(Put up Easter Services Slide)
Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Good to be back this morning.
I’ve been out for a few weeks as I dislocated my shoulder two weeks ago, when I slipped on the ice, while I was shoveling before church.
Can’t win ‘em all.
I promise this will be the best one-armed message you ever hear though.
Before we get started this morning, I want to talk to you for a minute or two about what is happening 3 weeks from this weekend.
And that is our enormous Easter outreach.
We are expecting over 2,000 people this year, which…is absolutely insane for a church that normally sees about 425 on a Sunday
For whatever reason, God’s hand is on this event…big time.
But it won’t happen without you.
When God does a MOVEMENT, He uses His people.
We can’t pull off an outreach that will have over 1,500 guests with 35 of you serving.
Honestly, we can’t even pull it off with every one of us serving one time.
That’s how crazy this thing is in scale!
Just to fit everyone in who wants to come to this thing, we are doing 6 services for Easter.
At each service, we have 61 normal volunteers to pull off services in this room and in Renovation Kids
Times 6 services, that’s 366 volunteer spots that weekend.
ON top of that, we need an additional 124 volunteer slots filled to facilitate the egg hunts outside….which we’re starting sign-ups for today.
That’s 490 volunteer spots to pull off Easter Weekend
There aren’t even that many adults who attend Renovation Church.
So I’m asking you today to use your time that weekend…to help people meet Jesus
If you’re already serving in Renovation Kids, come to another service and help at the egg hunt.
If you can, be here all day on Saturday, or all day on Sunday…
I promise you, it will be one of the most significant things you do this year.
If you’re new around here, Easter weekend at Renovation Church is an amazing thing to see.
At our Saturday services especially, the room is full…I mean full of people who don’t go to church.
At our 2:30pm Saturday service last Easter, I preached to a full room with less than 10 of our own people in the room.
And we saw not 1, not 2, but 32 people stand up in the SAME service and accept Christ.
It was one of the crazier things I’ve ever seen”
Here’s the deal, “All of us play different keys on the piano when we give the Gospel”
From the person at the front door, to the person in Renovation kids, to the person helping create an attractive event outside.
We’re all a part of it.
So this morning, figure out how you’re going to be a part of it this Easter.
In fact, let’s do this…get out your smart phone right now (go ahead)
Open up the Renovation App.
And tap on connect.
Then tap on Volunteer at the Egg Hunt.
You’ll see the 124 spots we’re trying to fill for the egg hunts outside
People to put out eggs
People to check wrist bands
People to direct the hundreds of cars coming in and out at once.
Go ahead and sign-up now.
If you prefer, there is a paper sign-up in the hallway as well.
124 Volunteer slots is a ton!
So don’t just say, “Wow, I pray someone else does this!”
Let God use you to serve others that weekend!
If you can fill more than one slot, great!
Honestly, it’s a ton of fun, and it’s so powerful to be a part of helping so many people meet Jesus.
WHAT WE LIVE FOR
(Put up THE ROPE series slide)
All right, let’s get into today’s message as we finish our series, “The Rope”
This was a message I was going to give 2 weeks ago, but the Lord sent me to the ER so you could hear Ben’s message first last week before you hear this one ☺
What do we live for?
What are we about, as Americans?
It’s really hard for us to define…partly because we think we’re more unique than we really are.
As I started to research this question, I came across an interesting perspective on it.
I found a few websites that are dedicated to helping refugees acclimate to moving to America.
And as part of that process, they explain “American culture” to refugees as seen through the eyes of recent immigrants.
Let me read you just a few of the quotes from these websites
“Americans can be very focused on their work. Sometimes people from other cultures think Americans “live-to-work” or are “workaholics.” Americans tend to identify strongly with their jobs, so when you first meet someone, one of the first questions they might ask you is “What do you do?” They mean, “What kind of work do you do?”
“As a newcomer to the United States, you may sometimes think Americans seem very materialistic. Because Americans value competition, they want to “keep up” with those around them. This means, for example, if your neighbor got a new car, you might want a new car also. Many Americans view material items such as TVs or shoes as a way to show they are successful at work.”
“Be aware that Americans give a higher priority to obtaining, maintaining, and protecting their material objects than they do in developing and enjoying interpersonal relationships.”
