Good morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Welcome to our very last outdoor service.
As excited as we are to get inside, let me just acknowledge that it has been a great blessing to meet outside this summer.
And we are grateful to the Spring Lake Park School District for letting us do so.
We are SO excited to go back to our regular space next week!
And we’re pumped to open up our Renovation Kids’ classes as well!
You can find all the details on “kids classrooms and more” on the homepage of our website
As we’ve been saying for weeks, we will be social distancing, wearing masks, and watching occupancy numbers.
There will be an overflow room in the cafeteria where the service will be streamed.
And that room will also double as a Family Viewing Area if you’re not putting your younger kids in the classrooms.
If you’re vulnerable, have virus concerns, or you’re just feeling even a tiny bit sick (we want to be extra cautious), we’ll still be offering our service live online during this time
…so you’ll still be able to watch from home.
For those of you that have been able to come in person, I think one of the best things about seeing SO many of you coming back over the last month or so, is the conversations we get to have afterwards together.
We’re a church…a body…we’re friends meant to encourage each other.
And we still want to do that when we move inside.
However, we don’t want to clog our hallways doing that (and it’s hard to social distance in the hallway)
…so we’re going to encourage you to talk to each other 6-feet-apart in the large gym space, the cafeteria, or better yet, outside where there is plenty of space…and you can take your mask off as well.
And finally, let me say one more thing about masks.
I know a number of you don’t love them, and you’re maybe even hesitating about coming in because you know that masks are going to be required the whole time…
If that’s you…My challenge to you is this: Don’t let your opinions on an issue stop you from coming to worship God.
It may not be your ideal way to worship, but please, please, don’t let that stop you from worshipping the King.
Last month, I met a pastor who came to Christ while living in the country of Turkey.
When he came to Christ, he quickly became a part of the underground church there.
And every week, about 20-30 of them would secretly cram into somebody’s house for worship.
It wasn’t ideal. It wasn’t their preference.
It was hot.
There weren’t enough chairs
They sang with their hearts, but they couldn’t sing too loudly for fear of getting caught…
But they didn’t let their ideals or preferences stop them from coming to worship their Savior.
God was still worthy of their worship!
And He is still worthy of yours, even if the circumstances aren’t ideal.
All right, let’s get into our message.
We are in the final week of our Disrupted Series.
And I have a challenging word today.
It’s a hard one, but it is soooo good for us, and so needed.
One of the main reasons I wanted to do this series, is I, and many of my pastor friends are concerned about the spiritual state of our sheep.
A spiritual apathy has crept into our American churches.
And not just an apathy, but a reordering of priorities.
Months and months of isolation have turned many of us inward
We’ve begun to normalize me-first behavior without even noticing it we’re doing it
And watching online services for a few months in the Spring, knocked a whole bunch of us right out of our normal spiritual habits (again, not talking about those who are vulnerable, but the rest of us)
And as I spoke on a few weeks ago, when you get knocked out of the habit of doing something, it’s REALLY hard to get back into a habit
I’ve talked to a lot of people who told me that when the virus first hit…
They would watch church online every week!
But then, they said , “We would just watch it later in the week..
And then, eventually, we just…stopped.
That was the story of SO many of our people this Spring and summer
And as so many of us stopped going to church, our other spiritual habits (Bible reading, Christian fellowship) and others started to fade too
And the biggest fallout, is what I want to talk about today…we stopped seeking God first.
And that has left many of us feeling anxious, angry, and unfulfilled.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TO PUT GOD FIRST
But God has called you to seek Him first.
(Outdoor Services – Weekly Verses)
These are the words of Jesus…
They are from his famous sermon on the mount.
And while He’s talking about all of the worries and anxieties people have, he encourages them not to worry, but to instead:
(Matthew 6:33) – NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
We are to seek FIRST His Kingdom.
In other words you are to seek to live, at all times, as if God is the King of your life…all of your life.
We are to seek FIRST His righteousness.
That means we are to seek His holiness, his way of life, his justice, his goodness.
We are to seek it, and seek it first…before our own gain or pleasure.
So what does it actually look like to put God first? How do we do that?
