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Life Matters

God Sends

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(7/28) We’re going to talk about the Church today in a message I’ve entitled God sends.

And I’ll start by telling you that I love the church… I love our church… and I love all churches that love Jesus. And if you love Jesus you’re supposed to love the church because you’re supposed to love what Jesus loves. And Jesus loves the church. Jesus died for the church. And so Christians should love what Jesus loves. And if you love Jesus, then you love the church.

But I confess, I didn’t love the church until I began reading the Bible and met Jesus. Once I became a Christian I started giving, serving, and helping… since I met Jesus… now I am totally into the church. I know some of you are like, "But the church is all jacked up." You see but that’s why I’m into it. I’m trying to help, right? That’s my thing. Most people criticize the church, they criticize the members, they point fingers, they blame from a distance… but you see I’d rather get in there and get dirty… I want to do my best to make it better; because that’s what Jesus is doing… that’s what I want to be part of. So check this out… open your Bibles and let’s read together from John 20:19-23…

Verse19, "On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." NIV

1. God sends Jesus the Christ

So here’s where we’re going to go. We’re going to see how the church begin? Its an awesome story from your Bible… but I’ll make it brief and to the point. Over 30 times in John’s gospel alone Jesus says, "The Father has sent me." So Jesus is God who comes as a missionary into the culture of the earth to reveal God. He is sent to save sinners. He’s on a mission. And Jesus says in John verse 21, "The Father has sent me…"

A contemporary of John, a doctor named Luke, writes another book… another Gospel… and he writes another letter… and its called "Acts." You know like action. But here’s what Luke shows us at the beginning of his gospel. God sent the Christ!

"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11). Jesus was named by God Christ, which means "the anointed one."

Now there was an old man in Jerusalem whom God had told "would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ." When Jesus’ parents took him to the temple on the eighth day to dedicate him to the Lord as the Law required, this old man named Simeon took him in his arms and praised God saying, "My eyes have seen your salvation" (Luke 2:25-30).

So Jesus grows up… he’s baptized… the Holy Spirit descends on him, anoints him, and he began his public ministry by opening the scroll of Isaiah and reading: "The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,

to comfort all who mourn" (Isaiah 61:1-2).

Then Jesus rolls up the scroll and says, "Today this has been fulfilled in your hearing." And from that point forward, Jesus casts out demons, preaches, heals, and performs miracles. What’s more, the demons came out of many of the people shouting, "’You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Christ" (Luke 4:41).

Later Jesus questioned the disciples, "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God." (Luke 9:20)

So in his gospel, Luke records how God sent Jesus the Christ on an anointed, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led mission. And in his second letter, what we call Acts, he shows how the Spirit descended on the Church, the early Christians, just like the Spirit descended on Jesus. God sends the Holy Spirit to empower the Church to keep doing the ministry of Jesus.

2. God sends the Holy Spirit

So let’s read about that together from Acts 1:1-5: "In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."

Now let’s fast forward to Acts 2:1-4: "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

And some of the people hearing this were confused. Imagine that… verse 12: "Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?" Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine" (Acts 2:12-13).

So some said, they’ve been doing breakfast beer, but it wasn’t... I don’t know if you know this or not, but just because you drink, it doesn’t make you bilingual. It doesn’t work that way. This is a supernatural ability given by God.

And I know there are some of you are here, when I say Spirit-filled and Spirit-led you’re reminded of that TV program you saw where they bring people up on stage, hit them on the forehead, and they lay on the floor twitching like a fish on the dock. Too often when people say Spirit led they think of that guy on TV with his wife who looks like she lost a paintball gun war… they’re sitting there on huge thrones telling you how much they need your love gift. But that’s not what I am talking about. This is totally different… another team.

So here’s what happens. 120 disciples of Jesus all of a sudden have the supernatural ability, through the power of God the Holy Spirit, to speak in the language of a bunch of different people. And the people hearing it say, "That’s amazing. These guys don’t know our language, but they’re speaking it perfectly, telling us about Jesus."

So God sends the Holy Spirit so you and I can be Spirit-filled, Spirit-led like Jesus. That’s it. To be like Jesus… to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and live the life that is patterned after the life of Jesus.

And so here in Acts all these people hear the good news about Jesus the Christ; they believe, they repent, they become Christians, and the Holy Spirit compels them to start living godly and holy lives. So this is the birth, it’s the dawning of the New Testament church. And here’s the big idea I want you to know. The church is what happens because God sends the Holy Spirit into the hearts, the lives, and minds of people. It’s not just a tradition or being part of an organization. It’s the Holy Spirit changing you from the inside out, giving you purpose, giving you a new life with Jesus and his people… and sending you on mission!

3. God sends Us… on mission

So God sends the Holy Spirit and with the Spirit empowering us and with Jesus as the center, we can effectively show God’s love for all peoples of the earth. So this relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit is how we’re to live our lives. And you’ve got to know that when Jesus ascended back to heaven he didn’t abandon us… we’re not on our own... there is an ongoing, continuing relationship with Jesus and his church. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, "I will build my church." He’s the one who’s building the church today! Four times in Ephesians it says that Jesus Christ is the living head of the church. He is supreme. It’s always, only, solely, totally, and fully about Jesus. He’s the head of the Church… all churches… including ours.

