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We Need… J.O.Y.

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(1/27) There are three things that we as a church can’t afford to lose… three things we need… and that is J.O.Y.

You see, there are many churches that year after year, are losing their J.O.Y. As a result their numbers are shrinking, their congregations are graying, and their passion is dying. I believe, that the problem is that many haven’t begun to open their eyes to the grim reality that we have lost our J.O.Y. The silent, subtle walking away of the next generation from the body of Christ is a clue… it is not obvious… but the result is that we are seeing a great evacuation in the Church of Jesus Christ. And if the statistics continue in their downward trend we could look like post-Christian Europe in short time. The bottom line is that we have lost our J.O.Y. and therefore we’re losing the next generation. When we lose the next generation, we lose our best families, and lose our future leaders.

In 1 John, the apostle writes, "We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete" (1 John 1:3-4). Today I want to share about that J.O.Y. We want to make our joy complete!

Let us read together from Matthew’s Gospel…

Matthew 16:13-21

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"

14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"

16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." 20 Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. NIV

So Jesus dies for sin, rises for sinners, and Jesus ascends into heaven. Jesus sends the presence, the power, and the person of God the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit shows up, the church springs into being… the church Jesus said he will build… and people are born again and they become, together, the people of God. And that’s what we see right here in this place… it is Jesus’ church empowered by the Spirit.

So first of all, it’s Jesus’ church. The church belongs to Jesus. Not you, not me, not us. It belongs to him. So, we want to hear from him, follow him, obey him. We want to love and serve the church because Jesus loved and serves the church. But also, the signs of the church, are not religious traditions or good things we do for God: it’s the Holy Spirit revealing the life of Jesus in us and calling us and compelling us with great joy to show the evidence of this new life of Jesus in us.

1. Jesus

So we need Jesus… the first idea is that we need Jesus…

In the book of Acts when the church first sprang into being, in Acts 2:14, "Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd." What’s he doing? He raised his voice. He’s yelling. And I love that. It’s right here in the Bible. "Peter raised his voice and addressed the crowd." So he’s going to preach and he delivers a sermon.

And then Acts 2:42, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship" (Acts 2:42). So, there’s preaching and teaching from the Bible, centered on Jesus. The church and every gift of the Holy Spirit is bringing the church into being, birthing the church, and it all points back to Jesus. So, what we’re talking about here is Jesus’ word. We’re talking about the Scriptures which reveal Jesus.

And we’re a Bible-believing church, amen? If you’re new, and you haven’t heard, we believe that the Bible is the only book that God wrote. We believe that it is perfect, it is our authority, that everything else is to be understood and subject to its truth, and that the big idea of the Bible is the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Bible’s not about us… it’s about Jesus. It’s for us… but it’s about Jesus.

And what I want you to see is that through preaching and teaching, the church comes into existence. You see people are born knowing God from what he has made (Romans 1:20). But people are not born with an instinctive understanding of Jesus and his work of salvation. That has to be preached and taught so that we can learn who Jesus is and what he has done. And that is all recorded for us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, perfectly in the pages of the Bible.

And so it was a sermon that brought about the beginning of the church. And today, where there is no preaching and teaching of the Bible about Jesus, there is no church... there may be a social club, an organization, some do good group, but it is not the Church of Jesus Christ. Just like the world was brought into being through God’s spoken Word, so the church comes into being through God’s Word being preached. And so we are pointing to Jesus and showing everyone that it’s ultimately all about Jesus.

So number one: you’re church needs Jesus and you’re going to need Jesus. You’re going to need Jesus to forgive your sin. You’re going to need Jesus to give you the Holy Spirit to help you change from the inside out. You’re going to need Jesus to give you an example of how to love. You’re going to need Jesus to teach you how to forgive by forgiving you, how to love by loving you, how to persevere as he perseveres with you. And so the truth is the most important relationship is always the relationship with Jesus. And if we are growing in our relationship with Jesus, that will grow our affection for one another. And that is important…

2. Others

You see not only do you need Jesus for your life and your grace, you need Jesus’ people. You need to have community and wise counsel. Proverbs 15:22 says it this way: "Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." So, you absolutely need Jesus, and then you need Jesus’ people to help you learn the Scriptures, to repent of sin, to see your blind spots, and to, in every way, encourage you toward godliness, love, and Christ likeness.

God’s plan and our hope is that you’ll subject yourselves to teaching… being willing to learn… willing to change your mind… willing to redirect your life course according to God’s Word, to sermons and godly counsel. Even good friends, good books, and listening to your spouse. You know sometimes God will give us wisdom through our spouse, but often we lack the humility to receive God’s wisdom through them.

