The Big Move - Week 1
What goes into a big move? What are the biblical precedents for a move into a place of worship. This series explores a few of the major moves for the nation of Israel into its place of worship.
Why do people move? When we've lived in a certain place in a certain way for a long time we get comfortable with the way thing are. But it's all going to change. Change can be uncomfortable; unless, of course, the situation in which one started is uncomfortable. We need to be smart. To prepare. We need to be listening for the voice of God. And we need to be seeking direction from God. We need to understand the forces at work in change, learn how to approach it, how to respond to it, and how to leverage it so that we grow from it instead of being inconvenienced or destroyed by it.
MANUEVER Exodus 2:3
Moses moved from family to palace. Lost his family. His mom had to let him go. We're going to have to let go. God uses bad situations to get His plan working. God uses bad situations to create good outcomes. This [elks lodge] hasn't been the best of places. In some ways, it was the basket. We had no place to be and we get set adrift in the only place that would have us. God calls us to let go of what we hold most dear to get his plan moving.
Fast forward a bit - Moses is grown. He has been nursed by his own mother and taught that he was a deliverer AND raised in the ways of Pharoah. A bad decision sent him running. It created context of humility. We need to make wise decisions in our move. NOT rush. Not do things in our own power. Not to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Unless the Lord builds a house its people labor in vain. That is why we are fasting. That is why we are seeking wise counsel. That is why we are making sure we are not getting ourselves into a situation in which we will fail. People do the wrong thing for the right reason all the time. Let's not be those guys.
MISSION Exodus 3:8-12
Moses moved from Egypt back to wilderness. He's followed GOD into difficult circumstances. God was using Moses to save a nation. God is using us to save our community. We have been called to the mission of God. This call requires our cooperation. And, this call introduces a complexity that we are embracing today.
Leave behind what we know and enter unknown. We don't know exactly what to expect, but we know what we must do. Transplants are often very good for plants - bigger root ball, better soil, out of the greenhouse. But, if done wrong, can mean the death of the plant. This is new. It demands focus and follow through. This is the hardest thing we have ever done, BUT this is not the most important. Don't mix them up.
The Big Move - Week 2
We're on the mission. A mission to speak and demonstrate the gospel to every man woman and child and lead them in to a fully devoted relationship with Jesus Christ. This week were going to begin a four week segment of this summer where we look at four parallel accounts surrounding a location for the worship of YHWH. Moses, Solomon, Hezekiah and Nehemiah. Each had a unique role in the establishment of a place.
Exodus has 40 chapters. 1-19 is the story leading up to the real thing that God is up to - reconciliation. Chapter 20 is the giving of the law. Chapters 25-40 is the tabernacle. The Law are the rules of worship and sanctification. – displaying Gods holiness & justice. Very specific ways that a Holy God would require us to relate to Him. The Tabernacle was the physical location of worship. Worship is surrender, allegiance and reconciliation. Very specific manner in which we would come before a holy and supreme God. We're going to enter into the Tabernacle narrative and see a facet of Gods nature and God's people that is going to be of massive help understanding who we are today in Gods story, and how we might move forward with our place. Three areas: People, Purpose & Place.
People - The people were the Jews. Born of a descent of Joseph. Part of a family. Family = arguments, loyalty, free flying opinions, jealousy but also commitment as a family.
Purpose – to be the people through which the Messiah would be born. They didn't understand that at the time. They were pretty sure it was actually about them. They were chosen by God and they just got the favor.
Place - The Tabernacle. Exodus 25:9 Purpose to be reconciled to YHWH to express devotion to Him and to live in sanctification.
People – the people of faith, the people of WNY, the people of Centerpointe.
Purpose – to give every man, woman and child repeated opportunities to see hear and respond to the gospel and become fully devoted followers of Christ.
Place – 86 Burlington.
HOW? Lets go back to the text. Exodus 25:1-8 Pass the hat. Take a collection. Not a tax. Not a charge. Not a bill. Anyone who is willing; whose heart prompts him to give. Generosity is the method through which God gets things done. Generous with what? Exodus 25:3-8 With money. With all manners of stuff. This is good news to those of us who are not cash rich. God can use whatever we have for Kingdom purposes. How does it get done? Exodus 35:10 Generous with skills.
What in the world is going to happen? An incredibly complex structure, specifically detailed, and funded by individual freewill contributions by a people with a purpose who need a place. Exodus 35:20-27 The people of God responded to the word of God for the work of God. Exodus 35:30-35 If you have a talent, God gave it to you. If you have an ability, God gave it to you.
What does it look like when the people pursue the purpose? Exodus 36:3-7 Obedience is a clear command and a resounding response. Obedience brings a blessing. When God gives a clear command, don't pray about it. Prayer will not bring the blessing. When God gives a clear command, don't tell a friend. Talking about it will not bring a blessing. When God gives a clear command, obey it! Obedience brings the blessing!!
When the people of God are fully obedient, the vision is fully funded.
