Change: God’s World

Change: God’s World
Our mission at Liberty is Changing Lives, Communities, and the World for Jesus Christ. In 1 Thessalonians we read about a model church that did that from ancient Macedonia. The church at Thessalonica was accused of “turning the world upside down.” How did they do it? How can we change the world? 1 Thessalonians 1:3 gives us three ways: “remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father…”

Work of Faith
Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:5. We are here because the Gospel came to us in much power. We are saved by faith. Salvation is from God. You did not find God. He was not lost! He found you! You cannot walk an aisle, pray a prayer, get some “fire insurance” and continue to live the same old way. That is not salvation. You have to turn from your idols (1 Thess. 1:9). Repentance is when you are going in one direction and you turn and go in another. Some of you need to make a U-turn in your life!

An idol is what you sacrifice to or sacrifice for.

2.8 billion people in the world have little to no access to the Gospel. They are headed for wrath to come. That is why we must pray, give, and go. The reason we don’t is because we are too busy bowing to our own idols. An idol is what you sacrifice to or sacrifice for. It could be a house, car, promotion, position, relationship, food, drugs, money, success, etc. God is a Jealous God. He will not be second in your life. The only relationship God is interested in is one that is exclusive and committed. To say “Jesus is Lord,” is to say Jesus is number one. Where is God on your list of priorities in life? What do you value most?

Labor of Love
Everyone is serving something. Do you love serving Jesus? You were saved to serve. We are his workmanship in Christ Jesus to do good works. I get tired in it, but I never get tired of it! Last week, I preached on the will of God. God’s perfect will is the same: to be saved, baptized, read the Bible, win others, tithe, give, pray. God’s particular will is different for all of us: where we live, if and who we marry, where we work, etc. Why do you do what you do? It must be out of love for God. That is why we give and serve. Not out of guilt, but because of grace and out of gratitude to God.

Patience of Hope
Do you believe Jesus is coming again? He is going to come again as sure as He came the first time. There are five chapters in 1 Thessalonians, each ending with a reminder that Jesus is coming again! Waiting is not idle. It has the idea of expectation, watching and waiting with hope while we work in love.

In verses 6-8 we read that the church was an example to the surrounding area and that the Word “sounded forth” from there into all the world. God used this passage to shape my ministry. In Arkansas, I prayed, “God give me your vision for this church.” God brought this very passage to my mind and heart. Our first slogan was Sounding the Gospel to the Surrounding Area. God called us to be a regional church. We had less than 200 in attendance in a town of 1000. In the next 19 years, we would see God grow that church to over 2500 members. He answered that prayer. Then, God picked us up and dropped us in the middle of 1.7 million people. Over time, the wording changed, but the message and mission remained the same. Now, in Virginia, reaching Hampton Roads and beyond…Changing Lives, Communities, and the World for Jesus Christ.

The church at Thessalonica was one church reaching their community and beyond. How did they do it? How must we do it? Our Work of Faith (faith always produces works), our Labor of Love (love always produces labor), and our Patience of Hope (hope always produces patience). Together, they turned the world upside down. Together, we can change the world!

Commit: God’s Will

God has a will for your life, and His plan is good (Jer. 29:11)! He is not hiding it from you. God wants you to know and do, to find and enjoy His will. Here are some things Scripture clearly tells us are God’s will.

In John 4:34 Jesus says, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” The Father sent Jesus to redeem you and me, to seek and save the lost. Jesus got more satisfaction and nourishment out of seeing lives changed than eating. It is God’s will for you to be saved.

God’s word is a lamp and a light to our path. He reveals His will through His word. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Man shall not live by bread alone, but by God’s word (Matt. 4:4). Jesus is the bread of Life and He alone has the words of life!

Found people find others. Reached people reach others. Jesus sowed the seed by witnessing to the woman at the well. The woman sowed the seed by saying, “Come see a man….” Now is the time for sowing and reaping locally and globally. Proverbs 11:30 says, “He who wins souls is wise.”

