There are many paths we take throughout our walk of life. During our walk, there are moments when we can feel God's presence. We can see Him moving, answering our prayers, opening doors, making our lives flourish abundantly. There are other times where maybe He's meeting us when we need Him the most, taking us from the valley to the mountaintop and showing His power and victory in our lives.
But, what about the moments when God seems silent? It may seem as if this in-between path lasts forever. How do we stay faithful when everything is still? It may be easy to look for God when He's speaking to us and it may be easy to live for God when we've been fulfilled, but what do we do in-between?
Well, good morning to everybody. Everybody doing well? Good. It's good to see you. We are in a six-week series called "In Between." What I try to do at the beginning of every time I speak, in case somebody's new or maybe you've missed some of the messages, I want to bring everybody back up to speed so that everybody's aware of what we're doing. We're dealing, in this series, with the place that we live the majority of our lives, and it's in the in between. You know, when you just look at life in general. Maybe you're in a relationship right now and you want your relationship to get better, so you live in between where you are right now and where you want it to go. Maybe you can remember back when you were in high school and you just wanted to get done with high school. You lived in the in between there. Some of us live in between being single and wanting to get married. Some of us live in between being married and having children. Some of us live in between putting an acceptance letter out to a school and getting accepted.
That's just where we live. We live in the in between. Spiritually, we do as well. There are those times where God's so real in our lives and I mean it's like we just feel Him and it's so exciting and we love God so much and it's so easy to live for God during those times. Then there's those times where Gods answered prayers and it's like you've been waiting for a long time and God's finally answering those prayers and it's exciting and everything. But, most of us live in the in between. And, quite honestly, in the in between, that's where we have the most difficulty living out our Christian lives. Because, what happens in the in between is we feel like we do all these things, but it just sort of is what it is and there's nothing we can do, there's no magical prayer, there's no magical whatever that we can do. So, we live there and, oftentimes, we get discouraged and we just sort of fall apart in the in between.
So, what we're doing over these six weeks – and this is week five of a six-week series – is we're trying to get some tools to put in our toolbox so that we can adequately live the abundant life even in the in between. So, that's what we're doing. That's the big idea. And this weekend we're talking about remembering to serve. And I'll sort of explain what I mean by that as we get into it. But, before I do that, I don't know if any of you all play this game called "Mastermind." I love it. It's a little game where you have these – from the looks of the audience, nobody knows what I'm talking about. So, just bear with me. It's a game I like. Just hold on for a minute. For those watching via the internet and mobile app, just bear with us here.
Here's the deal. So, you put these codes together and nobody can see the code and you have to try to guess what that secret code is. It's a fun game. It's really cool. So, let me put it this way for you. How about this: you're reading a book and there's two submarines that are trying to find each other in the ocean and they're trying to get each other. They have a little bit of the code, but they don't have the full code. And what they're looking for is that little extra little bit of something that will fill in all of the other things that they're missing.
Or maybe like this: maybe some of you all watch Survivor. This really happens in my house and I'm not joking. I think Survivor's on Thursday night – forgive me if I'm wrong. I don't watch pagan TV like my wife and my kids do. But, the deal is every Thursday night, I think it is, my daughter, Grace, goes to my shower and showers and then she comes out with her wet hair and lays in the bed with Mindy on my pillow so it's soaked and they watch Survivor. A bunch of pagans. Going to Hell.
So, the deal is that one day I walked in and they had these puzzles they were doing on an island and two teams were fighting against each other. They're trying to win. You could tell if they got the one piece exactly where it needed to be, everything else would fall into place. That's what we're going to do over the next two weeks. Because, I believe you could pull me aside and say, "Hey, Chip. I listened to the idea of Psalm 73, the need to reorient. I know we need to recommit to our intimacy and connection with God. I know we need to reread Scripture. I know we need to make sure that we're people of prayer. We're doing all those things. I'm doing all those things. But still, in the in between, I'm struggling."
