Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.
Thanks for being here this morning on this historic Sunday.
In some ways, it feels like everything we’ve ever done has led up to today.
It’s certainly not small in its significance.
For 5 weeks now, we’ve been talking about our desire to AMPLIFY what we’re already doing and reach and disciple more people for Christ.
(Put up Attendance Slide)
We know that in 3.5 years from now, we are out of room at Northpoint Elementary.
So for the last 5 weeks, we’ve been talking about our goal to raise $500,000 to buy a piece of land.
So that one day…we could raise money to put a building on it.
We know that this will not be a quick process…but we know that we need to start.
We know that the people of this city and beyond need us.
Today is our Commitment Sunday.
So towards the end of the service, we’ll be asking you all to hand in your Commitment Cards
If you haven’t filled yours out already or if you never got one, there is one under your chair for you if you’d like to take a look at it…or fill it out if you already know what you’re going to do.
COMMITMENT LASTS THROUGH UNCERTAINTY
Throughout this 5-week series, we’ve been studying the life of Abraham…a man of faith who moved to a new land.
And today, we’re going to see that Abraham has now come to almost the end of his life.
And He’s still relying on God
(Genesis 24:1-9) – NIV
Abraham was now very old, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the senior servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” 5 The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?” 6 “Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. 7 “The Lord, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. 8 If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” 9 So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
Abraham doesn’t have much time left on this earth…and he wants his son Isaac, the son of the promise, to find a wife.
And Abraham is adamant about two things:
FIRSTLY, he does NOT want his son to marry a woman from the surrounding Canaanite people of their new land.
These pagan people are the very people whose sin is so great (child sacrifice, etc.) that they will be destroyed and driven out in the centuries to come.
Plus, Abraham knows that Isaac has to get married because so many of God’s promises to Abraham involved Abraham’s family becoming a great nation
(Genesis 15:5) – NIV
He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
And Abraham’s never going to have that family line if his son doesn’t get married.
And SECONDLY, under no circumstances does Abraham want his son Isaac to go back to the land that Abraham came from.
Why? Why does it matter?
It matters because God didn’t just tell Abraham he would have many great descendants (which would be the Jewish people), God promised Abraham…the PROMISED LAND.
And not just to Abraham…but to his descendants
(Genesis 17:8) – NIV
The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”
So for Abraham’s son Isaac to return back to his father’s homeland now…would only mean unbelief in God’s promise and His ability to fulfill it.
Abraham knows that if God was faithful to him before, He’s going to continue to be faithful.
And Abraham wants to be committed in his belief.
And you can see that his commitment to God and his faith in God are sky high.
He even tells his servant…don’t worry…God’s angel will go before you.
This thing is going to work out.
It HAS to work out.
God has promised it to us.
And God does work it out.
If you read the rest of the story in Genesis 24, the servant meets Rebekah, who becomes Isaac’s amazing wife.
And one of the things I want you to see from Abraham is that he stays committed to God’s promise even through opposition and uncertainty.
Abraham kept believing in God…even when it seemed crazy
Think about it, his servant was supposed to go to some faraway land and convince some woman to come back to a land where she’s never been and marry some man she’s never met.
But Abraham is committed because all God has ever been is committed to this promise.
And I believe we must do the same.
Even in uncertainty.
Think about what’s going to happen in the next week or so…
Will we see $500,000 come in? Will we see $550,000 come in?
Or what if it’s $350,000?
I have no idea what will happen (the Bible says we don’t even know if we’ll be breathing tomorrow), but let me tell you something…if that should happen….if only $350,000 came in…
Like Abraham…we know what God is calling us to…and we will find a way to keep going forward.
Even if the path to get there is uncertain.
When God has spoken…you listen. And you keep going.
And we know that God is calling us to shine a brighter light in this city.
We know He is calling us to Amplify our reach through church planting and missions.
Listen, the reality is we don’t know exactly how the next 5 or 10 years are going to work out for Renovation Church.
Sure, we have plans…but no one knows exactly how it will go.
