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The Mission: Connect

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Good morning Harmony!
I hope you have had a good couple of weeks now, even with the weather that moved in on us.
All day last Saturday I was back and forth watching the weather and just praying about what we should do. Then I got a call asking if we were going to have church, and so not really sure of what to do I called Glenn and discussed with him the weather and the concerns for the roads re-freezing overnight, and we both agreed that for safety purposes that we should just not meet last week in person, and I shared my plan for an alternative, and that was the direction we went, we called it all off and went with plan b.
Now I had already kinda in talking with God come to the conclusion that last week wouldn’t be the message that I originally had planned, because today’s message that was prepared for last week is important and it is part of our mission statement series, so knowing the weather and that some people were not going to be able to make it in to church, I had an alternative plan in the works when we came to this conclusion.
But even then, after making that decision to not meet in person, I was struggling with that decision a bit, considering just a few months ago I had said we wouldn’t cancel church, we’d do it online, etc. SO first I struggled with that concept, and it just came down to needing to have everyone together for this message series.
Then there was the struggle with the actual weather part of it as the parking lot seemed very clear, so I was kinda like “why did we call off church for this”? Then a couple of hours after we cancelled our services, Kristin looks out the window and sees about 5 or 6 emergency vehicles pulling into our parking lot. A pickup truck had hit a patch of ice or something on the interstate, slid down the embankment on its side, and then back upright onto the pavement of Spruce Rd.
From the sounds of things the driver was ok, and I talked with the mother just briefly, and I was able to pray for the young man.
I was also able to see the confirmation in the decision to not meet last week, given that all of this happened right in front of the church.
So now that we’ve had a snow or ice day, the last couple of weeks before all of this we talked about getting started and then about the first word in our new or updated mission statement, authentic. This week we’re going to talk about the next word, connect, a familiar word because it is a carry-over from the previous mission statement. But before we do that, let’s pray.
Today we’re talking about connect, and the vision for this part of our mission statement is this:
We desire to connect others to Jesus. –
Jesus came to provide freedom from the bonds of sin through a relationship with Him.
So, how do we connect things? There are a lot of examples out there we could use.
Legos. Legos connect by putting them together. Bricks are put together with mortar. If you’re putting two boards together there are numerous ways to do that, with nails, screws, you could use glue or a special joint cut on the ends.
When it comes to cars there’s nuts and bolts and screws - and a failure to connect things properly in any of these situations can result in a failure of some sort, right?
If we’re trying to build a lego house, we can’t just stack one lego on top of another, with both legos and real bricks there’s a certain pattern that we have to follow in order to get all of this to work. When it comes to lumber not cutting the boards correctly can lead to problems in the structure or the piece. With cars failing to bolt things in correctly can lead to things not working or a reduced life span of the part -
So while there are many different ways to connect things together, it’s also important to remember that connecting things the wrong way or connecting things that aren’t meant to be connected in that way can lead or will lead to some issues later on.
So here’s what I want everyone to do right now. I want us all to take everything that we have ever learned about how to witness, and put it on the shelf for a moment this morning. We’re not getting rid of it, there’s nothing wrong with them, but maybe today we’ll learn some things that may modify our methods or maybe some new ways to reach people for Jesus.
The great commission tells us
Matthew 28:19–20 CSB
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
And I think one key thing that we should have learned last week is that in order to do any of that, we have to be authentic in our walk with Christ. We have to be in an authentic relationship with Christ. Ane when we do that, we see three things really emerge from this - number one,
with. Who we connect with. The first set of verses we come to that support our vision is John 3:14-21 -
John 3:14–21 CSB
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
So from these verses we begin to see who it is we as authentic believers desire to connect to Jesus - the world. Now I know there are different viewpoints on who and how people come to a saving relationship with Jesus, but I feel that John 3:16 tells us God’s desire, which in tern should be our desire, to see the whole world come to Jesus. We know not everyone will end in that relationship, but what we do know is that it is God’s desire for them to know.
We connect them by convincing them that Jesus loves them and that He wants to be in a relationship with them. His desire is that no one would wind up condemned.
And just as a side note, we also need to remember what we learned a coule of months ago in Hebrews 10:24-25:
Hebrews 10:24–25 CSB
And let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
We should be gathering together in order to be connected in our relationship to God and each other. Connecting with each other is a way to be better at connecting with others.
The second thing we see is
Now obviously we can all point to the Great Commission as a reason for why, but take a look at 2 Corinthians 5 with me -
2 Corinthians 5:11–15 CSB
Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may have a reply for those who take pride in outward appearance rather than in the heart. For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion, that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.
Since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to pursuade people. It’s really kind of self explanatory here, since we are in a relationship with God, we live out our lives, it’s normal for us, and we tell people in what we say and do. The love of Christ compels us - we have to do these things because we - as we discussed last week - are a new creation and being that new creation means that we cannot help ourselves from spreading the Gospel - it’s indwelt in us, it’s built in, that we want others to know the freedom found only in Christ, that’s why the second supporting verse for our vision statement is John 8:34-36
John 8:34–36 CSB
Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.
