Woman: Okay, so I’m trying to trust the process here, but I really don’t feel any different.
Man: Like I said, there’s no time like the present. Just be patient.
Woman: Okay. I mean, it makes sense how you’ve described it. I just have a hard time seeing how it’s all going to work out. You know, seeing the end result.
Man: I know what you mean.
Woman: You know, there’s a better way to stack those plates. Do you mind if I…?
Man: Go for it. Wow. You’re pretty good at this.
Woman: It just makes sense to me.
Man: You could do my job.
Woman: Let’s face it. I’ll never be as wise as you.
Man: Wisdom comes at just the right moment. That’s what that cup is for.
Woman: What? Infinite wisdom?
Man: Listen, I’ve got a few things I’ve got to take care of in the back. It looks like you have everything under control out here. Cool?
Woman: Yeah, alright.
Customer: Hi. Are you guys closed?
Woman: You know, I’m starting to think we never are. Come sit down. Let me get you something to drink.
Well, good morning to everybody. Can we give our creative department a big round of applause for the videos that they put together? That is a fantastic five videos that they’ve done for us. And we’re going to make that available online for everybody, if you want to watch the whole segment together. I also want to give a big shout-out to Station 400. They allowed us to come in and film this video there, and we were there quite a few times. And so, if you go to Station 400, please let them know that you go to Grace Community Church, and you appreciate the fact that they let us come in and film our video there. And then, tip them really big and tell them you love them, okay? Let’s do that.
And I also want to welcome those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We are glad that you’re watching, and hope these messages speak to you.
We’re ending the series “Drink.” It’s been a five-week series, and before I do anything, or go any further, I want to make sure that everybody’s back up to speed in what we’re doing. I assume that in every church service there’s at least a visitor. Which means, if you’re walking in right now and you’re going, “We’re in week five? I’m going to be as lost as a ball in high weeds.” Trust me. You’re not going to be. I will bring you up to speed. Let me put you at ease. At rest. Maybe you missed a couple of the sermons during this series. I want to bring everybody back up to speed so that everybody knows what’s going on.
What we’ve been doing in this series has been looking at how the four cups of the Passover meal represents core transformations God has for our lives. Now, if you’re new you may be like, “What’s four cups? Passover meal? Whatever?” Let me unpack that for everybody so everybody’s back up to speed as to what we’re doing.
When I went to Israel, along with many other things that I saw and learned, and a lot of the Bible just sort of came to light as I went, because you know I’ve been reading all this for all these years and then was there and saw it, one of the most dramatic moments for me is when we were in the supposed Upper Room. If you go to Israel, you’ll realize some things are like “They think Jesus was here.” Other places are like, “Well, we don’t know. This is like the traditional site.” So, you’re always sort of trying to figure out exactly what’s going on. We were in this place called the Upper Room, and for some reason we got talking about Passover.
And Shira, who was our tour bus leader, I was sort of talking to her on the side. And maybe somewhere along the way in reading I had read about Passover, and the way the Jewish people did it. But for whatever reason I didn’t remember it. And so, as we were talking about that, she started telling me what the Passover meal, or the Seder dinner, was, and all the different things that went on. And I think that we got on that because we were talking about the Last Supper.
There is a real scholarly debate, robust debate, as to whether or not Jesus, when we had the Last Supper with His disciples, was He in fact doing a Passover dinner, or was it before Passover. It seems like the synoptics that Matthew, Mark, and Luke sort of insinuate that He was. Where John sort of insinuates that maybe it wasn’t. And so there’s a robust debate as to what was going on.
We were talking about that. You know, I don’t know about you, but when I would think about the Passover meal I think of the little cup of grape juice and the gluten-free wafer. That’s what I thought it was. Anyway, she’s telling me, “No. No. No. There’s all this stuff going on. And there’s four cups that they drink during the Passover dinner.”
I’m like, “Four cups? How did I miss that?”
So, I started asking her, “What are the cups about?”
