Giving Thanks for 25 Years
Messiah Lutheran Church
Sunday, January 19, 2020, Messiah Lutheran kicked-off its 25th anniversary year of ministry with a special worship service at the Skidaway Island State Park, our worship space prior to the construction of the church. We invite you to share in our journey through pictures and stories in the upcoming months. Enjoy!
January 19, 2020
Sermon Message by Pastor Pepper at the special 25th Anniversary Worship of Messiah Lutheran Church at Skidaway Island State Park
Are you “doing church” or just playing games doing church?
John 1:29-42 (and beyond) Ephesians 5:15-20
Today’s gospel lesson is a real challenge for us.
Jesus invited people to “come and see” what his teachings are about.
Later, Nathaniel invited people to “come and see” what it was like to follow the teachings of Christ.
Today we are followers who are to invite people to “come and see” what Christianity is all about.
• To find out how it can change their lives
• To learn what it is like to receive forgiveness
• To experience peace and comfort in our lives during trying times.
When we invite people to join us at church, do they find these kinds of things?
We live in a time when people “do” things
1. Let’s “do” lunch
2. Let’s “do” a date
3. Nike says “just do it”
4. Some are just “doing”
Today I want to look at the idea of “doing church”
Actually, most Americas today believe that there is a God, but many admit that they do not feel his presence or sense his power.
Their faith in God is intellectual, theological, impersonal, and static (their faith produces little or no change in their lifestyle.)
Churches today are filled with busy, hard-working people, who view their commitment and responsibility to God as practical & urgent.
They sign pledges, give their tithes and offerings, read their bibles, visit, witness, teach, and even preach – but so many do it without life and enthusiasm – what the old-timers called unction and zeal.
All too often we find ourselves busy doing things for God, going through the motions.
When what we desperately need is the filling of God’s spirit – whereby his energy and power is turned lose in us – released in us – God doing mighty things through us.
That’s why, for many, faith is intellectual and works mechanical.
What we need is a rekindled relationship with god, through the person & work of the holy spirit – filling our hearts and lives.
Some people sit and church and judge other-“look at the terrible outfit” .“they have a lot of nerve coming to church”, or the worse thing, “i feel so sorry for that person”.
But they never ask them how they could help.
Doing church means many different things
A husband and his wife arose one Sunday morning and the wife dressed for church. It was just about time for the service when she noticed her husband hadn’t moved a finger toward getting dressed.
Perplexed, she asked, “why aren’t you getting dressed for church?”
He said, “cause i don’t want to go.
She asked, “do you have any reasons?”
He said, “yes, i have three good reasons. First, the congregation is cold. Second, no one likes me. And third, I just don’t want to go.
The wife replied, wisely, “well, honey, I have three reasons why you should go. First, the congregation is warm. Second, there are people there who like you. And third, you’re the pastor! So, get dressed!”
A certain congregation was about to erect a new church edifice. The building committee, in consecutive meetings, passed the following resolutions:
• We shall build a new church.
• The new building is to be located on the site of the old one.
• The material in the old building is to be used in the new one.
• We shall continue to use the old building until the new one is completed.
As we think of “doing church” we need to examine what God wants us to be doing and what people are looking for in a church home.
It is interesting that these two are nearly the same even though some may think otherwise.
Let’s look at these together:
What People Desire in a Church
According to Focus on the Family Magazine, people expect six things in a church:
good music, social groups, big meeting rooms, a quality kitchen, ample parking, and clean restrooms.
However, George Gallup in a survey found that the vitality of churches, depends very much on how effectively they respond to six spiritual needs of Americans.
They are listed as:
1. The need to believe that life is meaningful and has a purpose.
• In a world where life is cheap, violence is rampant, despair is epidemic, families split, and people turn to sex, drugs and rock n roll looking for love, acceptance and meaning – the real question is – “can I find meaning and purpose in life”
• People want their lives to count for something – to be part of something bigger than themselves
• People want substance to their lives
2. The need for a sense of community and deeper relationships.
• People want to belong and know that someone cares about them – they want to develop friendships
• Like the tv show “cheers” – where everybody knows your name
3. The need to be appreciated and respected.
• Common courtesy and manners are displayed
• Talents are recognized and used
4. To be listened to and heard.
• Can express yourself without fear –
• People listen and consider what you say
• Given direction and correction when necessary
5. To feel that they are growing in the faith.
• Challenged to be who God wants them to be
• Places and times to express faith – this gives the feeling that you are growing
6. The need for practical help in developing a mature faith.
• Sunday School/ discipleship and mid-weeknight – men’s and women’s groups
Children and youth ministries
Special events that give help in growing
Now for the second part
What God Desires in a Church
Look at the scripture we read this morning from Ephesian 5:15-20
It may sound like it is meant for the individual, but it is in the context of the church relationships.
We are to:
• Live wisely – our behavior governed by God’s word
• Be filled with the spirit
God also wants us to do certain things as we join together to “do church”
• Encourage each other in our interactions
• Lift our hearts in praise to God together
• Give thanks to God always
Some more things God desires
• Worship that glorifies God
• A place to be taught and to grow
Caring for the needs of the people
• Physical needs – acts 2 – “held everything in common”
• Emotional – celebrate and cry together in times of triumph and loss
• A place of fellowship – where deep personal relationships can be developed
• A place of mission – personal ministries and corporate missions in the town, area and world
To “do” church means we intentionally seek to follow God’s desires not our own
• We must first accept Jesus as savior and lord
• We must come together – Hebrews. 10:25 – “forsake not the assembling of yourselves together”
–When possible, we must be here with our families – not enough to send them or to come alone
• We must each fulfill our responsibilities faithfully
• We meet the world with the Word and power of God
Are you “doing church” or just playing games?
What do we need to do??
According to our text, there is something that we need to do– “Be filled with the spirit”.
A command –
• a must, an imperative, the fuel for Christian service
• a continuous command – “be being kept continuously filled” ongoing
• a gift – “be filled”, “receive” It’s not something we reach out and get on our own – rather it is a blessing we attain by asking and receiving (just like salvation)
Honestly, how many of you would like to:
• Follow Christ more closely?
• Serve Him more faithfully?
• Give to Him more cheerfully?
• Know Him more intimately?
• Pray to Him more effectively?
• Love Him more sincerely?
• Witness for Him more boldly?
• Worship Him more enthusiastically?
It results in a changed life (changed for the better too). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit our lives are blessed and our relationships are characterized by harmony. Amen
This written version of today’s sermon, courtesy of Pastor Jim Pepper.