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The "In Between"

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The “In Between”
Open your Bibles to Gen. 1, John 10, Eph. 2, and Eph. 4
The Believe series reconvenes tomorrow with chapter 11. Reminder, the first 10 lessons were “What We Believe.” The next 10 are “What We Do.” They are not suggestions or if you want to be an “above average” Christian, then do these things. No – these are fundamental truths and disciplines of the Christian faith that are applicable and expected of every believer in Christ Jesus. Again, start reading tomorrow - suggest to make it a habit to read Scripture every day.
Advent is over. Advent is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and anticipation of Jesus’ return. We live in the “in between” – between His birth and Second Coming. The question I ask this morning is how important is the “in between” regarding how we live.
What prompted that question is this - we are in between sermon series. Advent is over and Believe begins next week. So, what kind of a message to I bring in the “in between?” How important is this one message in between the two series? There was a slight temptation to think - well, it’s just one - not that important.
As I contemplated the importance of one message, I wondered how many people live as if the “in between” – between Jesus’ birth and Second Coming isn’t that important. Let’s dial that in a little - how many people live as if the “in between” - between our birth and our death isn’t that important. I fear that there is a growing attitude that in the Church that like – “Jesus was born – yeah! Jesus is coming back – yeah! I’ll do my own thing in between.”
So I thought it might be good to review our mission here at Sunnyside. As we review this, I would suggestion – especially if you are in some type of leadership - to know it and employ it – use it as a guide and filter for what you do and plan in the church. I also suggest that everyone use this as some sort of gauge ….
This morning be prepared to think, to answer questions. We’ll do some teaching and some coaching.
Our Mission: Helping people reach their full potential in Christ: Physically, Spiritually, Emotionally.
What does that mean?
Helping people: The Christian life is a journey toward Christlikeness; a journey of spiritual maturity, progressive holiness and increasing love for God and neighbor. No one can do it alone –
Christians need Christians to be Christian.
So, we need others to help us along the way, and we need to help others.
Scripture is clear - every Christian is a member of the Body, and every member has a function, a place, a purpose. Therefore,
Every Christian should be a part of something that helps others reach their full potential in Christ.
My question is what are you a part of that intentionally helps others reach their potential in Christ? We’ll come back to that question at the end.
What does full potential mean? Well, what is it not?
Full potential in Christ is not a human or cultural standard.
Full potential in Christ is not synonymous with pursing passions or desires.
Full potential in Christ is not about your worth or value as a person.
Full potential in Christ is not identical for everyone.
In short,
Each person’s potential is dependent upon: 1) Obedience to God’s plan for your life and 2) Perseverance through personal circumstances.
At least this is how I look at it.
Obedience is everything.
To obey is better than what? Sacrifice. I.e. obedience is better than going through the motions – of just looking pious or spiritual. For example, if God says go left, and you go right – no matter how spiritual you look or successful you become, you will never reach your full potential. Why? Disobedience. (premarital sex)
Perseverance through personal circumstance is imperative.
We all have challenges and experiences and limitations etc. that we must persevere and push through and overcome. Each person’s circumstances are different and so each person’s potential is different.
So, when we say potential in Christ, understand it’s about a personal relationship with Jesus, the Son of God; it’s about obedience to His will; it’s about physical, spiritual and emotional health – and
Ultimately, your potential is between you and God.
– because one day every person will give an account for how we lived in the “in between.”
Why physical, spiritual and emotional health? We are physical beings, spiritual beings, emotional beings (i.e. minds, personalities, emotions). All three are very connected; every part effects every part. It’s important, I believe to strive for potential or health in each area. If you’re super spiritual, emotionally sound but not taking care of this body – not reach potential. If you’re in super shape, emotionally sound but spiritually lacking … same thing. Again, potential in these areas are relative to your personal circumstance. E.g. Tom Thomas …
Is any of this making sense?
Now, is this talk about “potential” Biblical or is this some fad? Well, let’s find out. Remember, this is about living in the “in between.”
