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Jun, 2023

Together for Expanding Churches

So what are you easily? Are you easily pleased? Or are you easily annoyed? Are you easily patient? Or are you easily impatient? Are you easily excited or are you easily angry? Are you easily offended? Are you easily distracted? Are you easily prone to take lots of naps that you? Yeah, I see those nods. Are you easily prone to order extra bacon everywhere you go? Yeah. Uh What, what are you, what are you easily? And, and maybe today, what we're going to do though is look at one thing that you really do need to easily be one thing that will easily change every moment of your life and it's not just something you need to easily be. It's something you need to easily give. We continue our series today together for good. We actually going to have one more sermon next week to pull everything back together. But this is our last of our 14 values and, and Together For Good is a, is a journey. We've been on looking at the values of a healthy church and, and why do we do that? Why is it important for a church to be healthy? Well, it's important for a church to be healthy because we live in a time that is full of sin and evil and darkness. And even more specifically on a personal level, we live in a world in our own lives that's full of sin and, and stress and difficulty and maybe we could put it another way because we live in a world where they're full of bad. We want to be a church that's together for good. What kind of good? Well, the kind of good that can help us discover the thing that we need to easily be and help us discover the thing we need to easily give. It's, it's a good that transforms and changes every moment of life. Our message today is together for expanding churches and we're going to be looking in Paul's letter to the church in a place called Thessalonica and Paul in this moment of the letter is writing about the return of Jesus Christ and he's writing about how it's going to be sudden, like it, it will take us by surprise. And so in writing about the return of Christ, he's giving Christians some things they need to do to prepare for the return of Christ. So how should we be prepared for the return of Jesus? Well, let's find out Paul writes this, therefore, encourage one another and build one another up. That's how we prepare for the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus is returning. It's not a, it's not a religious fairy tale. There are more than 300 prophecies that were made about the Jewish Messiah and Jesus perfectly fulfilled every single one of those prophecies. It's been said that if you just took eight of those prophecies, that mathematically speaking for those eight prophecies to be fulfilled by Jesus, it's not one in a million, it's more like one in 88 billion chances that any of that could happen. And it wasn't just eight prophecies, it was more than 300 Jesus perfectly fulfilled every single one of them. So at the very least that is, should be enough, at least to be in a conversation about the fact that it seems irrational to say that Jesus is just some religious fairy tale, whatever you think about religion, whatever you think about churches, whatever you don't like about pastors and preachers, whatever it is you don't understand about the Bible or, or disagree with from the Bible. There is something about the truth of Jesus that it requires extreme amounts of mental, emotional, spiritual faith to just dismiss Jesus. It requires more faith to dismiss Jesus than to start considering the basics of who Jesus is. I've had moments in life when I can't do all the math. I can't figure out all the, the intricate spiritual, emotional metaphysical religious truth about who God is and his nature and, and how he does things and, and what he's doing and what he's not doing. But I can say this, that in the hardest and most difficult moments of life and also in the happiest moments of life. The one thing I can't shake is the truth about Jesus. There is something about the, the person of Jesus that you really have to do something with Jesus. And there is something about Jesus. There is something about the challenge and the encouragement of knowing that there is this one who loves my soul to the deepest part that I just can't shake. So for whatever, I don't understand whatever stress I'm under whatever fear or worry I may have whatever question gets hurled at me in, in anticipation of some argument and, and theology. No matter what I face, I can't shake Jesus. There really is something about not just his name but who he is and that same, Jesus continues to stand up to scrutiny, decade after decade, century after century, that same Jesus continues to stand out in satisfaction, meaning that Jesus has the deep, real, true, lasting love and grace and mercy and peace that we long for the most and yet still, even as Christians, we will find ourselves rejecting him, but definitely the world longing for peace, longing for love, longing for mercy rejects Jesus pushes Jesus away. Jesus Christ is the only treasure that can truly satisfy your soul. There, there is no other treasure that will satisfy your soul outside of Jesus. So is Jesus your treasure? If not, then we would plead with you, turn to Him, now turn to him today because every other road to pleasure every other road to satisfaction is a dead end. The road to Jesus is the only road. It's the only path that satisfies the penalty of sin. The road to Jesus is the only road. The only path that bridges the gap between us and God, the the gap created by sin. And so it is the path to Jesus that matters the most because Jesus is the only treasure that can satisfy your soul. And Jesus is returning. Jesus is coming again to judge the living and the dead. Jesus is coming to redeem those who repent and he is coming to relinquish those that reject. So will you be redeemed or will you be relinquished? Jesus is returning and when is he returning? Well, write