Identity and Purpose - Aug. 7, 2022
Pastor Mike (00:02):
And when I say it is so many times we just live life and we go through our own plan, our own mission. And we think that this means something, but actually it doesn’t, it has to be something more.
Hannah Hunter (00:15):
Hey, beautiful people. Welcome back to Sundays with the gathering. I’m Hannah Hunter, the director for digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens this week. Pastor Mike wraps up our study in Colossians three, as we work through identity and activity who we are and what we do in response to the gospel,
Pastor Mike (00:34):
You know, part of our tradition, um, our DNA, um, as Methodists and those that are part of this, the greater Wesley and Christian family is that we always ask these questions about how is it with your soul. So let’s take a moment to just, just pause and, and just kind of look inward of what’s going on inside of us. And so here’s the question I have. I want you to invite you to take an inventory on your internal thoughts, things that you have spoken this week and things that you have done, the whole culmination, the stuff that you’ve done in public with family in the workplace, and maybe even just behind the closed doors. And I guess the question that we, I want us to sit with is all these things. If I were to ask you, do they show or demonstrate that your faith in Jesus Christ makes a significant impact on your life?
Pastor Mike (01:52):
That’s the question that I’m wrestling with because I confess Jesus. But when I look at my needs and my words do, they demonstrate that Jesus is really in charge of my life. Do I really trust him? The scripture that we’re gonna look at just a little bit more closely today is part of what we read in Colossians. And it’s cautions chapter three versus verse 17 and whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord. Jesus giving, thanks to God, the father through him, whatever you do in word, indeed, we’re called to do this in the name of Jesus.
Pastor Mike (02:55):
When I, when I started taking a, a personal inventory or this man, did I get some conviction? Because when I started looking at my actions and looking at my thoughts, looking at the things that I have spoken just this week alone, I realized that there was a lot more Mike coming out, Jesus. And the question that we’re gonna be asking ourselves for the next several weeks, we’re making a transition now from what we’ve been going through, you know, the past few weeks to, to this weekend forward is do we take Jesus seriously? Do we take his words seriously? Do we take his commandments seriously? Because if I just look at this passage right here, whatever we do and word or de doing the name of Jesus, um, I have to confess that a lot of times I’m doing my own things. I have my responsibilities at home.
Pastor Mike (04:03):
I have my responsibilities to my family. I have just my, my activities of things that I like to do. And what happens is, is that I’m just, I don’t know if anyone, if you can relate to this, but it seems that a lot of times I’m just doing my stuff, my mission, what satisfies me. And then I hope to God that maybe once in a while, one of those things hits the bullseye and does what Jesus wants. It’s just, you know, a lot of times we, we, we go through life and, and, and we, we make our own plans. We make our own schemes. We start our day. We it’s like, you know, it’s like the gun was fired and we’re running the race. And then we’re just hoping to God that God, I pray that you would just actually, maybe bless some of the things that I would do.
Pastor Mike (04:53):
Or maybe just by, you know, I’m hoping that, that, you know, that, that this faith is penetrated my life in such a way that, that at least most of what I do can align with your teaching. And here’s the problem I have with that understanding. And, and I’m, and I’m just, I’m preaching to me here, but I I’m, I think some of you might be able to relate to this is that if we don’t have a, a purpose, this scripture is meaningless. Cause if we, if we say like, oh, whatever I do and word, indeed, I do everything. The name of Jesus. So when I go, you know, to my favorite burger place, and I order that juicy burger and I take a big bite of it and I did it in the name of Jesus, you know?
Pastor Mike (05:47):
And then, you know, when I went to the movie, I just watched that movie in the name of Jesus. And when I lost my temper and said those things that just someone needed to hear said, at least I thought they needed to hear said I did it in the name of Jesus. And what I’m saying is so many times we just live life and we go through our own plan, our own mission. And we think that this means something, but actually it doesn’t, let’s be honest. We cannot live like that. We can’t just be going through our life, just floating around or being like that, that little ball in the pinball machine, just bouncing here, hit there, hit there, and eventually hit the target and assume that everything that we do in word or deed, that we’re doing it in the name of Jesus, it has to be something more.