Now this church, Christ’s Community Church was launched almost a year ago and Hebrews chapter 3:1 says Jesus is "the apostle". So Jesus planted the church… he’s building the church… we’re part of the J-team… and apart from Jesus the apostle… there is no church… he’s the one who got it done… he’s the one who plants it. And not only that, but Jesus is senior pastor of every Christian church. In 1 Peter 5:4 the Bible says he is the "Chief Shepherd." In 2 Timothy 2:4 he is the "Commanding officer." So I’m not your senior pastor… to be biblical I’m your elder. I’m not senior pastor. That’s Jesus’ title. Jesus is senior pastor. And together we follow Jesus… we submit to Jesus… and we learn from Jesus… because he’s alive. Jesus is present with His Church.

After his resurrection Jesus gives the great commission to the church. He says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).

As the Son of God, who’s one with God, Jesus is everywhere… he’s senior pastor… and he’s actively involved in Christ’s Community Church. He’s actively involved in all Christian churches. And perhaps the best analogy for Jesus’ relationship with the church is his own analogy. He says, "I am the vine; you are the branches" (John 15:5). So Catholics are a branch, Presbyterians are a branch, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Assemblies of God, Evangelical Free, Foursquare is a branch. And the truth is there’s no church… there’s no life apart from the living, ruling, reigning Jesus Christ.

You see, unless we’re connected to him we’re not really a church. We may have a name, a title, a building, or an event, but if we’re not connected to Jesus… we’re just not… he’s the source of all life. He’s the vine… we’re the branches… and so what this means is that we get plugged in, we’re grafted into the vine, and we like Jesus are empowered and enabled to go and to be on mission through God the Holy Spirit.

Which brings us back to what Jesus said in Johns Gospel at verse 21, "As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you." So the Church is sent… Christians are sent… you and I are sent… and we’re obeying Jesus’ command… we’re on mission.

But some of you… some of you are the Christian equivalent of ninjas. You quietly sneak in and sneak out, and we can never find you. So today I am making a concerted effort… I call it our anti-ninja campaign. And we’re going to find you. So here’s what I’m asking you to do. You got a card there in the seat in front of you. Fill that thing out with your name, your e-mail or phone number, and write down there one thing… one way you can serve… one way you can be a visible expression of the Church… one way you can be on mission. And then grab hold of that card and give it to me when you leave, or if you miss me, put it on the information desk on the way out.

You see I want to make every effort to follow up with you, to let you know what Jesus has got going on, to invite you to become part of it, and to get you connected with what God is doing in our lives. So that being said, fill out the card, let me know how you’d like to serve. That’s it. And I know you can do it! I believe in you! This is a test you can ace. Name, e-mail, and how you can serve. I know you can do it!

How about this… even if you just get one right, I’ll give you a B. How about that?

So today all around the world a few billion people profess to be Christians. They’re in different nations, countries, languages, styles of church, and cultures. Here in our community there is Christ’s Community, Trinity, Elias, St. Joseph’s, and on and on. And each one is an opportunity to obey Jesus and express our love for him. But you need to commit… you need to plug in… you need to become part of your local church.

You see to be a member of Christ’s Church is not like being a member of a social club. Paul says in Romans that the church is like our physical body and that members are like parts. So some of you are a finger, or an ear, a toe, an eye… that’s what Paul says. You’re each connected. You’ve got an important part to do. You need us. We need you. Without you we’re handicapped… we’re on the sidelines… out of the game. All together, we do so much better serving Jesus.

Our senior pastor… the head of our church said this… "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)

God sends us on mission to love, okay? Church is about people loving one another. And this really happens best in community. We’ve got the Back to School Party Friday, the Pool Party the next, and the revival the next weekend. God is sending us on mission… a mission to love one another, to actually get to know each other, care for one another, serve one another, and pray for one another.

And this doesn’t mean we all get matching sweatshirts, ride a tandem bike, you know, that we all are like each other. We are all different, working together for a common goal, and loving on each other like Christ. You can love people no matter who they are because Jesus loves them and he loves you, and he wants you to love them.

Community is loving people that are not like you.

Point is, when we do what the Bible says, and love one another, God is glorified and we’re happy because we’re doing what God made us to do. And this really gets me excited because we’ve got purpose. God’s doing something big here in Emmitsburg! You know here in Emmitsburg… there are less practicing evangelical Christians than dogs… maybe even chickens… Did you know we have a new ordinance controlling the chicken population in town? Seriously…. that’s where we’re at.

I’m excited about what Jesus is doing here at Christ’s Community Church. Jesus is amazing! I really like Jesus… I love Jesus and I want people to meet him… lots of them! And that’s why we’re here! And those who know him, I want them to know him better because Jesus is so good. And I have good news! He’s alive! You can pray to him. You can talk to him. You can sing to him. You can walk with him. He’ll help you along the way. And I want lots of people to meet Jesus.

So I’m going to pray. You’re going to respond. Leave me your handy-dandy card. We going to sing. We’re happy. Jesus is alive. The Holy Spirit’s been poured out. We have great work to do and it’s nice to participate in what God’s doing.

I encourage you to respond like Isaiah who said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)

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