And what I want to do over the next two weeks is give that little piece of the puzzle that connects everything else in so that living our lives in the in between we can start living out the abundant life that God wants us to live. And, to do that, we're going to deal with something that gets beyond our self, the individual, and gets into others. This week, we're going to talk about remembering to serve.
So, to do that, we're going to look at an Old Testament passage which you all tend to like that I do. I promise you next time next year I'm going to have me a little fireplace up here so I can do my fireside chats as I preach. That's going to happen. But, before I do that, I want to just take a minute and I hope that you will hear me on this and, if you are watching via the mobile app and the internet, I want you to hear this as well about our church. I want to take a minute here and brag on you all. I'm not doing it to take away from God or His glory, it's all His glory and it's all about Him. But, I just want to remark a few things.
First of all, I'm going to be talking about serving today and I've never been a part of a church that serves like Grace Community Church. I want you to listen to this. We had more people show up to the Thanksgiving dinner than we had jobs for people to do. That never happens at a church. Ever. We had over 100 volunteers that showed up to feed. Not only that, we asked you for $27,500 to do the three things that we're doing. One of them was the feeding for Thanksgiving. We figured we'd spend about $8,000-9000 on what we were doing for that. And here's the deal: you all didn't just give $27,500, you gave over $30,000. And here's the deal. Listen to this: the day of Thanksgiving, Shirley McArthur called to our church and said, "Hey, listen. Somebody was going to donate and give 120 turkeys that we were going to have, and they didn't come through. We're short 120 turkeys."
Because you all gave the extra money, because you all went the extra mile, because you're such an awesome church, we had the money to be able to buy those turkeys so that people could have Thanksgiving dinner on top of all the other things that we did. And I just want to say, as the pastor of Grace Community Church, this church rocks and you all rock. So, give God the glory for that, because that's awesome. So incredibly cool. And on top of it, when we had Thanksgiving – and I hope that some of you all are not in a turkey coma, because I really do have a good message and I want you to pay attention today. I just wanted to let you know that during Thanksgiving, me and my family all gave thanks for being able to just have the honor and the privilege to be able to be the pastor of this church, because it is just so awesome to be able to get to do what I get to do. I just want to say, publicly to all of you all, I love everybody here at Grace. You all are an awesome group of people and we are doing some incredible things in this community and changing peoples lives for the better. It's just awesome to be a part of this.
So, I want to say that and we'll get to the message here. So, we're going to talk about serving today. I'm going to take a passage of Scripture that many of you all probably have read. Many of you may have heard a sermon on it. Many of you may have taught a lesson on it at some point. But, I'm hoping that whether you've heard the passage or you've not heard the passage – either one – I'm hoping that I'll be able to share something today that will inspire you a little bit to want to be able to serve in the in between. Because I'm convinced, with all of my heart, that where God's power and victory and anointing is unleashed more in our lives is when we are serving and giving to others.
So, let's talk about that during the in between. In the 1 King 16, at the very end of that passage, we meet a gentleman named "Ahab." Ahab, it's not a good way that we meet him. We're told that he's the worst king that's ever come in Israel. In other words, whatever he's doing is worse than everybody that's ever come before him. How many know that's not what you want written in the Bible about you? You know? It's just not a good thing. So, he's so bad. He goes and marries a Canaanite, a Phoenician. He marries a woman named "Jezebel." It's like the Bonnie and Clyde of the Old Testament. I mean, they're just not a good deal. And they worship Baal. Not only do they worship Baal, but they erect poles to Asherah. That's like Baal's girlfriend or cohort. Baal's supposed to be the fertility and storm God. And this is an Agrarian society. So, what they're hoping is is that Baal will provide the rain and provide all the stuff because they need the agricultural stuff to be able to eat.
So, it's a bad deal. In fact, it says that it angered God so much that God was more angry at Ahab than He was at anybody that had ever come before him as a king. That's just not good stuff. I mean, it tells you he's no good and that God's mad. You do not want that in the Bible in a couple of sentences. It's just not a good way to start off your kingship, if you know what I'm talking about.