Pastor Mike (06:35):
You see, I have a problem. And when I look at my own faith, I realize that a lot of things that I say and speak, it fits good when I’m, it looks good when I’m in the Christian circle, people understand it in concept. They understand it, the in theory, but when I actually meet normal people and the real world, lot of the things that I hold onto, a lot of the little fancy Christian quotes I say are absolutely meaningless. There’s no meat to them. In fact, what they basically are, is a bunch of platitudes. They’re just, they’re just these high level words, philosophies that don’t actually have any traction on the ground. And today I want us to make a shift today. I want us to, to move from platitudes to be attitudes. You remember the be attitudes right in Matthew chapter five, the whole word be attitude.
Pastor Mike (07:33):
Okay. So we, we, you know, we define platitudes, just these, these words that are just these high lofty thoughts, good sayings, but that don’t actually mean anything in your life, in the real world. Okay. And we have lots of them. I mean, and if you don’t know where to go, just start driving around and looking for every Christian bumper sticker you could find, and you’ll probably see a bunch of platitudes. Okay. But the attitudes are different because the attitudes remind us of what the blessed and happy life really is. In other words, the life that has a purpose, the life that lives for a mission, the life that has some kind of significance and Jesus taught, and he’s like, Hey, I don’t want you to have these religious platitudes because that was happening. Jesus’ world, that’s, what’s happening in our world. And a lot of times that is what’s happening in my world. I have religious teachings out there. And then I consolidate them into some fancy Christian Little sayings that only Christians understand. But then when I pull back the curtain and look at my own life, there’s a huge disconnect from the life that Jesus wants for me and the life that I’m living.
Pastor Mike (08:52):
Do you connect with what I’m saying? Jesus promised. He said, you know, when you, uh, I promise to give you life and life to the fullest, I give you meaning purpose identity. And that’s what we need to reclaim you see, because the only way that we can make that shift is to be a person that is on the mission of Jesus. And it starts with our identity, that, that question that people have been asking throughout the ages, who am I yeah, ask yourself that, who am I now, I believe that God has a claim on all of our lives that God paid the highest price so that you and I can experience the blessed, the good, the full, the fruitful life. And so we have to have a new point of reference for our identity, because if we don’t, we’re just gonna be doing just our own thing running from here and there.
Pastor Mike (10:05):
And, and again, just living in this platitudes instead of the be attitudes, Colossians chapter three versus 12 to 17 is a good starting place because in that we’ve, we’ve looked and we’ve discovered that we are chosen by God. In other words, we did not earn God’s favor. We did not impress God somehow, but God made an initiative and said, you know what? You’re mine. I love you. I am claiming you. My goodness is upon you. And we just have to be aware of that. We have to be awakened to that. We are chosen. We’re called to be holy.
Pastor Mike (10:53):
In other words, different set apart. In other words, set apart means that we’re, we’re not just common, not just be laid aside, not to be taken for granted. We are deeply loved. You are deeply loved and seen by God. And that means that you don’t have to do anything to earn this love. It is there. It’s, it’s part of your calling. You are deeply loved. We also learned about that. We we’re called to have a different attitude or outlook on life than what you know, what most people are running in their race. We’re called to forgive. We must love. We must be ruled by peace. The words of Jesus must be a part of our lives. They must live in us and we’re called to be people of worship. This is part of our identity on a bigger picture, where when we come together, we are the church.
Pastor Mike (12:01):
We are the body of Christ and we are called to be ambassadors of Jesus. And I think we forget this a lot. We forget that. Why do we exist right now? You and I are representatives. We are ambassadors of Jesus and Jesus gave to bring an all fullness, the kingdom of God to show you. And I, what it looks like to have a life that is surrendered to God, to have a life that has connection with God, that where there is no fear, there is no shame, no manipulation. It is a, a fruitful life. And we are ambassadors of that. You see? And that’s why when we understand that we are ambassadors of Christ and then it starts changing what we do, because then we know that everything we do is called to be done in the name of Jesus. In other words, we are called to represent Christ wherever we go, we don’t represent ourselves.
