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Sermon Notes for the Teaching at Christian Fellowship Church on Sunday, January 22, 2023

Why does it matter? CF The local church

Pastor Michael Acock

The final message of a 3-part series on Why Does It Matter?  A series on your purpose, the Church’s Purpose and the Purpose of the Local Church.

I.              Name Tag Sunday

A.            Today is our Name Tag Sunday – this is a great day for simply knowing each other beyond seeing familiar faces.

B.            In speaking about a church, Eugene Peterson said, “The one thing we can do, we can learn people’s names, we can be in their homes, and they can be in our homes. We can assiduously cultivate a sense of relationship. There is no hierarchy in friendship.”

C.            Every person is made in His image and is worthy of being called by name.

II.            Series Overview

A.            Midnight Mantra

1.             The local church matters because it is the embodiment of the His purpose for your life and the way of THE STORY – THE CHURCH.

B.            A Question I get asked: What is your vision for the church?

1.             My response to this point will be a three-week answer.

2.             Life of Faith quote – Eugene Peterson

a)             There is no living the life of faith without a sustaining vision. We must (as a people) see something, hear something, be oriented by something.” Eugene Peterson

 

3.             Simple summary answer, this is like the emails that you get that have quick bullet points at the top and then if you want the detail read on.

a)             Let’s start with God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit

(1)            We are seated in the Father’s Love

(2)            We are centered on the Son – Jesus -The Christ

(3)            We are empowered by the Holy Spirit

b)             God is at work revealing, drawing, calling and empowering each one of us into His purposes for our lives that goes back to before the foundation of the earth.

c)              God is at work restoring, redeeming and reconciling the world to himself through the Body of Christ – The Church – which covers all generations of time (past, present, future) and all Jesus following believers across the span of ethnicities and faith expressions.

d)             God is at work bringing each one of us and His purposes for our lives into His story of restoration, redemption and reconciliation through the embodied community of the local church.

e)             What is the vision for the church? For each person connected to CF to step into God’s purposes for their life and live that purpose out in the day-to-day relationships of our church community so that we as a church step into the restoring, reconciling and redeeming purposes of God for the world.

 

C.            The Story Layers

A modified version of The Cosmic Egg by Richard Rohr (blackboard this)

1.             My Story

2.             Our Story

3.             The Story

 

D.            Life and Death – Why Does It Matter? The CHURCH

1.             Series Imagery – Life and Death in the Trees

2.             Today – THE Local Church

 

3.             The Local Church matters because it is where His purposes for our lives and the Way of the Kingdom work together to conform us to the image of Jesus.

a)             “The Jesus Way wedded to the Jesus Truth brings about the Jesus Life” Eugene Peterson

In other words, following the Way of Jesus we discover the Truth of Jesus and experience the Life of Jesus.

 

For instance, the way of Jesus is love your enemies and then we discover the truth of Jesus in forgiveness and experience the life of Jesus joy and freedom from bitterness.

E.             The Big Story

1.             Creation

2.             The Fall

3.             Redemption

4.             New Creation

F.             Our Story – a local setting

1.             We need a training ground for belonging, attaching, trusting and loving.

2.             As social beings we need something bigger than ourselves that helps us with our own identity and security.

3.             Memberships of family, neighborhood, gender, country, religious affiliations are how we learn about relationship and connection and most other character virtues (truthfulness, integrity etc.)

4.             Dangers of “Our Story”

a)             We can get stuck here “defending the boundaries and glory of ‘their’ group”. Richard Rohr

b)             The Language of ‘Us’ verses ‘Them’ emerges.

(1)            Initially this is a relief to the burden of our own private struggle to matter and be significant.  There is great comfort in being with my own.

(2)            However, this language eventually if not quickly degrades to comparison and competition. Disconnection from communion with God follows comparison and competition.

 

III.          The local church – where His purposes for our lives and His Kingdom join to bring about transformation to the image of Jesus

“They (local churches of Paul) were outposts of the kingdom, centers where his values were taught and adhered to.” Terry Virgo

A.            Ephesians 4 – a unity to maintain together.

ESV

4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, (aspects of love)

bearing with one another in love,

3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

 

NIV

4 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

1.             Overall exhortation of Paul is Unity of the Body

 

2.             Bearing with one another in love

a)             Through Humility

(1)            Lowliness of mind, not always insisting on our own way – this is not self-debasing – do NOT forget you have purpose.

b)             Through Meekness

(1)            Like a horse that still has all its energy and power but has stopping kicking back

c)              Through Patience

(1)            Long-tempered vs short-tempered

3.             Making every effort

a)             Markus Barth “Not only haste and passion, but a full effort of the whole man is meant, excluding passivity or a wait and see attitude.”

4.             Unity of the Spirit

a)             There is a supernatural unity that came from the Holy Spirit not our brilliant work of agreement.

b)             We have a holy calling to guard this unity.