I don’t think we sound all that amazing. ☺
If you step out of our culture and look at our lives…perhaps we are really focused on success and possessions…even more than we realize.
If you had never been to America before, and you came and watched our television shows, and watched our commercials, saw our billboards, looked at our Instagram feeds…what would YOU think we were about?
What would you say our life goals are?
Being successful and accumulating a lot of stuff?
Saving for retirement so we can enjoy all of our stuff?
THE PASSAGE & THE FOLLY OF THE RED ROPE
Thankfully Jesus knew people like us were coming, so he told us an appropriate parable (story) for this issue
Jesus is speaking to a large crowd about the topic of worry and how short life really is…and then this happens:
(Luke 12:13-21) – NIV
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
So this man, who was highly successful in his farming enterprise is called a fool by Jesus.
He’s not a fool for being a productive farmer (that’s great, by all means, succeed in business…God can use you mightily in that!)
He’s a fool for thinking that life was all about success, possessions, and the enjoyment of those possessions.
We are in the 3rd and final week of “The Rope” series where we’ve been using this illustration about eternity.
(Pick up 100-ft. rope from stage)
Imagine that this rope is a timeline of your existence.
You see this red part, covered in red tape…right here??
This red part represents your time on earth.
You’ve got a few short years here on earth
But the rest of this rope…represents the rest of your existence.
It represents eternity somewhere else.
Which the Bible says will be in 1 of 2 places: heaven or hell
You can see, it goes on forever and ever.
Jesus calls the man in this story a fool because his purpose in life…to be successful so he could “eat, drink, and be merry” was extremely shortsighted…so much so that it was foolish.
A couple of weeks ago, when we started this series, I visited a number of our house groups that week, so I got to be a part of a number of small group discussions
And at back-to-back groups, I had two separate men in our church tell me stories of people they knew who had saved and saved and saved their entire life for retirement.
Not going on vacations, always buying the cheaper option, all for the sake of building up to one glorious retirement.
And yet, in both of the stories they told, the person they knew, retired, only to unexpectedly die just one month into their retirement.
Jesus says in our passage today that life is not found in an abundance of possessions…in part…because you never know when this life is over
That’s why God says, in the passage, “Then who will get (all of these possessions) that you have prepared for yourself?”
We put so much emphasis on enjoying a certain portion of the red rope…without ever thinking about the LONG white rope to come…and that, whether we want to say it out loud or not, is FOOLISH…just like Jesus says. (PUT DOWN ROPE)
But it’s hard for us to come to that realization.
But do you know who often does come to the realization “that life is not about what you accomplish or what you own”?
Those who’ve just been told that they only have weeks or months to live
When you hear that news, it only takes about 15 seconds to realize life does not consist in the abundance of your possessions
This is like what the philosopher Alanis Morrisette tried to tell us years ago… “Earth is a bit like an old man who won the lottery, and died the next day”
Sure, you had it for this tiny red portion…but then the white rope goes on and on and on………..
And especially to the person who isn’t following Jesus
If you had it all on earth for 75 years, but are going to hell for eternity…I don’t care how successful you were or how rich you were…upon entering in to the gates of hell, you will feel nothing but foolish.
(Mark 8:36) – NIV
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
As Christians, this timeline ought to challenge us to think hard about what we live our lives for.
It reminds me of the very first Bible verse I memorized as a Christian
I couldn’t tell you WHY this was the first one, but it just was:
(1 Timothy 6:7) – NIV
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE ABOUT?
But here’s the challenge for most of you in the room that are already Christ followers.
We’re not very good at self-assessment when it comes to this issue.
Most of you are saying right now, “Okay, this is nice and all David, but I personally don’t think life is all about what you accomplish or what you own…”
But what if, someone hired a person to spy on you for the next year of your life…and then write up a report about what you’re living your life for?
Based on how you spend your time, how you spend your money, what you talk about, and what you’re striving for, what would the person observing the actions of your life derive that your life is about?
What if Google, Netflix, and Amazon and your Mobile Carrier, teamed together in the next 5 years to create a monthly report on where you spend your time online, where you spend it physically, what you talk about?
