Good morning. My name is David Sorn.
I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Hey, before we get into our message for this morning, I want to talk to you about a really important Teaching Series we are going to be starting, 2 weeks from today.
It’s called Life’s Biggest Questions
Starting on February 6th, I am going to teach on the 5 biggest, most foundational questions that people have in life.
Now, these are not the 5 most common questions people ask:
That would be more like, “Should I get a tattoo?”
We’re talking the 5 biggest, deepest, most foundational questions…
These are the questions that shape your entire worldview.
People live entirely different lives from each other depending on how they answer these questions.
Here are the 5 questions we’re going to cover:
(Show LIFE’S BIGGESTION QUESTIONS SLIDE WITH TOPICS)
We’ll discuss, “Where did we come from?”
IS this world, and thus are you by extension, an accident?
What’s wrong with the world, and how do we make it right?
People argue about this every day (50% of social media statuses are probably about “what’s wrong with the world”)
We talk about this constantly, but few people have thought critically about WHY the world is broken in the first place
And you can’t fix it unless you know how it’s broken
How do I determine right and wrong?
If you say it’s wrong to do “x, y, or z,” how do you know that it’s wrong? And why?
What am I here for?
What’s the meaning of my life? What’s my purpose?
And, “What happens when I die?”
These are huge questions.
And listen, this is SUCH a good series to invite your friends to.
People are thinking about questions like this…and I want your friends to come with you and start searching for truth with us.
So be praying about who you can invite. Okay?
(The Fatherless, The Widow, and the Foreigner MESSAGE TITLE)
All right, let’s get into our message for this morning.
This is a bit of a different morning for us, as not only do we have a baptism at every service today, but we are going to talk this morning about how we believe God is leading us to impact our community.
And to guide our discussion today, we’re going to look to the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible
Everybody grab a Bible
You can also find it on the Renovation Church app…just tap Bible and Weekly verses
If you’ve never read the Book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament of the Bible before, it’s a book written by Moses.
In fact, it’s primarily a speech given by Moses.
God had freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and they were supposed to head right to the Promised Land
But, because of their rebellion, they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years first…where almost all of the adults who left Egypt died.
And now, they are just about to finally enter the Promised Land, except Moses knows he’s not going to make it in there with them.
And so he’s giving them some final instructions.
He’s speaking to them about what they will REALLY need to know when they enter in and create their own society.
And we’re going to look at some of his words in Deuteronomy chapter 10 today
(Deuteronomy 10:12-19) – NIV
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
One of the main things I want you to notice in our passage today is that once again we see this balance of inward faith and outward action.
We talked about this 3 weeks ago, when we covered our identity as Exiles.
And we studied how we are to
Surprise those around us with our holy life AND good deeds
And what you see in the American church right now is a polarization on this subject.
A huge section of the church would prefer to keep living Godly and holy lives in their personal lives, but they’d also prefer to move to a compound away from our messed up world if you gave them a chance.
And there’s another section of the church that is out there in the community, engaging with the poor, and the lost, and the hurting.
But all too often, this group isn’t all that concerned at all with living a holy life or living by the moral code of God’s Word.
And neither of those groups reflect the heart (or the actions) of Jesus
God’s Word does indeed call us to BOTH inward faith and outward actions
James 1:27 is a classic text on this:
(James 1:27) – NIV
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Or, Jesus Himself sums up the entire Old Testament law by saying we are to
1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength (that’s inward faith)
2) Love your neighbor as yourself (outward action)
Do you see both things in Scripture?
And so if you look at our passage from Deuteronomy, you’ll see both of these too.
It starts with the inward.
Look at verse 12 again:
(Deuteronomy 10:12) – NIV
12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
That feels pretty similar to the brand of privatized, inward faith that many American, Bible-believing Christians are used to.
Love the Lord, serve Him, walk in obedience to Him.
Moses continues this line of reasoning in verse 16 where he reminds the Israelites, that before they do anything, it starts in their heart.
They’ve got to get their hearts right with God.
It starts on the inside.
But it doesn’t end there.
True faith lets itself loose in life.
And as we get deeper into the passage, it begins to transition to the outward.
Look now to verses 18 & 19 now
(Deuteronomy 10:18-19) – NIV
18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
We see that God is taking care of the hurting, and that we are to do the same.
There’s an interesting grouping that’s happening in this verse, and in many other verses in Scripture
Very intentionally, there are 3 groups listed here.
Let’s look at verse 18 another time:
(Deuteronomy 10:18) – NIV
18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.
The fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner.
This is very intentional.
The fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner were the 3 groups of people in ancient society that were landless.
Their future was not as bright, not as guaranteed, and thus, their present was often much more difficult.
And God says, to give special care, and love to these people.
And what’s interesting is you see this 3-fold distinction in all sorts of verses in the Bible
(Psalm 146:9) – NIV
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
(Jeremiah 22:3) - NIV
This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.
And you see the same 3 categories (the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner) in Jeremiah 7, and Zechariah 7, and Malachi 3, and on and on.
And why are we as believers to show special care to these groups of people?