Jesus sets people free. When we look at why we should be desireing to connect people to Jesus, the key principle that comes to mind is that Jesus sets us free. We’re free from sin, we’re free from being sin’s slave.
When we think slavery, we think back to America’s history and how terrible that was. And it was - it was terrible and wrong.
But when we compare that slavery to the eternal slavery that happens apart from Jesus we have a different perspective - because I guarantee that the slavery that sin creates for the non-believer is far worse than any slavery that has occured in our past here on earth.
Some may be listening to this and saying how could you say that - again, I’m not discounting the slavery of the past, what I am saying is that if you thing that was bad, the slavery that comes from not knowing Jesus is far worse and eternal.
We as authentic believers want what God wants, everyone to come to know the eternal freedom that comes from knowing Christ. Bearing in mind the results of not knowing Jesus and being new creations in Jesus presses us to desire to connect others to Jesus. Its built in, its part of who we are in Christ.
Now let’s turn our attention to
others to Jesus - and this is the part where many of us get a little bit nervous. What if I say the wron thing or they ask me something and I don’t know the answer? What if they yell at me? What if they ignore me?
So right here, let’s get some things out of the way.
1, if they reject what you say or if they yell at you or if they whatever and it feels personal, remember, its not personal against you. When Jesus sent out the 72 disciples to bear witness about Him, he gave them some pretty specific guidance in this repsect -
Luke 10:16 CSB
Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
and then when they returned:
Luke 10:17–20 CSB
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Look, I have given you the authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; nothing at all will harm you. However, don’t rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
What can we take away from these verses?
We will have people who reject the message of Jesus - that part is inevitable. But note the response when those 72 came back - they returned with joy. Satan lost power. Most importantly their names were written in heaven.
Focus on the prize, not the rejection, because they aren’t rejecting you. When we do that, seeing one come to Jesus becomes exciting, it causes us to bubble over, and we stop worrying about the rejection and start focusing on the next soul. You’re like Dersmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge - give me one more Lord, just give me one more - because the excitement builds and your desire becomes more focused.
So now the how. I’ve brought this toy up here, most if not all of us know what this is, right? you put the matching shape into the corresponding hole.
I’ve been telling leardership to think outside the box when it comes to how we want to do outreach as a church, so this is the example I have come up with.
Now if you look at this, you should be able to see two boxes theorhetically. One is the outside box, or the overall shape of the box or cube. The second one is this smaller, square shaped hole in the box.
So let’s take the first box, the larger box, and say this is the Word of God, okay, because we aren’t going to do anything outside of the Word, because that would be sin or manipulation or whatever, and that’s not where we want to be. But we have all of these folks that are outside of the Word - they’re lost. They’re trying to do anything they can to get to God on their terms, but they can’t.
So it’s our job to tell them how they can get to God - we tell them about Jesus. Now I don’t want to discourage anyone here, because at the end of the day that is what we are supposed to do - it doesn’t really matter how, as long as we’re being obedient and telling people about Jesus.
And what has happened in the past is usually someone will tell you that this method or that method is a proven method that will lead people to Jesus - right? So what happens is you get into this style or method that basically is your go to method for telling others about Jesus, and you do it for so long that it becomes natural and it just begins to work - so we don’t want to change that per se.
But what can happen is we begin to place square pegs in square holes. We’re leading some to Jesus, because they can connect with that method or that method works for their generation.
But then we get someone that that method doesn’t connect with. They’re a different shape - they connect differently than what you are trying to do - and we can get into this habit of ignoring their way of connecting. Sure, some may go into the square hole, but only if we manipulate how they connect or if they don’t grasp the fullness of the message that you have. For example maybe the round peg will fit into the square hole, but the square peg doesn’t fit the round hole unless we change it’s shape before getting it into the box.
So what I want to do right now is take a look at the same story about the woman at the well that we looked at last week -
John 4:7–9 CSB
A woman of Samaria came to draw water. “Give me a drink,” Jesus said to her, because his disciples had gone into town to buy food. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
What’s the first thing that Jesus does here? He starts a conversation with someone who needs Him. Now some of us may say that the way Jesus is simply talking to someone. But look at what the woman says - how is it that you, a jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?
She’s saying two things here - 1, you noticed me and didn’t ignore me, and 2, why are you talking to me?
She came to draw water - and Jesus engages in conversation with someone who expects Him to ignore her based on her status as a samaritan and as a woman.
We need to meet people where they are, and we need to treat everyone as someone that needs Jesus.
John 4:10–14 CSB
Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.” “Sir,” said the woman, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.” Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”
He tells her that she needs Him, and He does it in a way that relates to her in that moment. He peaks her interest. He takes a simple message of needing Him and relates it to her in that moment.
