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Team Christ

Walking in the Light  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Walking in the Light anticipates the reality that each of us should be working with one another to do the will of the Master.

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Avengers Vs Lone Rangers

The avengers are a group of Marvel Comic heroes like spider man, iron man, the hulk, Thor, and more who come together to save the world. They may have quirks and strong personalities but ultimately, they set those aside to help one another combat the intergalactic threats to our existence.
An early western hero was the Lone Ranger. He wore a mask and rode Trigger into the worst the West could dish out to write the wrongs and save those who were in distress. During my time in Iraq there were those that we called Lone Rangers. They showed up as ‘operators’ and painted outside the lines all in the name of the greater good. My team and I quickly learned to steer clear of the Lone Rangers. They were trouble.
Truthfully, not even the Lone Ranger of the western shows was really alone. He always had his faithful side kick, Tonto. As partners, like the partners of the Avengers, they worked together to do good and take down evil.
If we are going to Walk in the Light, we are going to need to do it together. Isolation is a place of dying and weakness. Elijah was at his weakness when he was alone and depressed. Jonah sat alone on a hill above Ninevah and complained to God. Even Jesus asked His disciples to come and pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Walking in the Light anticipates the reality that each of us should be working with one another to do the will of the Master.

God Wants Team Players

Earlier this week I updated the missionaries on the slideshow at the end of the hall. It was powerful to see our missionaries and their families and to realize the work that they are doing around the world. Although they may be isolated in some cases, they serve as a part of a team – a regional team, a global team, a network of churches, and a network of friends.
1 Corinthians 3:9 NIV
For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Throughout the Bible we see the power of teams. Moses learned the lesson in the wilderness under the advice of his father-in-law, Jethro. With over a million people, Moses was judging their disputes. It quickly became far more than he could handle. Jethro suggested using a team of judges instead.
Both books of Ezra and Nehemiah tell the story of the rebuilding of Israel and the temple after the Babylonian conquest. Both Ezra and Nehemiah describe the way that they worked together to build, defend, and reconstitute a nation.
Jesus developed a team of 12 disciples. These men were all from different places and different economic and societal levels. They were both educated and uneducated. They had completely different personalities. But, equipped with the Gospel they changed the world.
Jesus sent the disciples out in teams. The early church leaders continued in the same fashion. Paul, Peter, and John all called new believers to work together in teams.
2 Corinthians 1:24 (NIV) 24Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
1 John 1:7 (NIV) 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

The Power of Teams

"Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together." -- Vesta M. Kelly
"No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you're playing a solo game, you'll always lose out to a team." -- Reid Hoffman
"Great things in business are never done by one person; they're done by a team of people." -- Steve Jobs
"Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." -- Michael Jordan
Teams can do amazing things. My grandfather was a farmer in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. I grew up listening to my mother tell me many stories of her childhood on the farm. I knew her favorite horse was a light grey horse named Sandy, but I didn’t know that Sandy’s main function at the farm was as a working horse. She was a smart horse, a well-trained leader who knew what to do in the traces pulling wagons, plows, and logs from the ravines. Sandy would pull alone or with another horse and did so for many years until she became lame after being hit by a runaway log when she was loaned to a neighbor.
Sandy’s normal teammate was Colonel. But Colonel had to work as a partner in the team. If he was harnessed by himself, he wouldn’t do a thing (just like us). Sandy had to be working right next to him. It was interesting that Colonel was the stronger horse, but he didn’t want anything to do with being in charge. Sandy was the lead.
My mother told me about how fortunate she and her parents felt about their team of Sandy and Colonel. Driving to and from Newport and Poland they would see other farmers struggle with their teams. These horses would twist and kick, fuss one another, step over and out of their harnesses. What a chore their owners had as they fought to untangle the mess of these selfish and hardheaded teams!
When Sandy and Colonel worked together, they were a powerful team. Did you know that two yoked oxen together can pull more than double the combined weight two single oxen could pull, if the conditions, training, and capability of the teamster are optimum? So are we when we allow Christ to work with us and we are obedient to his teachings.
Walking in the Light anticipates the reality that each of us should be working with one another to do the will of the Master. As we team up, God can do amazing things.

Characteristics of Good Team Players

The simplest way to express the areas in which we can contribute to one another is simply to say that each of us have resources in the areas of our time, talents, and our treasures. By investing or collectively working together we can be a ‘force multiplier’ for the Kingdom of God.