The Big Move - Week 3
This is our time. This is our moment. To face the battles and challenges, and write the history that we will look back on. What is going to go into our transplanting our ministry from the Elks Lodge to the School on St Peter and Paul. To go from a 30X 60 room to 38,000 sq/ft of ministry potential!
Moses did his thing. For generations the people went and experienced the tangible presence of God at the Tabernacle. They gave their blood sacrifices which covered their depraved sins before a holy God. Then the nation of Israel moved to progressively more civilized society Prophets led the nation for generations. Then Judges. Saul was their first king. Then David. David brought peace through war. He asserted the authority given by God and defeated the enemies that surrounded him. And when peace was found, he made a realization about the place of worship to the God who had brought them so much victory.
David was like... Things are good. Life is good. We have worked so hard to get to this point, and we owe God all the credit. Hey wait a second...UM GOD, we've got peace, we've got blessing. We've got promise. We've got homes. The most High God is in a TENT!!! We've GOT to do BETTER than that for the eternal, almighty, magnificent God!
He had a focus of reflecting well on God specifically the place. Does the PLACE of WORSHIP reflect Gods PLACE in our HEARTS? Is it OK that we dwell in houses while the tangible expression of GOD Himself is in rented facilities? It wasn't OK with King David. He wanted better for the tangible expression of His faith and His God. Let's build a magnificent temple to the glory of God! And so the word came from God regarding Davids desire.
Solomon is doing the job. Solomon was creative and methodical and wise and driven and resourceful and he worked the deal. God's people should know how to work a good deal. They should know how to make things happen. The people of God who have been given a mandate by God to co-reign with Christ should know how to get things done. Solomon did and we need to follow in his legacy of resourcefulness and deal making to get the job done.
Solomon worked his side of things and God was faithful on His side of things. Solomon did his part and God did His part. God gave peace. Built an AMAZING TEMPLE. Ornate. Huge. Rich. Overlaid with Gold and sculptures. We must remember that the thing we are doing is not a ME effort, but a WE effort. A collaborative effort of EVERYONE who considers CP their home and we welcome the help of those who don't.
This is smaller than YOU. In fact, it should not be confused with you it should not be confused with the mission. Reconciliation. Restoration. People living in full devotion. People discovering grace. People living in right relationship, living in vibrant, sell the farm faith. This is going to be the hardest thing we have done as a congregation up to this point. But, it will not be the most important! As excited as we are about getting and moving into a building of our own, we cannot and must not confuse it with God Himself. There is no building that can contain God. There is no building that can compare to God. There is no building that can replace God.
We must heed the warning found in Solomon's words. 'The heavens are too small for you, there is no way that a building could either.' 1 Kings 8:59-61
God's Part – to be faithful to His word. Our Part – to be Faithful to Him through His Word. Is God the biggest deal in your life? If He isn't, you've got some issues to work out in your own life. This church is a great place to get that job done. If He is, then, is this place the BEST we can do? Is this the best expression of our faith in Christ? Is this the highest and best use of our ability to see God exalted in the place of worship? If you are thinking that it's not, then you are thinking what I'm thinking! We need to do better and we can do better!
The Big Move - Week 4
We're going to back into history. Back to the time of Solomons successors. His sons did not walk closely with God. They forsook him and caused a divided kingdom. The northern and southern Kingdom. Worship of YHWH was diluted, convoluted and then lost all together. The Temple in all of its grandeur was sacked by other empires. It's riches plundered and its meaning stripped. Other religions began to be practiced there. Eventually, it was the center of paganism. An then along came this guy.
What did he do that was so great? He brought the national attention back to God. He turned the focus of the people under his care Godward. To the religious leaders he said consecrate yourselves. People of Centerpointe - CONSECRATE YOURSELVES!! Live lives worthy of the calling you have received to be the people of God. Pursue lives of intimacy with God. Lives of Prayer. Lives of diving into God's word. Lives of grace. Lives of intentionally reflecting God's truth in your conversations; in your marriages; in your parenting; in your dating; in your spending.
People who wonder if music was ever part of the worship of God need to read their bibles. Valid part and a big part.
What followed the worship service? What did people do? Repentance. They purified themselves. There was a personal expense for this atonement. The individual donated one of their best lambs, goats or dove to be killed. It was taken seriously. But the king, as he was calling his people to make this sacrifice, wanted to lead the way through example.
He set the bar and required that his people do likewise. I don't know of any non-profit or for profit organization that wouldn't want heaps of resources for their stated mission. For the most important mission on planet earth there was a moment when they had them.
We cannot get away form the normalcy and importance of the people of God supporting the mission of God through the giving of regular tithes and offerings. Relevant Magazine reports that Tithers make up only 10-25 percent of a normal congregation. Statistically, 75-90% of you do not give a biblical tithe. Define tithe? Only 5 percent of the U.S. tithes, with 80 percent of Americans only giving 2 percent of their income. What about the remaining 95%? 30% of the U.S. makes no charitable contributions. 50% of the U.S. give more than 0% but less than 2% of their income to charity; and 15% give more than 2% but less than 10% of their income to charity. Christians are only giving at 2.5 percent per capita, while during the Great Depression they gave at a 3.3 percent rate.