Well, in typical fashion, when a king's sort of not doing the right thing, God sends prophets along to sort of reprimand the king. So, Elijah is called by God to go tell the king, "Hey, listen. You're doing all these things that are wrong. It's not going to rain at all. I mean, you're worshiping this god that's supposed to give you rain, but it's not going to rain because Yahweh is the one who provides the rain, not Baal. So, it's going to be a drought, it's going to be ugly, it's going to be no good."
How many of you know sometimes when you drop the Word of God like that as a prophet you need to go run after that? You know? That's why I take off down the hallway when I get done preaching. But anyway, God tells Elijah, "Here's what I want you to do. You need to get out of the way because they're going to come after you."
So, He sends him to a brook. In Hebrew it would be a "wadi." He's there because there's a drought. So, he has the water that he needs at this brook and he's there for a while. And every day in the morning, a raven, an unclean bird, will come and give him some food. And in the evening, the raven will come and give him so food. So, he's got his food and he's got his water and he's on the run from a really bad situation of Ahab and Jezebel.
So, since there's a drought going on and since there's no water, eventually the brook dries up. It's at that point that we're going to enter the story here in 1 Kings 17:8.
It says, "Then the word of the Lord came to him..."
And I just want to make a note here. Oftentimes, God's word will come to you and me when the brook has dried up. I want you to remember that because, so often, we're like, "Where's God at? What's He doing? Where's He at?"
He's never early. He's never late. He's just always on time. Okay? "God, where are you at? It's getting lower. It's getting lower."
The word of the Lord came when the brook ran dry. Here's what the Word of the Lord says to Elijah. He says, "I want you to arise and go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon and dwell there."
Now, this is interesting because Jezebel is from Sidon. That's where she's from. So, it's sort of a nice juxtaposition here of the queen, so to speak, of Israel that's worshiping the false God and then you have a Canaanite widow that we're going to meet that ends up meeting the real God. So, you've got the high and the low. That's the way God rolls. It's just the way He does.
So, "'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there."
Now, to any good religious Jewish man, they would not want to live in a Canaanite land. That's just not a good place to be. God says, "Go dwell there."
I want to let you know that God has called you and me also to dwell in the lands where people are not knowing God and they're maybe pagans. He wants us to reach those people and shine a light. So often we want to get away from those areas. God sends him right into that area. He says, "I want you to go dwell there because I have commanded a widow there to feed you."
This is a huge, important part of the story here. The widow has been approached by God. This is a Canaanite widow. This is one that would probably have been worshiping Baal. God comes to her and speaks to her. We don't know how. We don't know if it was a dream. We don't know if it was an audible voice. We don't know if it was somebody who came. We have no idea how God communicated to her, but what He did is He communicated to her that somebody was going to come that was a prophet of God and she was going to feed that person. That is a very important insertion here in the text. Because, if you don't know this, then the text doesn't make any sense as we go through. This is really important to remember.
Now, I assume here – and it's my assumption – that God probably spoke to this widow when she had a little bit more food than she does when Elijah actually shows up. So, it probably made a little sense to her at the time when she heard the word, "Hey, you're going to feed this guy."
"Okay. I'll feed this guy. I'll do this."
And it also sort of gestures towards something else. Oftentimes, people ask me, "Hey, what happens to people that don't know about God and worship other gods and all of this stuff?"
We have a passage here in the Bible where God is adequately capable of revealing Himself even to people that are in dark areas. Okay? He's a good God.
So, "'Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.' So he arose..."
Notice here he does what God says.
"He arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks."
Now, you and me probably read gathering sticks and we think what was she going to do with them. Well, we're going to find out. She's taking those sticks to build a fire so she can make some food. That's what she's there for. Although I will tell you, I always love it when the Bible sort of mentions sticks or trees or anything like that. It makes me think a little bit more when I'm reading these stories because we're going to find out these sticks that she's using – that obviously came from a tree – depending upon the way she views the Word of God and whether she does what God says will become sticks that provide her life or sticks that provide her death. I think they all gesture towards a tree that our Lord and Savior hung on that provides death or life for you and me in our lives.