Doing God’s will costs you, but doing your will costs you more!

This word is found in the Old and New Testament concerning prayer. We are to pray for God’s will to be done. It is one of the hardest prayers you will ever pray and also one of the most important. Doing God’s will costs you, but doing your will costs you more! Give God a blank check for your life.

Look at Romans 12:1-2. God does not want one area of your life, He wants all of you. Jesus is God’s gift to you, and it is reasonable to give your life as a gift to God. God’s will is not bad but good, not unacceptable but acceptable, not imperfect but perfect! God wants what is best for you!

In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul uses the generosity of the poor believers to inspire all. He closes verse 5 saying, “by the will of God.” It is more blessed to give than to receive. It is God’s will for you to both receive a blessing and be a blessing. The Wise Men brought Jesus three gifts. What will you give?

1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification….” The end result of sanctification is that we will one day be like Jesus. God is molding us and making us into the image of Christ.

In Hebrews 10:32 and 36, we read that it is also God’s will for us to suffer at times. He uses suffering in our lives. It was God’s will for His own Son to suffer for us! Don’t be afraid of God’s will. Perfect love cast out fear. God never said it would be easy but that it will be worth it!

Most people are more interested in knowing God’s will than submitting to God’s will. Surrender to God. There are so many verses in the Bible that talk about submission. 1 Peter 2:13, Ephesians 5:21, and Hebrews 13:17 are a few. Submit to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” It is God’s will for you to enjoy life, not just endure it. Too many people go around grumbling, griping, complaining, and criticizing. Are you thankful, grateful, glad, content, satisfied?

The richest, most successful, prosperous, fulfilled person in life is the one who knows and does the will of God. That is why Christians gladly “give what we cannot keep in order to gain what we cannot lose.”

Celebrate: God’s Worship

We were made to worship. We “get in the game” spiritually when we worship God. Giving, reading God’s Word, and telling others about Jesus are all aspects of worship. Today, we will look at John 4 and see all that worship celebrates.

Sovereignty not Self
John 4:23-24 says, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Real worship is not optional. The Holy Spirit puts the desire in you. It is not about you; real worship is all about God!

God is Spirit. He is not “a” spirit, one among many gods. He is Spirit with a capital “S”. He is the one and only God, invisible and eternal. Worship is our response to the revealed greatness of God.

Truth not Tradition
The end of verse 24 says that we must worship in truth. The Bible is not up for vote. Earlier in this chapter, we read how Jesus, a Jew, met with a Samaritan woman. The context is hunger, thirst, racial and gender prejudice. Jews would not normally go through Samaria; they stayed away from those people. In regards to prejudice, you may say, “Well, that is the way I was raised.” You were raised wrong! The Bible is the final authority for faith and practice.

Feeling not Formality
We also read in verse 24 that we must worship in spirit, with a lowercase “s”. “In spirit” means that we must feel something when we worship. “In truth” means we must know something when we worship. “In spirit” means that we must worship with our heart. “In truth” means that we must worship with our head. “In spirit” means we worship with doxology. “In truth” means we worship with theology. Whatever the expression, it is not empty. Biblical worship is verbal (“Amen,” “Glory,” “Hallelujah,” etc.) and it’s visual (clapping, kneeling, dancing, etc.). It is personal and it is an expression of who God is. Is God dull, boring, cold, impersonal, or dead? Then why should worship be?!

Presence not Preference
Another thing that worship celebrates is the presence of God, not personal preference. It is not about your seat or your parking place! Worship is not about a place, but about a person. That person is Jesus, not you!

Look at John 4:25-26: “The woman said to Him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When He comes, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.’” Can’t you see it? God says, “I am He! I am here!” In the Old Testament, His presence was the cloud and the fire. He was shade in the day and heat at night. God knows what you need. The goal is for people to leave church saying, “We have been in the presence of God!”

