Faithlife Sermons

Come Home to God's Plan for Your Life

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Intro
I love this time of the year… Christmas music… Christmas movies… the food at Christmas is even different.
I think the thing that seems to capture the emotions of the Christmas seas is the feeling of “Home for the Holidays. People go to great lengths to get home for the holidays.
What is it about being home for the Holidays?
When home is working right ( granted, many did not grow in homes that worked right), it’s a place of warmth… security … acceptance … comfort … understanding … empathy … forgiveness … laughter and making of memories.
Home is where we belong.
Those same feelings… words can be used to describe the relationship we have with Jesus.
Psalm 90:1 NLT
1 Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!
IOW, Jesus has been where we find hope, encouragement, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, empathy, security… It is saying that with God is where we belong. If you are a follower of Jesus, you know that to be true.
But then God takes it a step further. He says, now that you are my follower, I have a purpose for you… I have a mission for you. Once you have found YOUR home in Christ, you need to point the way for others who are still seeking it. IOW, God is saying, that now that you are home, I need you to go out and point others who are still wandering around lost toward me.
Listen to Jeremiah…
Jeremiah 31:22 NCV
22 You are an unfaithful daughter. How long will you wander before you come home? The Lord has made something new happen in the land: A woman will go seeking a man.”
There are people in our neighborhoods and in our offices and in our worksites and in our schools and even in our families who are wandering aimlessly through life without hope, without direction, without purpose, without meaning, without God, without His forgiveness, without His grace, without the security of knowing that they have an eternal home in heaven some day.
God is saying that he has a plan for you and I to fulfill and it’s this…

God wants you to live a maximum impact life by pointing people toward their home in Christ.

Nothing is more important… eternity is in the balance.
That’s why Jesus said...
Mark 16:15 The Message
15 Then he said, “Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.
Here’s what will happen. First, a lot of people who are wandering around lost will find their home in Jesus Christ.
But another impact is this. It will fan the flames of your spiritual growth because you are intentionally looking for opportunities to point people to Christ.
When we live life with this purpose, our prayer life will be rich, alive and fervent. Why? Because you are always asking God for the words to say to people you come into contact with throughout the day. And guess what, he will give you the words.
This makes your worship more meaningful because you are worshipping the God of second chances. And even though you have lost people – spiritually lost and confused and wandering people who you love, you know that God loves them more. And He wants to bring them to heaven. And your worship of that God takes on a new dimension.
Your personal bible Study takes on newness. why? Because you are not just looking for theological ideas, but for answers that might a friend on his journey home.
Your dependance on God will be at it’s greatest because you know that apart from the power of God, no life is ever changed. We can’t force anyone into the kingdom, but God can and will use us if we are dependent on him.
So if you’ve been living sort of a dry Christian life – if it’s been boring, if it’s been plain vanilla. It may be that you’ve found home in Christ but then you’ve locked the door and gotten into your La-Z-Boy chair and put it back and you’ve kind of lost sight of those people who are out wandering, out in the cold looking for home.
God says that’s not the way the Christian life is supposed to be lived. That’s a formula for frustration and dying spiritually.
God says get out of the La-Z-boy and go out into the world of people you know and point them towards home. You might say, Are you looking for home? Are you looking for hope? Are you looking for encouragement? Are you looking for security? Are you looking for eternal life? There is a place where you can go. There is God who you can know who can change your life and change your eternity.
God wants to see people come home to him, but he also wants you to experience the jubilation that you will experience when you help someone come to faith in Jesus… to find home.

How to Live God’s Extraordinary Plan

Bill was an average guy who worked as a financial consultant. He wasn’t rich nor did he live in a fancy neighborhood. He lived in a modest house with a fence, was married with a family… went to church, but he was grateful for what God had done in his life.
At Bills funeral, people lined up at the Mic’s to share how Bill helped them find their way Home to Christ.
It was a great example of how God uses ordinary people like Bill, ;like you or me, to do extraordinary things.

