Personal Groundwork for Church
Preacher: Steve MacDonald
Thank you it’s all yours.
OK well I’ve got some bad news for you.
It’s more you guys than me but we’re weird Have you ever invited somebody to church who had no concept of church whatsoever who had no idea what happens it never been inside of a church and they ask you OK that let me know what I walk into first before I say Yes let me know what I’m walking into first OK it’s a room of also there’s one hundred fifty of us in here this morning there’s your to go to a room with one hundred fifty people there thinking that’s fine I’ve been to Costco.
I’ve been in line at Costco so I’ve been with one hundred fifty other people I’ve been to the movies that’s that’s not weird What do you what do you do in church well first. We’re going to schedule is to conflict with football so. I hope you’re OK with that you’re going to show up and what we’re going to do is we’re going to take your infant and we’re going to put them in this room over here with somebody you don’t know where to take your toddler and put them in this building over here where you can’t see them most of them are on board at that point.
And then right before the guy gets up to speak we’re going to let all the kids run to the back of the building like they know something we don’t know.
And then OK so I get the kid thing what else do you guys do while we sing.
Pump the brakes hundred fifty people saying Yeah and sometimes we stand up and do it that doesn’t happen in many other places in the world right that there’s not many things outside of church where a group of people come together and say hey let’s sing songs together. And then what happens will then we have these really soft bags with handles that we’re going to pass back and forth and everybody I don’t know why they have handles on both sides like we couldn’t possibly handle the circle to each other but I know why it was nobody sits too close to you if they’re too close to grab it and they’re too close to be sitting next to you we’re going to hand that and everybody is going to put money in it but not you OK because you’re our visitor and you going to feel horribly awkward because every. Body else is putting money in it. But not you and then when that’s done. A very handsome and rugged man is going to get up and talk for thirty thirty five forty minutes now that man is on vacation and I’m filling in for him today.
We are weird and what we do in church is not really found anywhere else nobody else duplicates this model because it would be really good to market something or to sell something or to have an office that structured this way this is unique to what we do.
When we do church nobody else duplicated in and. Mike prayed for what God had laid on my heart pastor Josh laid it on my heart and said This is what you’re going to preach on. So it’s the next best thing to God laying it on my heart.
And he. He’s going to start a series on the church and what we do inside of the church and he asked me to kind of kick it off with this week his I will I brought up his handwritten notes because I’m afraid if I misspeak this I could be and I get in trouble his his series is going to be how do we one another each other.
And I’ve seen some of his notes it’s honestly it’s going to be very good it talks about what do we do inside of the church but before we get to that I want to talk what are our individual responsibilities that make church successful what do I need to bring into the church to make it successful we’re going to start talking about once we’re here what do we do what do I need to do so that I can make church as productive as possible.
We have we used to have the kids come up for a children’s sermon right and one of the things I miss our dandruff always jokes.
And so I have a dandruff I joke for you.
What is the holiest a vegetable.
The holiest vegetable I’ll give you hint. Probably the pastor says that every single week.
Let us pray.
And I thank you thank you.
And that’s why we no longer have a children sermon.
We’re going to look if you’ll turn with me to Hebrews ten
humors ten we’re going to start in verse twenty two we have a series of let us statements. That I think kind of give us the groundwork for our responsibility as Christians the things we need to get really nailed down so that when we come to do church we can do church as successfully as possible and that’s going to be again he rues ten will start twenty two is our passage I’ll start reading in one thousand
therefore brothers since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the Blood of Jesus by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain that is through his flesh and since we have a great high priest over the house of God Let us draw near with the true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and with our bodies washed with pure water. The first piece of ground work the first thing that we need to do is this First let us statement and that is what we need to draw near to God. With a pure heart we need to draw near with a pure heart when you think draw near the first thing you might think is distance right of a spatial thing of he’s over there I want to draw nearer to him I want to I want to walk and I want to get closer to him.
But we know that’s not true because we know that God is one of our church words is omnipresent God is everywhere there is no part of the world that he is not in and so the idea of drawing nearer getting physically closer to God is not possible we have the Holy Spirit if we are Christians can’t get any closer than indwelling And so this isn’t a distance of getting physically closer to God This is getting more intimate with God developing a deeper relationship the the trust that I have the communication that I have with God.
The time that I put into that relationship making that relationship stronger and so he says let us draw on your let us become more intimate with God.
I think about.
A funeral service it was a little over a week ago we watched Senator McCain’s funeral funeral service on T.V. if you’ve ever been in a funeral service you were sitting and you may have.