She goes, “Well, the come out of Exodus 6 and when they drink the cup it’s ‘I will’ statements.”
And I’m like, “Oh, that’s great.”
So, it sent me on this long journey of trying to go back and look at the Passover dinner, realizing about these four cups. And the more I read, the more I studied, the more I started realizing that these four cups are the real four core transformations that God wants to do in your and my life.
And I don’t know about you, but when it’s four things, I can remember four things. At like 80 I have a hard time, but four? I can do it. So, can I get an “Amen” that we can remember four things that God wants to do in our life? Right? Amen? Okay, good.
So, I went to Exodus and started going back and studying it, and God says to Moses, “Say, therefore, to the people of Israel…” – This is out of Exodus 6:6-7. He says – “… ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
That first cup, when they drink the cup, they say, “I will bring you out.” They call it the Cup of Sanctification. We could call it the Cup of Salvation. It’s moving out of Egypt, and moving from being lost to found. So, that’s the first cup of the Passover.
Second cup says, “I will deliver you from slavery.” The more I looked at it, the more I was like, “This is ingenious. God gets them out of Egypt, and then in the second cup He’s getting Egypt out of them.” I’m like, “This is cool.” He’s got them out of Egypt. Now, He’s going to deliver them from slavery. And I started thinking, “Man, this is really good stuff.” Because, yes God wants to save us and many Christians drink that first cup, but the problem is that many Christians are still bogged down. And the second cup, they still have not been able to get rid of their yesterdays. They’ve not been able to get rid of the things that they’re enslaved to. And I’m like, “Man, this is only cup number two. There’s more cups to go.”
So, the third cup is the “I will redeem you” cup. It’s like, God saves us, then He gets us passed our yesterdays, and then He redeems us. He gives us back what we were created to do. Who we were created to be. He brings us to redemption.
And then the fourth cup is “I will take you.” I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God. And you shall know that I am the Lord, your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
So, as I studied this, I realized, “Hey, you know what, these are the four things that God wants to do.” God really, genuinely wants to bring people back. He loves people. He wants them to come home. He wants to help them unpack their yesterdays. Then, He wants to restore them and redeem them to where they can start to do the things that He’s called them to do. And then the fourth cup, He specifically says this, “I’m going to then take you to be My people, and I will be Your God and you will know that I am the Lord, Your God.”
Now, I want to unpack this fourth cup to you all, but before I do that I want you to just lean in here and hear me. Some of you all consider me to be your pastor. I’m Pastor Chip to you, and you consider me to be your pastor. I’m asking you, for those of you all who consider me to be your pastor, to really listen to me, because this is a message that is so dear to my heart. Some of you all are new, and you’re still trying to figure out. You’re like, “I don’t know. He’s from Kentucky and he’s a little short. And something he’s not that good. And his jokes are bad. He’s sort of ‘Chip’, but he’s not really ‘Pastor Chip’ yet.” That’s fine. I’m asking you, even if you’ve been coming here for a little bit, just listen to me, because I want to share this. Some of you are brand new and you’re just like, “You’re just a dude, man. I ain’t gonna listen to you at all.” I’m asking you to listen to the dude as well. You showed up here. Listen to dude. Twenty minutes here. It’s all I ask.
So, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to listen to me. This final cup, this cup of “I will take you to be my people” is what all the cups are moving us towards. They’re sequential. They’re moving us towards this final cup. And what I want to do is take just a minute up front to tell you about the final cup, and then what we’re going to do is, at the end, we’re going to unpack some ‘take homes’ practically that we can take out of here, and leave with something differently than when we came in. Sound like a good plan? Everybody with me?
So, let’s talk about this final cup. This finally cup that God has been moving us from lost to found, passed our yesterdays, pulling us to redemption. Here’s the first thing we need to know about this final cup. God isn’t trying to create a person, but a people. This is important, because we’re Americans, and we’re like, “Individual rights.” Everything’s individual. God says here, “I’m going to take you to be My people.” He wants us to be a people that reflect His glory. He’s moving us to the point of where now we’re a people.