Pastor Mike (13:05):
We don’t represent whatever our, our, our favorite teams or our country, whatever it is, our ultimate purpose, our primary purpose is to represent Jesus. And I think we need to be reminded of that today. You see when Jesus sent out his disciples in Luke is cuz Jesus knew that, that this mission, I mean, everyone has to get involved in this. And, and even his earlier disciples, even before those who knew anything about the resurrection before there even was a resurrection, he sent people out to do kingdom work. And that’s a reminder for us that, you know what, um, sometimes we think that in order to do God’s work, you know, we have to be like those apostles and, and been right at the feet of Jesus and had some kind of profound experience or some mountaintop experience. But what we see, Jesus, Jesus says, if you could just hear me, if you are listening just a little bit, then you’ll hear that I’m saying that this world, I desire good things for this world.
Pastor Mike (14:05):
I’m tired of seeing people suffer. I’m tired of seeing brokenness. I’m tired of seeing people get robbed. I want people to experience the good and fullness of life. And so if you could just hear that, then go out and represent me and bring this into the world. And so what he does does was he, he deputizes all these people that, that, you know, we don’t know much about ’em. We don’t know how long they followed. They definitely didn’t make the 12 cut. All right. They didn’t see the resurrection. This is way before the resurrection, but here’s what Jesus says. And in Luke chapter 10 verse 19, he says, look, cuz there was like, can I really do this? Can I really go out? There’s a devil out there. The world is bad. And God, it looks like you are losing.
Pastor Mike (14:54):
You ever feel that way. You know, we, we, we see what’s in the Bible, but it looks like we are losing. It looks like, like, like some other philosophy or world view has the upper hand. And here’s what Jesus told this inexperienced group of people that we’re just starting to follow him. He said, look, I have given you authority or power over all. Do you hear that? Say all, all power of the enemy and you can walk amongst snakes, scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. You see, I get it. I’m with you. A lot of times we hear these sermons and we, and we say that we’re called to go out and make a difference. And we look into our world and man, it’s scary as hell. There’s some scary things out there. There are problems that are so big that like, we don’t even know how to even address them.
Pastor Mike (16:00):
There there is hurts and pains just in our own local community. And, and we have people that are supposed to be, it’s like their job to handle it. And we know they’re not doing it. And we see that that needs are not being met. We’re seeing that, you know, there’s, there’s drug addiction. There’s broken families. We see that the elderly are being neglected. We’re seeing that, that children are going hungry every day. We see that people who are being called to, to educate kids, you know, they don’t have their resources. I mean we, and then, then just families, you know, they’re trying to make ends meet. And we see that people are overwhelmed and we’re like, man, the devil has this world. It looks like, and Jesus says, I have given you all power and authority over the enemy. I have given you the victory.
Pastor Mike (16:44):
And here’s the thing you can walk among. You can walk among the stakes and scorpions and even crush some of them and they will not injure. You, you see church people who have been claimed by Jesus. We can’t be afraid to go out in this world. And we can’t be afraid to, to walk with some, among some, some dirty stuff. It’s gonna get messy. It’s gonna get dirty. But Jesus said in the very beginning, don’t be afraid of this because you know what I have given you authority. So in the name of Jesus, this is that authority that we’re talking about, that you and I need to claim for our, for our lives. Another verse. I want you to sit in for a little while John chapter 14, and we’re gonna start from verse 12. Jesus says this very truly. I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing. Let’s just stop there for a second.
Pastor Mike (17:46):
Jesus. Then he sets the bar so low, right? <laugh> like, again, we, we set the bar so high. You know, I have to go to seminary. I have to, you know, be, you know, deputized by the church I have to do. I dunno, I have to meet some requirements. I have to look a certain way, talk a certain way. I gotta have everything, you know, just in perfect order. You know, I, I gotta feel good about myself. And all Jesus says is whoever believes in me will do the works that I have been doing. And they will do even greater things than these because I’m going to the father
Pastor Mike (18:27):
Greater, greater works than these. Now let’s just stop and imagine all of our little Jesus stories that we have heard in Sunday school in children’s church. And we think about how Jesus went to the unlovable. He forgave the unforgivable. He, he went and, and, and people that, that, that were told that they are nothing. He said, you have value. And he started restoring people, restoring relationships, healing, doing miracles, doing all these things, think about all those stuff. And Jesus says, if you just believe in me, abandon yourself and put your whole self, your whole trust in me, the works that I have been doing, they will do in greater than these. And then again, going back to, in the name of Jesus and I will do whatever you ask in my name so that the father may be glorified in the son. You may ask me for anything in my name and I will do it.