Your loved one sitting next you know maybe sitting next to a perfect stranger because it’s a funeral service and friends and family have come.
In filled with emotion you have people crying on both sides of you this is your loved one and this is the perfect stranger I can put my arm around my wife or my relative or my close friend and comfort them in their grief because we have that intimate relationship we have that trust we’re familiar with each other if I put my arm around this person in their moment of need it’s awkward it doesn’t feel right because I’m physically as close to both of them but I am not functionally My relationship isn’t as close and so he says to draw near to build that relationship where you are intimate with God. But we have to do it in the right way we have to do it he says with a pure heart.
To put it bluntly. God is not a sugar daddy a sugar daddy to someone when you want something you go to them and you say oh man I would really like X. Oh I got X. I’m going to go away now and then when I want why I come back and I say Oh man I really want Y. and I get why and then I go away for a while.
God is not a sugar daddy we should not have a relationship with God that is built on when I want something I go to God that can’t be intimate that can’t be personal that is solely what I need your there for and when I don’t need you anymore I go away I have to do it with a pure heart I have to come to God and say This isn’t because I don’t want to be close with you because of what I want I want to be close. With you because of what you have already done for me. When we recognize the gift of salvation and the scope of that we should want to be near to God we should want to be intimate with God When we look at our lives and we say I can see times where God took care of me and I had no idea it was happening in the background that should make us want to be near to God he says that we should draw near with a pure heart our motive for being close to God should be out of respect out of gratitude for what God has done for us.
It sets the table and one of the reasons this is the groundwork for what we do before we come in and do church is that if my relationship with God is based on that sugar daddy model of when I want something I come to you that’s how I’m going to come to church is when I want something I come to church and I expect church to provide that for me if instead my model is I come to God and I want that intimate relationship because of what he has done for me it creates a servant mindset of I do this out of respect for what’s already been done for me when I come to church I do church because I want to glorify God for what he’s done for me I do it out of a pure heart I don’t do it because I expect to get anything out of it the stuff I get out of his off side benefits I’m doing it again because of God and not because of myself
the next let us statement the next. Piece of ground work that we need to lay.
Is in ten twenty three.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful that’s all a lot of words that are kind of difficult to muddle through Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful. He the book of Hebrews has a lot of bow non-accrual terms a lot of sailor speak and this is one of those this idea of holding fast is tying a boat up secure to the dock. If you’ve ever seen a boat Michelle’s parents have a pontoon boat and when you pull it up to the dock you don’t just park it and get out that would be bad news for the pontoon boat you would in the morning see it on the other side of the lake because it needs to be shored up and it needs to be tight because if a storm comes along and it’s not tied up tight to that permanent structure it will slam up against that structure all night long so he says Hold tight drawn near tie up tightly to the permanent structure so that when the temporary storm comes through you don’t drift out into unsafe waters you don’t slam up against the rocks he tells them hold fast.
It helps us to understand who he’s writing this to Hebrews is a tricky book about who wrote it who’s it written two lots of ideas out there I’ll tell you what I think because it’s right.
There and there are other opinions but again Mine is the right one.
In this audience is new Jewish Christian believers and so they have left Judaism because someone shared the gospel with them and said Jesus Christ was the Messiah he died on the cross our salvation is in him it’s not in the law anymore which means you don’t need to go to temple you don’t need to do all of the ritual things anymore those have all passed away and now your salvation is solely in Jesus Christ that make giving up. So much it was genetic their families Judaism wasn’t a going to go choose to be a Jew ninety nine percent of the time it was it was genetic your you were born Jewish Your faith was Judaism that’s who you were their families are now separated from them their friends their social circles were around the temple the temple was the gathering place that’s gone their business was tied to that you did business with other Jews and so now your your workforce your life is just thrown up in chaos and so his audience he says Hold tight life is chaotic hold tight to what you know was true for the one that promised it is faithful.
One of the commentaries I read said it’s interesting that here he says let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering he doesn’t say let us hold fast to the confession of our faith without wavering. The point he tried to make is that hope is an extra dynamic of faith faith is I know God’s going to take care of me I know this is this is bad stuff but God’s going to take care of me hope is that next step of faith that says. It’s a mess I know God is going to take care of me and I can’t wait to see how he does that what is he going to use this situation for these this audience how is he going to take this chaos of my life where I’ve had to separate myself from everybody I know my business everything that’s what is this pruning in my life going to flower into next what is this going to do for me and so he says to them hold fast but don’t just weather the storm look forward to what you have in front of us as we look at it today. What do we do how is this ground work for us what do we need to do as individuals I think I honestly think we’ve got a. Sell out to God we’ve got to say I’m in this whole heartedly I don’t do this casually I don’t make my relationship with God a Sunday and a church thing I am I’m all in when I read a passage in Scripture I don’t like it because maybe it tells me that my close friends that are living a life the Bible calls sin what do I do with that I love them they’re good people I hold fast I say this is the Word of God and I’m going to tie up to this even sometimes when I don’t like it so we hold fast. We sell out to God and we said this is this is where I am I don’t like it sometimes it’s hard sometimes there’s other things in life I’d rather be doing but this is this is what I do I sell out to God He gives us one more let us statement that is the first twenty four and we’ll get into twenty five as well. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day drawing near. He tells them.
Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works this one stands out a little bit different the first two were individual acts right the first to war you need to draw near with a pure heart that is an individual act something you and God build that relationship that intimacy the next one is to hold fast so that when the storms come your your relationship is solid with God Those are individual acts and now he gets into beyond just yourself here’s what else you need to do the next step is to reach out and to spur others the word spur is Greek its proxy mosse probably not pronounced that way but again that’s how I’m pronouncing it today.
It can mean some of your translations will have in the N A S B We have spur you may have provoke. You may have stimulate. And some of the newer transition translations say encourage in your Bible in the Greek it is a negative word it means to irritate or to exasperate exasperate youth I like and I asked B. because they used spur because I I think that pictures the the meaning of the word Cowboys wore the spurs on their heels not so that they sounded cool to change walking down the street you know that might be why we wear them today that’s not why they wore them there that a purpose you wanted the horse to go faster you used those little metal wheels to dig into the side of the horse and the horse went faster.
It was to irritate the horse to action that’s not it that’s not at all the meaning here and we should not all wear spurs to church next week that that’s not his intention what he does is a little bit of wordplay here he takes what is a negative word and uses it in a very positive way why I probably draw the reader’s attention to this and say what he wants us to do Oh I see he he wants them to take pause and really look at this he wants them to spur one another to love and good works he doesn’t just say spur one another he he quantifies this is what I want you to do to love. And good works.
Your Ground work doesn’t stop with yourself if we want church to be productive and to be a tool that God can use in amazing ways it doesn’t stop it it doesn’t start with me getting right with God in and there it’s how I interact with my other Christians and is my interactions spurring them to better things to show love to others because if they’re showing love to others I mean pretty soon we’re in a multilevel marketing thing because they’re showing love to others and they’re showing love to others and this gets big. Is how I’m treating my fellow Christians. Spurring them to loving good works.
I think it is and and one of the ways we accomplish that is through corporate worship because he finishes in verse twenty five not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
Pastor Josh gets into the corporate the this body of church starting next week
but we have responsibilities before we come in the door to make sure. We’re an active part of that that we aren’t just coming in to consume and to absorb but that we’re coming in to help this body grow and to make it healthier.
There has always been a concern as we look at verse twenty five that technology was going to rule in the church right in the fifty’s some some guy created a T.V. and then shortly after that some guy said hey I can put a sermon on T.V. and people have to go to church anymore and and T.V. was going to destroy the church because you could sit at home in your pajamas and go to church problem solve so much of what happens on Sunday people still went to church then somebody said you know drive in movie theaters are making very much money let’s have a drive in church or on Sunday you can go and we’ll put a little radio box and you can physically see the pastor maybe that’s what we were missing is that you got to physically see the pastor and that didn’t work in
those I don’t want to say those things are bad those things have a place we have podcasts or will this sermon will be up to listen to online for anybody who wasn’t here those things have a place but there is something about coming together as a as a body and spring one another on if I make this just about myself I’ve got to go back to Step one and say.
Is my relationship intimate with God am I treating in my here just for what I can get out of it because if I’m doing those right I should want to share that and be a part of this with other people.
Let’s imagine a church where. Every single one of us let’s again let’s say there’s one hundred fifty people here this morning hundred fifty people walk in this door and we all just have a casual relationship with God we’re all Christians well believe God God saved us but when we walked in this door that was the extent of it and I believe God saved me but that’s it does this church grow and prosper and affect the community maybe but we are sure making him a lot harder for God God can do anything at any time with anyone but sometimes we set the table for him to do it and sometimes we go fighting and kicking and screaming that’s the fighting and kicking and screaming imagine a church where for all of us when we came in this was just a Sunday thing you know you have that friend that says you say are you a Christian Oh I believe in God but I’m not religious What do you mean I don’t go to church well OK are we treating this as Sunday is church God I got all of those things done Monday through Friday is work Saturday is kind of relax and catch up in family time and we’re back to Sunday and Sunday is church and God time. If we treat this as a checklist ARE WE whole sale bought in are we drawing near Are we holding tight. To that whole.
