Summary: The work of the ministry always goes on, in spite of past successes. That is why we need a practical assessment of where we are and where we are going.
Title: Have We Accomplished Enough?
Text: Luke 12:16-21
Church, we have had a good year. God has allowed us to accomplish, and even surpass, all of the goals we set for the year. Attendance is up. Giving is up. Spiritual growth is evident. We have started new ministries, and reinvigorated old ones. We have successfully navigated another hectic holiday season, and here we are at the last Sunday of the year, patting ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished. The old year, with all of its successes, is behind us. The new year lies ahead. So I ask you today, have we accomplished enough?
The temptation now will be to sit back and lavish in our successes. We could carelessly spend the next few months congratulating ourselves for a job well done, but that would destroy everything we have accomplished. We cannot afford to live in the past, no matter how successful it was. So I ask you again, have we accomplished enough?
The truth is, there is still much to be accomplished. The worst thing we could do right now is allow ourselves to become complacent with the ministry opportunities that are before us. There are more people in our community who need food and clothing. Many of us will face personal trials and conflicts. And, most importantly, there are untold thousands who still need to hear the gospel. We can’t become satisfied with what is in the past. We must press on into the future to accomplish even more for the kingdom of God. We may not be the biggest or the richest church in our community, but we can certainly be the best church we can be.
Illustration: Doing Your Best Is More Important Than Being The Best
Cathy Rigby was a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team in the 1972 Olympics at Munich, and she had only one goal in mind—to win a gold medal. She had trained hard over a long period.
On the day she was scheduled to perform, she prayed for the strength and the control to get through her routine without making mistakes. She was tense with determination not to let herself or her country down. She performed well, but when it was all over and the winners were announced, her name was not among them. Cathy was crushed.
Afterward, she joined her parents in the stands all set for a good cry. As she sat down, she could barely manage to say, “I’m sorry. I did my best.”
“You know that, and I know that,” her mother said, “and I’m sure God knows that too.”
Then, Cathy recalls, her mother said 10 words that she has never forgotten: “Doing your best is more important than being the best.” (Soundings, Vol. D, # 7, pp. 1-2. Cited online at http://www.bible.org.)
Note: Our goal as a church is to be the best we can be. That measure can only be found internally. We are not competing with any other person, or any other church.
Quote: We have got but one life here...It pays, no matter what comes after it, to try and do things, to accomplish things in this life, and not merely to have a soft and pleasant time. (Theodore Roosevelt. Cited on-line at http://www.higherpraise.com.)
I. IS OUR BARN OVERFLOWING? Luke 12:16-17
Note: If we become complacent, we will be unprepared to face the storms that lurk beyond the horizon.
Illustration: Facing The Storm
In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a "hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride influence their decision? We’ll never know.
What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm’s getting worse." But as others joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta’s order to leave. "This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you’ll have to arrest me."
Peralta didn’t arrest anyone, but he wasn’t able to persuade them to leave either. He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked Camille’s wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.