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20/20 Vision (Week 3)

20/20 Vision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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During our 20/20 Vision series, we have talked about knowing God’s vision for our life in general as well as during specific seasons of our life. If you missed our first week that first Sunday in January I encourage you to listen to the podcast.
We discussed how important it is to have vision for your everyday life as well as the vision Christ has for us for eternity.
I even quoted Hellen Keller:
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. – Helen Keller.
And we certainly don’t want to skate through life aimlessly, without God’s vision or purpose for our life. The good news is that God does have a vision, He does have purpose, and He wants us to walk in fullness that we were created for.
That first week, we talked about the crucial nature of the Holy Spirit bringing to light and making revelation God’s plan and purpose for each of us.
John Calvin says this:
Till the Lord opens them, the eyes of our heart are blind. Till the Spirit has become our instructor, all that we know is folly and ignorance. Till the Spirit of God has made it known to us by a secret revelation, the knowledge of our divine calling exceeds the capacity of our own minds. —John Calvin
Jesus said that no one comes to me unless the Father draws him, and this is the work that the Holy Spirit works in our hearts. We have both a dependance and responsibility working in tandem together. We are dependent upon God as the initiator of all things He is doing and wanting to do in our lives. Yet, He gives us free will to choose to respond to His drawing. When we draw near to Him, we will respond will overwhelming grace and love drawing nearer to us.
Part of the vision He has for us is the vision I have for the church boiled down to these three words: ENCOUNTER, CONNECT, GROW.
I believe that God wants to fellowship and meet with us, this is why He created us. Sin brought a distance between us and God, where we distanced ourselves because of shame and guilt, but God showed how sin could be atoned for through death. Sacrifices being required showing us the continual need through an imperfect sacrificial system. Ultimately, a perfect sacrifice would come through Jesus so that what sin had done could now be removed. He had his body ripped so the veil between us and God could be torn. If there is a barrier between us and God, I can guarantee you it isn’t because of Him. He has done everything in His power to remove the barrier, to remove the veil. This exemplifies who He is. He is for us. He is infatuated for us. He loves us deeply and desires to have unhindered communion with us. The intimacy we know here on earth doesn’t hold a candle to what we were designed to have with God. The shadow is merely a glimpse of what the actual is like. God designed us for intimacy with Him, to encounter Him, to know Him, and to be fully known.
The fruit of connecting to God is recognizing His people around us. We see that God designed us for community.
Let’s look at the beginning. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am big on what is called theology of first. There is precedent set for theology depicted in Scripture. You begin at the beginning, where God replies how it was good after each thing He created. Then he gets to the portion where He created mankind.
Genesis 1:26
Genesis 1:26–27 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
We get into Genesis chapter two where a layer is peeled back on the creation of man and woman. In the details, Moses records:
Genesis 2:18
Genesis 2:18 ESV
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
For the first time in the creation process, we hear where something wasn’t good, and it wasn’t good to be alone. Creation in man wasn’t complete without woman because we were never designed to live outside of community. It represent who God is in His Godhead, and we see His fullness as a relational God in the very makeup of how He has created us.
He has created us to be connected, and so we see for the remainder of Scripture how God is constantly looking for ways to encounter His creation and put them in community.
Even in the animal kingdom, God sorted them according to their kind. He grouped them.
Genesis 1:25 ESV
25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
After the flood, we see God repopulate the earth with the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It says of Japheth...
Genesis 10:5 ESV
5 From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.
Genesis 10:
A similar statement is given for the other brothers as well. They began to fill the earth each according to their language, their clan, in their nations. They were grouped together. They had commonality.
ABRAM: God called Abram and his entire family to get up and follow what God was leading them towards, His good and great promises for them and their future.
TRIBES: much of the OT is a foreshadow of what we now experience spiritually as God originally intended. The tribes of Israel were sorted by family according to the sons of Jacob. Their allotment in the land promised to the people of God shared among their tribe. The tribe felt the effects of the choices of the members within their tribe, whether good or bad. If defiant and found in sin, they felt the consequences. If responding to God’s radical call, they benefitted as a whole.