I always say that what God wants is a church that is an angled mirror. What He wants us to do is He wants us to reflect into the world, and He wants us to reflect the world to Him. Jesus says it this way, in Matthew 5:16, He says, “Let your light so shine before the world so that people can see the good things that God’s doing in you. So that they will glorify your Father, which is in Heaven.” We’re an angled mirror.
You know, people ask me all the time, they go, “Chip, look around the world today. Marriage is under attack. Family is under attack. People are hating on each other. I mean, have you been on University at five o’clock in the afternoon, man? I mean, there’s no community going on there. It’s like all about individuals.” Right? People ask, “Why is there such an attack? Why is there so much?”
Listen to me. This is so important, because we hear it all the time. I’ve heard people give all these different answers. I’m going to tell you why. There is an enemy that does not want Gods people to be people. And what he does is he tries to get us hating each other, and not wanting to be with each other, and fighting with one another so that we won’t be a people. Because he knows that if we’re a people that start to reflect the glory of God, what happens is cities start to change. Communities start to change.
Jesus knew this. He prayed in John 17, His high priestly prayer, He said, “Father, what I want…” – In verse 21 of John 17, he says – “Father what I want is I want them to be one as We are one.” I want them to be in unity, Father, just like We are. Your people. So that the world may see and believe. And like, if that wasn’t enough, two verse later in verse 23, he says the same thing again. He says, “Listen, Father, I want them to be one so that world will know. So that people will come to believe.” What the Devil doesn’t want from you and me is to be a people. He wants to fracture. He wants us to get separated. He wants us to hate people. He wants us to not like people, because the last thing he wants us to be is a people.
Now, Paul says it this way...
Now, I want to be up front to those listening on the mobile app and internet, you need to understand this. I’m reading out of a renegade translation here. It’s called The Message, okay? It’s by Eugene Peterson. So, make a note here. This is from The Message, but I love the way it’s phrased.
This is what Paul says about you me and me. He says, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we’re living for.”
Everything we’re looking for is found in Christ. He says, “And long before we ever…” – Long before we first heard – “…of Christ and got our hopes.” Before any of that. Before anybody ever heard of Jesus, or anything like that – “God (He) had His eyes on you and me (on us) and had designs on us for glorious living.” God had a plan. God had a purpose that the us, the you and me, people, would live glorious lives reflecting all of the things, and all of our lives together, what God does. He says part of the overall purpose that He’s working out in everything, in everyone.
God has this plan that He want to do something with you and me. He wants to move us from lost to found. He wants to get us passed our yesterdays. He wants to redeem us, and then he wants us to be a people that reflect His glory. Long before we ever heard of Christ, long before our hopes ever got up, God had plans for you and me to be a people to do something great. And this last cup is all about being a people.
Now, this is where it gets a little tough for everybody. If you know my heart, you know me well, I’m not, as a general rule, maybe if I don’t get enough sleep maybe I’m a little bit, but as a general rule I’m not snarky and I’m not negative and I’m surely not a critical type of person by nature. But I may step a little on your toes here. It may get a little rough. So, just hold on. Get on your asbestos pants and get ready to ride here. It’s going to be good. Okay?
God’s not creating a person. He’s creating a people. Secondly, and this is huge, He doesn’t want us to attend church, He wants us to be the church. Let me unpack that. This is where I told you, if I’m your pastor, or maybe just Chip. Maybe not Pastor Chip. Maybe just The Dude. Hear my heart here. I can’t tell you how many people who come to Grace Community Church, that have hugged me at the Hub, and shook my hand, or I’ve had a cup of coffee with, or I’ve had a phone call with, or an email exchange, who have said to me, “Chip, I have been hurt by church. I have been bruised by religion. I’ve been hurt.”