But, she's gathering there some sticks.
"And he called to her and said, 'Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.'"
Now, again, they're in a drought. That would be sort of rare for a man who's obviously from a different place, looks at this widow and says, "Hey, can you go get me some water?"
The story continues. "And as she was going to bring it," – so, she's listening – "he called to her and said, 'Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.'"
Now, this is where the story gets really good. Lean in here, because there are a lot of little moving parts going on this story and I want to make sure that we all get what's going on. So, here we go now. We've been told that the lady, if you remember, was commanded by God to serve somebody. So, that's an important note to remember. So, Elijah roles in and says, "Can you give me some water? And hey, can you also bring me a morsel of bread in your hand?"
"And she said, 'As the Lord your God lives," – now see, she realizes that he serves a different God, but she also realizes that that God's the one that's spoken to her.
She says, "'As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked,'"
In other words, "I'm not prepared for this.
"'I only have a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug.'"
"I've just got a very, very small amount of something to make. In fact, now, what I was doing is I was gathering a couple of stick so that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die."
In other words, "You've shown up where I've only got a little bit left. Just a little bit left to where I can feed myself and my son."
Now we have a son that's involved. It's not just a woman anymore. It's a little boy. She says, "You've showed up and all I've got is a little bit. In fact, the reason I'm gathering these sticks is so that I can go home and build a fire and take the little bit of flour and little bit of oil that I've got and I'm going to make me a cake for me and my son and then we're done. There's nothing else. It's over and we're going to die. It's a drought. It's a famine. It's bad. It's ugly. It's no good. This is what's going on in my life right now."
She says that to Elijah. Elijah says to her, "Don't fear."
Now, let's be honest here. Even though we're recording this, most of us would be like, "Yeah right, dude. I've got just a little bit of flour and a little bit of oil and you're telling me not to fear?"
Elijah says, "Don't fear. You don't have any fear at all. You don't need to fear. You don't need to fear at all. God has already talked to you about some stuff. He's already told you what He's going to do. He's already spoken a word to you. You don't have to have any fear at all. Now, here's what I want you to do. I don't want you to fear."
You know she's fearing, right? I want you to nod your head. She's fearing, okay?
"Here's what I want you to do: go do as you've said."
In other words, "I want you to go make that cake that you're talking about. But, here's the deal: first, make me a little cake of it and bring it to me."
Now, if you don't know the story that you've just read that God has commanded this woman to serve the prophet, you might read this and think, "Man, what an arrogant dude this guy is, man. She's got just a little bit of flour and a little bit of oil and the old prophet's saying, 'Go make me a cake first.' That means there's no more cake. You know? There's no more bead."
He says, "Go make me a little cake of it and bring it to me. Then, afterward, make something for yourself and your son."
Now, you know what she's thinking. She's thinking, "If I go make you a little bit of a cake, there ain't going to be no cake for me and my son, right?"
That's what she's thinking. But, listen to me. This is so important that we get. So important. She's about to serve Elijah in between. But Elijah has been told by the Lord that there is a woman that has been commanded to serve him. Elijah is serving this lady by allowing her to serve him. See, he's not being arrogant. He's not being any of that. He realizes God has spoken to this woman. "Hey, you're going to serve this."
And he knows for her to receive the blessing of God she's got to serve. He's not being arrogant; he's not being prideful. He is serving her by giving her the opportunity to do what God has told her to do. Now, this is important for all of us here, because this is huge. We don't do the Thanksgivings and the First Fridays and the Christmas on Mains just so that we can grow a church and have a bigger church and be more popular in the community. You may think we do that. If you don't know us maybe that's what you think. I can assure you the reason we provide these opportunities is because we know, as a staff, that by providing everybody here an opportunity to serve someone else, that's where God's power and anointing and victory gets unleashed in peoples lives.
