Well I want to get into the sermon for today and have you noticed in your own personal life especially for those of you who are getting a little up there in years that you are finding yourself forgetting things from time to time.
Yeah that happens to all of us in fact I went on to Google last night which is the primary source of information for everyone and I said when does memory loss begin.
And it's said that usually anywhere north of forty years old that's when people start to have a memory loss you know forgetting names places you walk into a room when you forget why you were there is ever happened anyone if you're over forty it's going to happen more but it also said one specific website said that the brain starts to deteriorate at age twenty Those are the exact words it starts to deteriorate at age twenty and I thought boy we don't really have a you know really long peak do we you know it kind of gets up there in the starts going down and then it's interesting that even though we forget names and places and things like that there are some memories that we have that they just they just stick and no matter what you try to forget it you probably never will like for instance how many of you especially those of you who lived in one place for a long time and had one of those rotary phones how many of you can remember your very first phone number.
One nine one two eight three zero one zero I will never forget that I've had several phone numbers in my entire life I remember that one and the one I have right now and I've proffered all the other ones where I would your very first address one four four two zero you say two thousand you VERY know Washington nine zero three seven again I know that one and this one and I'm kind of forgot all the other ones but but if there's something really important to you it's just going to stick you know last Monday on September eleventh we remembered what happened sixteen years ago for those of you who are old enough do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard about their pay. Crashing into the Twin Towers I do and I don't know if I live ever forget that I remember it was about nine o'clock I was in Michigan it was a Tuesday morning clear blue skies and I used to take Tuesdays off and so I was going to go for a long bike ride and I was putting the Walkman on my ears and I turned on to the to the radio station that I usually listen to and I remember hearing Katie currency voice on I think it was a Christian radio station I'm like why is Katie Couric on the radio and then she started talking about the New York and the Twin Towers and I remember leaving my bike in the garage running into the bedroom turning on the T.V. and just watching and just having one of those you know out of body experiences do you do you remember where you were and what you were doing and most of you probably do. But do you remember what you had for breakfast the day before nine eleven. No you probably don't because it's not very important so the more important something is the more important it is for us to remember it well today we're going to do is we're going to be talking about something that is very important for us as a church to remember as a church we need to remember why we exist because if we forget that and we get busy what we'll do a little start getting sidetracked and we'll start trying to accomplish something that we're not called to do.
In a few weeks or now I'm going to begin a new series on another book in the Bible and I'm not going to tell you what that is until probably before we begin before we do that what I like to do usually in the fall and I do this every now and then is I kind of go through church stuff subjects dealing with church church life a couple of years ago we went through our mission statement the board just adopted a mission seem a couple years ago and with that four of our key values and so I'm going to do that now for these next few weeks and I think it's very timely to do this because right now we're in the middle officially we're in the middle of trying to relocate and if we don't if we are very careful we. I think that we exist so that that will happen but that's not why we exist and so we need to be able to focus on the very same use that we're supposed to be doing so you know we have a mission same as a church and we'll go through that in just a minute but as a church really need a mission statement you don't know you know a church doesn't really need a mission statement however like most things a mission statement can be helpful for a couple reasons so here's some of the benefits of having a mission statement and even thinking about that if a church has adopted a perfectly crafted biblical mission statement it doesn't mean that it's actually going to accomplish it or that a church is very effective and honestly I don't know how many of you right now would be able to word for word recites our church mission statement and if you can't that's OK because our mission as a church is not for everyone to have our mission statement in your eyes but you know as a church the benefit of having one is it keeps us from wandering off and getting distracted and so one way to think of a mission statement is it's like a compass a mission statement sort of like a compass what it does it helps keep us aligned with the purpose that God has given to us so that we can determine if we are on course or off course all right so here's our mission statement hopefully you know where to find it in our church you walk through the four year and it's since old ride on the wall so hopefully you're rerelease very familiar with what our mission statement says We exist to develop committed followers of Jesus Christ through the teaching encouragement of God's word and there is a lot in that but today for this morning I want to focus on the fall words of Christ portion and like I said about two and a half years ago the board adopted this mission statement with these four values and we were doing the mission see before we put it into writing but it's helpful for that to be there for a guide especially when decision making. Comes up you know should we do this ministry or should we do that well will it help us accomplish our mission of developing committed followers of Jesus Christ if the answer is yes then maybe we should proceed if the answer is No then we shouldn't do it but today what I want to do is focus on the part of our mission statement that says that we are trying to develop committed followers of Christ so we're going to look at three reasons why it is important for a church to commit themselves to developing followers of Christ and so let me give you those these three reasons and though these are your sermon though since you can follow along there as well. The first reason why we need to develop committed followers of Christ is because ultimately we are all following something. Everyone out there in the world is going to be following something or someone and if you don't follow Christ then there's going to be a serious price to pay you know I'm going to go through a few passages here and you can churn there with me if you would like I know I have part of it listed there in your sermon notes but the first one is from Psalm eighty one and this is just one example of Israel frustrating God If you read the Old Testament you're going to come across many places where God is frustrated with Israel because God healed literally led Israel out of the promise layer out of Egypt into the promised land and they literally followed him a pillar of fire by night in a cloud by day and so they followed him and you would suspect or you would think that if a nation was led by God into a newly And given the law that they would follow him the rest of their lives right well obviously that didn't happen so maybe one person eleven through thirteen it says God is saying.