this down, you need you get your calendar out. No clue, no idea. And, and no one knows. In fact, beware of anyone who tells you, oh, let me show you this Bible chart, man. Let me, let me pull out some random scriptures from the Bible or let me give you my own mystification and I can give you an exact date and time. Beware because the scripture leads us in a completely different direction. In fact, the closest we get from Jesus is in Matthew 24 where Jesus said, this gospel will be preached to all the nations. And then the end will come. So we could say that, that when the gospel reaches the last unreached people group, you know, these, these groups of people in different areas of the world that have never heard anything like what you're hearing today. When the gospel reaches those, you could say, ok, well, Jesus seems to say when the last unreached people group has been reached with the gospel, that's when he's returning. Ok, you can make that argument from scripture. However, we still can't measure that with a calendar. We, we can't look at that very specifically. So if there's no date or time for the return of Jesus, does that mean he's just hanging loose? He'll, he'll catch up with us later. No, someone has described Jesus like a king sitting outside of a great city and he is there with his army and he will capture the city. Hasn't done it yet, but he's there. He's ready and nothing will deter him from capturing. So will you on that day be captured up in the everlasting arms of Jesus? Because today you've already been captured by his amazing grace. Will you be captured up with Jesus when he returns? And if you found his amazing grace, if his amazing grace has reached you, what should you be doing while you're waiting for Jesus to return? Well, Paul says that we should be encouraging one another and, and building one another up. Now, what does that mean? Well, the word encourage here. You know, we, we hear the word encourage and you know, we're just like, oh yeah, we're going to try to make somebody feel a little better. It's more than that, the word in the original language. It, it's a word that means you move somebody toward action. So what kind of action is Paul trying to, to move us toward? Well, he told us in the previous sentence, listen, first Thessalonians five verse nine for God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. You know why we sing songs like it as well with my soul and, and amazing grace and, and a little few minutes we're going to sing how firm a foundation. You know why we sing songs like that? Because those songs remind us that as Christians, we are not destined for wrath. Rather we will obtain salvation in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, we will obtain salvation. We sing those songs and, and other songs like the other one we often sing that says that there's no power of hell and there's no scheme of man that can ever pluck us from the hand of God. And we sing those things because that's how we encourage one another the most. That's the action that Paul is moving us toward. He's saying, listen, the the greatest action you can have in your life is to remember that you are not destined for wrath that in Christ, you are not destined for rest. So we remember that and we rehearse that and that becomes a part of who we are. We're not destined for wrath, we're destined for salvation. We're destined for redemption. We're destined for rescue. We're destined for satisfaction. We are destined for joy, joy that will never, ever, ever end. There's no one in your family. No one at school, no one at work. None, none of your favorite athletes, actors or favorite teams. There is nothing on this earth and no one on this earth that can promise you that only Jesus and Jesus is returning to fulfill that promise. So how do we prepare for his return? Paul says we need to encourage one another. What we need to encourage one another, but we also need to encourage those who are not following Jesus. And the way we encourage them is by proclaiming by, by calling them to action through the proclamation of what Jesus said. And what Jesus said was repent for the kingdom of hand. The Kingdom of God is near, it's, it's near. Paul is repeating that challenge. He's reminding Christians, hey, look, Jesus is returning, encourage one another and encourage people that don't know Him, that they need to find Him. As we prepare for the return of Jesus, we encourage one another. But notice also, Paul says, we build one another up, we we build one another up, we strengthen one another. We edify one another. That's a big fancy word, what's, what's edify? Well, one way of describing edify that I saw was that you're strengthening people upward, instead of inward, upward, instead of inward, that's, that's gigantically important because see what you wanna do is you wanna make people stronger, not on the inside, not make them more confident in themselves. That that is the mantra of our culture, be more confident in yourself. Can I just promise you, you will let yourself down. So it's not that we don't want to encourage confidence, but true edification really being a person who edifies others, you're going to try to build their confidence upward because upward confidence means you're building their confidence in Jesus. And when someone's confidence is built up in Jesus, that person is more satisfied because they're more content because they understand the concept of what it means to be safe and saved. And what's the best way to build that confidence by remembering and rehearsing that we are not destined for wrath, but rather we are going to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ. We will see that's, that's a picture of what it means to be a Christian. That quite frankly, I'll just say in the last five years, we seem to have lost. I mean, just casually looking at the landscape of just our country, we seem to have, have lost the confidence that we're supposed to have in Jesus