Relationship not Religion
Finally, worship celebrates our relationship with Jesus. The woman at the well admitted her sin. There is no conversion without confession. Jesus was patient with her. She left her water pot and her old lifestyle and God used her to win an entire village. In John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” One of these people is a man, the other a woman. One a Jew, the other a Samaritan. One moral, the other immoral. It took just as much grace to save one as the other. Have you believed for yourself? Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Have you been born again? Are you celebrating God’s worship?

Connect: God’s Word

We have been in a series called “Get in the Game.” It takes teamwork to win games! When we study God’s Word and together we connect people to God, to other people, and to service, that is a “W” in the win column! 2 Timothy 3 gives a number of ways that God’s Word equips us to win.

In 2 Timothy 3:10-12, we read of the persecutions all Christians will face. Life is hard! The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. Verses 1-9 of this chapter warn us to stay away from false teachers. Then, we read that we are to gather with true believers around God’s Word. When working, another can help carry the load. When you fall, another can lift you up. A cord of three strands is not easily broken!

Verse 14 says, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them….” The 40 Days of Prayer is over, but don’t stop having daily devotions. Continue! False teachers will tell people what they want to hear and compromise God’s Word to draw a crowd. Continuing in His Word helps us detect these things. In Acts 2 we read of the first church. Verse 42 says, “they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship,” and verse 46 says, “continuing daily with one accord in temple….” Don’t give up!

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (v. 16). The word is “all.” The Bible is Inspired. It is a living book that gives life. It breathes the very breath of God. The Bible is Infallible. Psalm 19:7 says that God is holy and cannot lie; it’s His character. His Word will never lead you wrong. The Bible is Inerrant (Prov. 30:5). The original copies were without error. The Bible gives Illumination. The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He leads and guides into all truth. Everything that God wants us to BE and DO is found in this book.

Verse 17 tells us that the Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness….” It tells us how to do right. Doctrine is what to believe, or what is right. Reproof is what is not right. Correction is how to get right. Training/instruction is how to stay right. Jesus used the Word of God to defeat Satan. The Word of God is the Sword of the Lord. We need to get a good grip on His Word! The goal is not information but transformation.

The second half of verse 17 says, “that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Why is your Bible sitting on a shelf collecting dust? Why is it you read blogs more than your Bible and you read Facebook more than Faith’s book? Get in the game. Discipline your mind. Vance Havner said, “Find a Bible that is falling apart. It probably belongs to someone who isn’t.”

It is not WHAT we know, it is WHO we believe.

You are not saved by believing the Bible. The demons believe and tremble. Verse 15 says, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” It is not WHAT we know, it is WHO we believe. I am not believing in something I am believing in someone – Jesus Christ. It is not religion. It is a relationship. We love these pages ultimately because we love a person!

Get up 15 minutes earlier this week. Spend time with Him by reading His Word. Before you know it, it will be 30 minutes, then 1 hour. Then, you’ll find He wakes you up! It’s that good.

Communicate: God’s Witness

People who love football talk about it all week! They plan their entire day around Game Day. What do you talk about? You talk about what is important to you. You can’t help but talk about what you love. When you hear, see, and experience something you have to tell somebody! Another way we can “get in the game” when it comes to the Christian life is to talk about Jesus.

In John 1, we read that God became flesh and dwelt among us and that John the Baptist told this same story over and over. “The next day John… said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God… (v. 29)! “Again, the next day, John… said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’” (v. 35-36). He was a witness; he simply told what he saw. Every football team has a Game Plan. For Christians, that plan is found in Acts 1:8 – “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The number one reason we exist as a church is to bring people to Jesus. He changes lives, communities, and the world. We are not responsible for the results, but we are responsible for the witness.

Another thing we read in John 1 is that the disciples followed Jesus. Jesus followers are not ashamed to identify with Jesus. I love “Miss” Tammy. She makes me so proud. I am not ashamed of her! Some people claim to follow Jesus but they are ashamed to talk about Him to their friends. To follow Him is to identify with Him. John brought Andrew to Jesus. Andrew’s witness was only 5 words, yet it had powerful results. It was simple and spoken. You may never preach a sermon, but you can talk to people where they are. Speak their language- speak mom, speak mechanic, speak text messaging, etc.