That's why Paul says to the Philippians, "No, I'm glad that you gave. Not because I want your money. I don't want it at all. I want the blessing that you get for giving. That's the whole deal."
This serving and giving stuff – and I'm not even talking about money here. I'm just talking about time and effort and whatever. I'm talking about when we do that, we unleash some stuff that there's no other thing in the in between that unleashes God's power and victory in our lives like serving and giving. He says, "So, here's what I want you to do. I want you to go make me a cake first and bring it to me. Do that. Then afterward, you can make something for yourself and your son."
And here's the question: would you have done it? We've got one Christian in here. Maybe. Think about it for a minute. This is the last little bit of food you've got. See, it's tough sometimes to trust God. It's tough sometimes to walk this life of faith. See, but it's in serving and giving that we can trust God. It's in serving and giving that we have faith. You have faith when you start putting others before yourself. Not very culturally acceptable in our world today to put others first, but this Biblical way to put others first.
He goes, "Make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel,"
Every time I have done this message – and I go through these messages during the week to prepare them – every time I got to this passage, and I'm not normally this way at all, those of you all who know me know this, but it's like I got goose bumps. Because, here's the deal. Listen: Elijah is serving the lady and the lady's getting ready to serve him and the word of God shows up. That's when it shows up. He says, "Here's the word of God for you."
"'The jar of flour will not be spent, and the jug of oil will not be empty.'"
Listen: there's so many people in here right now, you go, "Man, I want a jar of flour that won't be spent and I want a jug of oil that won't be empty."
The way that that happens in the in between is when we serve other people, when we give to other people, when we put others first. He goes, "Here's the deal. Here's the word of God for you. The flour you've got, it's not going to go away. And the oil is not going to be empty at all until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth."
This is so cool. Elijah says to the woman, he goes, "You're going to be supernaturally taken care of until the natural course of events comes back into play and then you can go get your food the way you normally do it."
And let me tell you something: when you have tasted of the supernatural elements of God, when you've stepped out of the boat and walked on the water, when you've had nothing and God shows up and provides and you get a little dose of that, all of a sudden things change in your life because you start realizing, "You know what? I really can trust God. I don't have to put me first. I can put Him first. He's got my back every single time. Every time."
So he says, "'Until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.' And she went and did as Elijah said."
Notice here everybody's doing what God has asked them to do.
"And she and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah."
What a cool story, huh? I love these stories. These Old Testament stories are just awesome. Well, this is where we sort of now take what we read and we sort of bring it home and get real practical in our lives. So, get out a sheet of paper. On the bulletin there's a thing called "notes." That's not where you play tic-tac-toe with your wife or spouse. It's where you take some notes or whatever. Or if you've got an iPad or a phone or whatever it may be, write these down. These are really important to take home. These are the takehomes. This is the stuff that I want you to take for the week and ponder and pray about and think about and study and take home with you. So, here we go.
First one here is this: where there is a famine of the word, there will invariably be a famine of bread. And "bread" obviously can mean anything that would be sustenance for you and me. I want you to listen to me here for a second: in all of Israel during this famine and drought, not one Israelite was visited by God. You say, "How do you know that?"
Because, in Luke 4, Jesus says so. He says, "The only person God went to was the widow in Zarephath. Because, see, Israel wasn't following God's Word. They were a-whoring after other gods. They were doing everything that they could to try to figure out how to get what they wanted by using other things rather than trusting God for their provision. Where there is a famine in our lives of God's Word and doing what God has asked us to do, there will usually follow some sort of liability in our lives. That's just the way it works.
And here's the deal: at some point, we each have to decide whether we're going to do what God has told us or not. I say this in love and I say this with all the encouragement in my heart. Please listen to me here, because this is important. I am convinced that the church in America is thousands of pounds of Scripture overweight. It's not that we don't know them, it's that we just don't do them.
"So, we need to have some more Bible studies."