because part of what it means to be a Christian is that we remember and we rehearse, we are not destined for wrath. We remember and rehearse that, that we are going to be rescued and redeemed and we don't forget that we, we keep encouraging one another with that truth. We keep building each other up with that truth. We keep edifying one another with that truth. Part of the reason that we gather on Sundays is not so that we can hear a new and fresh word every time I hear that it, you know, it makes me wanna hurl. You know, it's just crazy. Oh, we need a new and fresh word. No, no, we don't. We gather to remind each other of the word that's always new. It's always fresh. It never loses its power. And that word is that God so dearly loved and prized the world that He gave his one and only son that whoever would believe in and rely on and trust in and cling to Jesus would not perish, would not be destined for wrath but would inherit receive eternal life. They will obtain salvation. Dear Christian. We will, we will, we will and we don't need to forget that we don't need to forget the reality of not just today but of our very soul. And so we keep clinging to what it means to be confident in Jesus because there's lots of things going wrong in the world. Jesus is returning and clinging to him is not a fairy tale. Jesus is the one true savior of the world who took that one in 88 billion chance and he crushed it to infinity and beyond. We remember that truth so that no matter what happens this afternoon and no matter what happens tomorrow, no matter what happens with the future of the economy, we are not destined for wrath Christian. We, we must keep repeating that to our own hearts and our own minds. We must keep remembering that truth that no matter what happens at home and no matter what happens at the hospital and no matter what happens with any other thing in the universe, we are not destined for wrath. There is no one and nothing that can change that. Jesus is attorney. Jesus is coming again. How should we prepare? We should encourage one another that we are not destined for wrath. We should build one another up that we are going to obtain salvation. We should edify one another that brings us back to the beginning to the one thing. What's the one thing that we need to be easily? What's the, what's the one thing that we need to give easily? Well, the answer comes in that one word edify. We need to be edifying others and we need to be edified ourselves. We need to be encouraging and we need to be encouraged. We need to build up and we need to be built up. Harold Best was a long time music professor at Wheaton college. He said this a mature Christian needs to be easily edified. What does that mean? A mature Christian needs to be easily edified? Here's how someone described what that means. It means if the preacher at your church sounds like he is reading monotone from a textbook just over and over and over or for some of us, a phone book, but he's getting the gospel right? We can be edified. We can be encouraged. Why? Because we are not destined for wrath. It means if the music of the church is not your cup of tea, you can be encouraged and you can be edified and you can be built up. Why? Because you are not destined for wrath to be easily edified means that you are preparing yourself on a regular basis to enjoy Jesus, to be confident in Jesus, to worship Jesus, to glorify Jesus. Anything and anyone that points us to the truth of the gospel can edify us. So we're always on the lookout for the truth about Jesus and we're always on the lookout for the return of Jesus. And as we look out as we prepare, we need to be easily edified and we need to easily edify others. It needs to be who we are part of what we do. Someone said this is the language of the whole church, everybody in the church. It's not just my job, it's not just Tammy's job, it's not just Lindsay's job, it's it's not just the staff's job. Every person in the church is an edifier. That's our language because we are no longer destined for wrath. We're all encouraged, we're all edifiers. We all have this ability and Paul says we should be doing this all the time as we prepare for the return of Christ a return that we do not know the hour of. So how will Jesus find you when he returns? Will he find you being an edifier or an against her? Read a funny story this week about an 89 year old man that loved making up words for things. And one of the words he made up was this and against the and against a, this is someone who is always against everything, no matter what you bring up, they always are going to find what's wrong with whatever has been brought up. So when Jesus returns, will he find you as an edifier or will he find you as an against? How will Jesus find us? How are we preparing today for the return of Christ? The way we need to prepare is to be easily edified and to be easily edifying. We need to be building. Now, what does any of that have to do with the title of the sermon? Because the title of the sermon was together for expanding churches? Well, here's the connection. See, it's not just Christians that need to be edified. Churches need to be edified churches need to be encouraged. Churches need to be built up one way to guarantee the death of the work of the Gospel at Holland Avenue Baptist Church is if we make everything about Holland Avenue Baptist Church, but that's a, that's a death nail right there on the work of the Gospel. We are just one church and, and God has called us to glorify Him in all that we do, but we're just one church. There's no way we can accomplish everything that God has called Christians to do. We want God to expand the great and grand work of the gospel in our church. But we also want him to expand it through our church and to expand it outside of our church. So what could all of that look like? Well, it could mean that the sanctuary gets packed out, you know, we gotta bring in chairs and sit some people in another room