I wonder what would be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of God. For millennia people have wrestled with the question. Who is God? Throughout Scripture God has revealed himself to us so that we learn about who he is. The Bible tells us about God’s communicable (transmittable) attributes. Those of God’s traits that can become true of us. For instance, God is holy, loving, just, good, merciful, gracious, faithful, truthful, patient and wise. How should the knowledge that God is______ change the way we live?
A Christian is a person who transitions from death into life and from darkness into light. How should we then live now that we have chosen to follow Christ? We are to live as people who have the identity of Jesus now, people of the light since Jesus himself calls us to be the light of the world. Paul writes a letter to a church to remind Christians what it means to live as children of light.
It’s easy to believe when things go well in your life, when you have “mountain top” experiences; when you feel closer to God; however, it is in the valley moments, those times when you are not in control that we tend to doubt God; for some it is during trials, suffering and turmoil that they question God. I think is safe to say that the majority of us at one time or another have struggled with trusting God wholeheartedly; perhaps you are truly wrestling right now with doubts and unbelief. How can you overcome these struggles?
We all go through trials and difficult times in this life; things happen to us that tend to squeeze our joy and test our faith in God. As Christians you may feel at times empty, stagnant, and hopeless in the world. You may feel like God has left you; that he is not answering your prayers; you may feel you are running on empty, you need to be revived again; you don’t even know where to begin.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “The discontented man finds no easy chair.” There are many who struggle with contentment. Some people think that to be happy in life, they must accomplish something. If I get this promotion, then I will be happy; if I marry this person or that one I will truly live happily. If this happen in my organization, then I will be happy. Their happiness is circumstantial; it depends on the situation they experience. The Bible teaches us that we can be content or happy regardless of the situation or circumstance you may find yourselves in.
At one time or another we have experience worries or anxiety in our lives.
A lot of things can cause you to worry: Threat, unmet expectations, fear of the unknown; etc.
Some of you here today may be experiencing anxiety right now because of a situation or circumstance you’re in. Jesus has a message for you today; he wants to show you how to eliminate anxiety and worries out of your life. Jesus addressed anxiety or worries in life during the so called “Sermon on the mount” (Matthew 5-7). Matthew 5 tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds, he went on a mountainside. His disciples came to him and he began to teach them saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit…..
During the Olympics, athletes represent their nations or countries. These nations send their best athletes in their discipline to compete and bring honor to their nations. Following Jesus is spoken of in Scripture as entering into race. The moment you agreed to be a follower of Jesus, you enter that race. The Christian life is a race; at times you may feel very good in how you run and progress in your walk; but at times it turns out to be very difficult and the temptation to quit or give up will always be there. Perhaps you know people who stopped running their race;
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they traveled through the desert where they endured hunger and thirst. However, Yahweh continually provided for them. Just in the previous chapter we read about an incident in which they came to a place where there was no water. People grumbled against Moses; God provided water to drink from a rock. These people were on their way to the land the LORD promised to them as their inheritance. This land would be their future; however, an enemy came against them and threatened their lives, their future. This is the first war Israel had to fight after coming out of Egypt.
It is much easier to destroy something than to build it up. Jesus told his disciples that he will build his church. This started in the first century at the preaching of the apostles. This is how Jesus began to build his church. The apostles preached the good news of God’s kingdom and those who believed became followers of Jesus and continued to announce the life-changing message of the gospel. The group or gathering of believers is what is called “ekklesia (church). Peter’s 2nd sermon to a Jewish council was “Jesus is the stone, you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” (Acts 4:11); when it comes to building his church, Jesus used his apostles whose main message was salvation is found only in Jesus. The cornerstone upon which people are to build their lives.
When the Restoration Movement began in our nation in the early 19th century their slogan was: In essentials unity, in matters of opinion liberty, in all things love. This is the movement from which independent Christian churches, Disciples of Christ and Churches of Christ emerged. People wanted to restore the church back to the Bible. The Bible would be the only creed. They understood that when it comes to our Christian faith, we must be united in the essentials; but when it comes to matters of opinion there is freedom. Today there are people who confuse their opinion with the essentials of theology. As followers of Jesus, we must be able to know the essentials from the non-essentials of our faith. The non-negotiable from what is negotiable.
If we truly wish to understand our mission as followers of Jesus, we must take a closer look at Jesus and how he reached people. Last week we talked about how Jesus is calling everyone to follow him, to become his disciple. Jesus’ first disciples were fishermen. Jesus said follow me and I will make teach you to catch people. Jesus calls people to follow him and to learn from him how to reach others with the message of the gospel.
One of the best ways for the church today to understand her mission is to take a closer look at the life of Jesus. When Jesus came, he was all about fulfilling his mission for the glory of God the Father. When you are not sure what your mission as followers of Jesus is in this world, look at Jesus. The church is the incarnation of Jesus in the world. The church is called the body of Christ; we are to let Jesus live through us, serve through us, love through us. It is through the church that people will get to know God (Eph.3:10). God has always been on mission and he has always used people to accomplish it. It was to his disciples that Jesus said, “as the Father sent me, so I am sending you. John 20:21. God wants to reach every person in the world and he has chosen his followers (you and me) for this task. We are God’s representatives in this world.