The jailor hears of salvation for himself but not his family. How would that story have played out? Instead...
Acts 16:31 ESV
31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Acts 16:
Multiple times we see in the NT where entire household were brought into the family of God.
The model for the NT church as a whole can be summarized in Acts chapter two:
Acts 2:42 ESV
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42
How do we know they were gathering together? We read further to see...
Acts 2:46–47 ESV
46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Benefits of Connecting
Often we don’t do something because we want to know how it will benefit us.
NT Groups
I want us to spend the last few minutes this morning discussing how we are better together.
Better Together
Something are just better when experienced together. Like these:
milk and cookies
peanut butter and jelly
s’mores and campfires
macaroni and cheese
There are certain pairs we all think of…help me out with these:
Tom and Jerry
Batman and Robin
Tom and Jerry
Lilo and Stitch
Thelma and Louise
Laverne and Shirley
Bert and Ernie
Sonny and Cher
Ken and Barbie
Romeo and Juliet
The list could go on.
We are all so familiar with dynamic duos, but without fail we can find ourselves at a place of isolation or disconnectedness at best at various seasons of our life. When God designed us to operate at our best connected.
-Hands of those saved
Regardless if you have chosen to follow Christ or not, you will still hear some truths today for your life. But to experience this to its fullest being a part of God’s family is where we experience what we were created for—connected in community.
As I was finishing the 6th grade at Berean, my sister was completed her 8th grade year. At the time Berean only had grades K-8, so she had to find a new school. She tried one but that didn’t really pan out. So when she transferred to CAK for her high school years, I ended up transferring with her for sake of transportation. Now, I had a reputation at Berean. Not necessarily one that I wanted to duplicate at CAK. The beauty of transition is that sometimes it comes with fresh start. We get opportunities to start over. No one was expecting me to be class clown, in fact they already had one. No one was expecting me to live up to what I had done the previous year or two because they didn’t know that about me. I had an opportunity to re-brand, re-create myself and what I would be like. AND I DID.
Transfer to a new school (no community or identity of who I was in that new group)
I was quiet at first, excited to play school sports (mainly soccer). So, I quickly connected with some of the other middle school soccer players. But I didn’t have to take with me any of the bad habits that others were expecting of me.
COMMUNITY: even with all of this change and transition I still was looking for one things—to be CONNECTED. I wanted a community. I wanted friends. I wanted to share good times with others I enjoyed being around and accepted me. Don’t we all want that?
Transfer to a new school (no community or identity of who I was in that new group)
But when I experienced Christ in a radical way my freshman year of high school, I began to isolate myself. I assumed that others around me didn’t understand what I was experiencing. I made it so personal that I actually built walls around my experiences to keep other away and create an island unto myself in my experiences. Have you ever done anything like that?
Paul writes to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
I cor 10:
I didn’t understand that it was a common experience to feel this way and to revert to unhealthy isolation to in attempts to protect myself. I knew something was missing, and I looked for it in those I looked up to at my youth group and church. I was still longing for CONNECTION & COMMUNITY.
Then with a radical experience as a teen, I tried to experience God in isolation. I ran off friends at school, kept to myself, assumed no one understood my experiences, and also struggled alone.
I wanted more but didn’t know how to place my finger on it. I wanted the life Jesus talked about in when he said:
John 10:10 ESV
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I wanted to know this abundant, full, and overflowing life. But a few key ingredients were missing:
AWARENESS: I didn’t know how to recognize that I was struggling.
COMMUNICATION: add to recognition, I didn’t know how to communicate about what I was going through and who I could open up to about it.