But there’s one thing we DO know…we’re called to be a people being changed by God to change the world…so we will.
And until God tells us otherwise…we’ll be committed to that cause.
Just like Abraham was to His promise.
By the way, I mentioned Church Planting a second ago…I just flew back from Philadelphia on Friday night.
I was at the church planter’s assessment center out there, and I’m very happy to announce that our 3rd church planter was fully recommended…
And will be planting our 3rd church out of Renovation in 2015!
COMMITMENT INVOLVES SACRIFICE
If we are to be a committed people like Abraham…
If we’re going to be committed to making this happen.
It’ll take more than just pledging today.
It’ll take commitment over the next 3 years.
Pledging is the easy part.
The hard part is staying committed when it gets hard over the next 3 years.
Because commitment always involves sacrifice.
Think of commitment in a marriage.
It involves sacrifice.
To stay together…to stay committed…involves sacrifice. It’s not easy.
If we’re going to lead the way for people to meet Christ…it will require something of us.
And there may be times over the next few years when finances become tighter…or something happens…when staying committed is hard.
But no one’s promising you this will be easy.
But commitment says, “I believe in this…so I’ll stick with it”
I mean think of the commitment of Abraham over his lifetime.
If you read his story in Genesis chapters 12 – 24, what you find is that it wasn’t merely that he walked to the Promised Land and everything was fine from there on out.
Staying committed to believing God for the fulfillment of that promise…took a lot of work.
Early on there was a famine…and he had to leave the Promised Land and move to Egypt temporarily.
The promised land was supposed to be for his descendants, and yet his wife was infertile for decades
When he finally had a son, God, to test his faith, asked him to sacrifice him (and thankfully delivered him at the last moment)
We are all excited now…but let me be honest with you…just like Abraham, there will be moments over the next 3 years where you feel tempted to give up…tempted to just put your own needs first.
For example, think of it this way: Contrast these two well-known news stories from the past few years and look at the difference of commitment
Back in January of 2009, I remember I was actually being assessed at the Church Planter’s Assessment Center when this happened…
US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of Canadian Geese (which can you think of 1 positive thing about Canadian Geese?), it lost power, and start plummeting back towards New York City.
However, captain Sullenberger successfully landed the plane on the Hudson River.
Sullenberger then stayed to make sure everyone got safely evacuated…even twice walking the length of the cabin to confirm no one remained inside…before he was the last one to exit the aircraft.
He was committed to saving lives…at whatever cost. At whatever sacrifice.
Contrast that story with a story out of South Korea from April.
And nothing against South Koreans…who are actually doing more for reaching the world for Christ than almost any other country…this is merely a contrast of two men.
But in April of this year, a ferry carrying 476 passengers capsized…killing 300 people.
The captain initially told passengers to stay in their rooms, but when it looked like there might not be enough time and enough rescue boats to help everyone…
rather than staying to get the message to evacuate out to as many passengers as possible, the captain, and his first and second mates, decided to evacuate ship…becoming the first, 2nd, and 3rd people to be rescued.
All while hundreds of passengers, many of them high school students, stayed in the rooms...waiting instructions…to their death.
Listen, people are dying all around us. Spiritually dying. Many…the majority…in our city…will die and enter into an eternity in hell. An eternity, a never-ending suffering…apart from God.
And right up until their death…many of them will be awaiting instructions…waiting to hear the truth of how to be rescued.
Will you tell them?
Will you help tell them?
Will you put their needs before your own?
I’m afraid that too many of us will just jump to our own rescue without considering the masses of other people.
Especially when it gets tough…when it gets hard…when finances get tight.
FAITH ALWAYS RESULTS IN ACTION…NOT WATCHING
Or maybe you’re sitting here this morning, and you’re looking at this from a different place.
I’ve been a pastor for over a decade now, and one of the things I’ve noticed about “church people” is lots of times they tell you they’re really excited about something that’s happening at the church…
But then when you roll out sign-ups for a new team, or missions trip, or ministry, or you name it, no one signs-up.