Pastor Mike (19:37):
Now I know that some people take this way outta context. And I’ve seen people, you know, tell me, they’ve asked Jesus for blue jeans to Ferrari. And they all tell me that that Jesus doesn’t work for them. And the moment they tell me that I realize that they got something wrong because Jesus doesn’t work for us. He’s not our Santa Claus. He’s on our Easter bunny. He’s not the tooth fairy. He’s none of those things. He’s on our little genie that we have to rub the right way. He’s none of those things. We don’t have to do a special dance for them. We don’t have to do sacrifices for Jesus or any of that. No, but when we understand that when Jesus calls us and claims us that we are invited to participate in the mission of God, it changes what we ask for. Because when you realize what your identity and purpose is that you’ve been planted and the very household that you live in, we even planted in the very city that you’re in right now, when you’ve been surrounded by a certain group of people that are in your life, there’s a purpose and mission of God to it.
Pastor Mike (20:38):
You’re not gonna be asking for just, oh, God is gonna be the, you’re not gonna be using your, if you’re to say three wishes on Ferrari’s and blue jeans and in, in a cool pair of shoes, you’re not gonna be doing that. You’re gonna be understanding that there is a purpose. Why? Because everything we do must glorify God in Jesus Christ. In other words, and this is where I had a really hard time with, there needs to be some connection with the goodness of God, the love of God and the way we live our lives, there has to be a connection. And it has to be more than just a bunch of platitudes. There has to be more than just some nice cliches and, and moral sayings. There has to be something more than that because my Pope and prayer is. And, and, and I, I think that’s why there’s a lot of people that just turned off on church in general and, and are skeptical of Christians is because we’re sending a different message because really our hope.
Pastor Mike (21:51):
And I pray that, that you’ll like, bring this into your life. And you’re like, why am I here? God? Well, maybe one of the reasons why I’m here or not. Maybe the reason why I’m here is that whenever people will encounter me and they know that I am a Christian, that they’ll know that God, the father actually loves them. I mean, deeply loves them. That gods aren’t mad at them. God doesn’t wanna punish them, but God delights in them and God wants to just be connected and just, just love his children and, and see you enjoy the goodness of life and be a part of what God is doing. And that, and that they’ll see that not only does God love them, but God is good and God desires good things. I think some of you right now that are in here, you’ve been under a lot of condemnation.
Pastor Mike (22:38):
People have said a lot of things against you that if you don’t that you didn’t measure up, if you don’t do this or don’t do that, and you need to hear that, that God sees you, God loves you. And God wants you to know that you are deeply loved, but also that the world that God has for you is good. God doesn’t want the scorpions and the snakes and all the evilness that we see to have rule, he wants the children of God to take the rifle place in God’s creation. And so I guess what we have to do, I mean, I mean, this is a tremendous responsibility. If you think about it, that, that what we do, our words and our deeds, they need to be done in the name of Jesus. That means they need to connect with Jesus’ mission mean, wow, that’s a lot.
Pastor Mike (23:19):
That means that we have to align ourselves with Jesus’ mission and purpose. We have to align ourselves with things that Jesus did. And I’ll tell you, this is probably the hardest thing, especially for us church people, or let’s just say religious people. And we use the dictionary definition of religious people as those that have a devotion to God when we’ve been devoted to God for a long time, we, we, we fall sometimes into that holiness mentality. You know, we, we, we wanna learn, we want to grow. We study, we study, we study and, and, and, and Jesus had people in his community that had that same mindset. There were teachers of the law, and there were also priests and they were experts. And, and they saw that if they would stay as close to God as possible, and as far away as from sinners and bad people as possible that God would bless them.