What would that report tell us about what you value??
It’s irrelevant what we SAY life is about.
Our actions speak to what our lives are really about
So what do your actions say about the purpose of your life?
Are you about pursuing success? The next promotion? Power?
Are you about looking great? Your house looking great? Showing everyone how your life is better than theirs?
Are you just about pleasure? Is most of your free time just spent on relaxing and vegging out?
You know another way to assess what you’re truly living for?
For those of you that are parents, what do you talk to your kids about most when you talk to them about their future?
Is about the importance of education? Homework? College? (nice things)
Is about getting a good job? And handling money well?
Or is about Jesus? And the importance of having an amazing relationship with Him…since you know…that’s the only thing that’s going to last forever.
What do your kids think life is about?
All about the red rope?
This all feels too heavy for some of us, and so some of you are going, subconsciously maybe, “don’t listen to that…don’t take the time to figure this out…you’re too busy!”
And that’s exactly where the devil wants us.
Let me explain.
It’s said that in ancient days, when the king of Thailand had an enemy he wanted to torment and destroy, he would send that enemy a unique gift, a live, white/albino elephant.
These animals were considered sacred in the culture of that day.
So the recipient of that elephant had no choice but to intentionally care for the gift.
But the elephant would take an inordinate amount of the enemy's time, energy, emotions, and finances.
Over time the enemy would destroy himself because of the extremely burdensome process of caring for the gift.
I think our enemy the devil is doing the same thing here in America to Christians
He doesn’t need to manifest himself in any other way here…because he has us distracted with caring for our abundance of possessions.
And many of you look “GREAT” to your neighbors.
Your life, by American standards, is impressive.
You went to school, your job is impressive, your house is nice, even your mini-van is nice…
And it all feels so nice that you haven’t stopped to ever audit your life and say, “Am I spending my time living for the things of the red rope…or am I really living in light of eternity?”
Am I really making decisions based on the fact that this life is a blip, and then myself, and my friends and neighbors are in heaven and hell for all eternity?
Is my life structured around that?
I want you, for a moment, to picture yourself…at the end of your life
The doctor has told you, that you only have 7 days, max, left to live.
You decide you better get your affairs in order, including where you’re going to be buried.
So, you head out to the cemetery, where you had picked out your plot, and as you stand on top of the ground where you are going to be buried under in a few days…
You begin to look back on your life.
And as you look back, it feels unbelievably short.
75 years felt like forever when you were 25…
But now, 75 years felt like a blink of an eye.
And as you look back on your life, you think about all the possessions you just HAD to have in your younger days…
And you remember…that…you worked SO hard (and so many hours) to get them…and now, they’ve all been sold away as you downsized.
And the ones that are left…well, they’ll be someone else’s in a few days…sold off at some estate sale or auction.
You think back on all the things you worked so hard for, the trophies as a young kid, the accolades in school, the career accomplishments you had…
And yet the trophies were lost years ago, you can’t even remember your GPA, and no one at your former place of employment even knows your name anymore.
And as you think about all the years of work, stress, and possessions that came and went…while you’re standing there…on the edge of eternity, you will ask: “Was I living for the right thing?”
Was everything I was doing just for the red rope?
Will any of this matter a year from now…on MY timeline?
Will any of this matter…where I’M going next?
And if you’re going to think those questions…friend, make changes now.
As D.L. Moody said so brilliantly years ago:
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” – D.L. Moody
(Leave that quote up until next verse)
We need to ask…not, how do I do something that matters… we need to think of The Rope!
We need to ask the question: How do I do things that will matter…10,000 years from now?
In the way I’m spending my time, my money…in what I’m talking about and doing… How can I be doing things that will matter, 10,000 years from now on the timeline?
Look at what the Scriptures say about our purpose:
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – NIV)
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
HOW EYES FIXED ON ETERNITY AFFECT THE PRESENT
Because this life is SO short…and the consequences of not knowing Jesus are so enormous…every Christian ought to have their eyes glued on the white rope…fixed on the things of eternity.
(2 Corinthians 4:18) – NIV
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
And that doesn’t mean you escape from the things of this world, but this sort of thinking ought to help you actually change the world!
