Growing up I had a dad whom it seemed I could never please. He would have us rake the leaves in the yard, we’d come in with big smiles bragging on our work and he would say, “kids, it is not done good enough, go do it again.” Or we’d clean our room then we’d have to re-clean it over and over again. It was like this over and over again until one day….he left and devastated my life. He was my coach, my dad and I was lost. Then my mom started to drink and drink and drink with men and they would come over to the house. Then Jim came over after a night at the bars and never left. They lived together in our home and they would fight and argue at 3 in the morning until he would threaten her with physical harm. I would then get up and stand between them and he would threaten me. One day he didn’t threaten, he hit. I would come home from practice, walking as all walk to school in my community, through “the woods” and I could see our house. If his car was there I would become sad and mad. If his car wasn’t there, same thing because they would be out drinking and there would be no food to eat.
I was abandoned. I learned that I couldn’t trust anyone because I assumed they would leave me or hurt me…why not, dad and mom did.
I assumed it was the same with God, that one day He would forsake me or I couldn’t perform good enough to keep His love and favor. Eventually He was going to leave me because I was unlovable or because I didn’t measure up to His standards.
The reality is a Christian life is not an easy one but a very difficult one that promises attacks, disappointments and rejection.
2 Cor 4: 7-11: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
This is NOT for those on the front lines of ministry (missionaries etc) but its for US here in Simpsonville. If we have not been afflicted etc, then maybe we’re sitting on the sidelines. The vision of this church is not to have “game watchers” but to have active participants in ministry. But I won’t lie to you…that means suffering for Christ’s sake. That means we will get shot at and yet we must realize we’re not superman and we are not invincible…so where do we go? Are we alone?
When we have our leadership meetings, our elder meetings, we should NOT be quickly reviewing the agenda but we should be hearing from our ministry teams and this should drive us to our knees as either are praying for the attacks of the enemy and/or praising God for His amazing work in our lives and ministries. It so easy to do nothing out of fear out of rejection and so, so many churches play “prevent” defense so as not to lose or make a mistake. Not this church. We are going to “run up the score” so high that only Jesus can get the credit for what we attempt in His name. If you want to play prevent defense, this may not be your church. That is why at times folks leave, they’re uncomfortable with active ministry or sitting around hoping a visitor doesn’t show up and take their seat. They want to just graze and not jump into the battle…they want safe. We’re in a war and it’s not safe! We may bleed but we’re afraid…what if we fail? What if you don’t like what I do? Are we here to please man or God? Ministry is messy and we will take a walk to see how messy this is.
Heb 2: 14-18: 14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
How did He partake in “the same things” in the flesh and blood? How is death at work in us so that others may have life?
-Jesus’ birth (poor, homeless, no where to sleep and attacked)
-Matt 4: 1-11 - Jesus temptations…tired, hungry and you just want God and here comes the enemy…
- John 4: 6-8 - Jesus gets tired and asks the others to get him food. Sometimes we need to sit and let others get the food.
-Matt 21 - rejection after being crowned as King of kings! We will be called a hero at one point and then by the same people asked to quit or leave because we didn’t “do it their way” or do what they wanted. e.g.: “we care too much about the lost and not about them.”
-Luke 22:37 - Jesus is betrayed but His own…His own inner circle…not those “out there” but His buddy.
-Luke 19:41 - Jesus weeps over those He came to save…are you rejected by those whom you poured your life into?
- Mark 3: 21 - Jesus’ family (calling Him crazy), has family ever rejected you? John 7: 5 - Have you ever had your closest sibling reject you?
- Matt 26:40 - Jesus’ assuming “ministry partners” would be there for you. He wants to take a walk and pray to His Father and asked the 3 to pray for Him as He faces the cross…and they sleep…
When we are mission to do God’s plan for this church we WILL be attacked, mocked, rejected and maybe even scorned by our own….get used to it. It will be hard, lonely, etc. But….
Who is with you when attempting something new or when others think you’re crazy?
Deut 31: 6-8: 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you."7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all
Who is with you when you’re facing your enemies and they seem overwhelming and powerful?
Joshua 1: 4-5, 9: 4 From the wilderness and this
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Who is with you went you’re asked to lead a ministry that is audacious and “crazy” in scope?
I Chron 28:20: 20 Then David said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the LORD God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the LORD is finished.”
Who will be with you when you seem to have no more to give and you love has run dry?
Heb 13: 4-6: 4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
Finally, when He is fighting for us and we know He is not against us - we can proceed with courage and take risks…why?
John 10: 28-30: 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 28 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”