They WERE excited about it (in principle)…but they didn’t want to do the sacrificial work to make it happen.
They just were excited for someone else to do the work…and then enjoy the benefits.
It happens ALL the time in churches all across America.
Let me tell you, if that’s the approach we take here…we will never get there. Not even remotely close.
No one wants you to just be excited about this…I want you to be a part of it.
Every single person in this room, even if you feel you can only give a small amount.
Even if it’s only $100 over the next 3 years, please give a $100.
$100 is better than $0…100% of the time.
Although, I bet if you asked God…He can probably supply more than that.
Even, if you’ve never given to God’s mission here before, this is a fantastic time to start.
When we walk that piece of land together in a year or so…I want you to feel like you made it happen.
I don’t want you to walk into this building someday…and feel like everybody put this church on their back…and have you feeling like, “I wish I would have been a part of it.”
As we say all the time here, “Don’t just watch the movement, be a part of it”
Be a part of this. Commit to it.
This isn’t a cruise ship…it’s a row boat…pick up an oar…even if it’s a little one.
Once again in the last week, I’ve literally heard stories of people picking up oars to make this happen that have dropped me to my knees in awe of God.
Stories of people from our church that have been making radical sacrifices so we can Amplify what we are doing and reach and disciple more people.
Stories of young people, old people, seasoned Christians, new Christians…
Stories of people sacrificing things that were pretty dear to them.
Stories of people listing out “needs vs. wants,” and sacrificing some of those “wants” for Amplify
Multiple stories of people getting promotions…and just giving it to Amplify.
Listen, faith always results in commitment, which always results in action…not just watching.
Excitement is not faith. Faith results in commitment…which results in action.
Abraham’s faith always leads him to commitment and action.
Otherwise he never would have left his homeland to go to the promised land.
He didn’t just say, “Hey, Good idea! I’m excited about it”
No, he committed to it…And that commitment resulted in action.
See, in Christianity, there isn’t much of a middle road.
John Ortberg, in writing about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Mathew, says it this way:
“There is a narrow gate or there is a wide gate. No third gate. There is a narrow road and a broad road. No third road. There is a good tree and a bad tree. No third tree. There are true disciples and false disciples. No third category. House built on the rock, house built on the sand. No third house. People who do what Jesus says and people who hear and know but don't seek to do.” – John Ortberg
And I think what keeps a lot of people on the sidelines is the fear that if they get in the game…that it might cost them something.
It reminds me of one of my favorite movies of all time: Glory.
Denzel Washington actually won his first Oscar for it.
It’s the story of the first black regiment to fight for the north in the Civil War.
There’s a powerful scene towards the beginning of the movie when Colonel Shaw, a white commander of the regiment, makes this announcement to the all-black troops:
"In accordance with President Lincoln's wishes, you men are advised that the Confederate Congress has issued a proclamation."
“Any Negro taken at arms against the Confederacy will immediately be returned to the state of slavery. Any Negro taken in Federal uniform will be summarily put to death."
He looks up at his men, many of whom are freed or runaway slaves and cherish their freedom, and assuming that many (if not most) will not want to continue serving, Shaw looks up from the letter and says, "Full discharge will be granted in the morning to all those who apply."
And that next morning, he awakens, expecting to see no one left.
He sees his major and he asks, “How many are left?”
And to his amazement, he turns a corner and sees the entire company standing at attention.
Not a single person had left.
Here’s what I think is so powerful about that:
It’s the definition of COMMITMENT
It’s saying, “I believe in this cause so much…and the value of it…that I will be here…no matter what the cost”
And that’s not necessarily the strong suit of our generation today.
The Generations who went through the Great Depression and WWII were committed…but not so today.
But that doesn’t have to be us here at Renovation Church.
We don’t have to be afraid of commitment.