But you need Jesus’ people… you need others… you need your kids and mine… and together we all need to grow. The Bible tells us that Jesus, gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up… so that we attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ… so that we will no longer be infants… but instead we would in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:11-15).

So our spiritual formation is important and its for this reason Jesus instructed his followers: "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 WHAT? "And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus understood the importance of teaching and raising up others and specifically our youth. He said, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (Proverbs 14:12). You see, the Lord knows that we can’t just allow our youth to find their own way. And this is what the Lord says… "I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go" (Isaiah 48:17).

So we’ve got to connect with our youth; and that is why "Kids Connect" is so important on Wednesday nights, and the "Unashamed Youth" that Matt and Clair lead on the 2nd & 4th Fridays… because we need others and we’ve got to connect with our teens. You know it is great to have fun, games, and pizza parties but that has got to lead to something else… something better… because it is so much more important to be equipping our teenagers to know, to live, and to share their faith in Jesus!

In verse 16, Peter answered Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus replied, "On this rock I will build my church." You see our youth are the future and I believe they’re way too sophisticated and busy to waste their time in a youth ministry that is wasting their time. They want mission. They want action. And they want the truth.

As a matter of fact, I’m convinced that Jesus used teenagers to launch the church. Check this out in Matthew chapter 17:

"After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax came to Peter and asked, "Doesn't your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes, he does," he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. "What do you think, Simon?" he asked. "From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own sons or from others?" "From others," Peter answered. "Then the sons are exempt," Jesus said to him. "But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours" (Matthew 17:24-27).

I find it interesting that only Peter and Jesus had to pay the temple tax, yet all the disciples were there. And just as interesting, according to Exodus 30:14, this tax was only for those who were "twenty years old or older". This means that there is a good chance that most of the disciples were still teenagers. And it also means, that in a sense, Jesus was the first youth group leader with only one adult helper named Peter and like most youth groups… had one really bad kid… named Judas.

Yet, with this small youth group Jesus, quite literally, transformed the world forever. He did this all without a worship band, a youth room or a budget. He said, "I will build my church" and he used teenagers to do it. Teenagers changed the world from the beginning and he wants to use them today. He wants to use you and your teenagers to make a difference.

3. You

Third, your church needs you. I love 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. Listen to the you phrases.

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him."

If that’s not the case for me, I don’t know what is. God loves to use the unlikely, the ignoble, the foolish things to accomplish his purposes. And He’s been doing that for thousands of years.

Today you and I are being challenged to transform our world for Jesus. I truly believe that there is a sleeping giant in our midst. And that sleeping Giant is you! God by his Holy Spirit wants to give you a vision, to equip you, and unleash you to reach your communities for Christ.

Jesus told the disciples after his resurrection, "You are witnesses of these things." What things you might wonder? That the Christ will suffer and die… that he will rise from the dead on the third day… and that repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations. So Jesus says, "I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:48-49).

You see we need power… power of supernatural proportions, because as it says in 1 Corinthians, "God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him." And so Jesus said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses… to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

But for this to happen, it’s going to take your involvement. It requires faith to believe in the promise of the Holy Spirit… it requires a desire for the Holy Spirit… and a seeking of the Holy Spirit. It also requires that repentance and forgiveness of sins will not only be preached, but also practiced in our lives! So we need to prepare ourselves to be holy vessels set apart for God’s use.

You see when you receive that power, you’ll see a true awakening of Biblical proportions, one that has the potential of awakening your community, and that will sweep our nation and then our planet. You are our leaders. You are our revolutionaries. My hope and prayer for you is that your church explodes and grows as God unleashes you as the first of an army of revolutionaries that will change the world!

Here is the bottom line as we close. We live in a world that is very individualistic. Often people are more worried about their personal relationship with Jesus than participation in the family of Jesus. But it doesn’t work very well that way. It is hard to grow in the faith, to encourage oneself, because you can’t be the church by yourself.

This church is about the community of Jesus’ people. The world is filled with people right? The world is filled with people, but not all of them are Jesus’ people. So, there’s a line in the Bible between what is called the world… people who don’t belong to Jesus… and the church… those who belong to Jesus, those who are born-again Christians.

So, my question to you is, "Are you part of the community?" We need J.O.Y… Jesus, Others, and You. Not just as an attender, not just an observer, but a member of the family. And that’s what we’re talking about: family members. Church is a family. It’s not like membership in some civic organization. It’s membership in a family. Where "I’m going to love my brothers and sisters, and I’m going to look after my family, and I’m going to figure out what chores the Father has for me to do. What does he want me to do? I’m here to help and serve."

Are you a part of the family? Are you connected to the church? Jesus loved the church. Jesus died for the church. And Jesus is coming again for the church. Are you a member of the church? It’s an important question and we’d love to have you as part of the family.

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