A big reason of why that is is because we don’t know the difference between attending and being. Especially in the South. It’s like people go, “Do you attend church?”
“Yeah, man, I attend church.”
That whole logic is flawed from the get go.
Church is not this building. Church is not these walls. Church is people. It’s you and me. We are the church. We don’t attend church. We are the church. And what happens is we get that confused. And you see people that go, “Do you attend church?”
They go, “Yeah, I attend church. I’m a church attender.”
“Okay. When’s the last time that you went out and reached out to somebody?”
“Well, I don’t do… I just attend church.”
“No. No. No. But we don’t do that. When’s the last time you led somebody to Jesus?”
“Oh, we don’t…I don’t know. I’ve never done that.”
See, we’re attending church, but we’re not being the church. And because we’re attending church we’re hurting people all around. You can see it. There’s people that are just absolutely crushed by what people like me have done to people like you. So, I want to show you a difference here between “attenders” and “be-ers.” And I know I’m going to step on some toes here. I’m not trying to. I just want you to listen to me, and understand it’s coming from a heart of love.
First of all, if you’re an attender of a church, you’re a consumer. If you want to be the church, you’re a contributor. And there’s a big difference. A lot of people are consumers. They come in like, “I want this. I like this. I want it to be like this. I want it to look like this. The air conditioners too hot. The air conditioners too cold. The seat’s not comfortable enough. The pastor tells bad jokes. He’s too short. He’s not good.” All this stuff, you’re a consumer at this point. You’re there to get what it is that you want out of the experience. You’re attending church.
But when we are being the church, which is what God wants us to be. He said, “I want to take you to be My people. I’m going to show you that I’m God. You’re going to know that I’m God.” He says what happens is you move to be a contributor when you’re being the church. You’re trying to figure out how can we encourage one another to love and good works. The writer to the Hebrews in chapter 10, “How can we serve one another? How can we reach out?” This is part of the difference between attending and being.
Another part is if you’re attending you want to be entertained. You want to enjoy it. “I like to come to church and enjoy something, and if I didn’t like the music, or I didn’t like this… It didn’t do anything for me.” We should be coming to church, if we want to be the church, to be equipped. That’s why we come and gather together as the church. We come to get equipped.
If you read Ephesians 4 it says, “God puts apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists in charge of running the day to day activities of the people of God. And they’re there for a reason. (Paul says) They’re there to equip the saints so that they can do ministry.”
You want to know who the doers are? It’s you. I’m with you. We all are doing ministry. It’s my job to help equip, but that’s what we should be here for. Is to be equip. And so often we’re here to be entertained. It’s like if we go to a restaurant, you want a good meal. Everybody wants a good meal. You get a baked potato with a hair in it and it’s like, “Would you please get this thing out of here. That’s nasty. Could you redo my dinner? I didn’t order that that way.” Well, what happens is when we’re attending church, and we’re consumers looking to be entertained, we may not like the food we get every once in a while.
The problem is that a good church is going to give you food, sometimes, that you don’t want to eat. That’s good preaching. I’m going to say, “Amen, Pastor Chip. That’s good preaching.” I’m going to “Amen” myself. Sometimes that’s the way it is.
“I don’t like that. I don’t want to hear about getting outside of myself and getting outside of my comfort zone and going to do something for God. I don’t want to hear about getting about of the boat. I don’t want to hear about suffering. I don’t want to hear about being conformed to the image of Christ. I want you to pump me up, Chip, and tell me some jokes and make me happy.” Then, we’re attending church.
Another one is when you attend church you’re worried about tending the aquarium rather than being fishers of men. Come one, now. That’s a good line right there. Are you asleep? The internet people are going wild. They’re like. “Woo! Glory!” At least I got them.
But this is the deal, God has not called you and me to be attenders. He’s called us to be the church.
