Summary: Three principles for translating our priorities into action in our lives. Part of a giving campaign series.
Today is a very important and exciting day in the life of our congregation. First of all this is the weekend of Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday marks the start of what Christians down through the ages have called holy week. Holy week is the last week of Jesus Christ’s life before his resurrection from the grave.
On Sunday of Holy Week Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in what Christians call Christ’s triumphal entry into the city. The next day, Jesus went to the Jewish temple. There Jesus drove people buying and selling animals for sacrifice out of the temple, temporary bringing the sacrifices to a halt. On Thursday of holy week Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his followers. Then he spent the night in agonizing prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. Finally, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tried, and on Friday he was crucified.
This year we’ll celebrate holy week with our In His Steps ministry on Good Friday. From 1:00 to 6:00 pm Friday afternoon, groups of people will come to retrace the events of holy week, going from station to station in a 20 minute tour, led by a narrator to explain the meaning and significance of the events of holy week. Last year over 700 people went through In His Steps. We’ll also be having a Good Friday communion service at 7:00 PM. I’m sure we’ll run out of room at our communion service, so I encourage you to arrive early.
And then next weekend we’ll be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. My sermon topic for Easter weekend is how to recover our hope in the aftermath of 9/11. We’ll be examining the relevance of Christ’s resurrection to our lives today. Easter weekend is always a great weekend to invite unchurched friends and neighbors, and I encourage you to be praying about who God would have you invite.
Following Easter weekend, we’re going to launch a new sermon series called "Wise Up." In this series we’ll be looking at what the Old Testament book of Proverbs has to say about life. Each week we’ll look at one topic from Proverbs, and see how to live wisely as it relates to that particular topic. This will also be a great time to invite your unchurched friends and family to attend church with you, so they can see the relevance of the Bible to issues they’re already struggling with.
But this weekend is also significant for us because it’s Launch Weekend. Today signals the end of our Beyond Every Limit campaign we’ve been in for the last five weeks. The purpose of this all church emphasis has been to help us as a church dream beyond our current limitations and take some new steps of faith. We’ve had four goals for Beyond Every Limit: To challenge our church members to embrace priorities in line with God’s kingdom, to relocate our coffee house and install some portable classrooms for adult ministry, to see God provide the funds to pay off our church building loan off by 2005, and to envision new ministries that will extend the influence of God’s kingdom. Pastor Bruce introduced Beyond Every Limit four weeks ago, and then two weeks ago we had over 600 people in our church attend one of four all church banquets.
Since today is Launch Weekend, we’ll be taking a special one time offering to pay for the relocation of our coffee house and installation of the portable classrooms. We’ll also be collecting commitment cards from our church members, so we can make an informed decision about just how much to increase our monthly payment on our building loan. So today we present our offering and our commitment cards to the Lord as part of our worship experience.
As we finish Beyond Every Limit today, we’re going to talk about how to turn our priorities into action. To challenge us to embrace kingdom priorities we’ve been going through the Old Testament book of Haggai. Haggai was a prophet sent by God to the nation of Israel in the sixth century before the birth of Jesus. Previously, the nation of Israel had been in exile for seventy years. The Babylonians had invaded Israel, destroyed the city of Jerusalem, torn down the Jewish temple Solomon had built, and took the people captive. After 70 years of exile, the people were finally permitted to return to their city, only to find it a mess. Under the leadership of Nehemiah they rebuilt the walls of the city of Jerusalem, and under the leadership of Ezra they laid the foundation to rebuilt the temple. But then they lost their focus, and work on rebuilding the Jewish temple stopped for 18 years. For 18 years the people were distracted with their own needs, and their priorities focused on themselves rather than the purposes of God. So after 18 years of inaction, God raised up the prophet Haggai to challenge them to get their priorities back in focus.