But my people did not listen to my voice Israel would not submit to me so I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their. Own councils Oh that my people would listen to me that Israel would walk in my ways and so even Israel with a very unique relationship with God they didn't follow God and his decrees in his ways like they should have and they got sidetracked not saying they needed a mission statement but they forgot to follow the truth well that wasn't just a problem for Israel this is a problem for everyone everyone is going to be following something and other passages in Matthew seven now to seven S. a probably a familiar passage for you I remember I almost had this memorized in the end I these are reading the the the English standard versions a little bit different little bit choppy like in I.V. but I'm going to stick with the E.S.P. here but I'm actually seven it says verse thirteen enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is why it in the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard leads to life and those who find it are few.
So what is the world teaching today in other words what is this wide easy path that the world is following you know it seems like it changes from time to time maybe one way to say what the world is following today is is tolerance or even identity issues issues of identity meaning you need to know who you are and be true to yourself you know I was thinking as I grew up is a little kid up in Spokane Washington it's I got the sense that the world at least acknowledge that there is a truth the only debate is who had the truth everyone kind of said no there is truth we just need to figure out who is it you know which religion is right while today it seems like truth is just found in whatever you want to make it up to be and so we see in Israel's history they had trouble following God We see that the world has trouble following God and the Bible also tells us that. You have trouble following God Let's go to a fusion I want you to open this passage.
Eason's chapter two.
Relations you fusions Philippians cautions efficient chapter two. Beginning in verse one.
And here Paul is talking about their former way of life and what they used to follow transitions into them follow being followers of Christ now but if these is to begin in verse one says.
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world following the prince of the power of the air the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh carrying out the desires of the body in the mind and were by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind and so in the past and some of you might say yeah for most of my life I lived like that or for some of you if you were even born say that a young age this still applies to all of us and then in verse six it talks about this new way of following verse six if you put these things before the brothers you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus being trained in the words of the face and of the good doctor and that you have followed.
So do you see this as you just kind of pick up your eyes you look at the world around us do you see that everyone is following something in verse two it says the two things that most people in the world are following is is the way of this world or basically the power of the prince of the air which is Satan and so the deception is that Satan brings to the world he has been using it from the very beginning it's this whole idea of us submitting to the desires of the self.
That's the deception that Satan wants to follow us to follow so to be followers of Jesus means to do the exact opposite of what the world and Satan is trying to deceive us to do want you to go over to the Philippines Shafter to. Straight into buyable just a couple pages to Philippians Chapter Two beginning in verse three and here Paul shows us what is the opposite of the way of the world.
And this is the way of Christ to be a follower of Christ Philippians chapter to be and in verse three.
It says do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit Satan teaches us to do everything from selfishness but in humility count others more significant than yourselves let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interests of others having this mind among yourselves which is Yours in Christ Jesus who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself by taking the form of the servant being born in the likeness of me. So Christ came into the world and he showed us a different way and he is the one that we must follow and this goes beyond just Christ being the only way for us to reach out to John fourteen six for those of you who got to memorize Jesus said I am the Way the Truth and the Life no one comes to the Father but by me so were followers of Christ is the only way to salvation but it goes beyond just that truth it goes into practice and so when Jesus came into this world he had two main goal the first was to provide Toman for our sins so that we can eventually enter into Heaven but this second priority was to make followers and that was to follow have people follow after him to learn what he said and also to put it into practice and that those people would in turn make more followers of Christ so the first reason why it's important for us to become followers of Christ is because we're all going to be following something and the second is is so that what Christ began will continue we need to make followers of Christ so that what Christ began will continue and that's what we read about in the Gospels so what I want to do is I want to turn a massive chapter for.
And Matthew Chapter four gives us the story of the first followers of Christ.
Matthew Chapter four this is also recorded in the book of John and John has a slightly different perspective in fact on his return in the mass before let me tell you about the book of John John records this I guess obviously from a different perspective and in my study notes on the book of John it says that the disciples these young men that follow Jesus it's very likely that they would have known Jesus on at least a casual basis for up to a year or a year and a half and so what we're about to read here in Matthew this is not the very first time that these young men met Jesus OK so they knew who he was they heard John the Baptist say Behold the Lamb of God takes with the sin of the world so they knew that there was a messiah and they're convinced and this is what happens Matthew four beginning in verse eighteen.
While walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers Simon who was called Peter and injuries brother casting a net into the sea for they were fisherman and he said to them follow me and I will make you fishers of men immediately they left their nets and followed him and going on from there he saw two other brothers James and their son James the son of seventy in his John his brother in the boat was seventy their father mending their nets and he called them and the mediately they left the boat and their father and followed him and so Jesus said I will make you fishers of men obviously playing on the fact that they were fishers he says leave your full time occupation which is a noble occupation and follow me and I'm going to teach you to do what I'm doing with you make a follower of Christ so what does that look like you know we say our mission statement is We want to develop committed followers of Christ well what does a follower of Christ look like you know this is where we can kind of lose our understanding of the purpose of church and maybe one of the best ways to describe a follower of Christ is to say because this was described Christ a fall. Christ is someone who maintains of the perfect balance of grace and truth in their life Jesus came into the world full of grace and truth and so a follower of Christ has grace and truth. Knowledge and practice and guess what we tend to do as human beings and also as churches we tend to overemphasize one over the other right.
And I'll say this and I'm right in saying saying this is my opinion but if our church is going to error on one or the other between truth and grace or knowledge and practice our natural tendency is going to focus on well the purpose of the church is to teach people facts about the Bible and that's important but that's something that I think our churches probably lean towards if you go to another church if they're really big into social activism and reaching out to others they might fall on the side and err on the side of getting out of balance and say no we just need to love others we need to do both and you need to do both in balance and it's fun it's very exciting as a pastor and I think those of you who are parents and grandparents it's fun and exciting when we see people learn new things about the Bible and that knowledge sticks like for instance one of my favorite Sundays here is a want to Sunday isn't that fun having all these kids up here and they share with us the verses that they memorize it's wonderful I think it's very exciting and we have Bible studies and when we go to the bible studies and Sunday school classes What do you do you learn facts you learn truth about the Bible and what are we doing here in the worship service to some extent all we're doing is we're learning but knowledge as important as it is is it is it cannot be the end goal but it's very rewarding when we see this progress you know I came across some funny jokes about church and so I'm going to share a few of them with you I found way more than I can share but there's there's three I'm going to share with you right now and they deal with how exciting it is when kids learn information about. Bible but sometimes they don't get it quite right so here's here's a couple jokes right.
At Sunday School they were learning how God created everything including human beings Johnny was especially intent when the teacher told him how Eve was created out of one of Adam's ribs and later in the week his mother noticed some lying down as though you were ill and she said Johnny What's the matter Johnny responded I have a pain in my side I think I'm about to have a wife.
That's not how it happens Johnny that's not how it happened another one is a good one visiting his grandparents a small boy opened the big family Bible and he was fascinated as he finger through the old pages and suddenly something fell out he picked it up and found that it was an old leaf that had been pressed flat between the pages mamma look what I found he called out What have you got there dear this mother asked with astonishment his voice the boy answered I think it's Adam's underwear.
Big leaves you get it it's funny I think it's funny I got one more one more a teacher was testing the children in her Sunday school class to see if they understood the concept of getting to heaven and so she asked them if I sold my house or my car and had a big garage sale and gave all the money to the church would that get me into heaven no the children said Well I cleaned the church every day mowed the lawn mowed the yard and kept everything needed tidy would that get me into heaven again the class answered No no now she was smiling hater getting She thought well then if I was kind to the animals and gave candy all the children love my husband would that get me into heaven she asked and again the all answered no and she is bursting with pride she says Well then how can I get into heaven five year old boy the backlash out well first you got to be dead.
You know as important as knowing truth is you know it's. It starts there it must be practiced and so even though the word follower is a great way to describe what we're trying to see accomplished your church there is actually a better word that the Bible uses and we're going to look at a few of these examples and it's the word imitator to say that we want to see followers of Christ ultimately what we're saying is we want people to be imitators of Christ. We're not changing our mission statement or mission statement it's fine in fact if you put imitator in a mission statement it might sound kind of odd So we're just going to keep the one that we have but I want to look at a couple passages that talk about how we are to be imitators meaning there is truth and it has to be put into practice I want you to stay in the in the Thessalonians second testimony is the first passage I want you to turn to.
Second Thessalonians chapter three.
Beginning in verse six.