Thirdly. This is huge. This is why the cup exists. This is why the church exists. If we aren’t doing something beyond us, we’ll never be satisfied, ever. See, you all know this by nature. Come on, let’s be honest here. Let’s be honest. We all go, “Man, if I can just get that car then I’ll be happy. If I can just get that house. Get a little bit more room. Get these kids in separate rooms so they don’t act like demons at night.” Then we’d be happy. “If I can just get this job. If I can just get married. If I can just get this right, I’ll be happy.” We’re just chasing our tail all the time, and when we get it we’re not happy.
My kids are great. They’re like a microcosm of the world. I should have never bought them a computer to put in the kitchen. They get in front of that computer and it’s amazing. They found Amazon.com and they know how to fill up a cart. My little girl, Grace, will be like, “Daddy, look at this cart I filled up.”
I’m like, “Girl, I rebuke that spirit in the name of…” Hey, the demon of materialism got into my kids, you know? You’re like, “Amen, the pastor’s kids. We know about them.” Anyway, my little boy, Jack, he’ll be like, “Daddy, if I can just get this Nerf gun.” And I’m like thinking, “Why in the world would I get you a Nerf gun. All you’d do is shoot all the other five kids around the house.” It’s like Clint Eastwood, Dirty Harry, around my house.
“Dad, if I can just get this gun, man, I’ll be happy. I’ll make my bed everyday. And I’ll clean the bathroom…”
And I’m like, “You lying little…,” because you know as soon as they get it, they’re going to want something else. And that’s the way we are. God knows you and me. He knows that to live a fulfilled life that we can’t do it within ourselves. It has to be beyond us. He knows that, and that’s why He creates a people. He creates a people that want to make a difference together with people that want to make a difference so that they can go out and make a difference. And it’s like when we’re doing that stuff, that is when we’re fulfilled.
Listen, smartest guy in the world at the time, his name was Solomon, this is what he says in Ecclesiastes, “Again I saw a vanity under the sun. I saw meaninglessness. I saw that absolutely some of it was no good.” And here’s what he says it was, “This is a vanity under the sun.” He says, “One person…” – Just one. Not five. Not ten. One person. Just one dude alone. He doesn’t have any anybody else. – “…He has no other.” – There’s nobody else. He’s one person alone. That’s it. Just one. – “He didn’t have a son. He didn’t have a brother. He has nobody. Yet there is no end to all of his toil. And his eyes are never satisfied with riches.”
In other words, this one guys doing all this work, he’s doing all this toil, he’s doing all these things, he’s got everything anybody could want, but he’s not satisfied. He’s not satisfied, because you cannot be satisfied unless it gets beyond you. Jesus didn’t say, “Go find your life and then you’ll be good.” He says, “Lose your life and find it in Me, and you’ll be good.” Our life is found in Christ. With God. That’s where our life is found. And God knows that. He creates a people. He creates a church so that we can go out and do things together to make a difference. And when we’re attending church, and when we’re not realizing that we’re called to be a people, what happens is we lose that sense of fulfillment. And what happens is we get nasty, and we get ugly.
Many of you all have been around, and I’m not being negative towards anybody. I’m just being honest here. I’m sharing my heart. God wants you to have a better life than what you’ve had. He wants you to really enjoy life. He wants you to be a part of something that He’s created. And what He wants you to do is He wants you to drink these cups. He wants you to move from lost to found. He wants you to unpack your yesterdays. He wants to show you that He’s got a plan and a purpose for you. And He wants you to be a part of His people that are doing something great for the glory of God. That’s what He wants for all of us.
Now that I’ve laid that out, let’s get real here. I call these the take home sections. If you’ve got your bulletin, or a pad, or your phone, or whatever you take notes on, this is the place where you take notes. This is the place where you can write them down. These are like the “make a difference in your life” type of stuff to take home.
Here’s the first one. Churches the highest stakes game in town. Listen to me, not this building, not Grace Community Church, not Chip Bennett. Church. You and me. What we do is the highest stakes game in town. There’s a Heaven, and there’s a Hell. What we do is the most important thing that there is. That’s why the church gets so messed up. That’s why you see people fractured out and hurt and everything else, because the last thing the Enemy wants is for us to be a people. Highest stakes game in town.
