinner bell. You know, you can hear that thing. We'll be out there playing ball, or out there working somewhere, and you hear ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. It's sounding forth. It's going out. Here's the question.
Are our lives making an impact a long ways off? Because news spreads. That's what it does. And this is news. These people worship this way.
Why does he make a big deal about their reception? I mean, Paul ain't exactly a popular character in this world. And yet, he comes to them, and they receive him, and even that has become news, and news spreads.
They've changed. God has saved them. Christians are people who like what it says in verse 10. We know that we were under the wrath of God that is coming. Because of the blood of Christ, we have been given an escape and a family, and we want others to know that as well. Man, the gospel came to us on its way to somebody else, and we want our neighbors to know that, and we want the nations to know that, and we want to declare his glory among the nations.
So, by way of application, y'all, I just want to hit these three kind of points in terms of where we are in the process, right? Are we in salvation, imitation, proclamation? Here's what I'm going to call us to do. Be thankful to God as we make disciples. Now, for some of you, that's not where we need to start. Okay, for some of you, where we need to start is, wait a minute, I don't make a disciple until I become a disciple. And so, the first place we need to start is, what areas of your life might need to be... Do you need to examine your heart today to see, man, are you a believer or not? Have you stepped over that line, or have you not?
I said this earlier today. Hey, if the gospel has come into your life, and you're like, man, I'm not really sure if it has or not, it hasn't, okay? You're going to know. You're going to understand if God has moved in you in that way. And my question is, has it happened to you?
Is he drawing you? It's a gospel that comes to you. Has the power of conviction fallen upon you?
And if it hasn't, then today is the day. Don't wait. Man, you need to come forth, talk to a prayer counselor, talk to an elder, talk to your campus pastor.
If you're at one of the campuses, they would love to talk to you about this. Second thing, salvation, okay? Second thing, imitation. Now, here's what I want us to do. We need to examine our hearts today and say, hey, are we imitating Christ?
Every one of us can do this. We can pray about this. As soon as we go into a response time here, we can come down and pray about this if it's something. But listen, is there a blatant sin issue in your life? Let's just be real. Man, have you gotten lazy in your time in the Word?
What would you say? I believe. What does your generosity say about if you believe?
I mean, these are the things I'm talking about here. Have you been baptized? You guys were baptized on August 28th. Man, are you living a life for years of Christianity without taking the first step of obedience?
Are you known? Are you planning on being in a group this fall and have people speaking into your life? Hey, are we discipling our kids to understand that we're about imitating Christ? Are you setting an example in the home?
They imitate me as I am imitating Christ. Guys, I do this kind of like every year at least once. I've done it.
I've tried to do it a couple times in the past, and I want to do it like every year. But here's the reality. For some of us in our home, we need that gut check today. Man, I talked about a fall reset last week.
We really need it. Guys, if your child is born today, you realize how many weeks you have? You have 936 weeks. Every one of these rocks represents a week that you have with your child in the home.
But man, this stuff gets drastically cut every time we jump. What about when they enter kindergarten? We have 260 weeks. What about when they enter sixth grade? And I got one doing that. Okay, we got 364 weeks.
Got another one in my life. What about ninth grade? We only have 208 weeks left.
This is so encouraging today, isn't it? Okay. And listen, man, if you've got a child that's entering their 12th grade year, I mean, look at this. I mean, they're down to the...you got 52 weeks that are left with them.
I mean, just generally speaking, you know, in terms of kids and generalized, you know, 0 to 18. I think about that for us because I think, man, are we taking seriously, man, salvation, imitation. I only have so much time to live out my Christian life in front of them where they're in my home. Now, parenting never stops. And I think we're served very well if we get it in our mind that we're parenting for 30 years old, not 3 years old, okay?
I get that. But, man, in terms of them being in our home, we only have so much time to imitate before them. And I pray that we will. Man, another thing is this. Are we putting them...Hey, it's back to school weekend.
Are we putting them in relationships? Guys, this is why we do things at Mercy Hill like the carnival that we're all going to have on Sunday afternoon this weekend, okay? So, I mean, you know, you guys can see all the stuff we're going to have out there at your campus Sunday afternoon.
I think it's like 2 o'clock. Look at all this stuff. Now, one thing I want you to know is that I am showing this exact picture to your kids in the kids wing at all of our campuses today, okay? And telling them it's at 2 o'clock until mom and daddy, all right? So, but why do we do stuff like this? Man, we want them to make relationships.
We want them to see the church as a home and a family. Are we imitating that? Finally, lastly, guys, are we proclaiming?
All right? Are we proclaiming? This is the part...I mentioned parents.