The most foundational reason is because that is what our God is doing…and we are imitators of Him.
That is the deepest foundation of Biblical ethics:
This is who God is, and this is what God does…so, this is therefore how we act.
Author Ken Wytsma gives a helpful way to think about it:
He tells us to imagine a single-mom whose 11-year-old loves baseball.
Sometimes this single mom has to work double shifts to make sure she's free, but when the umpire yells "Play ball!" she's always sitting right behind the dugout, cheering for her boy.
Now, let's suppose a man begins to date that single mom.
Obviously, if he says he loves her, he must love her son. Period.
The mom's sphere of concern wraps around her boy's life, and it always will.
So if this man wants to tell the single mom that he loves her, he must be right there at the baseball game, beside the mom, cheering for her son.
If he loves the mom, he'll love both her son and her son's baseball games.
In the same way, if we care about God's kingdom, we'll love what and who the King loves.
And we see, in His Word, that the King loves the fatherless, the widow, and the foreigner...those who are defenseless and vulnerable.
If we say we love God, we want to be right there at his side loving the defenseless of the world.
This is a very similar idea to how Jesus says in Matthew 25 that those who invite in the stranger and give food to the hungry…
…that whatever they do for the least of these…they’re doing for him.
They’re loving those He loves
OUR LOCAL OUTREACH
And so, it’s fine to hear a message like this, and feel, “Okay, I understand that Christians can’t sit in communes, that we need to be lights in this world…especially to those who need it most”
But what if you have no idea how to practically do that? Or where to do that?
Well, no worries my friend, today is your day.
For the past 6 months, our church leaders have been working really hard on establishing solid Local Partners, right here in our area, so our church could better fulfill this aspect of our faith.
And I want to take the next few minutes and reveal to you 3 Local Partners that our church will now be working with.
Before I tell you who they are, let me say just a few things:
There are a hundred organizations we could have worked with in MN, and if you’ve got one in mind, I’m sure it’s great!
But we prioritized choosing Local Partners in the following way:
1) We started this process asking the question: Who is it that God wants us to serve?
And so we looked for organizations that are serving groups with a high need…specifically…the Fatherless, the Widow, and the Foreigner.
2) We wanted to find organizations that were truly local…not in Minneapolis, but local…the closer to Blaine, or right here in Blaine…the better.
3) We wanted to find a few groups that even children and youth could serve alongside with us as adults
And lastly (and this is a huge one for our church), we wanted organizations where we would be allowed to talk to non-believers about our faith in Jesus (and sadly, that ruled a lot of organizations out right there)
However, we have three great options for you.
Here there are:
(SHOW LOCAL PARTNERS SLIDE). – KEEP UP ALL THE WAY UNTIL BAPTISM SLIDE
Our 1st local partner is called SALT
And this is our local partner that serves the foreigner…the refugee.
SALT stands for Somali Adult Literacy Training.
They serve 1st, 2nd, and even some 3rd generation Somali refugees in our local vicinity
Learning strong English skills is a key factor in how well people who are refugees and their families thrive here in their new home.
To fill that need, SALT provides tutoring relationships with Somali adults and children.
They have a big waiting list of Somalis who are waiting to be paired up with someone.
And your relationship building, through tutoring (in teams of 2), will hopefully provide you an opportunity to one day share the Gospel.
SALT is, in fact, 100% a missions organization…so no worries there.
And it’s easy ground and hard ground at the same time.
The vast majority of Somalis are Muslim
And yet, after meeting with them twice, you might get invited to their sister’s wedding…as they are a highly relational people.
There are obviously a lot more details here, but I just have time for a flyover of each…and we’ll talk more details in the coming weeks, and I’ll tell you how to find more details here at the end as well.
Our 2nd Local Partner is Together For Good
Together for Good is our ministry to the Fatherless.
What Together for Good does is they connect Christian families (like yours) to vulnerable and isolated children and parents by providing practical help and relational support during times of crisis.
These are families who, if crisis hits, have nowhere to turn and thus their kids could end up in the foster care system…just because they didn’t have someone to call.
For many of these families, which are mostly single moms, if they have a medical emergency, or just need a break, or have to enter treatment..
For many of these families, if they do that, they will lose their kids.
But Together for Good connects the kids of these families with a Christian family who will host their kids…for a night…a weekend, a week…or sometimes even longer depending on the situation. .
Once you are an approved and trained volunteer, you’ll start receiving the “Opportunities for Good” email which announces current needs (which kids need help for the night, or weekend, or whatever it is)
And you only fill the need that is a fit for you and your family.
And it’s an absolutely incredible opportunity for your whole family to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
And an opportunity for your family to be a Gospel light for those kids, and eventually the moms as well.
Our third local partner is also a great opportunity for kids to serve alongside of you, and that 3rd Local Partner is Valued Voices.
For this, we will be partnering with Edgewood Senior Living in Blaine…which is right next to Northpoint Elementary where we used to meet.
Valued Voices is our ministry to widows…and widowers.
Many of those that live in senior living are rarely visited, and are suffering immensely from loneliness.