Listen to what the apostle Paul said. He says this to the Ephesian elders. He’s on his way to go to Rome to hear what his sentence is going to be as a person, and as he calls them together here’s what he says to them. This is incredible. He says, “My life is worth nothing to me (nothing) unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.” Paul gets it. He says it doesn’t make a difference what house a got. Doesn’t make a difference what neighborhood I live in Lakewood Ranch. It doesn’t make a difference where I live in Sarasota. Don’t make a difference how big my boat is. Don’t make a difference what job I got. None of that matters. Nothing matters unless I’m using my life and everything I got and all of my resources to finish the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus.
I want you to lean in here, and those of you listening via the mobile app and the internet, I want you to hear this, because this is important. Each and every one of you has an assignment for the Kingdom of God. You say, “Oh, Chip, we just want you to be the one that’s assigned.” That’s not the way it works. Every single one of you has a calling of God on your life to do the things God has called you to do.
That’s why this is the highest stakes game in town. This is why church reflecting Gods glory is the most important thing we can be about. My life’s worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord. And listen to what the work is. This is incredible. If this doesn’t get you excited, then I don’t know what will. Listen to what he says here. He goes, “The work of telling others the good news about the wonderful grace of God.”
How many people in this town need to hear the Good News? How many people in this town need to know that Gods grace is wonderful? That He reaches down to us, that don’t deserve it and couldn’t earn it, and He send His Son to save us. We were just on our way away from God and He’s come and brought us back. I mean, what a message that is. What a truth that is. And we get all caught up in telling everybody how to do this and how to do that. How they ought to live, and how the ought to vote. And how they ought to do this and everything else. And we call that religion. And we call that church. God says, “Listen, I got a task for you. I got a task for My people.” And nothing else matters. What matters is that we go tell others about the good news about the wonderful grace of God. And as we’re going and doing that, our lives are being transformed, and we’re walking in all the fulfillment in the world.
Man, am I connecting? Y’all are quiet. I mean like everybody’s like, “I’m leaving this church.”
Second, when we lose our way we don’t know our “why.” Listen to me here. This is really important. This is huge. When we lose our way we don’t know our “why.” If you don’t know why we’re doing something you lose your way. People say, “Hey, you got that big sign there when you walk through that says ‘Grace Community exists to reach the unchurched people by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ.’ That’s a big sign, Chip. Why’d you put the same sign in the offices?” Because I know that if we lose our “why” we lose our way.
Let me explain this to you. If you’re reading the Book of Luke, and you get to the end of Luke, you might not know it when you’re reading the Bible, because you’ve got Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and then Acts, but Luke and Acts were written together. They are a compendium volume. In literary terms we call them a diptych. That’s what they are. They are together. They are to be read together. At the end of Luke, it’s sort of like tension. He’s like, “Hey, I want you to stay in Jerusalem until you’ve been clothed with power from on high.” It’s like, “You gotta stay there.” It’s like, you know, when you’re watching a good T.V. program and the program ends and you’re like, “I can’t wait for the next one.”
I sort of date myself here at 46 years old, I used to watch Batman, you know? Like, the real one. They’d hit each other and it’d be like “Bam!” and “Poof!”, and all that stuff. With Adam West and that deal? And every Batman, if you remember, Batman would be like snakes around him and somebody getting ready to hang him and getting ready to shoot him and it’s be like, “Come back next week. Same Bat-time. Same Bat-channel.” You’re like trying to get to the next week. I want to know what happens. He always won, but you still had to get there.
So, Luke leaves us sort of hanging. What’s going to go on? There going to be in Jerusalem, clothed with power? What’s going on? Well, it picks up in Acts 1. Jesus is talking to them. He’s like, “Hey listen (hey says), when the Spirit of God comes on you, you’re going to be My witnesses. You’re going to go to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world. That’s your ‘why.’ That’s what you’re going to do.”