Genesis 1:26–28 NIV
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Genesis 2:15 NIV
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
God’s design. He gave humans the duty and stewardship to 1) Rule over – means to have dominion. I.e. humans, you’re in charge. 2) To be fruitful and multiply – do I need to explain that one? 3) To subdue the earth – subdue means to subjugate by force; bring into bondage. It’s wild and crazy out there – subdue it, conquer it, tame it! It’s a strong word in Hebrew – in some places it means to force a woman into submission. 4) Work and take care of – means to toil, labor, to serve, accomplish, cultivate. Take care of means to keep watch, guard, protect, preserve.
This is God’s design for humanity. We’re designed to be strong. To conquer, to persevere, to overcome, to achieve, to accomplish, create, explore, work hard ….
Doesn’t this indicate potential?
How might God’s design for humanity apply to my life right now?
Thoughts - Am I subduing or being subdued? Am I conquering or being conquered? Am I achieving? Creating? What’s stopping me from __________? (achieving dreams, or ….) What’s the first step? Who do I need to invite in?
Turn to
John 10:10 NIV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Now, these are His words – not mine. Now, to have life that Jesus brings refers both to new life in Him (being born again) and eternal life - but let’s focus on this new life. What kind of life is it? Life that is to the full. Full means: beyond extraordinary, remarkable, abundant, beyond regular, exceptional, superfluous, special advantage, exceeding and beyond necessity.
Potential? To the full! His words, not mine.
What do those words mean to me?
(Remember, potential is about obedience and personal circumstance). How might these words apply to your life?
Let’s listen for a moment: What might God be whispering to you?
Do you know what a saboteur is? One who practices sabotage.
Sabotage is the intentional disruption or destruction of another’s plans.
Can be good or bad. If having life to the full means what Jesus means –
What are the saboteurs in my life?
What am I going to do with them?
Turn to Eph. 2.
Ephesians 2:10 NIV
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Handiwork or workmanship – it means product or creation. Who’s workmanship? God’s. He’s the Creator. Created – made with intention or purposefully.
The product or created is not a mistake or random chance.
Put that together –
You and I are God’s intentional creation - we are not mistakes – we exist on purpose.
Let that soak in for a moment. Imagine Jesus talking to you. What is Jesus saying to you? Any new realities …?
There’s more! Good works means deeds, actions, tasks, occupations that are useful and/or beneficial for others. He created us on purpose to do good works that benefit other people. To do means to walk, to live, to go about our day.
Remember when I said every Christian should be a part of something that helps people reach their full potential in Christ? You were created to do something for the benefit of others. So what are you a part of?
The people of Sunnyside have so much potential. Some of you are waiting for someone else to start something, for someone else to lead the way. Let’s just suppose God wants you to rescue Wombats, but you don’t because no one else has started a program to rescue Wombats. Someday you will stand before God and He will ask you why you didn’t rescue Wombats. What satisfactory answer could you give God?
I believe there is so much more ….
One more – turn to
Ephesians 4:1 NIV
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Read also Col. 1:9-14 – expands on living a life worthy of the calling.
Again, to live means to walk or to go about. This is one’s life as a whole – lived out moment by moment, day by day. Our lives have many components – family, work, school, church, social, personal … we have decisions, responsibilities, duties …. What’s the one thread that runs through every component; every decision of our lives? Character. Our character – who we truly are is everything. It’s important to God and it’s important to the people around us.
Living a life that is worthy (worthy means suitable or proper) of the calling is about character. How important is character to God? We were made in His image - literally, image bearers. We are to carry or represent or portray His image as we walk life, as we go about moment by moment, day by day in every component of our lives.
We are to live worthily of the calling. Calling is a summons an invitation. We’ve talked bout this many times – God invites us into His plans – plans that bring love, joy, hope, peace, salvation, healing …. Every person has a summons by God. Every person has an invitation with an RSVP.
Q –
What’s the invitation? And how will you respond?
How will I live in the “In Between?”
We each have a potential in Christ …
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