How do we put God first, but then also bring him into our careers, families, hobbies, and relationships as well.
I want to give you a number of examples today
Let’s start with John Wanamaker, who was a really successful businessman in the 1800’s.
He started a department store chain and was a pioneer in marketing.
His department stores eventually become one of the most successful businesses in the country.
But on top of that, he was eventually named the Postmaster General of the United States…
AND then THIRDLY, he was ALSO the Superintendent of the Bethany Presbyterian Sunday School in Philadelphia, which at that point, was the largest Sunday School in the world!
When someone once asked him how he could hold all of those positions at once, he explained:
“Early in life I read, “Seek ye the first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Then he said, “The Sunday School is my business, and the rest…are the other things…added unto me”
In fact, one evidence of his desire to keep the Lord’s work first in his life was a specially constructed soundproof room in his store.
Every day, he spent 30 minutes in his soundproof room, studying God’s Word and talking to the Lord.
He sought God first, and God took care of the rest.
And here’s the thing: If you’re seeking God first, He has to be first.
If you grab a random Christian and ask them, “Who’s first in your life?”
Most will answer, “God”
But the evidence found within their schedules and their bank accounts will give a totally different answer.
If you’re going to seek God first, and put God first, that means we literally have to seek Him first in all areas of our lives.
Let’s talk through some really practical examples of this
Our schedules is a really good one.
I don’t know enough Christians anymore that seek God first in their schedule.
Honestly, too often God is almost completely left out of our everyday life, and if we do make room for Him, He often just gets our “leftovers”
If we have any minutes or energy left at the end of the day, we’ll open our Bible.
But if we don’t have any time, or we’re too tired, we don’t even have leftovers for God
But if you truly want to Seek His Kingdom First…
That means that God is the FIRST thing you write down on your schedule. Your first priority.
You schedule in daily time for Him every day (to read and pray)
And you don’t let anything touch that time.
And you give Him the BEST time.
That’s seeking Him FIRST in your daily schedule.
Here’s another important schedule example: Far too many American Christians, God gets our leftover Sundays on our calendar
What we seek first are our soccer tournaments on Sundays…and we put those on our Sunday calendar first.
Then we get family birthday parties on Sundays
Then summer home improvement days, Spring Cleaning, some extra weekends to sleep in,
And then, with our 15 leftover Sundays, the ones left on the calendar…we pencil in God.
That’s not what Jesus is talking about when he says “SEEK FIRST” the Kingdom of God.
The Bible teaches the exact opposite of that approach.
It teaches that Christians are to give their firstfruits to the Lord.
They were to give the first part of their harvest to God…and then they divvied up or sold the rest
They were to give the first of their income to God before they spent it on anything else.
They were to give the first day of the week (Sundays) to the Lord.
Now, 50 years ago, it was actually a lot easier to do these sorts of things, because the culture at large respected Sundays and time for God.
But now, that has all but evaporated, so Christians are being put to the test…
Do we REALLY seek God first?
Does he get our “first fruits” or our “leftovers”
And as Christ followers, we are called not just to seek God first with our schedule, but with our decisions.
This is the 2nd phrase of the verse: “Seeking God “in his righteousness”
Here’s what that means:
When you have a decision to make at home…or at work…or in a relationships….and it’s a hard one…
And honestly things would just go better if you told a white lie, or you could make more money if you cheated the system a bit…
We’re called to Seek God’s wisdom on the decision…FIRST.
That his way of doing things, would be the first filter that you run your decision making through.
Not, what’s the best for you…or what will make you the most money, or advance your career or make you friends…
But we SEEK God’s Righteousness FIRST when we make decisions.
We are Jesus First, Word of God people.
But a lot of people don’t want to do this.
And if you don’t, I must warn you, that if you only give God your leftovers and you only follow Him when it’s convenient, you won’t ever see much change…or blessing…in your life.
Henry Drummond once said while speaking to a group of young college men: “Gentlemen, I beseech you to seek the Kingdom of God FIRST, or not at all. I promise you a miserable time if you seek it second”
That is so true.
Giving God the “lukewarm leftovers” of your life will not satisfy Him, and it won’t satisfy you either.