with a, you know, closed circuit TV or something. You know, we, we may pack it out, you know, or expanding. Could mean that, that at some point in time, we take a group of people from our church and send them out to go start another church in another part of our community. It could be that, that we invite another church to actually share our campus, you know, in a new church that needs a place to meet or, or maybe a, a church that, that speaks a different language and they're looking for a place to worship and gather. It could be that our church never has more than the people that are in this room right now. We, we kind of stay about the same numerically. But every year we send three or four families out to the utmost parts of the world to share the gospel with people that have never heard the gospel. I, I don't know what it would look like, but all of those are exciting. Anything that God wants to do with this church is exciting. And right now we're expanding churches. We're expanding churches at least once a year through operation Christmas Child. Those shoe boxes are going into communities where there aren't any or not many churches. And so it's not just that we send a, a box of goodies for a bunch of kids at Christmas time. Samaritan's purse is actually creating and planting churches in those communities with those Children and their families so that there's a church there. Not just somebody waiting for another box a year later, they're finding the first gift and then they're finding the real gift in Jesus. Our church is expanding churches right now. Through the International Mission Board. We saw a video earlier. I think I'm getting a sneeze, Eddie. You got me. All right, David. I mean, this is just like right there. I was like, oh my gosh, I'm, yeah, I'm good. I'll go back. Uh But you know, now you're all nervous. Right. That's ok. The guys will cut me off. Uh, we're expanding churches right now through the International Mission Board, through the North American Mission Board, through the Southern Baptist Convention, through the South Carolina Baptist Convention through the Lexus Baptist Association through colleges and seminaries and other churches all over the place right now through something called the cooperative program. It's, it's a giving arm that we have and, and it is able to do with the gift that we give things that we could never do by ourselves as a church. We're expanding churches in northern Pakistan. We are supporting a missionary among the Malik people where there are the statistically 0.0% Christian can't even get a point oh one in there yet. We're expanding the church in a part of the world where they are just now hearing about Jesus and other churches are helping our church expand, not by sending us their disgruntled church members. That's not what I mean. No, they're, they're helping us expand in, in so many different ways. I I this is, this is a statistically numerically accurate comment over the last four weeks. There have been thousands of ways that people have expanded the work of our church from outside of our church. People who are not members of our church, people who have nothing to do with our church. Thousands of ways through gifts, through phone calls, emails, text messages, through posting and reposting and even through flowers. Yeah. So we're at the funeral home a couple of weeks ago preparing for dad's funeral and, and my sisters were reading the cards on some of the flowers and one of them, you know, called out this church name. You might know that church. And I went, I do, like, really? I was like, yeah, it's, it's, it's a church in our community. This, this church is not a Southern Baptist church, not in our association, but they're a friend of our church and, and they sent flowers down to our family and it was just this fun little moment of standing there in the funeral home going man. Lord. Thank you so much just for the uniqueness of that encouragement. And, and so here's what happened because they encouraged me, guess what? It energized me to encourage you that that's how edification works. It's, it's a ripple effect. You edify and you're easily edified and it, and it just keeps growing and growing and growing. It keeps moving around. Listen, we are not in competition with other churches, ok? In, in no way, shape or form. If you're visiting today, we are so happy you're here, but we don't have a sales pitch for you to try to convince you to join this church. What we have is the gospel of Jesus Christ and, and we'll keep giving it to you. We'll keep promoting it in every way that we possibly can. And if through the gospel. God connects you with us and, and you come and you're part of our church family. Fantastic. We love that. But if not, if God takes you to another gospel centered church and that's the place that you plug in. Fantastic. See, we want you to be where you can easily edify and where you will be easily edified. It's not a competition. The world is full of sin and evil and darkness. If there was ever a time for the church, it's now I was reading something earlier this week that said one of the biggest trends that, that most of us may not be connecting with is that everything in our culture is going digital and remote jobs, paying our bills. I mean, everything is, is digital and remote. And there's this one thing that's still hanging around in the community and it is an in person church service. And he said, one of the trends that the church needs to be prepared for is not so much that the the doors are are just going to bang open and we're going to have tons of people, but we should be prepared that people are going to be looking for people and we aren't just any people. We are people that are not destined for wrath and we have that to share. We have that to offer. It is so much more than anyone else can offer the world and it's not ours. It's the truth of Jesus. We just share, we just give, we just edify. There are a lot of ways that churches