Well, in Acts 2, it happens, man. The Holy Spirit falls on them, preaching a great message. Three thousand people come to the Lord, and everything is hunky dory, and everything. And if you’re reading the Bible, which you should be reading the Bible right, you should be expecting to hear about some Judea, and Samaria, but you don’t. They hunker down. They hunker down and they’re singing Kumbaya. They got the acoustic guitars… they didn’t have acoustic guitars, but you know what I’m saying. They had acoustic guitars, and they’re doing the stuff. Passing the wafers and hanging out and everything. Come and you hear so many sermons preached on that. “That’s what it’s supposed to look.” No. No. No. No. I’m not saying everything they were doing there was wrong, but they’re not doing what they were supposed to be doing. Their “why” was to go into Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the world, and they hunkered down in Jerusalem.
By about chapter six you start seeing some fissures going on. People mad. They’re not getting the distribution. Some of the Hellenist people who can speak Greek and are Jewish, they’re feeling like they’re getting left out, and all this stuff. You start seeing something’s going on. And then, in chapter seven, Stephen, they throw rocks at him. I got to say “rocks at him,” because if I say “he got stoned” some of y’all will be thinking about Colorado. They threw rocks at him, and they killed him.
And then, Luke tells us this in chapter eight. He says, “Saul…” – This is before he was Paul. He says, “Saul approved of his execution.” – Luke tell us – “And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem.”
This next sentence is huge. This next line is huge, because Luke ain’t dumb. He knows what he’s writing. He says, “And they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.”
Luke’s telling you, God had to raise up a Saul of Tarsus to get the church out doing what He had called it to do in the first place, which was to go. So often in our lives when we lose our “why”, we lose our way. We are a hospital for people who are in need. We are not a courtroom to judge the people that walk in.
See, I’m convinced of something. I’m convinced that church done right is the greatest institution that God ever gave to humanity. But I’m also equally convince that church done wrong is the worst thing that can ever be unleashed on people, because it does great damage to people. When we lose our “why” we lose our way.
And thirdly, everyday we live we’re either a stumbling block or a stepping stone to others in finding Jesus. See, this is serious game here. These cups that we’ve been talking about. These cups:
First cup - Moving from lost to found.
Second cup - Unpacking your bags and your baggage.
Third cup - Getting redeemed.
And this Fourth cup - Being a people.
Everything we do, everything this church does is either a stepping stone or a stumbling block for someone to Jesus. I was praying here for the end of this message, and I hate it when I feel like God wants me to share something that I don’t want to share. It could have been a bad burrito, maybe it was God, but I think it was God speaking to me. I was like, “God, I don’t want to share that.” But I’ll tell you what, I shared this last night and I had a lady come up and grab me and cry on my shoulder and said, “Thank you so much for sharing that, because I needed to know that you didn’t get everything right.”
I’m like, “Honey, just come hang out with. I could show you ‘not right’ 24 hours a day.”
Here’s what happened. It was about a year, year and a half ago. It was when I was working 50 to 60 hours a week trying to pastor this church. I was working a full time job pastoring this church with six kids at home. Some of you are brand new here and you’re like, “You had six kids, man? What’s wrong with you?”
I’m like, “I know. I read the Abraham thing wrong about the seed being like the stars in the sky.” I’m from Kentucky. That’s why I’m real big about preaching the Bible in context now, because I learned the hard way. I’m just kidding.
