Summary: The Church is eternal and will prevail. We need to prayerfully consider what God is directing us to do for His glory through the local church. This message has an outline which can be used with application to your local church.
· 3 VOLUNTEERS: I need you to answer one of these questions: What is the best thing that happened to you this year, or perhaps the saddest? What is one lesson that you learned in 2002? What would you like to see happen in your life in the new year?
Looking back often gives us a chance to look into our future. Someone has said, “You will become what you are now.” Someone else said, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
What are some things that we can do in order to see our dreams for the future become a reality? Here are two things to remember: [1.] do the things now that will take you there and [2.] surround yourself with people who want to go there with you. When you begin to put those two things into practice, then anything is possible!
I have often said, “God has not put our church here to fail.” That’s true. I’ve also said, “The best days for our church are ahead of us.” That’s also true. God has a wonderful plan for our church, but it won’t become a reality by just an act of God–it is even less likely that anything within the church will happen just by chance.
+ Matthew 16:18 . . . on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (NIV)
+ 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. (The Message)
Jesus will build His church of which Praise A/G is a part; His blueprint or plan for the church is great. What is a great church? It is not measured by the standards of success in the eyes of the world, although some of those things like increased attendance or finances or other such things may happen as a result of being a great church.
In God’s eyes a great church is one in which you and I become more and more like Jesus thus making Him known. Great churches impact their families, friends, communities and their world with the reality of the risen Christ. The monotonous, humdrum and empty lives of people are transformed by the power of ordinary believers as the life and power of Christ works in and through their lives. That’s what makes a church great.
God’s plan to make Praise A/G a great church is dependent upon you and me. Study any of the miracles in the Bible, beyond creation and the resurrection of Jesus, and you will find that every time God acted there was a human agent present. God did the impossible as individuals did the possible.
· In the Old Testament God didn’t just show up in Egypt and miraculously take the nation of Israel to the promised land; God used Moses (see Exodus 2-11).
· In the New Testament God sends His Son who preforms some incredible miracles, but Jesus didn’t just show off His divine power. Jesus involved other people in all of His miracles. For instance Jesus didn’t just feed the 5,000 out of thin air. Instead Jesus had the disciples have the people sit down, then taking a boys lunch He blessed it and had the disciples serve the fish and loaves to the people (see Luke 9).
If you only hear one thing this morning then hear this: God will do great things in and through our church, BUT HE WILL ONLY DO IT AS YOU AND I COOPERATE WITH HIM. Miracles will happen in our church as together we work with God!
Now apply the truth I shared earlier about what we can do to see our dreams come true to the church. We will only see God’s plan for Praise A/G fulfilled as we continue to do two things: [1.] do things now that will take us where God wants us to go, and [2.] surround ourselves with people who want the same thing.
I’m confident that each of us here wants to see Praise A/G become everything God has dreamed for it to be. All of us believe it can happen. But how do we get there? God won’t become a genie in a bottle and just “blink” us there!
Someone has defined insanity like this, “Insanity is to continue doing the things you have always done expecting different results.” Last time I checked God is still not mocked, a man will reap what he sows (see Galatians 6:7).
If you aren’t satisfied with how your life is turning out, something has to change. If as a church we want to fulfill God’s purpose, but we don’t seem to be getting there, then we need to start doing the things that take us there. In other words, if you’re not happy with beans, stop planting bean seed and plant something else. Or in computer terminology, “if you’re not satisfied with the output, then change your input.”