John 4:15–18 CSB
“Sir,” the woman said to him, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.” “Go call your husband,” he told her, “and come back here.” “I don’t have a husband,” she answered. “You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’ ” Jesus said. “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
And she asks for it. She doesn’t necessarily know what she’s asking for, but she asks for it - and Jesus relates to her again - He calls her to bring her husband, and we know the rest from just reading it - He relates to her situation even more, and she drops everything and goes to tell everyone about Him - and how He related to her.
Every person that Jesus encounters, Jesus encounters relationally. Every time Jesus encounters someone, He relates to their current situation. There’s no square hole that everyone has to fit through - every encounter is different, and even when He’s talking to the Pharisees He’s encountering them relationally where they are.
So individually, we need to be relating to people - develop a relationship, so that you know how to best interact with people and tell them about Jesus. And I know, there are some people that you just may have a difficult time relating to - and that’s ok, because that’s why Jesus sent them out in pairs - you’re not supposed to do all of the work alone. You don’t have to have all of the answers, that’s not what Jesus expects of you.
We’re to tell others about Jesus, so we’re going to relate to them and maybe in that process of getting to know them you realize hey, so and so would be great to talk to about that. They like cars, you like computers, but you know Nick likes cars, so you steer them to Nick and they relate. They like crafts, and maybe you like gardening, but you know that Gina likes crafts and you steer them that direction.
We as a church are going to be looking at different ways for people to relate to each other - not for social club or just to do those things that we like to do, but so that we can spread the Gospel to everyone. Because Jesus met us where we were at the time, and for many of us it wasn’t because of some neatly packaged method - it was because Jesus knew what we needed in order to be drawn into a relationship with Him.
And you know what? We may just need to think outside the boxes that we have created for ourselves. Boomers need to be able to relate to millenials and gen xers and whatever the next generation is.
Millenials need to be able to relate to boomers and gen xers.
Gen xers need to be able to relate to boomers and millenials -
And that means that we can’t keep trying to stick a square peg in a round hole. We have to be able to cross the generational divide and relate to people where they are in order to connect people to Jesus authentically where they are.
I hope we are starting to see how all of this is connected. We have to be authentic believers and be connected to Jesus relationally in order to connect others to Jesus relationally. We have to because our God is a relational God, so like last week, I ask you church, how are doing in being authentic? How are we in relationally connecting to God? How are we at sharing God relationally to others?
God has called each one of us that are in a relationship with Him to lead others to a relationship with Him. Let’s pray and ask Him to guide us to people that we can relate to so that we can lead them to Him as He desires.
Father, we love you. Father help us to be the authentic believers that you have called us to be. We don’t want to be fake, we don’t want to be the stumbling block for the lost, we want to be a light in the darkness, we want to see your light shine. Help us to shine as bright as you made us to be Lord, and Lord when the evil of this world and the words of others are beginning to strike, remind us of the freedom we have in you and the strength you provide.
As we remain in a state of prayer, with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, there may be someone here that says you know what, If I’m honest, I’m not authentic. I’ve been trying to live my life with a foot in both doors, and it’s exhausting. Right now I’m ready to commit to being authentic in my walk with Jesus.
Father, as there may be those here today that have struggled with the thought of being authentic, Lord I just ask that you speak to them Lord. I ask that you give them the strength and the encouragement that they need to be authentic. Lord just walk closely with them and lead them to someone else here to help them along the way.
Finally, as we close out today’s service, maybe you’re here and you just, you know what, you just know you’re not in a relationship with Jesus. You’ve been trying to fool everyone around you, you’ve been playing the game, so to speak, you’ve been going to church and you can use all of the Christianese you want, but there’s something still missing. You haven’t been made a new creation, and you have been going to church because that’s what you think good religious people do.
God is speaking to you today, and He’s saying come, follow me. Come, find rest. Come, and I can set you free. You have to be reconciled with God, it was earlier in the message. How do you reconcile things with God?
First you have to be willing to admit you were wrong. You admit that you are a sinner, because everyone of us is one. Second, you have to be willing to trust, so we place our trust in the belief that Jesus did exactly what He said He was here to do - He lived a sinless life, He died without sin, and three days later He rose from the grave defeating death hell and the grave for you to live and be free. He died the death He didn’t deserve to save us from the eternity we did deserve. And then third, you have to choose to follow Him. You confess that Jesus is Lord and you choose to follow Him. That’s it - you don’t have to give money, you don’t have to physically DO anything because that’s not what he wants - He just wants the relationship with you.
To start that relationship is as simple as having a conversation in your own words with God that goes something like this:
Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior.
And the you just add at the end of that personal conversation, in Jesus name, amen.
As the music continues softly for just a moment longer, as the Spirit moves you, right where you are or here up front at the altar, give it all to Jesus -
Father, thank you for Your message today, help us to live our lives for You, walk with us as we desire to be true to you and your mission you have given to us.
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