can partner together and we never want to shy away from that. But, you know, life is busy, you know, and church is busy. So, so we can't do all of the partnerships that are out there. It's just, it's just too time consuming. But I tell you something we can always do no matter what is, we can encourage other people and encourage other churches. You know how we do that. Let me tell you what it looks like when you're in the biscuit joint and everybody starts complaining about the pastor and the music and the Sunday school teacher and the color of the carpet. You don't have to join in. You get to be the encouraging edifying voice in that conversation that says, you know, none of our churches are perfect but man, we're not destined for wrath. We're going to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ. You know, where else you can do that? You can do that at the post office. You can do that at the ball game. You can do that at the cookout. You can do that wherever you are. When you end up in conversations about church, we all have the option. We can tear churches down or we can build churches up and can I just say is after 30 years of doing this, there's plenty tearing the church down. The last people that need to be tearing the church down more. Are Christians and church members now granted, you know, there are some discouraging things that are happening in the world. There are some discouraging things happening in churches. But you know what? We don't have to be a part of it. We get to be the people that say, hey, you know what, we are not destined for wrath because you know what, that's how we prepare for the return of Jesus. Do, do you really think Jesus wants us to be spending our time sitting at the biscuit joint standing in line at the post office, bad mouthing other churches in our community. I'm going to go out on a limb and say, no, we, we have the, the privilege and the honor to build up the church of Jesus Christ to build up the gospel and the work of God's church for decades. Now, I've said that every church has its own fingerprint. Every church has its, its own personality. There, there's something that they are who they are and every church needs to be who they are. I, I'm, I am not trying to be any other church in this community. I'm not trying to be a church. I used to be at, I'm not trying to be at a church that maybe I wanna be at years down the road. I, I'm, I'm here. We're avenue God's made our church the way he's made our church. However, he did not make our church to stay who we are. We are who we are. We need to be who we are, but we need to keep becoming who he wants us to be. And that's important. The work of the gospel is always at work. God is always working in the life of the church and not just our church but other churches. So we want to be a church that we're edifying one another. But we also want to encourage and we want to edify and build up and expand other churches from Pakistan to pillion, to Panama, to Portland, wherever we want to be a part of expanding the work of the gospel. In other words, what we're saying is this, the church is not a building, the church is a body. We see this at the very beginning in the New Testament. The church is this living organism. The church is, is alive with the gospel. It's the work of the gospel and the life of people and that work cannot be confined to a building or to many buildings around town. John Stott said this, we must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God. Jesus is returning Jesus is is coming again like a king standing outside of the city waiting for the capture. Jesus is returning. Are you ready for the king? How do you get ready? Paul says, encourage and edify, build up, strengthen. Do all that you can to help people upward, not inward, upward toward the work of God's glory. We do that here in our church, but then we also find ways to do it in, in other gospel centered churches. We try to do what we can to help people see and know and find the gospel. And why would we do that? Why would we want to be together for expanding churches? Well, here's why, because we're not building a building, we're building a kingdom. It's stunning. If you think about it, when God invites us to encourage and edify and expand, he's inviting us to be a part of building His kingdom, his kingdom, he's inviting us to, to be a part of not building a building but building his kingdom. Century ago, Alexander mclean put it like this, like the ruins of half finished palaces and temples which travelers come across sometimes in lands now desolate, reared by a forgotten race who were swept away by some unknown calamity and have left the stones half lifted to their courses, half hewed in their quarries and the building gaunt and incomplete. You ever been anywhere in the world where you look at some ruins? And then he says this, but men will never have to say about any of God's architecture. He began to build and was not able to finish. God's architecture is not with brick. God's architecture is with hearts and souls and no one will ever be able to say, God didn't finish five centuries ago. Martin Luther said, though this world with devils filled may may threaten to undo us and, and they may kill this body. But he said, but God's truth abideth still why, but why does God's truth keep abiding no matter what happens because His kingdom and only His kingdom is forever dear Christian. We are not destined for wrath that changes everything. It means that here as a group of people, as a living body in this church, we can encourage and we can edify and we can expand the work of the Gospel, but not just here but outside of here because you see God is building His kingdom through all of his churches and His kingdom. It's forever His kingdom is forever. No other kingdom will ever be forever. But the kingdom of the one true holy Yahweh God is forever, that is good. Let's be together for good.


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