Because it’s through commitment that some of the greatest things in life are found… (like marriage, like family, like faith)
It’s through commitment that the world is changed. (read the Biography of any world-changing person, and you’ll see that their level of commitment through opposition is SKY HIGH)
The world never gets changed haphazardly
Jesus is our perfect model here
He was committed to go to the cross…no matter what.
And now…he’s committed to us as believers…no matter what we do… no matter how many times we run away from him in sin.
And we want to bring the same level of commitment to the people of this city and beyond.
We want to stay on the boat…stay on the plane…and be the last to leave…when they’re all safe. When they’ve all heard about the rescuing love of Jesus Christ!
And we’ll do whatever it takes…whatever it costs us…to save lives.
THE VALUE OF COMMITMENT
And I’m telling you…when you get in on something like this
When you commit to something like this…you get to be a part of something amazing.
But to have an impact in this world, you have to get off the sidelines.
The people in the stands never have a win-loss record.
And maybe they like it that way because they don’t have to lose…but they never get to experience the real joy of the win either.
If you’re a part of this with us…yes, it will take sacrifice. Yes, it will take commitment.
But someday, in the future, because of your hard work… hundreds and hundreds maybe thousands of people will know Jesus Christ.
6 weeks ago, on our 5th birthday, we had our launch team stand up…and people applauded.
And they applauded from their hearts…because there were well over 100 people in the room who met Jesus Christ because of the sacrifices of those very people on the launch team.
And someday, in the future…in a new building someday…YOU will all stand up…and people will applaud you for your sacrifice…and your commitment.
And from the bottom of their heart…they will thank you.
Because they met Jesus because of you.
Their marriage didn’t end in divorce…because of you.
Their depression went away…because of you…
And your generosity.
TURNING IN THE COMMITMENT CARDS
At this point, if you haven’t picked up your commitment card from under your chair, please do so.
You’ll want to start to fill it out because in just a few minutes, we are going to have you turn it in.
(put up Commitment Card slide)
Let me mention a few details on it:
What you are doing here is essentially making a pledge of what you intend to give over the next 3 years.
You’re not actually giving right now…and there’s no need to write checks or anything of that sort.
And this is merely a declaration of your intentions.
It’s not a legal contract…you’re not signing anywhere in blood.
It’s a pledge.
We do ask that you mark on here how often you intend to give (whether you prefer weekly, monthly, etc.)
If you have a calculator/smartphone, simply pick ONE of those four lines, figure out what it would be to give weekly or monthly (whatever you choose), and then put your total 3-year pledge on the far right of the line you choose
You just need to fill out one line.
If you don’t have a calculator, we can figure that out for you later…just at minimum fill out one of the far right lines with your total pledge.
I know that many of you will want to know what the total number is today.
However, we know that many of our people who weren’t able to make it here today are still mailing their card in or pledging online at AmplifyRenovation.org.
So, we will be announcing the total on November 30th, which we are calling “Celebration Sunday”
(Put up Celebration Sunday Slide)
At this point, I’m going to call the band back on stage to lead us in worship.
And we’re actually going to do something we’ve never done before, but I think it’s important we do this.
What you’re doing this morning…is not just making a pledge.
This is an important act of worship.
So what we would like you to do is this:
Anytime during this last song, I want you to get up, and take your commitment card and bring it to the front.
You can then place it in the basket on one of the stools.
This isn’t just a pledge.
You’re offering this to God.
Saying, “God, I’m going to sacrifice for you…for your people…for the lost”
I know SO many of you in this room are making amazing sacrifices for this.
And I want you to know that this is a powerful act of worship.
This is, as the Bible sometimes says of Old Testament sacrifices, a fragrant and pleasing offering to God.
So at anytime during this last song, get up and bring your commitment card to the front.
If you’re married, or your family is in here…do it together as a family.
And let me just say, as the leader of this church, on behalf of all our leaders…we are so thankful for you.
We are nothing without you.
Together, we are Renovation Church.
And someday…(even if it’s not until you’re in heaven) someday…someone will put their arms around you…and thank you for what you did for them.
Let me pray…and then let’s worship.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.