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What Are We Accomplishing?

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What Are We Accomplishing?

John 11:45 - 12:11                  February 9, 1997

Scripture:         John 11:45-53



          In John 9-11, we have seen Jesus heal the blind man for the glory of God.  We have heard him speak the truth as the Good Shepherd.  We have seen and heard him call forth Lazarus from the grave for the glory of God.  It remains for us to make a decision concerning the person of Jesus Christ, either by conscious choice or by default.  His presence demands action.    Neutrality was impossible (John 3:16-18; 1John 5:11-12).  The dividing line has been cast.

          In John’s Gospel, the miracle of raising Lazarus from the grave is the dividing line beyond which Jesus now moves irreversibly toward the cross.  That has been God’s plan from the beginning, but now we see it clearly as the Jews irreverently plan to take his life with a vengeance because, as God, he dared to resurrect a life.  You see, Jesus dared to challenge the status quo of sacred opinion.  That opinion believed that the Messiah was coming, but that he wouldn’t upset their applecart.  Their Messiah would fit neatly into their own plans and keep them in power with no shake-up and no wake-up - a god of their own choosing and on their own terms.  They should have known better - to put God in a box.  It would seem they lost consciousness of a glaring definition of terms, “Who is God?”  They put the cart before the horse and they put themselves before God.  Their time would come.  Time, as always, is on God’s side.  And it would be God who was using them.

          But for now, in light of God’s plan and their own foolishness, they ask an insightful question, “What are we accomplishing?”  The obvious answer would seem to be, “Nothing.”  But they refuse to see the obvious.  They see that all that they have worked so hard for is disappearing right before their very eyes.  And if they aren’t careful, everyone will follow after Jesus and they will have nothing to show for it.  They will incite the anger of the Romans and where will they be then?  They don’t realize that, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”

          Let us look further into this passage to see the foolishness of trying to keep the status quo at all costs.  The theme for M.B.I.’s Founder’s Week this past week was, “Understanding the Times.”  Here we see a Jewish hierarchy who clearly did not understand the times to their own detriment (Mt. 23:37-38; Lk. 11:47-51; Acts 7:51-53).  God’s people in any generation must be able to read “the hand writing on the wall.”  And that information tells us that, although God remains the same (Heb. 13:8), generations change and cultures change, and we must remain pliable and teachable if we are to reach them.  It is to be either in conformity with Christ or not.  It is life or death.

I.       Considering the status quo:  (vv. 11:45-47a)

          three types of people.

          A.      The living:  rejecting the status quo.  (v. 11:45)


          B.      The dying:  seeking the status quo.  (v. 11:46)


          C.      The dead:  embracing the status quo.  (v. 11:47a)


II.      The dead speak.  (vv. 11:47b-48)


III.    The dead decide.  (vv. 11:49-50)


IV.    The solution confirmed.  (vv. 11:51-53)


V.      The solution delayed.  (v. 11:54)


VI.    The solution sought.  (vv. 11:55-57)


VII.   Violating the status quo.  (vv. 12:1-11)

          A.      The violation of social propriety:  (vv. 12:1-3)

                   Jesus the Beautiful; sought by the living.


          B.      The violation of fiscal propriety:  (vv. 12:4-8)

                   Jesus the Betrayed; sought by the dying.


          C.      The violation of political propriety:  (vv. 12:9-11)

                   Jesus the Branded; sought by the dead.



          Jesus made a practice of violating the status quo.  The reaction he got from those in power was, “If you can’t control it, kill it.”  That was their game plan because they couldn’t control Jesus.  Their fear of losing their place (church) and nation drove them in the wrong direction away from the One who could keep it for them.  And more than ever today he is our only hope.  Do we have any fears that are driving us to the status quo entrenchment of an early grave, or are we willing to give release to the One who is able to make all things new and let him effect change?  Is our status quo good enough to maintain?  Would we rather die than give it up to change, even if it meant growth?

          The “State of the Church” Address:  What have we accomplished over the last year?