Working Together Using Our Time

The puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards gave several reasons why time was so important.
1. “Because a happy or miserable eternity depends on the good or ill improvement of it.”
He is saying that eternity in heaven or eternity in hell depends on how we used our time.
2. “Time is very short, which is another thing that renders it very precious.”
Simple enough, time flies by. How are you using it?
3. “Time ought to be esteemed by us very precious, because we are uncertain of its continuance.”
We think that we have our time, but we really have no control over it. We don’t know if we have tomorrow or another 100 years.
4. “Time is very precious, because when it is past, it cannot be recovered.”
We must admit, those are all true. But how can we team up together to use our time effectively?
1. Time must be used wisely – in a few weeks I will be leading a class on Wednesday nights called “The Tech-Wise Family”. One of the major ideas that we will look at is the wise use of time with the electronic devices we have in our lives.
Ephesians 5:15–16 (NIV) 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
2. We should be looking at ‘Kairos’ moments - Kairos is a Greek word that is used frequently in the NT for the word Time. It is a season, an opportune time, an opportunity ("window of opportunity"). It is a fixed and definite time. It is a period possessed of certain characteristics.
Dr. Barna points to the need to build biblical worldview during childhood, as his decades of worldview research show that building worldview typically happens between ages 15 months and 13. This isn’t exactly a Kairos moment, but it is simply common sense.
Much more could be said about ‘Time’ but let’s move on to another area that demands teamwork.

Working Together with Our Talents

One of the concepts that we discuss in our True Life classes is the reality that each of us uniquely contributes to the Body of Christ. We use the acronym, SHAPE, to describe our unique qualities:
S – Spiritual Gifts
H – Heart
A – Abilities
P – Personality
E – Experiences
This concept comes from the Bible. Paul wrote to the believers in Rome…
Romans 12:3–8 NIV
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Although this passage mentions gifts like prophesying, serving, teaching, and more it is not exhaustive. In other words, there are other unique gifts and talents that are found in the body of Christ that contribute to the team. Musicians, for example, are not mentioned but we all appreciate the blessing that they bring to the body of Christ.
Walking in the Light means that we are cooperating to use our time and talents for Christ. Another area where we cooperate is in generosity.

Working Together in Generosity

A Barna report published in 2018 revealed a link between serving and giving financially. Christians in the U.S. who gave the most were more likely than others to say they had volunteered within the past week or month. Disciples who are generous in one area are more likely to be generous in the other. Both are expressions of an overflowing heart.
Psalm 112:5 NIV
Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
Our church couldn’t exist without the cooperative contributions of each of you. Grace Chapel can minister because of the generosity of this congregation through tithes and offerings. Occasionally I meet people who come from Methodist or Catholic backgrounds and think that the headquarters of the denomination provides financial support. That is not true in the Assemblies of God. Our church exists in the same way that the early church existed – it is supported by the tithes and offerings of its members and friends.
Our guest missionary is an example of the benefits of the generosity of the church. His goal of getting to Chile demands trusting God and expecting the churches of the Assemblies of God to respond generously to fund world evangelism. At the end of the hall there is a slide show that contains this quote by Oswald Smith, “We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” How is the world going to know? The answer is through the generosity of the church. How will our children be discipled?
I intended to take some time today to explain what a tithe is but we won’t have the time. I believe in tithing and giving of offerings. It has been a place of surrender for Cindy and me. It has also been a source of blessing on our lives. I believe that the Bible teaches it, Jesus acknowledged it, and the apostles at a minimum hinted at it. As the book of Malachi suggests,
Malachi 3:10 NIV
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Team Christ

The power of teams is amazing. Even better is the reality that we are teamed up with our Champion, Jesus Christ. The right captain. The right mission. The greatest vision.
How are you managing your time, talents, and treasures? I read a great story about another pastor and one of the boys in his church. He tells this story…
You remember Smarties, a row of multicolored, chalklike, bite-size candies wrapped in clear plastic, about ten to twelve pieces in a pack? They are perfect for sharing.
I am not a huge fan of Smarties, but when I saw little Dustin come into church with a fresh roll, I just had to ask for one. Dustin peeled out a piece and handed it over with a smile. From that day on, for the next two years, every time Dustin got a pack of Smarties, he took out the first one and set it aside for me. Every Sunday morning before the worship service, Dustin would track me down at church and offer me a Smarty.
Sometimes Dustin would open a pack of Smarties during the week, but he would still save me the first piece. By the time Sunday came, the Smarty was a little mangy and furry with lint, but he never forgot to bring it for me. I would thank him and put the candy in my pocket so I could “enjoy it later.”
Sharing Smarties was a kind of Communion for Dustin and me. Jesus was present as we shared a conversation and candy.
Dustin’s mother viewed this ritual as a kind of tithing; out of ten pieces in a pack, Dustin gave the first tenth to his pastor. What I saw was a little boy who loved to share and who understood the power of generosity. Since that time, I have asked myself many times, “How am I doing with my Smarties?” —Kevin G. Harney, Seismic Shifts (Zondervan, 2005)[1]
I love the story and can only imagine how this played out week after week. The pastor’s take-away was the question, “How am I doing with my Smarties?” I think the question can be extended to the idea of teamwork and the areas that we can bring.
How are you doing with your time?
How are you doing with your talents?
How are you doing with your treasures (in the area of generosity)?
We have every reason to be doing better…take the challenge and team up!
[1]Larson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect (p. 94). Zondervan Publishing House.
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