Summary: A message about the importance of finding and using the gifts God gives to every believer.
21, December 2003
Dakota Community Church
Setting the course for 2004
Tonight I want to talk about the direction we are all heading and the life we want to be living, as opposed to the reality of our day-to-day existence.
- Do you know where you are going?
- Do you spend your time doing things that line up with that desired direction?
- Is the Church a relevant part of your life?
- When the body comes together do you know what your function is?
We are the consumer society. We have bumper stickers that say “born to shop” and shopping malls have become our cultural centers. The government has even got into the act: we are no longer called citizens we are now consumers. We are no longer patients in a hospital; we are now “health care consumers.” This attitude has long crept into the church: we have become consumers of religion, and we even speak of “church shopping.” We come to church to have our spiritual needs met, and if they are not met here, then we will try the next church, consume their religious goods and see if they satisfy.
But the reality is, the church is not a “God store” dispensing spiritual nourishment for the masses. If you have come hoping that this church will meet your spiritual needs, you are mistaken. The church cannot meet your spiritual needs. We are not a religious institution. What we are is a community of faith who come together to meet God – and he and only he can meet our spiritual needs.
The church is not a religious institution, it is not a service provider, and it is not a retail outlet: it is a community of faith. The word for church in the Bible is “ecclesia” from which we get the word “ecclesiastical.” It comes from to other Greek words “eke” for out, and “kleisis” for a calling. When the Bible calls us the ecclesia, it is calling us “The called-out community. That is why verse 9 says “he has called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. The “Ecclesia” is not an organization or an institution; it literally means a gathering of the people – a gathering of God’s people! Church is not a place – it is a people.
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1. Eternity Matters Most.
Matthew 25: 19-21
19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ’Master,’ he said, ’you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’
21"His master replied, ’well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
- We will have to settle the account.
- He is not looking for faithful attendees.
- You have a talent that needs to be used and multiplied.
Many years ago a man conned his way into the orchestra of the emperor of China although he could not play a note. Whenever the group practiced or performed, he would hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play but not making a sound. He received a modest salary an enjoyed a comfortable living. Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician. The flutist got nervous. There wasn’t enough time to learn the instrument. He pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn’t fooled. On the day of his solo performance, the impostor took poison and killed himself. The explanation of his suicide led to a phrase that found its way into the English language: “He refused to face the music.” (Just Like Jesus; Max Lucado)
Today you can pretend to be a part of God’s orchestra by just blending in with the crowd and going through the motions. No one notices here, because you say the right things, go to the right places, and hang out with the right people. And you can enjoy the comfort of being accepted by the crowd of your choice. But there will come a day when you must face the music, one day you will be separated from everything. On that day you will stand alone before God and give an account for your life, your decisions, and whether or not you were taped into the living water.