Pastor Mike (24:15):
And so all the problems that they had in their world, they thought, because the reason we had these problems is cause the people of God are not doing what they’re supposed to do. And so therefore we have to withdraw from this world and we gotta be as close to God as possible. So the blessings will happen. But so then Jesus shows up and Jesus starts going to people that, that the religious people said stay away from. And Jesus started going in and saying, Hey, you know what? Come on in. Don’t be afraid. You know, the water is warm. It’s not as scary as what you say. There’s actually good stuff here. Let me open the door for you here. Let me let you sit at the table. Oh, here, let me wash your feet. You know, here, let, let me serve you. I’m not afraid of you. And Jesus gets criticized for this. And it’s, and it’s in this criticism where Jesus reveals just a, a like in a, in a very consolidated form, his mission in Luke 19, this is Jesus’ response to people who said, how can Jesus be around these sinners? How can he do this? And Jesus said for the son of man came to seek out and to save the lost. So there’s two things that is a part of Jesus’s mission that we have to ask ourselves, are we doing this?
Pastor Mike (25:34):
Seek out? In other words, the, the whole motion, the whole movement of our faith life. There’s a part of it that ha it’s not complete unless we are seeking out, unless we are going out. In other words, we’re looking for something we’re seeking out we’re we’re and, but what are we seeking? And then save, okay, again, that word save. It’s not just about going to heaven, but the word save, you know, means to heal, deliver, restore, make whole. And Jesus says that the son man came to seek and to save the lost. In other words, there are some things that, that are out in our world. There are some people right now that are lost. And a lot of times we equate being lost, but there’s a bunch of people that are not going to heaven, you know? And I think that’s just a, a cruddy definition of what Jesus was trying to do, because what Jesus brought was something way more you just saying, you know, and during this cruddy world, and eventually you’ll go to heaven.
Pastor Mike (26:48):
<laugh> I mean, what, what good is that? And that means that I’ll just like, do what I want in this world. And on my deathbed, I’ll go to heaven. You know, I’ll say, Jesus, forgive me. And, and, and that’s what people, a lot of times equate the Christian faith to, but what Jesus was doing and what he’s inviting you and I to do is to go to people who do not have hope and give them hope. People that have been feel trapped by their actions, or maybe they’re trapped by their past, let ’em know that they can be free. That sin, you know, doesn’t have to rule your life. Yeah. You screwed up and you have some people in your life that probably remind you every day that you screwed up. But that screw up does not define you. There’s more to this. There are people that have been, were living with shame. And today that are living with shame, and Jesus is saying that you don’t have to live in shame anymore. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. You don’t have to have this guilt on you anymore. There are people that have a hard time forgiving themselves and other people cause they’ve been hurt and wounded. And Jesus is saying, you know what? You can be forgiven. You can be freed from that label. Cuz see salvation comes to reclaim all that stuff that was lost.
Pastor Mike (28:20):
So what about you and me? If you look at Jesus’s actions, I mean, Jesus was unwavering, right? I mean he went all the way to the cross because he knew what it was about. And what I’m trying to tell you is that God has a claim on your life and the mission of God is far more important for us. And we should not be wasting our time and our energy on things that really don’t matter. We shouldn’t be wasting our time and energy on fighting on theological disputes and, and, and, and all the little things that we can waste our times with in the church. And then in our own little personal lives that we get into, sometimes that we just, you know, I mean, whether it’s scrolling on Facebook, buying on Amazon, you know, liking pictures on Instagram, I mean, those are cool things, but, but if a lot of your time is being consumed with that, you know what you’re, you’re drifting, you’re not living on mission and yes, a lot of distractions as someone said.
Pastor Mike (29:29):
And then here’s the other thing that we have to understand is that the holy spirit is at work in our world right now. And, and God is working and moving and doing all these things and, and moving in people’s lives and, and is with people and their hardships and their challenges. And you know what we have to just be willing to get in line with what God is doing. And so that we can, you know, live into our identity of Christ so that we can start fulfilling God’s purpose and plan in our life. And in order to do that, we have to like make an exchange. We have to let go of the junk and all the busyness and things that occupy our time. And you just gotta ask yourself, you know, like this stuff that’s taken my energy. Does it really matter in the big scope of things and the big picture, does it really matter?