Imagine a church kind of feel like John Lennon.
That’s where the similarities end.
Imagine a church where we came in and we sat down next to people we didn’t know their name when when they told us to stand up and shake hands we would shake hands. And then when that was done we’d sit down and then afterwards we would make like three minutes awkward conversation as we all headed towards the exits and then once we were outside we’d all go to our cars and go home that one might have a little bit closer to home. It’s tough that. The issue with every church especially as you get bigger and bigger and bigger is keeping it personal how do we keep personal connections in the church how do we make sure that we have that relationship to spur one another along because if I come up to you and I don’t know your name how am I going to spur you all along in love to show that to other people I’ve got to have a personal relationship with you.
And so as we start talking about what do we do to build that healthy church.
I think we have to look and say are those are issues.
Because one when we talk about the church a lot of times that is.
An entity a a corporation this thing over here the church really did me wrong or.
I don’t like what I hear from the church
my mom is in town and we did she did this with the kids I’m going to get it wrong but here’s the church and here’s the steeple open it up here are here are we right if there’s something wrong with the church there’s something wrong with we because we are the church the church should not be this thing that we come and do on Sunday church should be the thing where we come to spur one another along where we come out of respect for what God has done for us to say thank you I want to come and worship you in a corporate body and to help build that personal relationship.
I want to be careful though that if you’re sitting here and you’re like oh man he said at the beginning if I don’t have an intimate relationship with God something is wrong and then he said what if this church was full of people who don’t have an intimate relationship with God The church is going to be a mess I can’t keep coming to this church that is not at all what I’m saying for every single one of us we have been at stages and are at stages in our spiritual journey and there are times where we say I believe in God I am really struggling to feel close to God or. I believe in the Bible but man I’m struggling with some of these passages I don’t know what to do with some of this stuff or. Church is good but lately it just feels like a task on the To Do list for me I am struggling to connect a church that is OK because if those are things you want to change there is no better place than here and I would like to honestly plug a couple of things that we have right now if you find yourself in one of those spots where that’s a weakness and that’s something I want to do going to Sunday school class I sat in this morning that’s how to study your Bible if you sit down with your Bible and you look at it and you flip it open like we do sometimes and you read a passage and say What on earth just mean we just we have a Sunday school class that you missed week one but there’s seven more weeks we’re going to do twelve different ways to study your Bible and we’re sitting down and we’re actually doing it in class so. And you can go home it’s not like you’re getting a pamphlet you go home and you figure it out on your own or actually doing it in class if you want to know a deeper relationship with God and you want to study the Bible better there’s a Sunday school class for that if you feel like you come to church and you’re good at shaking hands and you know enough. To get into a conversation but not have to use anybody’s names and get out of here safely without embarrassing yourself we got small groups small groups is an excellent way to get that personal connection with church we have we are bigger this church has been down to thirty five people and it was a small group at one point it was its own small group and everybody was connected and everybody knew their names and what happened during the week as you get bigger that is harder and we don’t expect everybody in here to be best friends Burger King does not want all of us to show up on a Sunday afternoon. We’re going to have different relationships inside the church but if you’re struggling to connect to the church the new Here eat here is a great way to find out about the church and then getting plugged into a small group is a great way to walk into a room of people who would otherwise maybe not talk to each other besides small casual talk on a Sunday and get to spend an hour or two knowing about each other and studying the word together. Those options are here primarily I want to challenge you that when we start talking about how to get I’m going to look at his notes one another each other next week
don’t come into this and think that’s right the church should be doing that or that’s right people in the church really need to hear that
we have responsibilities we have ground work we need to work on.
Our goal for this church is that it is a ministry to the community that we can reach out to the community in the community see something here that they are drawn to we do that by being successful in a functional church but if we work backwards we have those individual responsibilities we have a responsibility that personal intimate relationship with God and responsibility to be in our Bibles and to hold tight to what we learn and then if we can spur each other on to love that gets out to the community if we can do those things well potential is unlimited for us as a family as a church let’s pray
Heavenly Father we thank you for the the tears the different levels of what it means to be a Christian and that you’ve given us a personal relationship with you that is there all the time.
Even one hundred we don’t want and it is always there we cannot physically walk away from you Lord you are always there we thank you for your word that you communicate to us through it and we thank you for the church that truly wants to build disciples and wants to reach out to the community we ask that you would help us each to find our own individual role in that and that we would see this is an opportunity to say thank you back to you and to serve you as part of this church in your name Amen.