I mentioned teachers. This is the part where we get a chance to see life change in someone else. You know, we know it intuitively. Let's apply it to the gospel.
I thought about this in my life. You know, I don't want to brag or anything, okay? But you're looking at the spring 2022 10 and under baseball champion coach right here, okay? No applause. No applause. We don't need it. It's about the kids, okay? They had a pretty good coach, so I'll be honest with you. But it's about the kids, all right?
But this is so crazy, man. It came down to the toughest game, the last out. We got...we're up by one run. They got runner on...they got bases loaded. We're up by one, two outs, okay? And the kid hits a sky-high pop-up and it's heading toward the direction of one of the kids on our team that has not caught a ball all season, okay? And at this point, I'm looking up. I mean, if he drops it, they win. If he catches it, we win. And I'm getting on a knee.
I'm doing the Catholic...I mean, whatever. We'll help, okay? I'm like, you know, I'm just kidding. But I was...I mean, I'm trying to do anything I can. And my man is running straight backwards, falls on the ground, and catches the ball, okay? And I'm telling you, before I knew what happened, I have run out on the field and I have hoisted this kid up on my shoulders and I'm running around like he's Rudy or something, you know? Just running crazy around the field.
Man, how fun is it? I had more joy understanding that kid had a chance to make the play than I did even winning, okay? Let's be real.
Actually, I was more excited about winning, okay? But I had so much joy, right, to see those kids. This is why we do it. It's why we jump in and coach or whatever. We want to see that movement in their life.
Man, even the Harvard Business School pointed this out. They said one of the greatest...when you think about the top five or six or seven things that make learning enjoyable, one of them is sharing what you know. We know this in the world. What the Bible is telling us, I think, today is, hey, there is a cosmic way to apply this. Guys, when God has given us the gift of discipleship in our life, man, let us be about helping others and helping the younger ones succeed. And it doesn't just mean missionaries or the people that we think or the Navy Seals that can do the one-on-one evangelism and all that.
Guys, that's not all that I'm talking about. What I'm saying is we have an opportunity to share the gospel by invitation, by being behind the scenes. We have an opportunity to jump in and serve in the way that God has wired us. Now, we should be growing in these things. We should be pushing our comfort levels, okay? I understand that.
But we have a chance to jump in in any way. Some of us are like, man, I don't know how to one-on-one and all, but can you just invite somebody to come? I want you to do this across all of our campuses. If you're a believer, now, if you're not a believer, just don't worry about it.
If you are a believer and the moment that you gave your life to Christ, there was someone preaching or teaching at a youth camp or Sunday school or a sermon and there was a group of people that was more than just one-on-one. If that's you and your life across all of our campuses, can you raise your hand right now? If you came to faith in that way, raise your hand.
Man, I bet it's like this everywhere else, okay? You know what's funny about you? You came to Christ the way that 99% of the people in the Bible did as well.
Now, actually, what's funny about this illustration is that I didn't. I came to Christ in a one-on-one setting. My dad's sharing the gospel with me in a Winn-Dixie parking lot when I was six years old. Doesn't get more Southern Baptist than that, okay? You know, after a church league softball game, actually. But I just think about like most people and neither did the woman at the well or I'm not even totally sure about Zacchaeus or you think about Lydia when Paul shared with her.
There are one-on-one examples. I get it. Most people come to Christ when they're invited to come in. When someone says, hey, man, come and see what God is doing in my life. And you can do that. You can invite people in. Man, we can serve those moments in worship where people are using their gifts and the Spirit is breaking through. Guys, we can pray. Man, we have a prayer team at one of our campuses, been praying over the chairs in that campus for years. How many college students have given their life to Christ in those chairs and they were prayed over that very morning? You know, how many of us are going out and we have families that are fostering kids and we got people and coaches that are jumping into lead Christian clubs and high schools. And we got people mentoring families that are facing unplanned pregnancy.
And it's all every it's not staff people. This is not like, oh, the pastors. No, the pastors have kind of left a lot of that stuff in order to equip you to do it.
It's the everyday believer going out, following the Spirit, maximizing their giftings. And that's what I want to call you to do and take joy in that. Jesus didn't die to create spectators.
He died to create workers, not watchers. So whatever God's leading you to do, however you can get involved, man, we got a thousand ways you can do that. I pray that you will take steps towards that this weekend. Let's pray. Father, we come before you across all of our locations and campuses and we just pray right now, God, that your spirit will move upon us and bring conviction in our life that we would go out and make these disciples salvation, imitation, proclamation. God, I pray you give us a hand, every one of us a hand in doing that and bring the joy in our life of us doing that. In Christ's name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-26 05:09:06 / 2023-08-26 05:26:50 / 18