Look at the pattern in John 1. John the Baptist preached and Andrew was saved. Andrew went and brought his brother Peter to Jesus. John found his brother James. Jesus called Philip to follow Him. Philip shared his testimony with Nathanael. Each individual was invited by someone else. It was contagious. Have you ever noticed when one person comes to Jesus their friends start coming to Jesus?

There is only one way to be saved, by faith in Jesus Christ, but there are a variety of ways for people to hear. Where you live, work, or go to school is your mission field. Make a list of names of individuals you know need Jesus Christ, and pray for them. God changes people through prayer. Then, spend time with them. Invite them to dinner or a sporting event and build friendships, which can open the way to talk about Christ. Remember, don’t preach. Listen and be a good friend. We scatter the seed, and we water, but God brings the increase!

Philip told Nathanael in John 1:46 to “come and see.” Jesus gave the same response in John 1:39, “Come and see.” It took time. Nathanael had questions. People have honest questions. In verse 48, Jesus tells Nathanael, “when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Before Philip thought about Nathanael, Jesus saw him. Before you talk to someone, Jesus sees them. The only thing we can take to heaven with us is people. Who are you talking to and inviting?

You were not created to sit on the sideline.

Church, this is why we are here! You were not created to sit on the sideline. You were created to take the field, to share the Gospel, to press on toward the prize. We were made for this! Get off the bleachers and get in the game!

Contribute to God’s Work

Sunday was such an exciting day at Liberty! I love football season and we started a new sermon series called Get in the Game. The game of football is highly indicative of the Christian life. Most people watch from the sidelines. Few ever really get off the bleachers and get in the game! One of the ways we can take part in God’s work here on earth is to financially contribute to it. You may ask, “Preacher, why should I give tithes and offerings to the local church?” Here are a few reasons for you.

Tithing is biblical. It’s the First Principle. Giving God the first hour of every day, the first day of every week, and the first dime of every dollar is not easy; but, when God is first in your life, everything else falls into place. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” When God is not first in your life, everything is out of order. Jesus is preeminent. God is first in the universe. He can’t accept second. When we tithe, we are saying that Jesus is Lord of all, Lord of everything we have. In Sunday’s sermon we surveyed the many scriptures in the Old and New Testaments about tithing.

Tithing is also simple. What is a tithe? It’s a tenth, or 10%. If God gives 10, you give Him the first and you get to keep the other 9. It’s a great deal! It’s simple math. If a student made $1,000 for the year, the tithe is $100. If a widow on Social Security makes $1,000 a month, or $12,000 for the year, the tithe is $1,200. If a person makes $100,000 per year, an annual tithe is $10,000. Would you rather have a blessed 90% or a cursed 100%?

God can make 90% go further than you can make 100% go. How did He use 12 men, then 120 in the Upper Room, then 3000 at Pentecost to get the Gospel to us and the whole world? He works in ways far beyond what we can ask or imagine! He is supernatural!

Exodus 13:14 says, “So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ that you shall say to him, ‘By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” In the days of Moses, when a sheep had a baby lamb, the father would get a knife and cut its throat. Children would grow up saying, “Dad, we are supposed to be raising animals, but all these years you always kill the firstborn. Why? That just does not make sense!” To which the father would reply, “Son, there was a time we did not have any animals, any land or any money. We used to be slaves. We were in bondage, but God redeemed us and gave us everything we have now.”

In the same way, we need to tell our children, “Mom and Dad were not always a Christian, but God with a mighty hand, redeemed our lives and gave us everything that we have now. Therefore, we gladly give to God.”

When I pay the bills, the tithe is first. It is set aside holy to the Lord, and then comes the rest.

If you’d like to “Get in the Game” and contribute to God’s work by giving to Liberty, we’ve made it easy for you! You can click here to give online, you can give during the offering time on Sundays, or you can text “Libertylive” to 77977.

Would you declare with me that from now on you will put Jesus first in your life?