Well, why don't we start doing the things that God's told us to do and when we get good at that maybe then we can read some more and study some more and get some more stuff. The reality is this: at some point, each and every one of us has to make a decision as to whether or not we're going to do what God has called us to do. And we find ways around it. We find ways to read our culture into it. We find ways to nuance it. We find ways to bring it down to our level so that we can accept it. But, it is flat out tough when God says, "Put others better than yourselves," we go, "Well, that's not what that really means. It doesn't mean to really turn the other cheek and it doesn't really mean to forgive 70 times 7 and it doesn't really mean to love our enemy, because this is what it really means."
No. It really does mean those things. And the question is are we going to do what God has asked us to do or are we not? Because, in the in between, it's in the serving and the giving to others that is that piece of the puzzle that we're looking for that unleashes all of God's stuff in you and I's lives.
The second point I want to make here is that idolatry is looking to anything else than God for our provision. And let's be honest here. I'll be honest. We all, at some level, have idolatry in our heart. We all, at some level, look to things other than God at times, rather than God, to provide for our needs. We need to be aware of that. We need to be aware that those things that we put our trust in, those things that we put our effort into, those things that we put all that we are into, what they do is they rob us from seeing God as the one who provides for all of our needs and it's so easy to get caught up there, but it's stuff that we do. And we just need to be aware of it. Because, in the in between, what God wants us to do is He wants us to serve and give to others because that requires faith.
That's just tough. Let's be honest. It's tough to serve and give. It's tough sometimes to reach out. I mean, if you had a little bit of flour and a little bit of oil, I suspect most people would not probably be willing to give it to somebody else trusting God that He's going to provide some more flour and oil. I think we'd sort of hunker down. The reality is God says, "No. I want you to trust me. I want you to believe that I can really provide for you. Trust me on this one."
Third. This is great here. God's provision comes through us responding to His Word by giving and serving. Here's the deal – I've pastored long enough in life now to have heard this. You get people who say, "Okay, Chip. If God will do this in my life, then what I'll do is this. Then I'll take care of it."
That's not faith. That's just doing natural things for God. What God wants you to do is to believe that He'll take care of what you have need of in the in between when we decide to serve and to give towards others. It just unleashes stuff in our lives.
Now, this next point here, this is one – you won't – that everybody should jump up and say, "Amen." Okay? I'm not asking you to do that, but you should want to do that. Because, this is huge. Okay? God uses people with very little resources to do great things. Listen to me. God uses shepherd boys with just a few stones to slay giants. He uses young men who were thrown in a pit by his brothers to feed Israel in a famine. He uses fishermen who are just willing to give Jesus his boat and follow him to change the world. He takes a woman that just has a little bit of flour and a little bit of oil and feeds Elijah and her and her son for many days. He takes a boy that just has some bread and fish and feeds five thousand people. That's who God is.
And see, what we do is we try to go, "Well, okay. If I could get all this stuff here together."
God doesn't need your stuff. He just needs what you have. "So, I don't have a lot."
This is what He does. That's what He specializes in. There's nothing miraculous when you could bring everything to the party and you don't need God. It's when you don't have what you need and you say, "God, I'm giving you what I've got. It's not a lot."
God says, "That's the people that I use. I used the people with very little resources to do great things. Because, I'm the big God. I'm the great God. All I want you to do is what is in your hand. Just give me what's in your hand and trust me with it and watch what I'll do."
That's what He wants from you and me. And lastly, and this is huge, let us never forget in the in between, as we're serving and giving, that God reaches those the religious would never think of reaching. Elijah would have never thought about going into Canaanite territory to reach a woman that was a widow. He would have never even though in his mind that God was preparing everybody, all of us, to learn to dwell in the land of people that are not like us. God wants us to reach people. He wants us to do great things. He wants us to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.