1. Have a tenacious love for people who are far from God.

One day in Chicago, Bill was walking to lunch and a homeless guy named Robert comes up asking for food.
Bill takes him to lunch and invites him out to his house for July 4th.
He’s a no-show so Bill goes looking for him and finds him in a mess. Cleans him up and brings him home for a few days. Robert accepts Jesus… timing was great because a few days later, Robert died. He is in heaven because Bill had a tenacious love for people far from God.
Ephesians 2:4–5 The Living Bible
4 But God is so rich in mercy; he loved us so much 5 that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he gave us back our lives again when he raised Christ from the dead—only by his undeserved favor have we ever been saved—
Bill’s friend John went through a midlife crisis, quit his job and divorced his wife and moved away. After a while, he moved back to Chicago where Bill got hold of him. He would show up and ask him to attend church with him, and when he did, he asked him to go to a BS with him, and then because of that, he came to faith in Jesus.
Bill then connected with John’s kids and within 6 months they came to faith in Christ. Their relationship with their dad… John was restored and they were all Baptized together.
God’s Love is like that. It comes after us and pursues us.
God doesn’t give up. Sometimes I feel like giving up… maybe you have felt that way too. You look at someone and think, they are too far from Jesus and you quit trying… quit praying.
Application: Beware of developing an us vs. them mentality.
Listen, God has put you were you are… (work, school, playground, hobbies) for a reason. There are people there who are wandering from God. They are lost and they need someone (you) to point them home to Christ. These people are not your enemy, they are your mission. Satan is your enemy. God has placed you where you can have maximum impact. These folks are wandering from God and they need someone to point them home.
Who have you written off? When we do that, we make the choice for them and that’s a wrong and dangerous thing to do.
I don’t mean we need to become obnoxious or pushy. I am saying that we can pray for them, be kind to them and look for opportunities, especially around Christmas season to gently point them towards Jesus… home. Maybe you can invite them to a family function, or to church or to a group… Be praying for them.

2. Meet People’s practical needs in the name of Jesus.

Mary was married for 18 years when one day her husband up and left her and the kids., She felt hopeless, depressed, alone and scared. She needed money just to get by and worried she would not make it. Bill and Millie invited her to church where she heard that God said he would be a husband to those who lost their husbands. They took her to lunch and encouraged her. Then he shook her hand and walked away. Mary looked in her hand and there were two 100 dollar bills.
Words are great. They can comfort and counsel, but when you back up those words with a tangible expression of that love, that’s powerful.
Jesus didn’t just say to the world that he loved them, he proved it. He fed 5,000. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He gave his life for you and for me.
Jesus was the light of the world, but then he said…
Matthew 5:16 GNB
16 In the same way your light must shine before people, so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.
Good things - attractive or nice things… not good verses evil things.
IOW, serve other people in ways that will cause them to look for home.
Christmas season is a perfect time to do that.
Maybe you see someone in the store and they come up a little short and you help them out in the name of Jesus.
Maybe you meet someone who is struggling and you send them a Christmas card anonymously with cash in it.
Maybe a single mom you know who may be working 2 jobs and doesn’t have time to go shopping for her kids… what if you watched her kids on a Saturday so she could shop?
What about an elderly person who is isolated from people… call them and ask them to Christmas Lunch, or Sunday lunch...
What about someone who is getting laid off or their company is cutting back… what if you took their kids some gifts?
Look for practical ways to reach out to people. They are all around.

3. Make the most out of opportunities to point people towards Jesus.

Maggie was going through difficult time financially so she mad an appointment with Bill for financial advice. When he came to meet her in the waiting room, she was looking at Christian literature so he asked her about her belief in God. She replied that she could not remember the last time she was in church, so Bill told her they would talk finances later and began to share how much the Lord loved her. He gave her a Bible and showed her how to be reconciled with the Lord saying, this is how you come home to God. Not long after the lady prayed to receive Jesus ad her Savior. She is still active in her church.
During Bill’s fight with cancer, he went through rounds of chemotherapy. He was always talking about Christ to others being treated as well as the staff. When he was close to death, he had a nurse named Sophie. He asked her, Sophie, when you die, do you know for sure you’re going to go to heaven?” He was talking about his Jesus all the way until the end.
There are opportunities for you and for me if we will just keep our eyes open and listen to the Lord. We will be able to gently point people home.
Colossians 4:5 The Living Bible
5 Make the most of your chances to tell others the Good News. Be wise in all your contacts with them.
We can do this. Every day, pray and ask God to give you opportunities to make a difference for him and for the courage to follow through.
Application: Ask God each day to open opportunities to make a difference for Him and for the courage to follow through.
You are going to have opportunities during the Christmas season that you don’t have throughout the year because you see people you don’t see on a regular basis… people you have lost contact with… friends and even relatives you don’t talk to throughout the year. Call them, wish them Merry Christmas. Ask them how thier year has gone. Talk with them, then share that the most exciting thing you have experienced this year is growing in your relationship with God. Say you found a church where you are able to understand who God is and relate to him… a church where you feel like you fit in. Invite them to Christmas Weekend Services.
Leave a tip with a little red bible.
Jack was a Mentally handicapped man about 45 years old. He goes to an adult day care during the day and loves to tell others about Jesus and invite them to his church. The woman that takes care of Jack is a lady named Michelle. Jack continually invites her to church, but she keeps refusing him as she is nowhere close to God in her life. One day just told her, Michelle, meet me at my church at 11 Sunday. And she did. That was the day she invited Jesus Christ into her heart and became a child of God.
How many of us go weeks and months and don’t point people to Jesus? to the hope and eternal life they can experience through a relationship with Jesus Christmas? Listen, if Jack can we can. I want God to use me like he did Jack… like he did Bill.