Pastor Mike (30:11):
Does it really make a difference in the world? The thing that I’m, I’m offended with, the, the person that has ticked me off in the cubicle right next to me, you know, does that really matter? Am I, am I, is it worth holding onto that energy? Is it worth like spending my money on that kind of stuff? Does it really matter? Let’s go back to our text so that we can find some meeting and whatever you do in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord. Jesus giving. Thanks to God, the father through him. Let’s just pull out a couple things word. I think it’s very simple, right? It’s something that is said, it’s something that is spoken. Um, it’s actually the same word logo, which those of you are like into the Bible. Remember how the Bible says that Jesus, you know, is the, as the word of God, the word became flesh and lived among us.
Pastor Mike (30:59):
That’s the same word that’s being used right there. So, so it, there’s a connection with our words with Jesus’ life deed, you know, what is your business, your employment, those things that you occupy yourself with, um, you know, those things that you agree with, all of those things, you know, they have to be connected to Jesus. Our words need to be connected with Jesus’ word. Do we see that? What we speak has de has direct connection with God, living with us in this world, your words have so much more weight than you realize. Do we see it? Your deeds, your employment, everything that you’re doing has a purpose, but do you see it? Are you living for that purpose or are you just existing again? You know, the things that we do, we have to remember, they have eternal consequences. We are, we are ambassadors of Christ.
Pastor Mike (31:49):
We are bringing heaven here. You know what? We do things in the name of Jesus. And we don’t represent ourselves. Remember the 10 commandments, right? 10 commandments, right? You shall not misuse the name of the Lord. You’re God for God will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses this name. How many times do we wear the name of Jesus? We identify as a Christian, we come to a building, we come, we come to a house of worship and we say, this is what I’m about. And then we go out and we don’t live out the name that we claim. And maybe just, maybe I was taught, you know, the old way of commandment. Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, right? None of this misused stuff, but I like misuse it, you know, kind of makes it more practical, but maybe misusing God’s name. It’s more of in line with not fulfilling our call and doing things Jesus, back than just cussing.
Pastor Mike (32:45):
Cause that’s what I used to think. You know, misusing God’s name was just taking God’s name. Vein was just about cussing. I think it’s something more than that. I think we have to ask ourselves, are we serious? Are we taking what Jesus said and what Jesus did seriously now is bring it home to our church. We’re called to extend. God’s redeeming love. And there’s two parts of that. People need redemption and they re they receive redemption and they are redeemed only when they encounter. God’s love. It’s that simple. They have to encounter. God’s love. So here’s the thing that I just want us to hold on to is that regardless of where you are in your faith journey, you can be an instrument of God’s grace. You can be used because God is already where you are. And it’s just a matter of aligning yourself with, with what God is doing.
Pastor Mike (33:43):
And, and I know sometimes people say like, you know, I just don’t see it, or I don’t know. Or I, I don’t, you know, I mean, we have all these excuses and I’m not gonna go into that. But here’s the thing. If you would just take a step out there and take a leap of faith, say, God, I’m gonna give this a try. I guarantee you. You’re gonna, you’re gonna see. And how do we step out? Try loving people, try inviting people to something that maybe they wouldn’t go to on their own. Maybe go ahead and sit with some people and, and wrestle with some hard questions. And I guess we have to ask ourself this question, you know, do we see people the way our heavenly father sees people?
Speaker 3 (34:29):
Pastor Mike (34:30):
A lot of times I, I look in my life and, and again, I’m just talking about the, the big stuff, like the, you know, what’s going on all the time. And I still have a hard time with that. I see people according to how, like, I feel like I’m judged what I’ve experienced by people. Instead of seeing people also how I’ve experienced when I received the love of God and the acceptance of God, the forgiveness of God, the goodness of God. If, if your attention’s on God, you’ll start seeing people, how God sees people. You’ll start seeing yourself, how God sees you. If you get your attention on this pleasing people and doing people, things it’ll be the other way around.
Pastor Mike (35:17):
You see, I think we have to ask ourselves this and this, this is gonna hit with the, with the church. But I think it’s really important. Do you remember what it was like to come home in faith? You know, like when, when there, there was a, a, a, some mark or turning point in your life, when you realize that I belong to God, Jesus loves me. You know, that, you know, I’m accepted. I don’t have to earn, I don’t have to strive anymore. Do you remember that feeling? And I think a lot of us have lost that joy. We, we forgot what it is for ourselves. And a lot of us have not had it recently, maybe that experience of welcoming someone home. When was the last time you, you were able to just be with somebody and have a relationship with somebody to, you know, over time that eventually led to them saying, you know what? I know God loves me.