5.             The Bond of peace

a)             This in context is the peace or shalom of the community not just your internal personal peace.There is something greater than our internal peace.

 

B.            Colossians 3:12-15 – an ethic to live out together.

5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[b] 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

1.             The embodiment of the Kingdom ethic is lived out in and among each other.

2.             The great compromise – when we keep the kingdom idea and use the ways of the world to achieve the mission. – we seek to align with power structures of the world and not trust the empowering spirit.

C.            Hebrews 10:23-25 – a life of worship to experience together.

ESV

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. (hope toward what God has promised)

 

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, (not stir one another to sin less; however, sin will hinder love and good works)

 

25 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.

 

MSG

22-25 So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

1.             Worshiping together is important to Paul. An embodiment of faith comes through us sharing space and voices and tears and laughter and hugs and welcomes.

 

 

IV.         Revisiting Jeremiah 29 – let’s look at a couple things.

A.            Jeremiah 29:11

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

B.            Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.

1.             70 years of exile from Jerusalem

2.             I will fulfill my promise.

3.             You will upon me and I will hear you; you will seek me and find me

4.             I will restore you, I will gather you, I will bring you back

C.            Jeremiah 29:4-9

It said: 4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream,[a] 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

 

 

D.            Local Churches are often in this place of the working of God in their midst.  Time and living life for the good our community is part of the working of God here.

1.             There may be some direct correlation here of Babylon and USA or Western Culture; however, I would like to think more in line of what does wisdom tell us?

2.             Wisdom says that God know his promises and his plans to restore us; however, the working of God in our lives says thrive where you are planted.  Seek the good of a local community and your good will follow.

V.           Jesus’ thought on the church – Terry Virgo

A.            Jesus was doing far more than merely saving individuals and reconnecting them to God. He is creating a new community, a people gathered for his glory. (Thomas Schreiner)

B.            “He clearly did not anticipate that his followers would be essentially secular people shaped by the world’s values regarding career, finance, popularity and political perspectives, who happen to attend a place of worship on Sundays.” Terry Virgo

VI.         GK Chesterton – Living the Christian Ideal

A.            “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried.” GK Chesterton

VII.       CF as a local church

We are will do it perfectly, we will make mistakes and stumble along but we are living toward ideal that God’s work of Grace called sanctification is happening in life together as a community of faith, a spiritual family – a church called Christian Fellowship.  The preaching may not be the best you find, the ministries may not always satisfy or thrill you, we will hurt each other and find our way to forgive and repent and heal each other. 

A.            Discoverers and Developers NOT Consumers

CF exists to help all people discover and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ in community for the sake of neighbor and nations.

Consumers chase down spirituality of their design in lieu of being shaped and conformed to the image of Jesus through the life lived together in a local church.  (caveat – not forced to stay)

 

 

B.            Rooted in the Trinity

1.             Seated in the Father’s Love

2.             Centered on Jesus Christ

3.             Empowered by Holy Spirit

C.            Distinctives

1.             Transformation (in the presence of God through the relationships within the church community)

2.             Transparency

3.             Interdependence

4.             Peacemaking (ministries forged in peacemaking)

D.            2 Timothy 1:9-10

1.             The local church is the incubator of holy callings of His purpose and grace.

8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began. 2 Timothy 1:9-10

 

VIII.     THE ASK: Commit to living in the life of this church for the next year: Trust His working in the relationships within our community will form your heart for each other and for Him.

A.            2 weeks ago: Commit to living into His purposes for your life this year: Trust He has purpose for your life.

B.             Last week: Commit to living in the CHURCH and Kingdom of King Jesus this year: Trust He has purpose in this Kingdom.

 

 

C.            Some practical steps to take.

1.             Take Discovering CF (graphic) and being the process of becoming a member here.

Sunday mornings from 10 to 10:50 before the 2nd service

2.             Begin leaning into doing life together with others within the life of the Christian Fellowship.

3.             The Purpose Driven Life Book – Rick Warren

https://a.co/d/erKTplA

4.             Does the Future Have a Church Book – Terry Virgo

https://a.co/d/7O1cyqE

 

5.             The Jesus Way – Eugene Peterson

 

 

 

IX.          Bibliography

Bartholomew, C. G. (2020). The True Story of the Whole World. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press (a division of Baker Publishing Group).

Colson, C. (1996). The Body. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing.

McKnight, S. (2014). Kingdom Conspiracy. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

Peterson, E. H. (2007). The Jesus Way. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Strobel, &. K. (2017). The Way of The Dragon or The Way of The Lamb. Nashville, TN: Harper Collins Christian Publishers.

Virgo, T. (2003). Does The Future Have a Church? St Louis, MO: New Frontiers USA.

Warren, R. (2002). The Purpose Driven Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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