Three steps for this Christmas Season

Stop; look; listen

1. STOP long enough for people to come into focus.

The Christmas pace can be almost frantic. We get so hurried and busy. We need to stop long enough to see the faces of the people around us… long enough to look into their eyes of those around us who may not be heading to heaven. We need to see the hurt… the emptiness. Without someone pointing them Home, to Christ, they will not make it to heaven.
Jesus stopped for others all the time. There was a blind beggar who called out to Jesus and …
Mark 10:49 The Message
49 Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.” They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!”
Then he asked him what he could do for him… the guy said he would like to see, so Jesus restored his sight to him. Jesus stopped because that blind beggar mattered to God.
“We must show a new generation of nervous, almost frantic [people] that…speed and noise are evidences of weakness, not strength.” – A.W. Tozer.
When our Christmas is so consumed by shopping and parties and by working that everything goes by in a blur, that we stop seeing people as individuals who matter to God, something is wrong.
Because Jesus Christ was born on Christmas. The whole message of Christmas is He came into this world for individuals, that one by one we might find home in heaven through Him.

2. LOOK for specific ways to point people towards Jesus.

in mark 10 a rich young ruler came to Jesus.
Mark 10:21 NLT
21 Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus looked right into this mans’ soul and identified the need in his life that was missing… the ting that was holding him back. By doing this, Jesus was able to tell him, If you really want to embrace God fully, here is what you need to do. In the end, the man said he wasn’t interested and walked off. Did that stop Jesus from doing what he came to do - NO. It should not stop you and I either.
No matter what the need we identify… the answer will always be Jesus. Lonely … need Jesus. Addicted?… Need Jesus.

3. LISTEN for God’s guidance on how to reach out to others.

We’ve stopped. We’ve looked them in the eye. We’ve looked at their life. We’ve discerned a need that they have. And now we ask, “God, what do I do here? What action do I take? How can I minister to this person? How do I point this person toward home?
John 10:27 NLT
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
We live in a culture, especially during the Christmas season and a successful Saints season where there is so much noise in our lives it can become difficult to hear the voice of God. He gets drowned out.
“We are usually surrounded by so much outer nose that it is hard to truly hear our God when He is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction He calls us. Thus, our lives have become absurd ... When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient.” Henri Nouwen
When we look someone in the eye and we see that they have needs that only Jesus can fill, and we ask God to help us know how to reach out to them, we get to see God move in ways that are amazing.
Lee Strobel - working at News paper and felt the Lord tell him to invite Joe, an editor and Atheist to church. So he went and invited him - answer was no.
Left thinking that maybe he missed God. Maybe he was just a link in a long chain that would get to him.
Many years later as a pastor, a man came up to him after a service and thanked him for the influence he had been in his life.
He told his story. Out of work and a friend at the paper gave him a job doing floors. One day he was working on floors behind some shelves when Lee walked in and invited some guy to church. He wasn’t interested, but I knew I needed God, so he and his wife with to the church Lee attended for Christmas. He, his wife and his 2 kids all came to faith in Christ.
Let’s call that Ricochet Evangelism.
Here is what is going to happen. You will invite someone to join you at church for Christmas, and they will say no. You will think and feel you failed. You did not and you never fail when you do what Jesus tells you to do.
Our job is to follow what Jesus wants us to do as he leads and guides us.
So if we could just say as a church we can be tenacious in our love this year and not give up on people. We can look for physical ways we can reach out, material ways we can serve other people in the name of Christ. We can keep alert for opportunities we can invite someone to come into this church where all of us knows that God is going to do something in our Christmas services. You’re probably setting in a chair that somebody’s going to come to Christ in this Christmas season.
We can look for opportunities to bring people. We can stop and we can look at people’s needs and we can pray, God help us to direct them to the source of meeting all needs who is Jesus Christ. We can do that.
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