What if the church tithed? There would be an additional $165 billion for churches to use and distribute. The global impact would be phenomenal. Here's just a few things the Church could do with the kind of money:
$25 billion could relieve global hunger, starvation and deaths from preventable diseases in 5 years.
$12 billion could eliminate illiteracy in 5 years.
$15 billion could solve the world’s water and sanitation issues, specifically at places in the world where 1 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
$1 billion could fully fund all overseas mission work.
$100 – $110 billion would still be left over for additional ministry expansion.
If your heart is properly positioned before God, giving will follow. It won't be easy to start, but it's the natural normal response to a heart that is postured before God. Why? Because you begin to want what God wants. You begin to pray for what God wants...and then He answers.
Great ideas shouldn't have to hear, we can't afford to do that. We can't afford to help them rebuild their home. We can't afford to help that single mom keep her lights on. We can't afford to help that family have new shoes for their kids this fall or jackets this winter. As followers of Christ whose hearts are oriented toward Him , you want to see that kind of prosperity too! Some of us need to inform our bank accounts that we love God! It starts with Consecration. Sanctification. For many of us today, the journey will begin..not in prayer, but in the Word.
Read the Gospels, through the lens of what does God want me to do with my life? Then DO it. Hezekiah DID good and right and faithful before the LORD his God. May you be known as a GOOD RIGHT AND FAITHFUL. May we be known as a GOOD RIGHT AND FAITHFUL church. May we start GOOD RIGHT AND FAITHFUL ministries. May we enjoy a GOOD RIGHT AND FAITHFUL reputation in our region.
The Big Move - Week 5
Exile. The nation had rebelled from YHWH and God is a promise keeper. He promised pain suffering, neglect and slavery. That's what they got. The nation has been sacked, its people deported to all ther nations. The ruling nations people have occupied the land and hijacked its places of worship.
Nehemiah; great guy. One of these days, I'm gonna do an entire series on this guy. Nehemiah was a Jewish slave that, as far as we can tell, had worked his way up the ranks of the government. Now he is in service to King Xerxes. Here is a guy with a sense of pride. A sense of decency. A sense of who he is.
Broken by the state of affairs. Love what he does. He takes it to God! We need to remember that when we are faced with a terrific challenge. We need to take it to God.
Nehemiah KNEW that YHWH not only desired, but had commanded that His worship be centered at the Temple. And the Temple was centered in Jerusalem. And the walls of the city were broken DOWN. This was symbolic that the worship of YHWH had broken down God was powerless to prevent all that had happened.
It was a disgrace. AND NEHEMIAH WAS going to do something about it. And though restoration was the will of the father, Restoration was the responsibility of the people. They had to work at it. They had to do their part. God would do His part. Here WE are at the brink of a 38,000 sq ft miracle. And we need to do our part. This is Gods will. It is our responsibility.
Handle the place close to you. No one does it all, but all do some. SERVE THE KINGDOM. Rollup your sleeves and work up a sweat for what maters to God. To do our part to fulfill His promises. What Did God promise? That His word would not return void. That He would build His church. That the gates of hell would not prevail against it. This is what you can expect when you Serve the Kingdom. What are YOU doing to make His promises come true?
HOW TO DO IT – unyielding centrality
Trying to take me off my game. And not just once. Staying focused the first time isn't always enough. You have to fight for focus. You have to overcome continued distractions - sometimes from the same source. Many times from various sources. BUT our focus as a church must remain unyielding. Our facility is only a part of that. But, the mission: to saturate our geography with seed. The parable of the sower. Seeds of the gospel liberally sown. Until every MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD...
WHAT TO EXPECT – undeserved hostility
Sometimes we know we are following God. Sometimes we stay focused when needed. Then the enemy has one more bullet in the gun. One more trick up his sleeve. That's when we see who has the greater resolve. Playing chicken with the devil. Who's gonna swerve? In your life, doing the right thing. Don't let the devil derail you. He's got ONE MORE trick up his sleeve. One more tactic. It's dirty. It's a lie. It's damaging. Don't BLINK!! In Christ, we are more than conquerers. We already have the victory. Don't be punked! What did Nehemiah do?
STRENGTHEN MY HANDS!! I'm not quitting. I'm not backing down. I'm still swinging. I'm still pushing forward. There is a goal. There is a call. There is a destination. There is promise and I'm not letting GO!!! God has called you to stick with your marriage. God has called you to send that cheating dog packing. God has called you to do restitution on something you did wrong years ago. God has called you to give extravagantly. God has called to share your faith at work. God has called you to call your boss out on some ethical issues.
STRENGTHEN MY HANDS!!