And we have an opportunity to serve them… right here locally.
Through Valued Voices, there will be opportunities to have great conversations, or just play cards or games, knit, etc.
They have a great balance of structured activities but also allow the freedom for you to just stop by and chat as well.
And again, we love this option because, just like the other two options, there is a great opportunity for you to form a relationship that would ultimately give you the opportunity to share about Christ.
So those are our 3 Local Partners.
I want to give a huge shout out to Pastor Josh Pollard who has spearheaded this project and done a fantastic job.
He really did amazing work finding us LOCAL partners, where we could serve those whom God cares about so deeply, and also not just serve, but share our faith.
If, over the last few weeks, you’ve been saying to yourself, I wish I had an opportunity to rub shoulders with non-believers, but I don’t even know where to start…
Well, now you do!
Our goal, over the next month, is to sign up 100 of us…who would be out in our community serving…in the name of Jesus.
It’s a great opportunity to prioritize your time, and focus on the things of eternity.
If you’re interested in getting more information and learning about possible next steps with one our 3 Local Partners, there are a few options you have:
If you look under the chair in front of you, you’ll see a sign-up card for our Local partners.
you can fill that out and leave it on your chair or drop it in the Offering/Connection Card Box…and we’ll reach out to you with more details.
You can also sign up online or through our app.
Or, I highly recommend that you stop by our special Local partners table in the Lobby after the service.
We’ll have Ministry Leaders representing each of the 3 teams out there, who can answer any questions you have.
You can also find A LOT more details on our website about each of these options and how they work
And if you need time, to pray about it, to talk it over, that’s totally understandable too
We’ll be doing a special 3-minute highlight of each of these groups and will have representatives here from them, each of the next 3 Sundays as well.
And so our heart is to shine Christ in our community
But we believe we’re able to do that in the first place, because of what God changes internally in us when we believe in Him.
And one of the ways we celebrate that change is through baptism.
(SWITCH TO BAPTISM SUNDAY SLIDE)
In fact, I want to call our Baptismal Team on stage right now
Baptisms are reminders that the change that happens within us is because of our faith in Jesus.
Baptism is a symbol of what Jesus did for you when you, personally, believed in Him (that you were washed clean)
It doesn’t save you.
But it’s an important step for every Christian once they’ve made a decision to follow Jesus
Every person you see baptized at Renovation Church is baptized by two sponsors (people who’s had a spiritual impact on them)
And so, we’re going to begin! Amelia (1st), Ron (2nd), Jolene (3rd)
(Back to The Fatherless, The Widow, and The Foreigner slide)
So what is it that drives Christians to want to serve the hurting? The vulnerable? The lonely?
Why do that?
A lot of it is embedded in verse 19 of our passage today
(Deuteronomy 10:19) – NIV
19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.
The Israelites were to love the foreigners among them because they could remember what it was like to be a foreigner when they were slaves in Egypt.
And Christians are to move with the same mindset
We can love people of all walks of life, because we can remember what it was like when we were Fatherless even.
Before we knew our heavenly Father.
But now we’ve met Him, and He’s changed our life.
He’s driven us away from a self-focused life to a God-focused life, and an others-focused life.
We can love, as the Bible says, because He first loved us.
This is our deepest belief, and it’s why people are getting baptized all morning.
We believe that God saw our sin, our mistakes, our mess-ups, and yet still loved us so much that he sent his Son Jesus to die in our place…
And take the punishment that we deserved for our sins.
And it’s not our good works or good deeds that save us, but our faith in Him that washes away our sins and makes us right with Him.
And allows us to not only know Him, but have eternal life through Him.
And if you’ve never made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Leader, to be forgiven by Him, you can do that today…and know Him today.
In fact, let’s just have everyone close their eyes and bow their heads
If you need to let Jesus forgive you…
…to trust in Him that He died for your sins…and turn your life over to Him.
As a way to mark this day, and tell Him that you believe, I want you to just raise your hand up in the air.
Everyone has their eyes closed, so don’t think about that.
If you need to tell Jesus that you believe, and you need His forgiveness…
If you’re ready to surrender to Him…
Raise your hand
For those of you with your hands raised, we want to pray with you.
Repeat this out loud after me…whether you’re a brand-new believer or have been one for quite some time.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
As everyone still has their eyes closed, for those of you raised your hand, you just made the most important decision of your life, and I believe that requires some more information…
So here’s what we’re going to do to get you that…as everyone has their eyes closed, I want you, in just a second, to walk back out to the lobby where it will be quiet.
You won’t walk out there alone.
There are others standing with you, and our follow-up team is going to walk out at the same time with you
And I, and our follow-up team are going to get you some extremely important resources & next steps to get you started on the most important journey of your life.
If you’re part of this church, and your friend or family member is standing up right now, PLEASE come out there with them.
All right, you can all go now.
As they’re walking, I’m going to thank God in prayer. Let’s pray. Amen.
If you filled out a Local partner card, drop it in the box on your way out, or stop by our info table which is over by Kid’s Check in
Have a great week!
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.