Impose writing to them about how they need to be imitators of him. Some of those holy and three six it says now we command you brothers in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and you keep away from any brother who was walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you see receive from us in other words don't be a follower of someone like that for seven for you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us because we were not idle when we were with you nor do we need anyone's bread without paying for it but with toil labor we work day and night that we might not be a burned any of you it was not because we have the right to do that but but to give you in ourselves and example to imitate So Paul says imitate me follow the way that I live my life a couple of times Paul says exactly that don't turn there but I'll just read for you first Corinthians eleven one Paul says imitate me as I imitate Christ and so Paul is saying Christ came into the world to have followers and I'm following him so you should follow me or in other words I am an imitator of Christ you should imitate me also. And in First Corinthians four five this another one I'll read for you. Paul says to those in Corinth for though you have countless guides in Christ you deny many fathers for I became your father in Christ through the gospel I urge you then be imitators of me that is why I sent you Timothy my beloved and faithful child in the Lord to remind you of my ways in the christ as I keep them everywhere in every church so Paul is teaching multiple groups all these things in the saying look at the way that we live the way that we live is imitating the truth that we believe in so it has to match up both together.
And infusions five one Paul says specifically not just imitate others but to imitate God would you see in God practice and five one so therefore be imitators of God His beloved children and walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God we are to imitate Christ remember so many years ago all those bracelets that say. J.T. You know what would Jesus do you know that's exactly what we're supposed to do it and I found another joke that kind of deals with us imitating Christ and I like this one song all share this with you as well the joke says a pastor's wife was preparing pancakes for her young sons I don't know why it's a pastor's wife but in this joke it is the boys begin to argue over who would get the first pancake and their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. If Jesus were sitting here he would say Let my brother have the first paying cake I can wait so the mother and so they all those boy turned to his younger brother and said OK you be Jesus.
Be like Jesus give me the first banking you know as you read through the pencils you can tell that some of the churches now that's not about Caleb and Kyle really although there probably would be as you read through the epistles your notice that some of the churches they go. I did a little faster than others and I think the church and vessel and I go they did a great job taking what Paul taught them and showed them and putting into practice I want you to look at this passage first US alone Ians one six.
Verses alone aeons one six.
Actually verse four will start verse four first US warnings one beginning of verse four it says.
For we know brothers loved by God that he has chosen you 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 you for your sake and you became imitators of us and of the Lord for you received the word in much affliction with the joy of the Holy Spirit so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and I care so not only did you ever paid us but you became imitators yourselves so that other people would follow Listen I was reading all of these passages today I hope this is a good reminder this is why we exist to make followers of Jesus Christ people who will imitate Christ in both truth and grace so that what Christ began will really continue So what is this look like you know someone who is full of grace and truth but if someone is full of grace and truth in what exactly are we supposed to do you know we good for us to have a very concise answer if someone says well what is what does a believer in Jesus Christ a follower of Christ do you know if you were to tell a friend of yours or a family member that you attend church and they were to say why I'm not sure how you would answer but hopefully after day to day your answer would be something like well I attend church because it helps me become a better follower of Christ I'll be more like Christ maybe you'll say something like that and if someone said OK well well what does Christ do well what does that look like what do you do to be like Christ wouldn't it be nice if we had a very concise answer to give to. Other people not only for other people work for us ourselves so if you're going to say I'm a follower of Christ what what is it that you do well fortunately the Bible and Jesus themselves gives us that exact answer of what a follower of Christ does and this is the third reason why it's important to develop followers of Christ because a follower of Christ is someone who will fulfill the two greatest commands that's what we do in Matthew twenty two although Henry dysphoria message twenty two.
Verse thirty six the Sadducees in the fair seas were questioning Jesus and they said Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law and he said to them you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind this is the Great in first commandment and the second is like it you shall love your neighbor as yourself on these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets. In that simple at least from a knowledge standpoint a follower of Christ is committed to putting into practice the two greatest commandments No that's a simple concept but actually doing it is rather complex and that's what we're going to be going over these next few weeks and what does it look like to love the Lord God with all your heart soul and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves so we're going to do the next few weeks we're going to take the simple command of Christ and we're going to try to be imitators and followers of Christ and we're going to see how we promote those two greatest commandments here in this church and we do that through our four values and next Sunday and in particular we're going to start talking about how healthy relationships is a value and healthy relationships goes exactly back to these two greatest commandment because those two greatest commandments are fulfilled in the context of relationships Well I think that's enough for all of us today I hope you enjoyed being reminded of our purpose and that you as we open the. God's word that you've been encouraged by the teaching and encouragement of God's word but right now before you go I want to ask you this question I think all of us should just take pause and just really be able to to to to determine this for selves right now in your life who are you following.
What is it that you are trying to become is Christ if not it's the wrong thing and you have the wisdom and the courage to stop following something that cannot lead to eternal life and to follow Jesus Christ you know what no matter what happens with the church whether God provides for us and we move or not this is why we exist so let's not lose sight of this now or ever Let's turn to the Lord in this ask him to give us powers as we remind ourselves of our calling and give us the strength to live the cell this break.