Summary: This sermon begins the new year to help believers focus on the need to allow God to impact their lives so that they may impact the lives of others for the glory of God.

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“2013 – THE YEAR OF IMPACT” John 1:1

INTRO – 1st sermon of the 1st Sunday of the New Year. Thought I would start w/ a Scripture verse that is a verse about “beginnings.” And what better way to begin the New Year than to begin w/ JESUS!

People are making all kinds of New Year’s resolutions. Listen to some of these crazy ones that were called in to a Los Angeles radio station:

We are believing that 2013 is going to be a year of impact for the Kingdom of God through Country Woods Baptist Church. That’s why you’ll see some butterflies around the church. That’s why you’ll see this slide each Sunday in the announcements. That’s why we’ve got butterflies all over this month’s newsletter. That’s why all the leadership of the church will receive a copy of the book entitled The Butterfly Effect. I’m not going to tell you everything about the book b/c our leadership will be reading it & studying it. But suffice it to say: We believe that the impact of Country Woods Baptist Church will be huge when EACH & EVERY ONE OF US realize that our small, sometimes seemingly insignificant actions that we do for the Lord are joined together w/ those that others do. As our memory verse for this week says, “…there are many parts, but one body.” When EACH & EVERY ONE of those many parts commit themselves to making an impact – no matter who small we may think our impact is – God is going to do an AMAZING thing, all for HIS glory, all for HIS Kingdom, all b/c of love for God & love for others.

Many times, when we think of making an impact for God, we think of big names (Billy Graham, Louie Giglio, the late Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley or Andy Stanley, Johnny Hunt, Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer). All of these are people who have done or are doing amazing things for God all around our world.

Or maybe we think of big churches – Pinelake, Broadmoor, Gateway, Bellevue, Brooklyn Tabernacle, Willow Creek, Saddleback. Again, all are awesome churches that are striving to do God’s work as He leads them.

Or maybe we think of what we perceive as big actions – giving a lot of $; going on a big mission trip; serving as a deacon or teacher; being the leader of a new ministry or big ministry project. Again, we need to give our $, faithfully tithing 10% of our income. Going on mission trips is great – hope some of you go on one for the 1st time this year (Haiti trip is end of June). We do need leaders in all areas of the church.

But this morning, I want to start this year off helping us all to focus on the MOST IMPORTANT thing we can do to make an impact for God this year & every year that He gives us. I want you to remember this one thing all year long as we encourage & challenge you to make an impact throughout the year – IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS!

1. To make an impact, you’ve got to meet Jesus. WHY? B/c when you meet Jesus, you’ll never be the same b/c of His impact on your life & in your life.

All throughout the Gospels, we see tons of different people who met Jesus in one way or another & their lives were never the same. Grab your Bible & walk w/ me through the Scriptures for a minute.

- Disciples – 1:35-49

- His family & the folks at the wedding – 2:1-11

- The people in the temple – 2:12-16

- Nicodemus – 3:1-21

- John the Baptist – 3:22-36

- Woman @ the well – 4:1-26

- The royal official from Capernaum – 4:43-54

- The invalid @ the pool of Bethesda – 5:1-15

- The 5,000 that were fed – 6:1-15

All of these people had the joy of meeting Jesus & experiencing His amazing impact in their lives. They discovered that He really was Who He said He was. And they were never the same again.

Like a man named Ricardo. Was a male prostitute in NYC who was a cross-dresser. Street name – “Sarah.” Lived a horrendous life of immorality, drug abuse, & violence in an area in lower Manhattan known as the “Salt Mines.” The men who live in this area live in abandoned cars or under bridges.

A group from the Brooklyn Tabernacle church began to reach out to the men who lived in the Salt Mines b/c a layperson named Terry – NOT the pastor & staff – felt led to start an outreach to these men. Began to take food & blankets to the men. After they built trust w/ the men, took some vans & brought 27 of them to church one Sunday. When the invitation was given, several of them accepted Christ as their Savior. Ricardo got saved about a month later. Several in church began to disciple him, even teaching him how to act like a man. Got off drugs, moved to TX, got married to a woman, even through he had AIDS. Brooklyn Tab shot a video of Ricardo’s testimony that had a huge impact in thousands of people’s lives. Ricardo died of AIDS about a yr after the video. Before he died, he said, “I’m so tired. I've fought this disease long enough; I just want to go to Jesus. I can go now, b/c you have me on film, & everyone will know in yrs to come what Jesus did in my life.” In other words, everyone will know the IMPACT Jesus had on my life! (Story found in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala)

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