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Summary: Part 2 of an annual series on the conditio of the local church and direction for the New Year.

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✎ Winnie the Pooh is once took an evening walk with his friend Piglet. They walked for a long time in silence, but Piglet finally asked, “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh, what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” Pooh responds, “And what do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what exciting thing is going to happen today.”

Pooh’s first thoughts turn to his tummy, while Piglet imagines the possibilities that are before him; “What exciting thing is going to happen today?” I wonder, who are you more like, Pooh or Piglet?

I fear that too often we are just like Pooh. We concern ourselves with our own desires and needs. Our tummies want to be fed; our heads want a Tylenol to deal with the stress. With a singular focus our thoughts often turn to all the things we need.

As believers we sometimes forget that God has promised to provide everything we need.

+ Matthew 6:33 Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (MsgB)

Trust God and look for the incredible things He will do in your life each day. However, instead of “In God we trust,” our national motto should be, “What’s in it for me?” Let’s stop worrying about satisfying our tummies we should learn to be more like Piglet, “What exciting thing is going to happen today?”

Some of you will remember that last week I said beyond creation and the resurrection of Jesus Christ every miracle in the Bible involved a person. In other words, God doesn’t just show up on the scene and “poof” a miracle happens; God chooses to involve people in the process of a miracle.

God still works miracles in the same way today. God is looking for someone who is willing to do or say something to cooperate with God in a miracle. Our church will only experience miracles as we cooperate with God.

In last week’s message “The State of the Church” we looked at five truths as found in Matthew 16:18. Jesus said, “This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out” (MsgB). Quickly here are the five points from last week:

1. THE CHURCH IS ESTABLISHED BY JESUS. Jesus said, “I” (don’t miss the first word) “I will build my church.” Jesus is the ROCK upon which the church is built.

2. JESUS HAS A PLAN FOR HIS CHURCH. He said, “I WILL BUILD my church. Every building begins with the blue print. Jesus is the “HOUSE BUILDER” following the Master design for His Church.

3. THE CHURCH BELONGS TO JESUS. He said, “I will build MY CHURCH.” None of us died for the church; Jesus let His blood be poured out to purchase the church.

4. JESUS WILL PROTECT THE CHURCH. He said, “I will build my church, and THE GATES OF HADES WILL NOT OVERCOME IT.” Not even the very gates of hell will be able to stand up against His Church; Jesus will protect His Church.

5. YOU AND I ARE THE BUILDING MATERIALS OF THE CHURCH. Jesus is not using 2x4’s and bricks to build the church. The church is built as God transforms ordinary men and women into the image of Jesus Christ. We are the church.

God is making us into a great church. You and I have the opportunity to be a part of the miracle that is Praise A/G. Let’s not have a Pooh Bear “what’s in it for me” mentality. Let’s think like Piglet; “what exciting thing is going to happen today.” What miracle might God do THROUGH US as we choose to cooperate with Him?

Turn to Ephesians 4:11-16. My prayer is that Praise A/G will be a great church! Great churches are not measured by human standards. A great church is not measured by the number of people in the pews, the money in the bank, the programs offered, the building, or any other human standard you may think of. God says what makes a church great. I said last week a great church is one in which you and I become more like Jesus thus making Him known. Great churches impact their families, friends, communities and their world with the reality of the risen Christ.

This morning we are going to discover seven characteristics of great churches. As we look at Ephesians 4:11-16 we’ll discover what it means for the church to reflect Jesus and make Him known.

+ Ephesians 4:11-16 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until 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. 14Then 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 men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From 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. (NIV)

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