Summary: No matter where you are found this morning it is time to move. If you have just been a member it’s time to move. If you have just been serving it’s time to move. If you have been sharing its time to move further out than you have gone before.
WHAT GOD HAS TO OFFER
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 3:14 -21
I like what David Jeremiah once said, “Everywhere you go, you meet them --- the ones who sit on the back row of life, whisper, and roll their eyes. These are people who aren’t really headed anywhere, and they’re eager to criticize those who are.
Today, we call them cynics. In Jesus’s day, they were called Pharisees. We don’t know what they were called in the early days of this country, but even then they were around. There is a story of Benjamin Franklin speaking to a crowd on the wonderful guarantee of liberty provided by the United States Constitution.
Midway through his talk, one of these cynics called out, “But what about this ‘pursuit of happiness’? Where’s our guarantee of happiness?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”
I appreciate what Benjamin Franklin said and I am sure you do to because what he said has been discovered. Happiness is no entitlement. There’s no government funding for it. You can’t buy it at the health-food shop or the ritziest store in the mall.
Contrary to popular opinion, wealth isn’t even a distant relative of happiness. Yet there seem to be a lot people in this world who are in pursuit of things they feel will bring happiness only to find out that it eludes them.
A completed college degree, their faith, the church, that wide-screen television, the luxury automobile with the new car smell, the home with the huge yard in the back. You will have to admit with me that there are some things in your possession or in your life that has lost its fizzle, its edge, its spark.
It doesn’t challenge you or give you excitement like you received in the beginning. What is it for you on this first Sunday of the New Year? The marriage you are in…your baby’s father…the career you chose…the man or woman you have been dating…the kids athletic activities…your financial status…your faith…your relationship with God.
Have you been in neutral for so long that you have become one of those cynics? You haven’t really seen God much in your life so you jump on others who claim to have God moving and working in their lives. Hang on this may hurt a little.
You sneer at the so called sham Christianity seen in the televangelists audiences yet the true Christianity that you say you have shows no evidence of changing you, growing you, or declaring you a healthy spiritual life.
In their audiences and in their infomercials the folks are praising, shouting, serving, giving, praying, and high fiving…you swear it is suspect behavior, but yet with the truth you say you are receiving you are no closer to God, giving less, serving sporadically, praying less, and less forgiving.
You no longer believe that God can so you made it a habit last year to doubt that He has in others or stayed away so as not to feel convicted if what is happening in another’s life spiritually is running in contradiction to how you are living your life.
Yet when we look around you can’t help but run into people who has a sense of purpose, passion, and practice that almost makes us envious. They don’t seem to be troubled by anything or anyone.
When you get around them they have a real, living excitement for life. Not some cheap, store-bought, amusement park-simulated excitement --- I mean that genuine article.
You see them in the front of you on Sunday morning, you see them two offices down, you them one aisle up in the supermarket, you see the glitter in her eye and the gleam in his in the movies. And deep down you say to yourself, “I want that kind of living.”
I want the kind of living that causes me to leap out of the bed in the morning, filled with laser-intense purpose, exhilarated about the prospect of another twenty-four hours on earth.
I don’t want to be purpose-impaired, with a surplus of longing, yearning, hopelessness, loneliness, and passionlessness. Can’t you remember the times when your blood was really pumping, when your heart was skipping beats, and when it seemed there was some purpose you were reaching toward with everything in you?
The Spirit of God has set a goal for us this year and that is “Above and Beyond”. We are going to be challenged to become “Above and Beyond” people in a relationship with an “Above and Beyond” God.
No mediocrity this year, no complacency, no business as usual. We need to move. The cloud is not setting, but moving. Our path has been set; we are to move from being members to ministers to missionaries.