Now, listen to this. This is so huge. Because, if you miss this, you're going to miss a huge nugget today for all of us. God took Elijah by the brook to be fed by an unclean bird to prepare him to be fed by an unclean widow. God took Peter up on a roof in Acts 10. Gave him a vision and said, "Peter, see all these unclean animals? Rise and eat," to prepare him to go to Cornelius' house to share the Gospel to the Gentiles. What we need is to drop the religious junk. We need to realize that God has called His people in the in between to serve and to give to the outcasts and the marginalized and those that people who are religious would never think He can reach.
I've had phone calls and letter for me going, "How in the world can you as a church go out First Friday where everybody's drinking beer and take care of their kids? What's Christian about that?"
I'm like, "Everything, baby. Everything."
Because you know what I hope? I hope one day you're at the bounce house and somebody comes up about six Budweisers in and says, "Hey, I need some help."
And you get to stand there and pray with that person and lead them to Jesus. I hope one day that somebody comes out there lost as can be to the mechanical shark and says, "Hey, I need some help."
Because, here's the deal: God has called you and me to reach the community that we're in. We bloom where we're planted. He wants us to reach Lakewood Ranch. He wants us to reach the people that nobody else wants to reach. He wants us to go dwell in the land of Canaan. He wants us to get used to dealing with the unclean stuff. Because, those are the people that He came to die for. Those are the people that He cares about. He cares about everybody – don't get me wrong – but we're okay to deal with certain people. It's certain people we don't want to deal with and God's saying, "Man, I just want to raise up an army that wants to get after it and go meet some people and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and tell people they can come home."
We can be that church, because we're already doing incredible things. So, here's what I'm going to ask you, because we're going to have First Friday this coming Friday and there's going to be a bunch of people that show up. We'll finish out the series and then we'll start on our Christmas series, which is going to be called "Slow Down," by the way. Here's my prayer and what I'm asking you to pray with me between now and Christmas. This is my prayer and I want you to pray with me the same way.
God, during this advent season, during this season where we celebrate the birth of Christ, I'm asking You to help me be like Mary. Birth Christ in me and help me birth Christ to the world. Birth Your Son in me and help me share Your Son to the world. Help me to be a person that is giving and serving during this season. There's so many opportunities to reach so many people. So much stuff between now and Christmas on Main to reach out and to be that light knowing that there are shepherds out there and there's magi out there and there's people that drink out there and there's people that are addicted to drugs out there and there's people that are addicted to all kinds of stuff that live all kinds of ways of life. And what they're looking for and they don't even know it is they're looking for Jesus. Help us to be the ones that show them who Jesus really is. That He meets the shepherds that are unclean and can't go to church because they've touched all the animals. Help us to go find them to celebrate Jesus' birth. Help us to go find some magi occultist people and bring them in and show them who Jesus is. God, help us to want to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.
And I'm here to tell you this: if in the in between you reread and you recommit to prayer and you recommit to intimacy and you reorient and you will remember to serve and I will remember to serve and we all do this together, I'm telling you, it will start to bring an ignition to God's fire and abundance in our lives and you'll find out the in between can be even as satisfying, if not more so than getting to where you want to be and that God can do it in the now just as much as He can do it out there.
Amen? Let's do it. We weren't born with a silver spoon, but let's be the church that makes a stir. Let's pray.
Dear heavenly Father, I thank You so much for the honor and privilege of being able to share Your Word. Lord, it's a joy to my heart to get up here and read the Bible. I love Your Word, I love You and I love Your people. God, I believe that, going into December, this can be such an incredible moment for Grace Community Church as we live in between. Help us to be people that serve and give and shine that light as bright as we can for Your glory and for Your honor. Lord, help us to be people that on that day when we finally stand before You, we can look around and see the people that we drug past the finish line of faith for Your glory.
So Lord, we love You today. We praise You and we honor You. I pray, God, that as we leave that You would encourage us once again to see the need to serve and the need to give and the need to be the light that You've called us to be in the in between. So, bring us back safely to when we meet again. Watch over us, protect us, lead and guide us. We thank You, Lord, for all that You're doing in our lives and the life of our church and the life of this community. We thank You for it in Jesus' name, and everybody said, "amen." Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.