          Reorganized the women’s fellowship

          Began a men’s fellowship group

          Reorganized children’s Sunday School

          Began a regular discipleship group

          Began series of fellowship outings

          Maintained Tuesday night visitation

People and Events:

          Baptisms (2)

          Salvations (3)

          Visitors (numerous)

          Set up visitor packets

          Follow up visitors with acknowledgment cards

          Allowed retirement for church janitor

          Hired person to clean church

          Rented part time use of church to Korean congregation

          Christmas celebration banquet

          Annual church picnic


          Repaired flat roof

          Repaired water damage in Fireside Room (plaster and paint)

          Reestablished choir loft

          Got pianos tuned

          Got new letters for outside church sign

          Put signs on church doors

          Installed additional lighting in sanctuary

          Painted walls in sanctuary

          Repaired sound system

          Repaired organ

          Put new curtains in Pine Room and painted posts

          Set up exercise room and repaired toilet

          Repair long needed maintenance on boiler

          Installed steeple light

          Remove folding doors in assembly hall

          Repair stage lighting and install valance

          Remodel parsonage

New Purchases:

          Hymnals, Pew Bibles, Copier, Snowblower

What about our $12,000 money market decrease over the last year?  Did we lose that money or did we invest it?  I would say we accomplished a lot with it.  And there is much more we can accomplish.

What is our vision for the future?

          We must fix up our church so that it doesn’t look like we are dying (windows, carpet, paint, tile, shrubs).  We must take care of our people.  We must meet the needs of others.  We must go out of our way to be good neighbors.  We must reach out into the community not only at random but by intent to be involved in community affairs.  We must be open to accept others even if they are different and let God do the changing.  We must work well together.  We must follow through sensitively with visitors.  We must offer people heartfelt and spiritual worship, loving truth, friendly fellowship, and friendship with God.  We must pray for God to bring in those who are or will be His own, and then pray that we will lose none of those whom God gives us.  In short, we must be Christ-centered, accepting and acceptable.  We must speak well of God by who we are, what we do, and what we say.  We must have faith.

          Does any of this require change?  Perhaps.  We have much that we can build on, and we have much that we are doing right.  And maybe there are some things we need to let go.  And maybe there are some attitudes, mind-sets, or preconceived assumptions we need to change.  The over-riding answer is that if each of us is seeking Christ selflessly and in continuing greater measure, we can’t go wrong.  What would Christ have you do to build his church this year?  Like Professor Bob Smith said at Founder’s Week, “God doesn’t have a plan “B”.

          And like our own Gene Zarriello prophetically told me one day this last year, “No matter how many people leave, we always stay the same because we learn from each other.”  We need to learn from God and not blindly follow the ways of the past just for the sake of the status quo, because we always did them that way.  And like another sage once said, “If we always do what we always did, we always get what we always got.”  We too must continually ask ourselves, “What are we accomplishing?”  Our answer must be better than the Pharisees.


Timeless Truth:  When the Lord gives the nudge, don’t refuse to budge.

What Are We Accomplishing?

                   John 11:45 - 12:11                 February 9, 1997


I.       Considering the status quo:  (vv. 11:45-47a)

          three types of people.


          A.      The l _ _ _ _ _ :  r _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ the status quo.  (v. 11:45)


          B.      The d _ _ _ _ :  s _ _ _ _ _ _ the status quo.  (v. 11:46)


          C.      The d _ _ _ :  e _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ the status quo.  (v. 11:47a)


II.      The dead s _ _ _ _ .  (vv. 11:47b-48)


III.    The dead d _ _ _ _ _ .  (vv. 11:49-50)


IV.    The solution c _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ .  (vv. 11:51-53)


V.      The solution d _ _ _ _ _ _  .  (v. 11:54)


VI.    The solution s _ _ _ _ _ .  (vv. 11:55-57)


VII.   Violating the status quo.  (vv. 12:1-11)


          A.      The violation of s _ _ _ _ _ propriety:  (vv. 12:1-3)

                   Jesus the B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ; sought by the living.



          B.      The violation of f _ _ _ _ _ propriety:  (vv. 12:4-8)

                   Jesus the B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ; sought by the dying.



          C.      The violation of p _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  propriety:  (vv. 12:9-11)

                   Jesus the B _ _ _ _ _ _ ; sought by the dead.




Timeless Truth:           When the Lord gives the n _ _ _ _ ,

                             don’t refuse to b _ _ _ _ .



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