PERHAPS YOU’VE MISSED HIS VALUE
So why do so many of us put God second? Or third? Or only give him our leftover time, talents, and money?
I’ll tell you why…
It’s because we’ve misjudged His value.
We’ve determined that these other things we continually put in front of him will give us more of what we want.
More happiness, peace, joy, contentment, you name it
Isn’t that it, if you really think about it?
Why else would we continually put other things first and before God?
Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 13 when He speaks about the immense value of the Kingdom of God (living as if God is King)…if we really understood it
(Matthew 13:44-46) – NIV
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
The buried treasure in that field was worth infinitely more than that man owned at home, so he sold all of his stuff so he had enough money to buy the field.
And in obtaining the land that had the buried treasure, he now had WAY more money!
That’s what Jesus wants you to know!
If you, my friend, take a risk, and put God first in everything
It will feel a bit crazy at first.
It’ll feel like you’re selling all of your stuff.
You’ll be “dying to yourself…your fleshly desires” as the Bible says.
The world might even think you’re a bit odd…as they surely did with that man who sold his stuff to buy a random field.
But oh the returns…the returns from following Christ with all of your heart will be so much greater than anything the world will give you…
And certainly they will be greater than having one foot in the world and one foot in Christ…that will rip you apart.
That’s what Drummond is talking about when he speaks of the absolute misery of giving God lukewarm leftovers.
But this is how you can reprioritize your life around God…by first remembering how great of a reward God truly is.
By remembering how much He loves you…He died for you…and has offered you eternal life by believing in Him.
You can’t guilt yourself into this.
It’ll never work.
Only the power of Christ’s love will cause you to put him #1 in your life over the these other things you also love.
Not guilt or shame.
AND ALL THESE THINGS…
And listen, I’m sharing this message today, not only for God’s glory, but for your good.
If you trust God, He will take care of you.
You know, throughout our building process of the last few years, we’ve had to work with a lot of different people and companies: Realtors, banks, appraisers, architects, contractors, you name it.
And one company we’ve been really impressed with has been our General Contractors, BJ Baas.
BJ Baas is a Christian company, and they seek to honor God first, and seek His righteousness…that is, to do things God’s way.
I’ll never forget, we were in an intense meeting last fall, in our basement at the church office
Our architects were there, a number of our staff, our Building Team, and our General Contractors, BJ Baas.
This was a few months before our miraculous season of Harvest Giving…where we were trying to raise $210,000 in pledges, but then $443,000 was pledged! Remember that?!?
So back then, we were trying to cut a few hundred thousand dollars out of the building, so we could still build it, and it was intense.
And there was a dispute in the meeting about a $10,000 item…a power panel.
At our previous meeting, the $10,000 item was listed as something that was included in our contract with BJ Baas…but now, it was listed as something extra we’d be paying for.
Which, was technically how it should have been listed…they had simply made a documenting mistake the previous meeting by saying it was already included
But I didn’t know that at the time, so I said to everyone in the meeting: “Listen, we all need better communication here. These are not small items! This is $10,000!”
And the owner of BJ Baas, Brian Baas, spoke up and said, “You know what, we made a mistake, we listed it wrong, we’ll just pay the $10,000 out of our own pocket”
And we all gasped.
And I said, “You don’t have to do that.”
And he said, “We will. We want to show you that we value honesty and integrity and we want to do things right.”
I even called him the next day, and said, “You don’t have to do that”
But they still did.
The members of our building team, whom many work in the industry, all said to me, “I’ve never seen that in my career. Usually companies are bending over backwards to avoid paying even $10, let alone $10,000”
And BJ Baas has continued to do things like that over and over again for us.
And here’s the thing…their company is exploding with growth right now.
Because people love to work with them!
Turns out people like to work with honest people who show integrity!
Now, they’re just trying to honor God, and Seek Him first in all of their decisions…
But as they honor God, He’s honoring them
Seek God first…in everything.
Your schedule, your time, your conversations, your business dealings.
God’s ways are right…and they work.
Seek God first, and all of the other things, will be given to you as well.
Let me pray
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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