So, what I lost out on during that season of my life was precious. I missed out on:
COMMUNITY: I didn’t get to experience God’s people to their fullest because in my emotional instability and immaturity I didn’t know how to open up. Now let me clarify that I am not talking about vomiting your life upon people. I am talking about processing and journeying with those around you. Just because we do something in groups doesn’t mean it is healthy or mature. God wants us to grow up, and part of that is taking responsibility for our emotional and mental state. We should rejoice that we have so many great Christian counselors in our area that are well equipped to listen, support, and encourage with healthy spiritual direction as God has gifted them. We should use those resources when we need them.
ACCOUNTABILITY: the final piece I missed out on was without that type of community in my life I was a lone ranger. I didn’t have anyone that knew when I was struggling, kept my feet to the fire before making stupid decision, or even help recover after pitfalls along the way.
We saw that from the beginning, God designed us to live together, to have helpers. It is never good for us to operate alone. I am not saying that everyone single needs to have a spouse. That is not at all what I am saying. I am saying that we need God, AND we need His people. We need more than just showing up on Sunday mornings, we need to be connected to one another, building deeper relationships with one another. This can get messy at times as well.
-Illusive, but powerful
Difference maker
Essence is this truth
Alone, but
By design
If this was God’s design for us don’t think we will find fulfillment like never before when we are? I sure do.
Intentional/fragile (risk)
Mean? Attendance enough?
God Himself exist within community. God’s very nature shows us that Life (or Eternity) is Better Together.
Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
God creates Adam and immediately the narrative records that it was not good enough because he was alone. Community is the point here. The very nature of God wasn’t complete, the communal nature of God was fully represented in His finest creation, man with community being represented.
But God didn’t create us for shallow connection, for merely a surface relationship with Him or with others.
But we often like to hide behind various facades. We think we are safer; we don’t want to take that communal risk. Thus, we short change experience God’s best for our lives.
I want us to look at a passage of Scripture that tells us how important it was to Jesus that we recognize not only our need to find relationship with Him but also with our faith family.
is where I want us to go together.
-High Priestly Prayer
-About to die
-Critical moments/words
John 17:9–11 ESV
9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
V. 9-11a
Jesus prayed for you
God’s community
His glory through us
THE words (11b
-Distinctive, but no division
-Diversity, but no disunity
-Different role, but 1 goal
Are we there? NO!
John 17:14–16 ESV
14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.
Push against (14-16)
Push against (14-16
There will be things in this world that try to keep you from being one, enjoying the fellowship, community and camaraderie that we were intended for. Jesus prays that the evil one is not able to hinder this prayer from being answered.
Fail a lot, but
So, now what?
John 1
For the occasional church goer…fellowship
For the regular church goer…life group
For the small group attender…lead
For the small group leader…transparency
So this week, take one communal risk. Start with recognizing where God is challenging you to grow and mature in your faith and within yourself. We need to Know God and Know Ourselves. It is difficult to see maturity without both.
THE SHIPS of Life Groups are an answer to what we are targeting-discipleship, relationship/community, & leadership.
Life Groups are different than missional living or missional groups. Let me explain.
Our need isn’t to transition an already deep rooted community experience into missions. We have an aspect of missions, and as a smaller church a community feel to our size. But vulnerable, transparent relationship are different than our service settings foster.
Jesus said that they would know that we are His disciples by our love for one another. Our love for one another comes before the recognition that we are Christ’s. REMEMBER: the Great Commandment preceding the Great Commission. Our love, our community has natural results of procreating.
But missional actions will come out of healthy community and groups.
Missional elements are different than Life Group settings (they are more natural, organic, less structured, gathered around common interest, involve cultural elements, etc.). It is much like the communities within our city gather around. Where do they gather, why do they gather, etc. Our Life Groups and community that happens in those environment should lead us toward missional living, living on purpose to love one another and our neighbor as ourself.
Community is what God has created us for, designed within Himself, and we will find that we are all better off in community with one another.
John 17 NIV
1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
Phrase of Gather
Look at notes from Grow Conference.
Not only our design but has benefits
Benefits of Connecting
Often we don’t do something because we want to know how it will benefit us.
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