Pastor Mike (36:24):
And I know that I’m accepted and I know that I’m gonna be okay if you, I know what it’s like to, I was lost. But now I realize that God found me and that God was with me all along. My broken heart has been healed. I’ve been set free. Now, many of you have experienced that in your life, but sometimes we haven’t yet been able to, to be a part of seeing somebody else encounter that or, or know that we are a part of that journey, that one link in the chain. And I wanna encourage you that, man, I’m telling you, it is like such a joy and you find meaning and purpose. When you can just say, wow, you could see somebody you’ve been praying for, you know, and, and you could see it they’ve been struggling and they finally get it. I remember like with William, when we were, we were just like wanting him to learn how to walk.
Pastor Mike (37:19):
But at one point we, we weren’t even sure if he was able to crawl. And I remember he was doing that little army crawl. And I remember we thought that we could help William by showing him how to crawl and all that. I mean, he had his own time, you know, and we did all these silly things to try to encourage in the crawl. And then one day he just started crawling. And then one day he just started walking and, and the, and the joy of knowing that he was not meant to just be, you know, sliding around the floor that he was actually meant to walk. It was such a, a, a tremendous joy and, and I’m, and that’s the same with the faith journey. Are we willing to put in the long time, the, the hard hours, the, the prayer, the relationships be patient so that somebody can fulfill that calling that God has on their life. So they can walk into that.
Pastor Mike (38:07):
Let’s go back to John. Very truly. I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. The works that I’ve been doing, and they’ll do greater works than these, because I’m going to my father and what, and, and will do whatever you ask of. My name said, my, the father may be glorified in the son. You may ask for anything in my name and I will do it. And then verse 15, if you love me, keep my commandments. Now this is our shift. We’re making a, a distinction from just Jesus words and cliches and bumper stickers and all that stuff to actually taking seriously what Jesus said. And this is like one of the times that Jesus gets really hard. Cause he like nonstop, professes his love to us, right? Nonstop. He’s always showing goodness to us. He’s always saying, come to me and let me carry the bird and let me forgive you all that. But then he says this, if you love me, keep my commandments.
Pastor Mike (39:20):
That’s what Jesus, that that’s, that’s the measure that that’s the plum line for you. And I, if you wanna see where you are, keep my commandments and, and Jesus put the commandments, all the commandments of God into two things. You know, the, the greatest commandment said, love God and love your neighbor. So over the next few weeks, here’s, here’s where we’re going. As a church, we’re gonna be talking about taking Jesus. Seriously, we’re gonna be talking about the great commandments. We’re gonna be talking about some obstacles in that like time and fear, but here’s the other thing. I’m not gonna be the one doing this. Cause I believe that this is something that it’s the work of the body. And one of the things that the gathering place we are called to empower and equip people to do the work of God. And so we got a preaching team.
Pastor Mike (40:08):
And so, I mean, we have, we have several messages and I’ll be doing the closing message, but, but we have some people that will be speaking. You know, we have John Ling, that’ll be speaking next week. We have Kevin Peck that will speak the week after that. And we, and we have Elizabeth ALFI that will be speaking the week after that. And they’ll all be talking about these things. So what’ll be so neat is that you’re gonna be hearing their voice, their perspective on what these truths mean and, and it’s gonna be challenging. And so what I wanna encourage you to do is to start praying for them, but also start inviting some friends because you know what, it’s, it’s hard enough to come up and say, okay, I’m gonna go ahead and do something like this and speak in public. But, but if, if people know that there’s a family, that’s supporting them and encouraging them to say, Hey, you can do this.
Pastor Mike (40:49):
I’m telling you it makes it so much better. So that, that’s one of the challenges that, that I have for you. The other thing, the other challenge that we have as, as a body is I want us to start thinking about faithfulness. And now a lot of us have been experiencing a lot of church hurt. Maybe you had church hurt, you know, like you, you, you came expecting one experience in church and, and it just, it was just totally bad. You lost trust in, in people you lost trust in maybe in the minister, the institution of the church, you know, like they, they have all these things. And, and, and then also sometimes we see bad examples of how church has done, or we see bad examples of Christians, you know, people that are maybe just like thumping the Bible on people and, and just, you know, taking things outta context and are, and are very judgemental.