Anyway, Tom and Annette had come to me. I was tired one night. They were like, “Wanna go to dinner with us?” I didn’t really want to go to dinner, but I like people. So, I was like, “Yeah. I’ll go to dinner with you.” So, we go to the place, and I got all kinds of problems. You’re like, “Yeah, you do. We know you.” Anyway, I have eating problems. I can’t eat garlic. I can’t eat onions. I’m just not a good eater. So, we went to the restaurant, and I ordered my deal. And I’d ordered there before and it came out wrong. I was tired and I think I said, “There’s garlic, or something, in here…”
And she was like, “No it’s not garlic. That’s…”
“Man, I know garlic…”
And I just wasn’t good that night. I wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t like I yelled at her or stood up or threw something. I just wasn’t nice. There’s not a day that goes by, seriously, not a day that goes by that I don’t say, “God, please, if that young lady ever walks in to this church, please don’t let her remember what I did. Please.”
Why do I say that? Because I take what I do seriously. I want people to not stumble. I want people to see our lives as a stepping stone to the Kingdom of God.
So, I’ve done my best to explain these four core transformations that God has for us. Maybe you’re here today and you’ve just never really lived your life for anything other than yourself. Maybe God’s just speaking to your heart, and you’re like, “You know what, I need God in my life. I’ve been doing the life without God. I need to do some life with God.”
It’s not hard to say, “God, I just want to follow You. Forgive me for the things I’ve done. I want to move forward.” Find me, or somebody. A pastor. Somebody with a name badge. We’ll help you out.
Maybe some of you are here today and you’re like, “You know what, I got a bunch of stuff. I got a bunch of baggage I need to unpack.” Let me tell you something. Jesus didn’t get up from the grave so that you could carry that baggage with you for the rest of your life. He got up from the grave so that you could get rid of that baggage.
Some of you may be the third cup. Maybe you’ve sort of moved passed your yesterdays, but you’re still looking for “what’s my purpose.” Bring me back to where I’m sort of at the place where things have been redeemed. Where I’m really able to start doing the things God’s called me to do.
And lastly, and this is where we want to be at Grace Community Church, we want to be Gods people that reflect Him in all the ways that He wants us to reflect Him. Because I believe with all of my heart that if a group of people truly put aside all their little things, and keep their eyes on Jesus, and truly want to serve Jesus, and instead of grabbing for titles we grab for towels to wash feet. Instead of figuring out what we can get, we figure out what we can give. If we do those things like that, we can make a difference in this community. In Sarasota. In Bradenton. And we can watch God move. And as God is doing that stuff, I promise you, your life will be the most fulfilled as it has ever been when you’re a part of Gods people doing something that He’s called you and me to do.
So, I ask us as a church, let’s drink. Let’s drink and let’s drink deeply. And let’s believe that God can do great things in our lives.
Let’s pray. Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You right now. I thank You for Your goodness and Your mercy. I thank You, Lord, not only for the people in this service, but for all the people that come to Grace Community Church. Lord, of the people that watch via our mobile app and internet. It goes as far as Africa, Lord. Lord, I pray for every single one of them that listen to this. God, I pray that in their heart they would know that You want to do four major things. You want to get them out of Egypt. You want to get Egypt out of them. You want to fully redeem them and give them plans and purposes. And then, You want to use us, Lord, to reproduce ourselves and to other people. And just like the video, where Sky looks and Edwin comes in, and she realizes that she’s now part of a process to help Edwin walk through those four cups.
God, help us to be a place that reflects your glory like that, for Your honor. So, Lord, I pray right now, as we just pause for a moment, that you would speak gently and kindly to Your people. Move on their hearts, God. Speak to them which cup they need to drink, and move us as a church to a place that’s drinking from the fourth cup. That we are Your people to do Your plans. That is when we truly know how much God You are.
So, Lord, I pray that as we leave today that You’d watch over us and protect us. I pray that You would lead and guide us. I pray, God, You’d bring us back safely to when we meet again. And I pray, Lord Jesus, that You would speak to our hearts to invite friends and family and neighbors to be here as we kickoff a new sermon series next week. “Shaken.” Lord, we love You. We praise You and we honor You for what You’re doing in our lives, and in the lives of our church.
In Jesus name. And everybody said, “Amen.”
Can you give the Lord a big hand clap, and tell Him you love Him? God bless everybody. Have a great weekend.