Though it is hard to believe, here we are already well started into the new year. Each year, we seek after God for new and fresh vision of what He specifically would like us to become and accomplish in that upcoming year.
Last year’s vision was that “Every One Matters.” We rearranged our Sunday morning services into small groups so that every voice could be heard, every need could be met, and every person could be equipped for ministry. We also met in homes for life groups which helped us to be more aware of what is happening in each other’s lives to be able to better pray for and encourage one another.
As we came together as a church family more and more, God began to also reveal some things that we need to
work on together. Don’t become discouraged, though. This is true of any church even from the very beginning of it. The bulk of the doctrine and wisdom that we have available to us in the New Testament is actually there in the Bible because the church leaders had to write to the churches to recalibrate them and correct some areas.
Even in the revelation given to John, Jesus directly brings correction to the churches that existed at that time.
The church in Ephesus needed to repent and do the things that they did when they first were launched, to return to their first love or Jesus was going to shut them down. The church in Smyrna was poor and afflicted and Jesus was about to allow the devil to imprison and persecute them even worse.
The church in Pergamum was following false teaching and encouraging sexual immorality. If they did not change, Jesus was going to come and fight against them. The church in Thyatira allowed a woman who was a self-proclaimed prophet to lead the church into sexual immorality. If they did not change, Jesus was going to cause those who followed her teachings to suffer greatly.
The church in Sardis had a great reputation among people for being a lively church, but Jesus knew that it was dead. If they did not wake up and finish their work, Jesus promised to come to them like a thief and shut it down. The church in Philadelphia had people who were not who they claimed to be and Jesus was about to reveal it.
The church in Laodicea had become lukewarm. They lost their passion for Jesus and they didn’t even realize it. They thought that they were something that they were not. If they did not change, Jesus was going to spit them out and shut them down.
Of course, each word of correction to these churches also contained amazing promises of what Jesus would give them if they changed and became the churches that He intended them to be. When Jesus calls us to make significant changes, He usually reveals the awesome things awaiting us on the other side of them.
In our case, we know His prophetic plans and purposes for this place and I think He’s ready to start making them happen. The question is whether or not we’re ready to make the changes necessary.
We prepare the sacrifice, God sends the fire. We prepare our hearts, God fills our lives. We obediently do our part, God faithfully does His.
In 2019, Jesus is also calling us into such a season of change. He has pointed out some of the cracks and imperfections in our foundation and is asking us to repair them so that He might build us up into the church that He desires us to be.
The 2019 vision is simply for us to be the church. He’s not giving us a new direction and he’s not launching us out into anything new. Similar to the messages to the churches found in Revelation, Jesus is calling us this year to simply get back on track so that we don’t miss out on what He wants to do. He’s calling us to be the church that He knows that we can become.
To repent is to change the way that you think about something for the better. As we change the way we think about something, our attitudes and behaviors follow.
To repent in the context of the call of Jesus is to turn away from what we think is right and to turn to the way that Jesus says is right. To repent is to yield to Jesus and begin cooperating with Him instead of fighting against Him.
We’ve been talking much already about the critical importance of perception. The Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament defines repent as “to perceive beforehand; to change one’s mind or purpose.”
This year, God is going to begin the process of repentance in each one of our lives as we change the way that we perceive how to do ministry. God has given us a set of core values to help define the church that He wants us to become. He is calling us to be a church of unconditional love, sacrificial integrity, and to be truly Spirit lead.
This morning, I don’t have a fancy vision with fresh revelation and cool graphics. This morning, we simply go back to our beginning, back to the new member’s class. This morning, we revisit the question,
“Why am I here?” I’d also like to encourage everyone in their souls to go back to the place when you first had an encounter with God. To go back to when we first gave our lives to Jesus, to the feeling of acceptance, to the freedom of sins being lifted, the warmth of the outpouring of God’s great love.
To that place where nothing else mattered but Jesus and you were going to burst if you didn’t tell people about how awesome He is. To that place where you urgently wanted everyone to experience that same salvation that you had just received. To that place where you fully trusted Jesus and didn’t have a care in the world.
Or perhaps let’s stir back up that passion we possessed when we were first saved. Or perhaps, let’s stir that passion and zeal up for the first time in our lives.
Now, let’s spend some time on that question, “Why am I here?”
As we’re all well aware, several individuals were becoming faced with that question and have chosen to leave as they began to realize more and more that they are not a fit for where the church is heading and what our church is becoming.
That says nothing bad about them nor anything bad about the church. Fit isn’t about moral rights or wrongs, it’s about God’s unique design and His individual plans and purposes for people and places.
In fact, the reason for the new member’s class is exactly this. It defines who we are and where we are heading. Our core values now also define how we will be doing those things. We want to ensure that everyone who wants to team up with us is a fit so that we all are heading the same direction together and not fighting one another to go different ways.
If this is not who God is calling you to be nor where He is calling you to go, then we want to help find the right local church for you. Otherwise, we’ll both become more and more frustrated with one another as we yoke ourselves together and try to go obediently the direction that God is certainly calling us both to go.
For this very reason, we do not want to try to drag people back in to New Hope and force them to fit where God isn’t calling them and hasn’t purposed them. We want to instead focus on the unchurched around us and invite them to join us to fulfill God’s purpose for us here in this place.
35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
As we shared last week, God is doing a new thing, but do we perceive it? Do we see those around us as Jesus sees them?Hopefully, we can shout a resounding, “YES!” to that question. Hopefully and prayerfully this year, the workers will become many as the load of ministry becomes light and once again full of rejoicing!