Look at the sheer brilliance of C.S. Lewis on this topic:
Hope is one of the theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in”: aim at earth and you will get neither. – C.S. Lewis
Christian, wake up from your slumber!
The world needs your eyes fixed on eternity, so you can bring them there with you.
So many Christians are tangled in the red threads of the rope…distracted in the rat race of out-accumulating their neighbor…using our precious resources on the things that will be in a garbage dumb in 10 years…all while the world around them is perishing
So many Christians are so distracted with their schedules, and their workout regimens, and their studies, and their traveling sports teams, all while the world around them is perishing.
So many Christians…say they’re simply too busy to volunteer…too busy meet with their unsaved coworkers to talk about Jesus…and YET…and YET… we somehow find time to entertain ourselves to death every night.
Grown adult men playing VIDEO GAMES for 2-3 hours every night…
Spending their evenings in fantasy…when in reality…the world around them…is perishing!
Grown adult men and women numbing themselves to death on Netflix for hours on end…while their neighbors slip away to an eternity in hell.
How is it possible that we live like this??
We are entangled in the red thread of the rope.
It’s caught us in its deceitful web!
Open your eyes to eternity again!
Wake up from your slumber!
You’re going to die and 100 years from now, no one on earth will even remember you let alone what you did here.
Nothing that I’m saying is not true.
But OH How God would use you if you kept your eyes on the white rope instead of the red.
He’s wants to use you!
Spurgeon said once:
“Life is very short, but a great deal may be done. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in three years, saved the world. Some of his followers in three years have been the means of saving many and many a soul.” - Charles Spurgeon.
But nothing will change until you boldly and courageously start changing the grid by which you make your life decisions.
Let go of the grid that says:
“I will do today…what will make me happy”
Or, “I will do today, what will make me more money”
Or, “I will do today, what will make people proud of me or envy me”
These are things that get so much air time in our brain, but really, yield so little fruit.
Keep asking, what can I do in the next 24 hours, this month, this year…that will matter 10,000 years from now?
What if instead of telling your ministry leader at church that you are “too busy” to volunteer an hour a month, you told your social media account you were “too busy” to spend an hour a day continuously checking it?
What if instead of saving up for that next thing you want… you said, “I don’t, really, need that…” What if instead, you started giving to the things that will make an eternal difference?
What if at work, instead of talking to your coworkers about the latest game, headline, or snowstorm, you prayed for them or invited them to Easter?
What if instead of spending a few hours each week cleaning your home, you devoted a time each week where you invited people to come into your home…no matter how it looks! (Because how our house looks is really going to matter 10,000 years from now??)
What if instead of figuring out have to have more “me time,” you said, I just need to figure out how to have more “God time!”
Do you what I’m saying??
It’s a changing of the grid by which you live your life.
No longer making decisions about what will matter 1 day from now or a year from now, but 10,000 years from now.
On Thursday morning, I was watching Olympic highlights before I started my work day.
And I came across the highlights of women’s cross cross country skiing, and I came across this clip of the American (she’s from Minnesota actually) Jessie Diggins…check this out:
(SHOW CLIP FROM OLYMPICS)
And I watched that, and I thought, “What’s wrong with me?!”
How is this possibly bringing tears to my eyes??
And I realized what makes the Olympics so powerful…is the fact that you have these people that work SOO hard for something…FOR YEARS…years at a time for one moment…but that then becomes a moment that they’ll enjoy for the rest of their lives as they look back.
This is the same thing the Scripture teaches us about the Christian life:
(Hebrews 12:1) – NIV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
Let us throw off the that red thread that so easily entangles us into thinking life is all about this world.
THROW it OFF!
Run again for Jesus!
Run the right race!
Not that rat race…but the Kingdom race!
To live this way…to live w/ the white rope in mind is to sacrifice…like an Olympic Athlete
It’s to pick up your cross and to deny yourself…
But if you live like this…
If you run your race with eternity in mind…
Just like that moment of winning a gold medal…I assure you, it will all be worth it when you enter the gates of heaven and your Father in heaven, looks at you, and says, “Well done…good and faithful servant…”
And for the next…not 5…not 50…for next 10,000 years of your life and beyond, you will look back and say… “It was worth it!”
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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