This morning, we’re finishing our message series entitled, “Waiting on God.” Waiting isn’t exactly our favorite thing to do, but it is a critical part of God’s plan for every one of our lives.
So far, we’ve learned that while we’re waiting on God, we praise, pray, and serve (hand motions). While we’re doing our part, we learned last week that God uses these seasons of waiting in our lives to grow us within. After all, He wants our roots to grow deep and wide in Him so that never fail to bear good fruit.
We learned last week that while we’re waiting on God, we also organize. We do our part to prepare our lives in full expectation of God being faithful to do His part. We learned about how God designed structure and organization in the church so that every single part has all that it needs to reach its full potential. To get started, let’s worship together as we’re waiting on God.
Worship – Everlasting God
This week, we end the series just before Mother’s Day and Pentecost Sunday when those 120 followers of Jesus received God’s promise by taking a look at another aspect of waiting on God. It is such an obvious thing that I nearly didn’t even think of mentioning it. However, it is a critically important part of what was happening. While the followers of Jesus were waiting on God, they waited: together!
We touched on this a bit last week, but togetherness is what being the church is all about. It’s about joining together, growing together, worshipping together, serving together, and reaching out together. We all may be different and unique from one another, but even that is by God’s own design so that only together can we fully represent Jesus. As we grow together and build each other up, we actively become the body of Christ.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Togetherness. Some of us hear that word and get a big ‘ole smile on our face. These are the kinds that just love people and can never do anything alone. They have countless friends and they share every part of their lives with others. They love parties and never even have to think about what to talk about when they run into someone. They always have plenty to share and they don’t care if you’ve already heard their story twice, they’re glad to share it again. One of their favorite verses is when Jesus said:
What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the rooftops.
Togetherness. Some of us here that word and are anxiety-stricken. These are the kinds that have to take a few extra minutes in their car to work up the courage to go into the store hoping not to run into anyone that they know. They only have a few friends, but those friendships run deep and strong. They’d rather sit at home and watch a movie or read a book than to be around anyone at all. They don’t feel that they have much to share and are always thinking about what others are thinking about them. One of their favorite verses is:
1 Thessalonians 4:11
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands…
Whether an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, it is still important for us all to come together while we’re waiting on God. Whether it comes natural to us or not, we need each other. As we were praying about God’s vision and direction for us this year, the concept came through of synergy.
Synergy – the cooperative working together of two or more people or organizations, when their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual efforts
This is an awesome reality that God created not only in the natural world, but also in the spiritual realms. When it comes to effort, 1+1 is NOT = 2!
* Crane scale object lesson *
Togetherness is a powerful thing. So powerful, in fact, that God had to intervene! He saw that when people come together, nothing is impossible for them! For this same reason, it’s not a wonder that divisiveness is such a common tool of our enemy.
1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
People came together and planned to do something obviously not in agreement with God’s will. If people can join together to work toward something against God’s will and God Himself says that nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them, consider this. How much more unstoppable would we be if we came together to do something in cooperation with God and in agreement with His will? How much more unstoppable can we be if we are filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit moving together in cooperation with God?
If two together can do so much more than they can individually, imagine what they can accomplish if they come together along with God!
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
If two are better than one, imagine how powerful three are; especially when the third is God, Himself! That’s why ministry was never intended to be done alone, but rather in teams.
1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. 2 He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus has now given this same power and authority to all who choose to follow Him. His intent is that we would come together to continue His earthly ministry. His intent is that we would come together and meet with Him, then go out and serve the needs of others from our backyard to the ends of the earth. This is the model that He used for ministry from the first twelve, to the seventy-two, then to all disciples including you and I.
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus may have left His disciples physically, but through the Holy Spirit, we have His Presence with us always. We always have all that we need to live godly lives and we are empowered to be all that Jesus calls us to be and equipped to do all that Jesus calls us to do. Together, we can build our community to be something great!
Look at what the church initially looked like and imagine the impact that we could have on the world today if we still looked this way today! It’s no wonder that daily people were being saved!
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Of course, our own free will has a tendency to get in the way. This is no different for us today as it was a few thousand years ago for the people of the church in Corinth.
1 Corinthians 3:1-15
1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
Maturity in the faith has little to do with how much of the word that we know and how well we can teach it to others. Maturity in Christ has much to do with how we liver His word out. How do we act and how do we treat others? Do we fight with others because we don’t see eye-to-eye with them, or do we join together with others and appreciate their God-created differences? Are we divisive driving others away or are we encouragers who gather others to join us? What division existed in Corinth causing Paul to be so brutally honest with them?
4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Each one should do their unique, individual part. As we each do our part, together, we build something great! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be one who gives Jesus my left-over lumber to work with. I don’t want to be one that labors to build something that just gets destroyed when the quality of it gets put to the test. I want to be one who builds using my first fruits, giving Jesus my best so that when it gets put to the test, it stands unchanged and I receive my reward. Who wouldn’t want this?
We should long to be ones like Mary who poured out perfume worth a year’s wages on the feet of Jesus and washed His feet with her hair. We should have the same heart and attitude of King David who refused to give anything to the Lord that didn’t cost him personally. He refused to give anything to God that was freely given to him.
Let’s come together. Let’s work together to build something great here in our community. Let’s take advantage of the opportunities all around us instead of waiting for “someone else” to step up. No selfless act of service is too little or insignificant to Jesus.
While we’re waiting on God, let’s work together!