Summary: A sermon designed to lift the spirits of a church plant congregation after having been verbally attacked by their former church. Focuses on love and the new frontier of a job to be done!
The Israelites were kept as slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. Their oppressors mistreated them and there is no doubt they suffered mentally and spiritually, as well as physically. Those generations of Israelites must have felt a hurt that would have be unimaginable to us today.
The Bible says that God heard their cries. If He heard their cries, why did He wait so long before He helped them? He waited until they, as a nation, turned back towards Him. When they did that, He sent Moses to the Pharaoh to free them.
God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He never changes, nor does His word ever change. In 2 CHRONICLES 7:14, God has given every nation, including America, the same opportunity as He gave the Israelites.
He said when His people (those who believe in Jesus) humble themselves, pray to Him, and repent, He will not only forgive their sin, but He will also heal their land. After more than 400 years, the Israelites finally realized what they needed to do, and when they did it, God heard them and then God helped them.
During World War II, Hitler’s Germany became the Jewish oppressors of that time. They tried their best to annihilate the Jewish race. They did manage to kill millions of them – fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. But what happened? Again, the Jewish people called out to God in unison and God answered their prayers by letting Hitler be defeated and the oppression stopped.
Today, American Christians are being persecuted much more than ever before in our history, too. We aren’t being burned alive or gassed like the Nazis did to the Jews, but our government is passing laws that hinder the freedom of worship for Christians, while mandating the teaching of Islam in California schools.
Children in some schools are given Islamic names and must study the idealisms of Islam - all in the name of cultural diversity. But these same schools forbid a child to pray out loud on school property. These same schools call for the arrest of the child if that child participates in a prayer around the flag of America. Do not be fooled for a moment: Christians are being persecuted in America. But it isn’t just the government that is persecuting Christians.
Today, again more than ever before, Christians are persecuting other Christians. There is even more turmoil in our churches than ever before. Early in 2000, I heard where two elders got into a fistfight over whether the church was going to order pews or chairs. I have seen terrible disagreements over the choice of colors for carpeting. And all of us here have recently seen the ugliness of ungodly feelings and words spouted from one Christian to another from the floor of the church sanctuary.
What are we supposed to do when there is so much of this going on? How are we supposed to trust in the church again after having our hearts ripped from our chests? How can we keep focused on the love of Jesus when there is so much hatred being bandied about – and justified by saying those things were said "in the love of God?"
Today, we are going to talk about leaving under the best and worst of circumstances, arriving at a mid-point destination, and we will wrap up by talking about not stopping for anything – or anybody.
1. LETTING GO OF THE OLD
We are creatures of comfort and we love our comfort zones, don’t we? It doesn’t really matter whether our surroundings are good or bad, we prefer them to anything unknown, because no matter what they are like, we are comfortable with them.
For instance, let’s say you have a life that is always full of trouble. Everyone would agree that you do not have a good life, right? But let’s say I ask you to just up and leave everything behind, without turning back, and accept a new life I will give to you. But the catch is, I will not tell you what it is until you are well on your way there. Could you do that? Could you step out and start walking when you don’t even know where you are going? Most people cannot.
I had a pastor friend in Arizona that told me an illustration of how God works. He said that if God wants you to leave where you are, He will put the desire in your heart to go. If you don’t pay attention to Him, and if He wants you to go badly enough, He will get behind you and push you out.
Before we proceed with our future here at CrossRoads Bible Church, I think we need to put our past to rest. We suffered greatly leaving our previous church. I have talked to each one of you extensively, and I know that all of us have shed many tears and heartaches over the way all of us were treated on our last Sunday there.