Pastor Mike (41:37):
And so what happens to a lot of us, especially those of us who are mainline people, you know, that come from like established denominations. Sometimes we we’re all about just saying, okay, God, I don’t wanna mess it up. So I’m only gonna be about the serving part. You know, I just want to help people and do good and, and do great things to people. And that, and that is wonderful because it, you know, in our DNA, we do believe in scriptural holiness in the land. In other words, the world needs to be how God intended it. But on the other side, because that we’ve seen so many bad examples of people actually talking about Jesus, we don’t do it enough. And sometimes we’ve forgotten how to do it. And so here’s what I wanna invite you to do is that, that I know a lot of you been striving to be faithful, and you’ve been trying to do these things cuz we don’t wanna harm or hurt anybody.
Pastor Mike (42:30):
But also we struggle with being fruitful. And what I’m saying, being fruitful is like the, the full picture of salvation, which is bringing faith, love and hope to people, letting people know that they, they are seen by God that God loves and, and that, and then be a part of God’s work so they can have an awareness. And, and we have a hard time with that. The good news is that the holy spirit has been at work and is preparing things. And for us as a church, what we’re doing is in September, we’re gonna be launching alpha course. And the alpha course is one of those ways that you can get involved and, and you can invite people that you would like to explore faith, where they can be loved. They can be fed, but they can be just heard and not judged. And so if you’re like, you know what, I, I, I don’t, I’m afraid to invite my neighbor or friend, cuz I don’t wanna have bad experience.
Pastor Mike (43:24):
Well, if you have that fear and concern, then you definitely need to get involved in alpha because, and you should go with them to make sure they don’t have that bad experience so that our alpha course could be one that that truly welcomes people. And again, connecting back with John, Jesus says, and I’ll ask the father and he’ll give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever. The spirit of truth. We know that as the holy spirit, the world can accept him because it neither sees him nor knows him, but you know him for, he lives with you and he will be in you. Now I gave a challenge to our church that you know, that, that we need to take this seriously. And, and so even if you are not, your small group decide not to get directly into alpha course.
Pastor Mike (44:11):
I wanna ask you to figure out how you can support this as a church. Cause this is something that we need to do as a church, even say, you know, we’re gonna make a commitment to be praying for people and, and, and being very serious about it because you know what? This is one practical way that we could do it together to align with Jesus’ mission. We have to bridge our social witness with our, our gospel witness. And I guess the question that you have to ask yourself is how am I involved in doing this? And you just gotta find your place and you gotta find your way, but here’s the thing. And you gotta ask if, if all you’re just, if all you’re doing is just coming to worship and all you’re doing is just studying with a bunch of Christians and you’re not engaging meaningfully engaged with people that, that have a different life outlook than you. Something is wrong and it needs the change. So what I’m gonna ask you to do is make a commitment to start praying for the alpha course, pray for our church and pray that God will show you three people to invite that three people that, that, that need to experience hope may be purpose and find their destiny.
Pastor Mike (45:38):
Because the big why for Jesus was that. So people who are lost can be found so that people can come home and know that God is good. And I don’t know if anybody needs this, but I feel that whoever’s, someone’s listening to this message. Whether someone’s listening to this message that needs to hear this. If you feel like you are far from God and you feel like you’re not good enough, I want you to know it’s time to come home. It’s time to come home because God is, is waiting for you. And he wants to give you that, that blessed life, that full life and that come home. It’s easy. Just say, Jesus, I want to come home. Forgive me. I believe that you made it possible by dying on the cross for my sins. And I know that I am loved by you here I am. Jesus. Just, that’s what this is about coming home. It’s time for you to come home.
Speaker 4 (47:11):
Hey, beautiful people. This is Hannah Hunter. I’m the director of digital reach here at the gathering place in Palm beach gardens. Thank you for joining us this week. We love getting to share our journey in Christ and community with you. And if you’re in the Palm beach area, we would love to get to connect with you in person at our Sunday worship service at 1115, for more information about our community and faith. Check out our website at thegatheringplacefl.org. Thanks for listening.